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Entheogens and the Future of Religion

Robert Forte

Pages: 244
Price: $14.95
Publisher: Council on Spiritual Practices
Pub Date: 1997
ISBN: 1889725013

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Table of Contents >
INTRODUCTION - Robert Forte 
1. TESTIMONY OF THE COUNCIL ON SPIRITUAL PRACTICES - Robert Jesse
2. EXPLORATIONS INTO GOD - Brother David Steindl-Rast
3. DAS MUTTERKORN: THE MAKING OF DELYSID - Dale Pendell
4. THE MESSAGE OF THE ELEUSINIAN MYSTERIES FOR TODAY'S WORLD - Albert Hofmann
5.  A NEW VOCABULARY - Ann and Alexander Shulgin
6. NATURAL SCIENCE AND THE MYSTICAL WORLD VIEW - Albert Hofmann
7. PSYCHEDELIC SOCIETY - Terence McKenna 
8. A CONVERSATION WITH R. GORDON WASSON - Robert Forte
9. SACRED MUSHROOM PENTECOST - Thomas Riedlinger 
10. PSYCHEDELIC EXPERIENCE AND SPIRlTUAL PRACTICE: AN INTERVIEW WITH JACK KORNFIELD -  Robert Forte
11. ACADEMIC AND RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN THE STUDY OF THE MIND - Thomas B. Roberts
12.  BIOMEDICAL RESEARCH WITH PSYCHEDELICS: CURRENT MODELS AND FUTURE PROSPECTS - Rick J. Strassman
13. LAW ENFORCEMENT AGAINST ENTHEOGENS: IS IT RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION? - Eric E. Sterling
APPENDIX: CSP STATEMENT OF PURPOSE AND CODE OF ETHICS FOR SPIRITUAL GUIDES CONTRIBUTORS AND ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS 
 
Description >
Exciting book on spiritual benefits of entheogens, especially to our society. Great essays from Hofmann, Wasson, the Shulgins, Terence McKenna, Dale Pendell, Jack Kornfield, Tom Roberts, David Steindl-Rast, Rick Strassman, others. Huston Smith says "these essays constitute the best single inquiry into the religious significance of chemically occasioned mystical experiences that has yet appeared."  - Mind Books 
 
Reviews/Excerpts >
Excerpts:

At the present time, nearly all the entheogens are listed in the Controlled Substance Act of the United States as having "no medical use and high potential for abuse," and are therefore subject to the most stringent controls. Criminal penalties punish unsanctioned use and virtually no use is sanctioned. ... In a survey of former psychedelic researchers, the late Walter Houston Clark, Professor Emeritus of the Psychology of Religion at Andover Newton Theological Seminary, found that governmental red tape was the primary reason why they have stopped working in this field. "It would seem that something is wrong if qualified investigators find it so difficult to obtain permission to work in an area that most feel will open important doors to the future of humanity." (page 2)

However, the sudden impact of entheogens upon a predominantly secular and materialistic society left no time for the appropriate educational, religious, or medical agencies to understand their effects. Laws designed to protect citizens were counterproductive. They effectively curtailed professional research while having the opposite effect on an underground society. The result is that many otherwise law-abiding citizens continue to use these substances in secret for fear of prosecution. The dangers of the entheogens are exaggerated by ignorance, and their potential virtues remain hidden.

(page 3) These writings aim to direct attention to the distinctly sacred nature of these substances with the hope that religious minded investigators, policy architects, and the concerned public will take note. It is our hope that this book will contribute to an honest reappraisal of the historic and modern significance of entheogens so that they may be used accordingly in today's world by those seeking to cultivare their spiritual awareness. (Introduction, Forte, page 4)


Reviews:

Collectively, these essays constitute the best single inquiry into the religious significance of chemically occasioned mystical experiences that has yet appeared. - Huston Smith, author of The World's Religions

The sensible use of entheogens is one of the most promising paths to deep spiritual insight for many people, and this book shows how that could be done. - Charles Tart, Scholar of States of Consciousness

This book of essays plows new ground in the relationship between entheogens and religion. It is well worth reading. - Kenneth B. Smith, President of Chicago Theological Seminary

As long as ritual springs from a genuine awareness of belonging and cultivates that awareness by celebrating it, all is well. But when only hollow forms remain and the experience is gone, or when the forms even block the experience, then we have no longer ritual, but ritualism, an irreligious phenomenon. It is our responsibility to fill the rituals we have inherited with new life, or else to allow the wellspring of life that created the old forms to bring forth new ones.

-- Brother David Steindl-Rast, Ph.D., O.S.B., "Explorations into God"

The requisite transformations in the direction of an all-encompassing consciousness, as a precondition for overcoming materialism and for a renewed relationship with Nature ... must and can only take place in each individual person.

Only a few blessed people spontaneously attain the mystical vision which can effect this transformation. As a result, mankind has repeatedly sought paths and evolved methods to evoke deeper perception and experience.... An especially important aid in the induction of mystical-ecstatic states of consciousness, discovered in the earliest times, is decidedly the use of certain plant drugs. In the preceding discussion, I have made it quite clear that their use must proceed within the scope of religious ceremony.

-- Albert Hofmann, Ph.D., Dr.Sc.Nat.H.C., "The Message of the Eleusinian Mysteries"

I would not be surprised if at some point there comes to be a useful marriage between some of these drugs and a systematic training or practice that I have described. That marriage will have to be based on an understanding of the ancient teachings, the laws of karma, responsibility, action, virtue, training the heart and the mind, and the laws of liberation.

-- Jack Kornfield, "Psychedelic Experience and Spiritual Practice: A Buddhist Perspective"

[Sacred mushrooms] stimulate a mystical experience which cannot be reduced to words or concepts, much in contrast to most Christian worship based on "learned" theological systems. In that sense the Christian religion of the Mazatec mushroom eaters is defined, like Pentecostalism, not by doctrine or by dogma but phenomenologically. Both religions are examples of the primal spirituality which [Harvey] Cox describes as "reaching beyond the levels of creed and ceremony into the core of human religiousness, into ... that largely unprocessed nucleus of the psyche in which the unending struggle for a sense of purpose and significance goes on."

-- Thomas J. Riedlinger, M.T.S., F.L.S., "Sacred Mushroom Pentecost"

Subtle adverse effects ... of the non-medical use of psychedelics ... include a feeling of superiority in those who have taken a psychedelic, to those who have not. Rather than increasing tolerance for differences and compassion for those who may (or may not) be less spiritually or personally developed than oneself, this seems a move backwards, by increasing judgmentalism and divisiveness. Another rarely discussed adverse effect of non-medical psychedelic use is the belief that coming to a particular understanding or resolution of a personal problem on a psychedelic trip is the same as living the understanding or resolution in daily life....

In terms of combining religious practice and psychedelic drugs in a fruitful way one simple model comes to mind. This is one in which a religious aspirant, with strong moral and intellectual understanding of religious doctrine, practice, and community, lacks a deep experiential realization of the bases of these doctrines and practices. The view provided by a properly prepared, supervised, and followed-up high dose psychedelic experience may provide the validation of the teachings necessary for inspiration to continue the work at hand.

-- Rick J. Strassman, M.D., "Biochemical Research with Psychedelics"

These writings aim to direct attention to the distinctly sacred nature of [the entheogens] with the hope that religious minded investigators, policy architects, and the concerned public will take note. It is our hope that this book will contribute to an honest reappraisal of the historic and modern significance of entheogens, so that they may be used accordingly in today's world by those seeking to cultivate their spiritual awareness.

-- Robert Forte, A.M.R.S., from the Introduction

This is a work of responsible advocacy. Forte and his dozen principal contributors seek the wide acceptance, including legalization and mature practice, of "entheogens" -- "god spawning" psychoactive substances (LSD, mescalin [sic], etc.) that are deemed especially suited for use on designated or readily identifiable sacramental occasions. Though there is inevitably some unevenness, the collection as a whole is very good -- i.e., instructive and clearly presented. At its best, it is excellent (see, e.g., Forte's conversations with R.G. Wasson and Jack Kornfield). Ample lists of references accompany most of the individual chapters. The book should prove to be a welcome complement to other serious studies in mysticism (including those that take a fundamentally different tack). -- C. MacCormick, emeritus, Wells College

 

CSP's Entheogen Chrestomathy entry for Entheogens and the Future of Religion

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