Spiritual Growth with Entheogens: Psychoactive Sacramentals and Human Transformation [NOOK Book]

Overview

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 ...
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Spiritual Growth with Entheogens: Psychoactive Sacramentals and Human Transformation

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Overview

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.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
“Psychoactive” and “sacramentals” aren’t generally joined words, but for a group of theologians, scientists, and psychologists, “psychoactive sacramentals” was the theme for a weeklong conference held in California in 1995. Psychoactive substances employed in a sacred rite for spiritual growth (rather than recreational drug use) have been designated as “entheogens,” meaning, “awakening the god within.” Hence, conference participants addressed profound questions about what it means to be human and the role of entheogens in enhancing psychological and spiritual well-being and maturity. The essays in this book are an updated collection of reflections from those participants, including transpersonal pioneers such as Roger Walsh, Stanislav Grof, and Frances Vaughan, combined with new material. They offer a rich and broad mix of science, anecdotes, therapeutic indications, and spiritual philosophies exploring the legitimate and responsible use of entheogens—if not to produce genuine religious experiences, to “seed a spiritual life,” as Br. David Steindl-Rast says in an introduction. The authors expect that the ideas presented in this collection may stretch conventional orders of perception, but that the rewards of an open mind may reshape a new era of spiritual intelligence. (May)
Brother David Steindl-Rast
“If we can encounter God through a sunrise seen from a mountaintop, why not through a mushroom prayerfully ingested.”
Dieter Hagenbach
“Explains all aspects of the psychedelic experience as a tool for spiritual evolution, from personal accounts to detailed information and practical instructions. A key book.”
Jeffrey J. Kripal
“Some of the most serious, sustained, thoughtful, and mature voices on the subject of entheogens and religion. The contributors reflect on the historical trajectories of this conversation, address the common stereotypes and misconceptions, and offer new directions of thought and vision, reminding us again of what this conversation has always been about: the extraordinary cosmic being we so casually and carelessly call the human being.”
Charles Hayes
“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.”
William A. Richards
“For those who value profound religious experiences and who wish to become increasingly well informed about how entheogens could become responsibly integrated into meditative practices and the offerings of spiritual retreat centers, there is much to be learned from the well-chosen essays in this book.”
Brother - David Steindl-Rast
“If we can encounter God through a sunrise seen from a mountaintop, why not through a mushroom prayerfully ingested.”
Stanislav Grof
“A powerful testimony from pioneers of consciousness research, spiritual teachers, and scholars about the potential of psychedelic plants and their compounds to bring spirituality to modern society and help alleviate the dangerous alienation that has brought humanity to the brink of destruction.”
Michael Winkelman
“A tour de force of the history of the Western reencounter with these perennial sacred plants written by leading figures from many disciplines. The broad coverage exemplifies the importance of psychedelic plants for many disciplines and their diverse potentials for personal and social transformation.”
James Fadiman
“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.”
Glenn Hartelius
“It is one thing to understand that people can move into altered states of consciousness; it is quite another to understand that this fact is not just a psychological side-show, but deeply, even centrally important for understanding the human mind. Roberts’ book argues this point on every page, through riveting accounts retold by pioneers and leaders in the field of transpersonal psychology. This book is mind-altering in the best sense of the word.”
Dennis McKenna
“A useful reference work that presents the current state of understanding from the relevant scientific, practical, and judicial perspectives.”
From the Publisher
“Some of the most serious, sustained, thoughtful, and mature voices on the subject of entheogens and religion. The contributors reflect on the historical trajectories of this conversation, address the common stereotypes and misconceptions, and offer new directions of thought and vision, reminding us again of what this conversation has always been about: the extraordinary cosmic being we so casually and carelessly call the human being.”

“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.”

Michael Nielsen
Spiritual Growth with Entheogens is essential reading for people interested in humanity’s efforts to experience the divine. This is an outstanding collection of essays and studies on mystical experience.”
Carl A. P. Ruck
“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.”
Branches of Light
“...this book reveals the potential of entheogens as catalysts for spiritual development and the beginning of a new religious era based on personal spiritual experience.”
Alice R Berntson
“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.”
October 2012 Branches of Light
“...this book reveals the potential of entheogens as catalysts for spiritual development and the beginning of a new religious era based on personal spiritual experience.”
from the foreword Brother David Steindl-Rast
“If we can encounter God through a sunrise seen from a mountaintop, why not through a mushroom prayerfully ingested.”
editor of Tripping: An Anthology of True-Life Charles Hayes
“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.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781594777097
  • Publisher: Inner Traditions/Bear & Company
  • Publication date: 3/19/2012
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 1,339,719
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Thomas B. Roberts, Ph.D., is professor emeritus at Northern Illinois University and a former visiting scientist at Johns Hopkins. The coeditor of Psychedelic Medicine and the author of Psychedelic Horizons, he has spoken at international conferences on entheogens, consciousness, and psychedelic science. He lives in DeKalb, Illinois.
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 4
The Potential of Entheogens as Catalysts of Spiritual Development

Stanislav Grof


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.
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Table of Contents


Editor’s Note--Out of Society’s Secret Corners
Thomas B. Roberts

Acknowledgments

Foreword to the 2012 Edition: The Varieties of Mind-Enhancing Practices

Roger Walsh

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
Huston Smith

3 From State to Trait: The Challenge of Transforming Transient Insights into Enduring Change
Roger Walsh

4 The Potential of Entheogens as Catalysts of Spiritual Development
Stanislav Grof

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
Rick Doblin

8 A Pilgrim’s Visit to Marsh Chapel
Thomas Jenden Riedlinger

9 Las noches de los ayahuasqueros
Will Penna

10 Mysterious Tea
Annelise Schinzinger

11 A Scientist’s View of Miracles and Magic
Alexander T. Shulgin

12 LSD as a Spiritual Aid
Albert Hofmann

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
Dan Merkur

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
Roger Walsh

19 The Strengthening Aspects of Zen and Contemporary Meditation Practices
Kathleen O’Shaughnessy

20 Transpersonal Counseling: Some Observations Regarding Entheogens
Frances Vaughan

21 The New Psychotherapy: MDMA and the Shadow
Ann Shulgin

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
Robert Jesse

25 An Entheogen Idea-Map--Future Explorations
Thomas B. Roberts


Epilogue

About the Council on Spiritual Practices

Index
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  • Posted April 27, 2013

    Spiritual Growth with Entheogens, Thomas B. Roberts, Ed., Park S

    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

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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    Posted February 6, 2014

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