Religion and Psychoactive Sacraments:
An Entheogen Chrestomathy
Thomas B. Roberts, Ph.D. and Paula Jo Hruby, Ed.D.
Author Index | Title Index
The Light at the Center: Context and Pretext of Modern Mysticism.
Bharati, Agehananda. (1977).
New Delhi: Vikas Publishing House Pvt Ltd.
254 + vi pages, Bell Books paperback division of Vikas. Originally
published in 1976 by Ross-Erikson, Santa Barbara, CA.
8 chapters, chapter notes, bibliography, index, advertisement.
Excerpt(s): In 1958,
during my first American year, as a Research Associate of the
Far Eastern Institute of the University of Washington in Seattle
in the marvelous Pacific Northwest, I was one of the first people
to experiment with that exquisite product of Messrs. Sandoz of
Basle, Lysergic Acid Diethylamide, LSD-25. I believe Leary
and Alpert had just barely heard about it
at that time. I have reason to believe that I obtained material
from the first batch Sandoz produced, and quite officially transmitted
to some medical and biochemical research centers in this country.
I had read the Doors of Perception; I found some of
Huxley's speculations about the mystical quite delightful, but
not too significant-and I was under the impression that he did
not really try to establish his mescalin experience
as a mystical one, but as strongly hedonic.
LSD and other psychotomimetic drugs go badly, very
badly, with set-up "clinical," laboratory-test conditions.
They have to be taken with warm people, friends, and very preferably
in the company of a person with whom the taker has a profound
sexual involvement, not as yet curtailed by duration and routine.
During my third take I was with a very beautiful woman. She was
a nominal Buddhist, but not really concerned with religious matters.
We took the drug around 8 p.m., listened to Bach and Purcell (whose
Ode to St. Cecilia's Day ... is the most powerful psychedelic
music I have known), and it was a highly pleasant, lovely experience,
with incense, friendly people, no psychiatrists, and the proper
paraphernalia around. ... [The next morning] as I kissed her body,
I had a marvelous vision: her whole womb took on a bright golden
hue, it looked, and this thought struck me immediately, like the
brahmanda, the Golden Egg of the Indian cosmogony; and
inside it, millions of entities, looking like so many fish, were
copulating in fast, perfectly rhythmical motion. (pages 42-43)
As so often in this study, I must adduce the psychotomimetic
experience as a heuristic parallel, for this is precisely what
it is, and the most adequate one we can think of at this time.
In hedonic, erotically charged, musically supported, ritualistically
informal LSD sessions, with unworried, concerned, mystically inclined
people around, and with a dose of 200 micrograms of pure unblended
LSD, the average taker enters the deepest place roughly four and
a half hours after the take. This phase lasts about one hour,
whereafter it ebbs off. During this phase the taker is often removed
from the discursive world of subjects, objects, and things. ...
This is the parallel: the mystic teaches and looks after the things
of the world at all times when he is not right inside the zero-experience.
In it, he won't make the effort although he could, for the simple
reason that there is no desire toward making
any effort. (pages 47-48)
When the mystic says, "I function better in
the world, as I have mystical vision, etc.," he means to
say,"having had the zero-experience (once, twice, often),
I function better."; but he cannot mean "whenever I
am in the zero-experience, I function better" simply because
during the experience one cannot function at all. The analogy
with love is not far-fetched. A person in love may be more aware,
sensitive, alive to his world. But in sexual intercourse? (page
The late R. C. Zaehner, the
best educated and the shrewdest apologist for Christian mysticism,
said "very many nature mystics have thought the same (i.e.
that the identification of nature and God is wholly natural and
self-evident) because they have been deceived (italics
supplied) by the mere sensation of union or unity into the belief
that the object of such union must always be the same." ...
"Nature mysticism" is a term of reprimand-a
persuasive term again, not a descriptive one. For of course whatever
we generate in ourselves is part of nature, since we are part
of nature on anyone's account, pantheistic, monistic, theistic,
or "pan-en-theistic," to quote Zaehner's
pedantic term. ... If you postulate that there is a God and that
he is different from Nature ... then every zero-experience that
does not take cognizance of that separate God is "nature
mysticism," since there is no tertium quid besides
God and Nature. (page 51)
When Aldous Huxley reported
about the multifluorecence of his flannel trousers or the leg
of the chair, it just wasn't his ordinary flannel suit or the
leg of an ordinary chair-these were shorthand, poetically, consciously,
or even unconsciously chosen words to hint euphoric
content, maybe under conscious avoidance of theological terms.
Zaehner wondered why Huxley did not mention God a single time
when he reported about his mescalin experience.
Huxley, like Zaehner, had heard words galore about the brahman,
about the advaitic experience, about God. It was not that his
experience was unrelated to these concepts, but he simply chose
to use non-theological terms for, I think, pedagogical reasons.
God-talk had driven him out of Christianity, God-talk later drove
him out of Vedanta. Why should he perpetuate it when he really
got on to something important? (pages 57-58)
... Mystics may talk about anguish and longing in
their post-zero ruminations; but this is due to their post-zero
and inter-zero ideological ascriptions and identifications. I
watched two very young hippies in California take LSD for the
first time. Their experience, judging from their reports, was
very different indeed from the experiences of similar takers.
Both of them received genuine zero-experiences, and neither ascribed
it to any Judeo-Christian ideology. These two young people reported
the clear union experience, and along with it, they reported their
pleasure (which was non-sexual or not directly sexual at the time),
their being totally engulfed by it, their feeling that this was
the basic state of things, but not the answer to their problems
and questions. They did not report that they felt their
experience was noble or morally good or bad until
twenty-four hours later, when they made love, had reflected about
what had happened, and had talked to other senior takers, some
of whom were spurious mystics, and all of whom were serious, senior
hippies with records of at least one acid trip per week for at
least one year. Their leader confided to me that
he was not at all satisfied with the reports given by this young
pair of lovers who had just walked in by chance; it did not fit
the leader's variety of Zen mysticism nor the cosmic plans and
models which he said are inevitable concomitants of the proper
experience. (pages 71-72)
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