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Religion and Psychoactive Sacraments:
An Entheogen Chrestomathy

Thomas B. Roberts, Ph.D. and Paula Jo Hruby, Ed.D.
Author Index | Title Index

Mysticism Sacred and Profane: An Inquiry into Some Varieties of Praternatural Experience.

Zaehner, R. C.
London: Oxford University Press.

ISBN: 0-19-500229-6

Description: Paperback, xvi + 256 pages.

Contents: Preface, introduction, 10 chapters, 3 appendices: A. Some Recent Mescalin Experiments, B. The Author's Experience with Mescalin, C. Transliterated Passages, index.

Note: First published by the Clarendon Press in 1957, first issued as an Oxford University Press paperback in 1961. Chapter 1: Mescalin, and Chapter 2: Mescalin Interpreted.

Excerpt(s): Thanks to the good offices of mescalin Mr. Huxley claims to have known `contemplation at its height' though, he is modest enough to add `not yet in its fullness'. On reading these prodigious syllables it occurred to me that I too must have known `contemplation at its height' and that I was, on these grounds alone, qualified to offer some mild criticism of Mr. Huxley's more extravagant conclusions. At the impressionable age of twenty I was in fact the subject of a `mystical' experience which combined all the principle traits described in The Doors of Perception ... I know now that it was a case of what is usually called a `natural mystical experience' which may occur to anyone, whatever his religious faith or lack of it, and whatever moral, immoral, or amoral life he may be leading at the time. (pages xii-xiii)

It is at this point, it would seem, that the natural mystical experience would fit in. All the sources we have quoted ... would seem to agree that what they experienced was an enlargement of the ordinary field of consciousness in a vision that seemed to comprise all Nature; and Nature showed herself to be marvelously beautiful-far more beautiful and with a far deeper unity than the normal consciousness could even suspect. But the soul realizes equally well that, according to this dualist system, this is not its end, and that having seen the beauty of Nature, it must pass on to its own proper state of original isolation, there to contemplate its own far greater beauty for ever and ever. ...

Thus the human psyche, normally restricted to a very narrow range, may, and obviously does, on unaccountable occasions, or through the use of a deliberate technique, or by the taking of drugs, catch a glimpse of the workings of Nature as a whole. This total vision, as Rimbaud instinctively understood, is what Cath olics mean by Limbo. It is the highest happiness that man can attain to in isolation from God. ...

The difference between Proust and the nature mystics, the manics, and the expanded personalities is that the first experiences the eternal in himself as an integrating force appearing as a `second self' which deposes the mere ego from its previous supremacy, whereas the manics exhibit a limitless expansion of the ego in which there is no directing, co-ordinating principle at all, and in which all sense of values is lost. Natural mystics proper, when they are sane, may fall anywhere between the two poles. (pages 99-100)

Compilation copyright © 1995 – 2001 CSP

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