Religion and Psychoactive Sacraments:
An Entheogen Chrestomathy
Thomas B. Roberts, Ph.D. and Paula Jo Hruby, Ed.D.
Author Index | Title Index
Scandal: Essays in Islamic Heresy.
Wilson, Peter Lamborn. (1988).
Brooklyn, NY: Autonomedia.
- ISBN: 0-936756-13-6 hardcover
- 0-936756-12-2 paperback
Contents: 7 chapters,
Note: Eleven pages of
illustrative plates follow page 151. Readers of this guide will
find Chapter 7 "A Note
on the Use of Wine, Hemp & Opium" most interesting.
Excerpt(s): The Shariah
forbids all intoxicants. A Moslem who drinks wine or uses hashish
acts against the Shariah, but someone who uses an intoxicant for
spiritual purposes can rightly be called not just a sinner but
Nevertheless a great many people in Iran,
Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and elsewhere use preparations of
cannabis for various spiritual reasons. Very little has been published
on this subject, and of that little almost nothing of value. Between
1968 and 1978 I had occasion to observe and participate in such
hemp use, and I consider my own observations of some small value.
... In Benares,
bhang is sold on the streets in the form of delicious ice-cream
(bhang kulfi melai) as well as in sherbets and pastilles.
Shaivite saddhus smoke cannabis as well, often in the form of
ganja mixed with tobacco and consumed in chilams-although they
smoke charas when they can get it.
Ganja is the flowering bud of the female plant.
Bhang is the palmate leaf of "shade-leaf"
in modern American slang.
Hashish (Arabic for "grass") or charas
is a preparation of pollen and resinous dust, ideally transformed
into cakes by heat and manipulation ... (page 196)
Perhaps the most impressive spiritual use of bhang
I witnessed was at an `urs or Death-Anniversary celebration
at the sufi shrine of Madho Lal Husayn,
outside the Shalimar Gardens in Lahore
in 1973. (page 199)
A small but impressive minority of the Qalandars
are-by any fair standards-genuine mystics. For this assertion
I have only my own opinion and no proof. However, over the years
I travelled in the East I met many thousands of gurus, mursheds,
fakirs and full-time dervishes. Among the most impressive were
several devoted cannabis users. I know that very few orthodox
will accept my assertion, since by orthodox definition
a drug-user cannot be a true mystic. (pages 202-203)
One of Iran's leading turbanned theologians, an
expert in mystical Shiite philosophy, a man so respected
that neither the Shah nor Khomeini has dared order him silent
(he averages there or four books a year), is a well-known opium
addict. So are a great many sufis , especially in Kerman
province, but also in every province and city of Iran. So are
many artists, musicians, writers and aristocrats as well as peasants
and laborers. Opium smoking is "socialized" in traditional
Iran to a much greater degree than any other place I know.
I have heard some sufis claim spiritual benefits
from opium, usually on the grounds that by releasing them from
tension and sadness it allows them to concentrate on spiritual
matters. One can detect a whiff of opium in much Persian art,
a kind of drifting toward sleep. This opiated flavor in Iranian
culture certainly fails to represent the Persian genius at its
most vivid and acute. Nevertheless it would be churlish to deny
all spiritual value to such a decorative quietism, or to the drug
which sometimes inspires it. Addiction is viewed as a crime in
our society, and it may be difficult for us to associate opium
and mysticism. Other societies have different preconceptions,
and we need not share them in order to understand them. (page
Finally the only true apologia must be made on the
basis of self-knowledge. Anything-even including religion-can
act as a poison against perception, or as a support for contemplation
of the Real. As the Koran itself says, "Which of your Lord's
bounties would you deny?" (page 213)
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Compilation copyright © 1995 2001 CSP