Sacred Knowledge: Psychedelics and Religious Experiences

Sacred Knowledge: Psychedelics and Religious Experiences

by William Richards


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Sacred Knowledge: Psychedelics and Religious Experiences by William Richards

Sacred Knowledge is the first well-documented, sophisticated account of the effect of psychedelics on biological processes, human consciousness, and revelatory religious experiences. Based on nearly three decades of legal research with volunteers, William A. Richards argues that, if used responsibly and legally, psychedelics have the potential to assuage suffering and constructively affect the quality of human life.

Richards's analysis contributes to social and political debates over the responsible integration of psychedelic substances into modern society. His book serves as an invaluable resource for readers who, whether spontaneously or with the facilitation of psychedelics, have encountered meaningful, inspiring, or even disturbing states of consciousness and seek clarity about their experiences. Testing the limits of language and conceptual frameworks, Richards makes the most of experiential phenomena that stretch our understanding of reality, advancing new frontiers in the study of belief, spiritual awakening, psychiatric treatment, and social well-being. His findings enrich humanities and scientific scholarship, expanding work in philosophy, anthropology, theology, and religious studies and bringing depth to research in mental health, psychotherapy, and psychopharmacology.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780231174077
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Publication date: 07/24/2018
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 280
Sales rank: 555,714
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

William A. Richards is a clinical psychologist at the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center with formal training in theology and comparative religion. Earlier in his career, he pursued psychedelic research at Spring Grove Hospital Center and the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center in Baltimore. His graduate education included studies at Yale University, Brandeis University, Catholic University, the Andover-Newton Theological School, and the University of Göttingen.

Table of Contents

Foreword G. William Barnard xi

Preface: One Discovery of Transcendence xvii

Acknowledgments xxi

Introduction xxv

Note to the Reader xxix

Part I Setting the Stage

1 The Death and Rebirth of Psychedelic Research 3

2 Orientation, Definitions, and the Limits of Language 8

3 Revelation and Doubt 29

Part II Mystical and Visionary Forms of Consciousness

4 Intuitive Knowledge 39

5 Approaches to Unitive Consciousness 58

6 New Perspectives on Time and Space 69

7 Visions and Archetypes 78

Part III Personal and Interpersonal Dynamics

8 The Interpersonal and the Mystical 99

9 Experiences of Meaninglessness, Despair, and Somatic Discomfort 104

10 Religious Conversion and Psychodynamic Experiences 113

11 Discipline and Integration 119

12 Reflections on Death 126

Part IV Present and Future Applications of Entheogens

13 Psychedelic Frontiers in Medicine 139

14 Psychedelic Frontiers in Education 152

15 Psychedelic Frontiers in Religion 166

16 Maximizing the Probability of Safety and Benefit 179

Part V Onward

17 Fears of Awakening 195

18 Entering Into a New Paradigm 204

19 Movement Into the Future 207

Epilogue: A Concise Report of Insights from the Frontier Where Science and Spirituality Are Meeting 211

Selected Bibliography 213

A Hopkins Playlist for Psilocybin Studies (2008 Version) 223

Name Index 227

Subject Index 231

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