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Reveals entheogens as catalysts for spiritual development and direct encounters with the sacred
? With contributions by Albert Hofmann, Huston Smith, Stanislav Grof, Charles Tart, Alexander ?Sasha? Shulgin, Frances Vaughan, and many others
? Includes personal accounts of Walter Pahnke?s Good Friday Experiment as well as a 25-year follow-up with its participants
? Explores protocols for ceremonial use of psychedelics and the challenges of transforming entheogenic insights into ...
Reveals entheogens as catalysts for spiritual development and direct encounters with the sacred
• With contributions by Albert Hofmann, Huston Smith, Stanislav Grof, Charles Tart, Alexander “Sasha” Shulgin, Frances Vaughan, and many others
• Includes personal accounts of Walter Pahnke’s Good Friday Experiment as well as a 25-year follow-up with its participants
• Explores protocols for ceremonial use of psychedelics and the challenges of transforming entheogenic insights into enduring change
Modern organized religion is based predominantly on secondary religious experience—we read about others’ extraordinary direct spiritual encounters in the distant past and have faith that God is out there. Yet what if powerful sacraments existed to help us directly experience the sacred? What if there were ways to seek out the meaning of being human and our place in the universe, to see the sacred in the world that surrounds us?
In this book, more than 25 spiritual leaders, scientists, and psychedelic visionaries examine how we can return to the primary spiritual encounters at the basis of all religions through the guided use of entheogens. With contributions by Albert Hofmann, Huston Smith, Stanislav Grof, Charles Tart, Alexander “Sasha” Shulgin, Frances Vaughan, Myron Stolaroff, and many others, this book explores protocols for ceremonial use of psychedelics, the challenges of transforming entheogenic insights into enduring change, psychoactive sacraments in the Bible, myths surrounding the use of LSD, and the transformative ayahuasca rituals of Santo Daime. It also includes personal accounts of Walter Pahnke’s Good Friday Experiment as well as a 25-year follow-up with its participants. Dispelling fears of inauthentic spirituality, addiction, and ill-prepared encounters with the holy, this book reveals the potential of entheogens as catalysts for spiritual development, a path through which faith can directly encounter God’s power, and the beginning of a new religious era based on personal spiritual experience.
“This book really enlightened me as to the history, practices and general sentiments of the diverse professionals who value entheogens as a valid and very worthwhile complement to spiritual practices. It’s been added to my Top 10 list of important books to read.”
“This essential collection forces a reexamination of the legal status of controlled substances in view of the benefit that mind-altering sacramental entheogens offer for psychotherapy and spiritual growth.”
“This is an invaluable collection of presentations that dispels the fog about the multi-faceted relationships between psychedelic experiences and spiritual experiences, between faith and experience, and the intricate dance still going on between them.”
“Tom Roberts is the keeper of the flame for the study of psychedelics, the chief librarian of the entheogenic archive. In this soul-nourishing book he’s compiled the wisdom, humanity, and technical expertise the world just might be ready for now in order to provide us legally accessed soul-manifesting sacramental experience via psychedelics.”
The Potential of Entheogens as Catalysts of Spiritual Development
To become a medical doctor, a psychiatrist, and a psychoanalyst was a late decision in my life. In my childhood and adolescence, I spent much time drawing and painting, and my dream was to embark on a career in animated movies.
However, all that was turned around when a friend of mine introduced me to Sigmund Freud’s Introductory Lectures to Psychoanalysis. I read the book in one sitting, and, within two days, I decided to apply to medical school with the explicit goal of becoming a psychoanalyst. And an important part of my attraction to psychoanalysis was Freud’s rational explanation of religion. I loved to read books about the great religions of the world, but my interest in these matters was purely intellectual and artistic. Not having had a religious background, I could not understand how it was possible that millions of people would actually take seriously something as blatantly irrational and ridiculous as mysticism, spirituality, and religion.
As I was learning more about psychoanalysis, I developed a deep inner conflict. I continued to be enthusiastic about its theoretical aspects but became increasingly disappointed with its potential as a therapeutic tool. I realized that psychoanalysis had a narrow indication range, required enormous investment of time, money, and energy, and, even after a long time, it showed generally meager clinical results. I reached a point where I started to regret that I had chosen to study medicine and psychiatry and felt that my career choice was a serious error.
Just as this conflict was reaching critical proportions, something unexpected happened that radically changed the course of my life. This was the period in psychiatric history that saw the advent of psychopharmacology and its early triumphs. It was the time of the first tranquilizers—reserpine, chlorpromazine, and a few others. We conducted a large study of Melleril, a tranquilizer that came from the Swiss pharmaceutical company Sandoz. As a result, we had a good working relationship with Sandoz, and we received one day a large box full of ampoules with a letter describing the substance involved, its chemistry, pharmacology, and history. It was LSD-25, a powerful psychoactive drug, whose effects on consciousness were discovered by Albert Hofmann when he accidentally intoxicated himself during its synthesis. Albert would probably prefer to call it serendipity.
The accompanying letter suggested that this substance, administered in absolutely minuscule dosages of millionths of a gram, was capable of inducing an “experimental psychosis,” a state similar to naturally occurring psychoses. Clinical and laboratory research of LSD thus could provide insights into the enigma of psychosis, particularly schizophrenia. One could study various parameters before, during, and after the LSD experience and determine what biochemical and physiological changes in the body are correlated with psychological abnormalities during the time the drug took effect. And the Sandoz people were asking us if we would work with this substance and give them some feedback on whether there was legitimate use for LSD in psychiatry.
But the Sandoz letter also suggested another fascinating possibility—that LSD might be useful as a tool for very unconventional training of psychiatrists, psychologists, students of medicine and psychology, and psychiatric nurses. It could give mental health professionals the opportunity to spend a few hours in the world of their patients. As a result, they would be able to understand their patients better, be able to communicate with them more effectively, and hopefully have better therapeutic results. Naturally, I got very excited, and I became one of the early volunteers in this research.
My preceptor, Docent Roubícek was very interested in electroencephalography. So, I had to agree not only to have my EEG taken but also to have my brain waves driven in the middle of this experiment.
What actually happened was that, approximately two and a half hours into the session, a research assistant took me to a small cabin. She carefully pasted the electrodes all over my scalp and asked me to lie down and close my eyes. Then she placed a giant stroboscopic light above my head and turned it on. At this time, the effects of the drug were culminating and that immensely enhanced the impact of the strobe. I was hit by a radiance that seemed comparable to what it must have been like at the epicenter of the atomic explosion in Hiroshima. Today I think a more appropriate comparison would be to the Primary Clear Light, the light of supernatural brilliance that appears to us at the moment of death.
I felt that a divine thunderbolt catapulted my conscious self out of my body. I lost my awareness of the research assistant, the laboratory, the psychiatric clinic, Prague, and then the planet. My consciousness expanded at an inconceivable speed and reached cosmic dimensions. There was no more difference between me and the universe.
While this was happening, I found myself at the center of a cosmic drama of unimaginable dimensions. In the astronomical literature that I later collected and read over the years, I found possible names for some of the fantastic experiences that I had experienced during those amazing ten minutes of clock time. I would say today that I possibly experienced the big bang, passage through black and white holes, identification with exploding super novas and collapsing stars, and other strange phenomena.
When the strobe was turned off, my consciousness began to shrink very rapidly. I found the planet, Prague, the clinic, and finally my body and was extremely impressed by what had just happened. I had played with the strobe before and experienced some pretty colors and patterns, but nothing like what happened in combination with LSD. So I knew that the drug was somehow the key to my experience. This event generated in me a profound intellectual interest in nonordinary states of consciousness. I felt strongly that this was by far the most fascinating area that as a psychiatrist I could research.
Editor’s Note—Out of Society’s Secret Corners
Thomas B. Roberts
Foreword to the 2012 Edition: The Varieties of Mind-Enhancing Practices
Introduction: Psychoactive Sacramentals
Brother David Steindl-Rast
1 If I Could Change Your Mind
Rev. Mike Young
2 Do Drugs Have Religious Import? A Thirty-Five-Year Retrospect
3 From State to Trait: The Challenge of Transforming Transient Insights into Enduring Change
4 The Potential of Entheogens as Catalysts of Spiritual Development
5 Psychoactive Sacramentals: What Must Be Said
Charles T. Tart
6 Unitive Consciousness and Pahnke’s Good Friday Experiment
Paula Jo Hruby
7 Pahnke’s Good Friday Experiment: A Long-term Follow-up and Methodological Critique
8 A Pilgrim’s Visit to Marsh Chapel
Thomas Jenden Riedlinger
9 Las noches de los ayahuasqueros
10 Mysterious Tea
11 A Scientist’s View of Miracles and Magic
Alexander T. Shulgin
12 LSD as a Spiritual Aid
13 Strychnine and Other Enduring Myths: Expert and User Folklore Surrounding LSD
David E. Presti and Jerome Beck
14 Manna, the Showbread, and the Eucharist: Psychoactive Sacraments in the Bible
15 What Is Entheology?
Rev. Aline M. Lucas
16 A Protocol for a Sacramental Service
Myron J. Stolaroff
17 A Theology of Human Liberation and Entheogens: Reflections of a Contemplative Activist
Rev. George F. Cairns
18 Consciousness and Asian Traditions: An Evolutionary Perspective
19 The Strengthening Aspects of Zen and Contemporary Meditation Practices
20 Transpersonal Counseling: Some Observations Regarding Entheogens
21 The New Psychotherapy: MDMA and the Shadow
22 The Birthing of Transcendental Medicine
Rev. Karla Hansen, M.Div.
23 The Judicial Architectonics of Psychoactive Sacramentals
Richard Glen Boire
24 On Nomenclature for the Class of Mescaline-Like Substances: And Why It Matters
25 An Entheogen Idea-Map—Future Explorations
Thomas B. Roberts
About the Council on Spiritual Practices
Posted April 27, 2013
Spiritual Growth with Entheogens, Thomas B. Roberts, Ed., Park Street Press, 2012, $18.95
In 1995, the Council on Spiritual Practices, along with the Chicago Theological Seminary, invited a group of professionals from diverse backgrounds in religion, psychology and mental health to a retreat on entheogens. Entheogens refer to psychoactive substances used for spiritual practices. The word is employed to separate them from hallucinogens and psychedelics, as those connote recreational drugs. Call me naive — I was totally unaware of the legal research and use of entheogens prior to the U.S. federal government outlawing the drugs. This book really enlightened me as to the history, practices and general sentiments of the diverse professionals who value entheogens as a valid and very worthwhile complement to spiritual practices. It’s been added to my Top 10 list of important books to read.
New Connexion Journal — Alice R. Berntson
Posted February 6, 2014
No text was provided for this review.