Higher Wisdom, IV

Part IV : Religious Implications



Religious Boundaries



Ram Dass

Walking the Path



Huston Smith

Religious Import



Walsh & Grob

These Elders Learn




Zalman Schachter-Shalomi

Transcending Religious Boundaries


p. 195 biography

"Zalman Schachter-Shalomi was born in Poland and raised in Vienna, Austria ... . ... . ... Schachter-Shalomi has held the World Wisdom Seat at the Naropa Institute and is Professor Emeritus at Temple University."

p. 195 authorship

"His books include : Paradigm Shift, Wrapped in a Holy Flame ..., Torah and Dharma (with Tetsugen Glassman Roshi) and From Age-ing to Sage-ing ... (with Ronald Miller)."

p. 200 reading religious scripture whilst under the influence of psychedelics

"Leary and Alpert did this with psychedelics, looking at the Tao Te Ching and the Tibetan Book of the Dead. ... I was eager to try this with the Book of Job or the Book of Ecclesiastes, because

the Book of Ecclesiastes is the most Buddhist book in the Hebrew Bible. For everything ... there is a season ...; nothing is permanent."

{Another possible attribution of Qohelet (Ekklesiastes) is to Yemen, for in the Qat.abanian alphabet there are 29 consonants, much as the expression "Vanity of Vanities, all is vanity" is 29 times asserted in Qohelet.}

p. 202 mirror of death

"the Mexican ... Salvador Roquet ... did ... what he called convivials ... . In one exercise you looked into a coffin. There was a mirror at the bottom of the coffin".

{cf. the mirror of Dharma in the Bodish Book of the Dead}

p. 203 asleep in a cave

"Once I took morning glory seeds. ... I had a vision {dream} of myself in a cave with other people, and everybody was sitting in warm water. Some people were asleep {asleep inside of a dream!}, some people were having nightmares".

{"Proteus ... lies down to sleep under the arching caves, and around him is a throng of seals, the brood of the lovely Halosydne [Amphitrite]; they too have come up through the grey waters" (Odusseia 4:365 sq -- "PSG").}

"PSG" = http://www.theoi.com/Pontios/Proteus.html

p. 205 oikoumenism via psychedelics

"Psychedelic experiences often generate a sympathetic view of other religions, so I think that such experiences could be important for ecumenism. ... I can't imagine a better way of introducing people to the worlds of Jewish mysticism than via the psychedelic path."



Ram Dass

Walking the Path : Psychedelics and Beyond


p. 207 professorhood

"Born Richard Alpert, he became a professor of psychology at Stanford University, then at Harvard, where he met Timothy Leary and was introduced to psychedelics. ... The result was the infamous firing by Harvard of both Alpert and Leary."

pp. 208-9 authorship

p. 208

"Ram Dass' classic book Be Here Now, together with The Only Dance There Is, and Journey of Awakening, introduced many people to spiritual

p. 209

practice; Miracle of Love : Stories about Neem Karoli Baba offers accounts of his guru; Still Here : Embracing Aging ... brings a spiritual perspective to aging; and One Liners ... collects some of his pithiest aphorisms."

p. 209 supernatural observations upon ingesting psilocybin

"I noticed that there was someone in the corner of the room ... . And I realized that it was me! Men, in my various roles -- pilot, academic -- all my roles were out there somewhere. ...

{Seeing [a specific number each of] external multiples of one's subtle bodies is a miraculous feat sought to be achieved by mystic Taoist pracittioners. (So many of hun, of p>o, etc.)}

Then I thought, "Well, at least I have my body." That was my first mistake, because I looked down at the couch and I saw the full couch with no body there!"

{One's physical body may become invisible to one's self (as part of it did to me on one occasion) if touched by a peculiar type of praeternatural manifestation.}

p. 210 Book of the Dead

"Aldous Huxley gave us a coy of the Tibetan Book of the Dead. ... The Tibetan Book of the Dead gave me a feeling that Eastern psychologists described the inner workings of this ... that I had experienced."

p. 211 LSD-accessed planes-of-existence

" "the moment" included ... planes upon planes ..., there was an ecstatic state, where colors and music became so incredibly vivid".

"Aldous Huxley once gave a speech where he said that we are fond of precious jewels because they remind us of the pebbles from higher planes."

{According to the Puran.a-s, gems serve as pebbles in the Tala-s, which are the LOWER planes-of-existence, below the material plane.}

"my consciousness ... was a vehicle I could now use to travel to these other planes."

pp. 212, 216, 218 spiritual planes of consciousness

p. 212

"the Atman in Hinduism ... Quakers call ... "the small still voice." It's a plane of consciousness in which we are privy to the universe subjectively."

p. 216

"As I gained experience in the use of psychedelics, I realized that I was accessing spiritual planes of cosciousness. These chemicals can get you in the door, but you don't stay on these planes like you do when you become and adept at meditation. But they can give faith about the existence of these other planes ... . ... Psychedelics can't give you a permanent spiritual immersion. ... Yet for me, psychedelics did indeed provide the faith that I needed. Later I managed to expereince ecstatic states without drugs, because I knew that these states existed. Some of these states are beyond life and death."

p. 218

"I'm exploring states or planes of consciousness. Planes of consciousness are like places ... . ... Each of us is a cog in a wheel in that plane of consciousness where we realize the One. When there, ... I'm free of having to make decisions about my life, because that Consciousness makes decisions for my life."

p. 217 redincarnation

"I've found my soul, which doesn't die. ... My soul goes through repeated incarnations. ... The end of an incarnation is like the end of a chapter in a book you are reading.

p. 220 psychedelic insight into one's life at the conclusion of a psychedelic session

"When I have guided psychedelic sessions, I have noticed that there are usually two places where a bad session can occur : going out {into the otherworld} and coming back {in the material world}. Coming back, it can be horrible to see {by means of psychedelic-generated insight} the life you've created."

p. 220 personal computers & the civilian Internet were created by psychedelics; truth-based values

"My friends from silicon valley all used [lysergic] acid, and they took what they learned from psychedelics into technology. The creation of personal computers and the [civilian] Internet was inspired in part by psychedelics."

"Psychedelics undermine both individual and cultural illusions {such as capitalistic materialism}, and can bring you closer to truth. But {capitalist} society doesn't want that to occur, because our {capitalist} society isn't founded on truth or truth-based values."



Huston Smith

Drugs Have Religious Import


p. 223 practice of, vs neglect to practice, spiritual exercises

"Smith did somthing all too rare for a professor of religion : he not only studied ... religions traditions ..., he also practiced them."

"the unfortunate reality is that the academic world of religous studies is largely populated by people [for whom] ... the greater meanings, or what philosophers call "higher grades of significance," go unrecognized. As philosopher Immanuel Kant long ago pointed out, intellectual understanding without relevant experience to underpin it and fill it out results in "empty concepts." Consequently, ... [one ought] appreciate the contemplative and mystical depths that spiritual practice unveils."

p. 224 authorship

"In 1963, Smith published a landmark article titled "Do Drugs Have Religious Import?" in the Journal of Philosophy. this article proved to be one of the most influential of all publications on psychedelics, and is the most repreinted article in the journal's history. In this article he took issue with the prevailing view that drugs produced pseudospiritual experiences with little religious value. ...

This and other important papers on psychedelics were published in the book Cleansing the Doors of Perception : The Religious Significance of Entheogeic Plants and Chemicals. The also coedited (with Reuben Snake) One Nation under God : The Triumph of the Native American Church, describing the Native American Church's ... religious right to use peyote as a sacrament."

"His book ... Forgotten Truth : The Primordial Tradition, lays out ... the Perennial Philosophy. His award-winning Why Religion Matters : The Fate of the Human Spirit in an Age of Disbelief ... defends against one of the most pervasive yet subtle threats of our time : the spell of scientism, which is the mistaken belief that science alone provides valid knowledge. Other books by Smith include Beyond the Postmodern Mind ...; and a collection of interviews titled The Way Things Are : Comversations with Huston Smith on the Spiritual Life."

pp. 225-6 Smith's account of his own spiritual practice

p. 225

"In my own spiritual sadhana [sadhana] practice, I always begin the day ... with meditation and a little yoga".

p. 226

"So when I heard that there were techniques for achieving transcendence, well ... I went to Japan and entered a Zen monastery."

p. 226 his guru was Aldous Huxley

"Aldous Huxley's The Doors of Perception came along. I already knew Huxley, having sought him out after reading his book The Perennial Philosophy. He was something of a guru for me at that stage, and when he produced The Doors of Perception, I was more than interested. ... And since I was volunteering to be Huxley's social secretary, I too eventually met up with Leary."

p. 227 awesome divine revelation via psilocybin

"psilocybin ... I took ... . ... I was into the experience that for the previous fifteen or twenty years I had been trying to get by other means. Now, ... it experientially validated my world-view that ... was the Great Chain of Being {= the cosmic chain whence is suspended the world (according to the Iliad)}which envisions all reality as proceeding from ... its apex ... that ... contains within it every virtue. .The apex of the Great Chain ... Plato calls ... "the good, the true, the beautiful." At the apex, everything is smelted down into its virtuous mode, which is -- according to the Great Chain of Being -- the only true mode ... . ...

However, ... it brought an element of surprise. ... This surprise was the element of ... awe. Awe, I came to see so clearly, is the distinctive religious emotion ... . ... The intensity built as I mounted the links of the Great Chain of Being, until I got to the penultimate level ... .

And there I paused to take a second look at this question, "Do I want to make that final step, or do I not?""

{If he had taken the final step, he would have become jivanmukti (liberated while living).}

p. 231 why soma historically ceased to be ingested in India

"R. Gordon Wasson has made the cleverest hypothesis in his book on soma. He posits that ... the sacred element was lost, and the profane got out of hand. According to Wasson's hypothesis ..., the Brahmins decided to shut it down. ... I don't have any independent theory. But his theory is as good as any that I know.}

{The soma-ingesting may have been prohited instead by a coalition of the richest vais`ya-s with the connivance of the royal family (with may also have been vais`ya). This may have been done because greed-motivated vais`ya-s resented a psychedelic which disclined ingesters of it to any manner whatsoever of greediness.} {The profane is already "out of hand" in materialist-atheist capitalist United States; whereas in India, only vais`ya-s are without dharma; Brahmin-s being Vaidik and Ks.atriya-s Tantrik in their usual religious-ritual orientations.}

pp. 235-6 logical positivists undergo a religious conversion-experience via psychedelics

p. 235

"I know ... people who were logical positivists -- materialists to the core, totally convinced -- until the experience. Now they've completely lost interest in teaching the philosophy of science. All they want to do is teach mysticism."

p. 236

There have been cases of "these logical positivists and the like, where the experience just spun their whole world-view around and left them with a new and different world-view. They couldn't have been more surprised at what happened."

p. 236 transmigration of the soul

" "What about reincarnation?" ... I can't think of a more logical, more constructive -- when fully understood -- view that makes sense of our moral behavior. ... I do believe that our work is never completed ..., we all have work to do after this {material} body drops."

p. 236 social immorality {due to capitalism}

"It's easier to see the devastating flaws, like the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer. Now ... that's flatly immoral. And racial discrimination is flatly immoral".

p. 237 targeting for elimination one's antisocial qualities

"targeting the three poisons of greed, hatred, and delusion. These are what stand between us and the virtues. ... "If you focus on the positive irtues, they are way out there and you're striving. But the poisons are right here and we have to deal with them every day. That's what we should work on, with the assurance that ... to every extent the poisons are eliminated, they will create a vacuum into which the virtues will flow automatically.""



Roger Walsh & Charles S. Grob

These Elders Learn, ... We Learn


p. 242 synonymry for "psychedelic"

"Though originally marketed as "psychotomimetics" and labeled "hallucinogens," their remarkably variable effects soon led Stanislav Grof and others to recognize them as "nonspecific amplifiers" of mental proceses that brought previously subliminal experiences to conscious awareness. ... More recently, they have been described by the term "entheogen," in recognition of their capacity to elicit spiritual experiences."

p. 242 dosage-level of psychedelic drugs

"Two distinct approaches emerged : low-dose "psycholytic" and high-dose "psychedelic"therapies. The psycholytic method fostered the emergence and exploration of ... levels of the unconscious. ... However, over multiple sessions, deeper levels of the unconscious might emerge and unveil transpersonal or even mystical experiences.

The psychedelic approach, on the other hand, tended to quickly catapult subjects through ... to transpersonal, spiritual, and mystical experiences. ... Researchers using the high-dose psychedelic approach ... rediscovered Carl Jung's conclusion that "the approach to the numinous is the real therapy, and inasmuch {insofar} as you attain the numinous experience you are released from the curse of pathology."" [L, p. 377]

L = C. G. Jung (ed. by G. Adler) : Letters. Princeton U Pr, 1973.

pp. 243-4 multi-layered personality

p. 243

"Researchers of psychedelics ... felt compelled to recognize the importatance of altered states of consciousness, the multilayered aspects of the unconscious, spiritual depths of the psyche, and a positive view of human nature. ... A second compelling recognition was the multilayered nature of the mind and the vastness of the unconscious. Layer after layer was often peeled away ... . ...

p. 244

Then you can go deeper and deeper and deeper, until finally the ego cracks completely and you transcend it."

pp. 244-5 transcendent consciousness

p. 244

"the layers and depths of the psyche" : "after ... personal layers, there frequently emerged transpersonal ones. Here experiences were consistent, not with the theories of Western clinicians, but rather with those of contemplative traditions. ... These transpersonal depths opened realms of mind comparable to those discovered by the world's greatest spiritual teachers and mystics. Descriptions of ecstasy, mystical union, pure consciousness, the void, or satori were sudenly transformed ... into potent, life-changing experiences. The result was a new and deeper understanding of the world's religious traditions. Some researchers and their subjects alike had such experiences, and many reoriented their lives accordingly."

p. 245

[quoted from LP, p. 70] "It would appear that everybody who experiences these levels develops convincing insights intothe utmost relevance of the spiritual dimension in the universal scheme of things. Even positivistically oriented scientsists ..., uncompromising atheists and antireligious crusaders ..., suddenly become interested in the spiritual quest after they confront these levels in themselves."

LP = S. Grof : LSD Psychotherapy. Sarasota : Multidisciplinary Assn for Psychedelic Studies.

p. 250 trademark-phrases characterizing various philosopher- and psychologist-authors






self-liberating nature of mind

Kurt Goldstein


Carl Rogers

formative tendency

Carl Jung

individuation urge

Abraham Maslow


Erik Erison


Ken Wilber


Aldous Huxley

moks.a drive

Stanislav Grof


pp. 252-3 bases of culture-specific metaphysics in valuations of states-of-consciousness

p. 252

"societies approve and institutionalize some states of consciousness, while disparaging and prohibiting others ... . Western culture is relatively monophasic, ... privilege the usual waking state, derive ... world-view almost entire from it, and marginalize other states ... .

p. 253

By contrast, most societies are more polyphasic, drawing their knowledge and world-view from additional modalities of consciousness, such as trance, shamanic, meditative, or yogic states." ["TA"]

"TA = C. Laughlin; J. McManus; J. Shearer : "Transpersonal Anthropology". In :- R. Walsh & F. Vaughan (edd.) : Paths Beyond Ego : the Tranpersonal vision. Los Angeles : J. Tarcher, 1993.


Roger Walsh & Charles S. Grob (edd.) : Higher Wisdom : eminent elders explore the continuing impact of psychedelics. State U of NY Pr, Albany, 2005.