Bill wrote (paraphrased):
>>>Regarding entheogens in Asia, look into the book "Shamanism and Tantra in the Himalayas" by Christian Ratsch, Claudia Muller-Ebeling, and Surendra Bahadur Shahi. They worked and studied for years among the Himalayan shamans, and conducted a week-long workshop/conference in Nepal. Ratsch has worked with many traditional peoples including the Mayans and Himalayans.
I read that book when it came out. It's great, but what I was looking for was separate additional information specifically to demolish any assumption that entheogens were "safely cordoned off" and restricted *just* to a little Himalayan deviant subculture -- a restrictive implication the book seems to imply, or gives the impression of implying, just like John Allegro misleadingly gives the impression that entheogens were restricted just to the small deviant subculture of only the very first Christians.
This is "the lone deviant subculture fallacy". The current scholarly situation overall gives the impression that every religion includes by the ay an odd, small deviant minority; these tiny cells are rare but present, one per continent, a long time ago. That paradigm, that model based on the assumption of rarity of entheogens even while one reveals entheogen use, is exactly what I'm aiming to overthrow and disprove.
I want to convert from today's impression given by the set of entheogen scholarship books, to a new and actually quite different impression, of ubiquity -- the maximal entheogen theory of religion: that entheogens are more like the *norm* and *standard*, in all religions-philosophies-myths, all eras, all regions. The most minimal requirements to accomplish this is to find *2* "subcultures" within each religion.
Use of visionary plants in Judaism is *not* restricted *just* to the ancient Merkavah mystics, or alternately, *just* to the Hasidic mystics -- no, it is comparatively *everywhere* throughout Judaism: all regions, all eras. Same with every other major religion. And this is especially true for pre-modern history of each religion.
What happened during the so-called age of the Enlightenment, when true entheogenic mythic allegorical religion was discarded together with bad literalist religion, resulting in lack of both types of religion, high and low?
o People no longer lived in nature; read "in proximity to visionary plants". They no longer lived with their holy cow, producing an ideal entheogen, psilocybin mushrooms.
o Religion was diminished -- in all forms, that is, both forms, mystic/ entheogenic/ allegorical/ esoteric as well as literalist/exoteric -- to the point where religion, a dyadic combination of vivid allusion to entheogens and literalist misunderstanding of such allegorical description, was lost, leaving only the echoes of literalism, too faint to break through into the old, pre-modern recognition of the true meaning.
By diminishing religion in all forms below a threshold of recognition and comprehension, in the "rational" and "enlightened" modern era, religion became reduced to the point where the entheogen allegory and true mysticism was lost.
Book: Shamanism and Tantra in the Himalayas
Christian Ratsch, Claudia Muller-Ebeling, Surendra Bahadur Shahi
>>>I read that book when it came out. It's great, but what I was looking for was separate additional information specifically to demolish any assumption that entheogens were "safely cordoned off" and restricted *just* to a little Himalayan deviant subculture -- a restrictive implication the book seems to imply, or gives the impression of implying, just like John Allegro misleadingly gives the impression that entheogens were restricted just to the small deviant subculture of only the very first Christians.
Bill wrote (paraphrased):
>>I can see your point how the book seems to support that 'entheogenic deviant subculture' impression about the Himalayan shamanic tradition, but that is merely a general surface reading of what's in the book.
>>What we experienced in the conference with the shamans in Nepal undoubtedly amplified what's in the book about entheogens' role, proving that the book comes short of emphasizing the widest evident scope of demonstrated entheogen influence in Eastern religion, but such support for the maximal entheogen theory of Eastern religion *is* there in the book!
>>I have always admired the goal of your work but also been aware of how daring it is in our cultural context: 'to demolish any assumption that entheogens were "safely cordoned off" and restricted *just* to little deviant subcultures.' At times it seems as daunting as any Sisyphean task could be.
>>In a way, of course, that's what Jonathan Ott has done in his way, and Schultes and Hofmann in theirs (to name just three of the many luminaries). Some would even say, "What's left of religion then, if it is really nothing more than allegorization of entheogenic phenomena? And what's left to do in the entheogen scholarship revolution, now that entheogens are demonstrated as influential in religious history? There's nothing left of religion, and nothing left for entheogen scholarship to reveal!"
>>What's left is nothing less than the radical transformation of a given in Science (in Science in its largest sense, in all its aspects from theoretical underpinnings to their everyday implications) that is as dynamic as the shift from the geocentric to the heliocentric in the Renaissance, or to the Theory of Evolution later.
>>Like McKenna liked to point out as archaic revival or re-evolution, this shift in understanding *and* shift in experiencing will in fact be *the* essential "missing link", more important than the familiar idea of the "missing link" in the Theory of Evolution. When you look at the forces lined up against this thoroughly entheogenic reconception of religion happening, the conflicts of Church vs. Galileo, or of the right wing against evolution seem almost picayune -- trifling, paltry, and petty.
>>>While I remain surprised that a drug could facilitate the soul- searching and life-review DT prescribes for soul-spirit integration and spiritual health, it seems an unnecessarily dangerous road towards that destination. Surely the history of the last 40 years has impressed us all with the dangers inherent in psychoactive drugs. I am inclined to seek hints about our proper path in the history and practices of the earliest Christians, and I can confidently say I've not heard anything about them including any sort of psychoactives in their practices.
>>Can you point me to a posting or reference that disputes it? It came from a discussion group called "divisiontheory" that discusses "Afterlife Phenomena and our Binary Soul".
By far the main meaning of 'afterlife' in higher, esoteric religion is the remainder of one's life after a series of entheogenic mystic state sessions resulting in deterministic egodeath and transcendent rebirth where freewill and separate self are fully understood as illusions, rather than remaining as returning delusions. Permanent ego death, resulting in the full conversion from delusion to mere conscious illusion, occurs typically after a series of some 9 visionary-plant initiations, in Traditional and esoteric religion/initiation systems.
That former, deluded self is metaphorized as one's "mortal life". After full lasting ego death, one has burned away one's mortality and gained everlasting imperishability, metaphorized as "immortality", an idea which also alludes to the mystic-state experience of timelessness, or frozen block-universe determinism in which egoic personal control agency is seen to be essentially illusory, frozen helplessly and impotently into spacetime.
There are warnings of danger all throughout religion and esotericism -- various wrathful deities, imprisonment, traps, dangers. Authentic spirituality is inherently dangerous, leading to one's Golem and Centaur running out of control, building up to wielding such power of personal egoic control, the egoic agent can no longer control its own runaway power. The result is self-control seizure and enlightenment when one's power is reconceived as empty -- depending on how the mind conceives of this mysterious "oneself" who is held to wield the runaway power.
According to the maximal entheogen theory of religion, visionary plants don't *simulate* the traditional religious methods, they *are* the main traditional methods, by far. Safe methods are safe because they are relatively ineffective; they become ways of effectively *avoiding* direct primary religious experiencing, typically excused by redefining spirituality to denude it of all intense mystic altered-state experiencing and relabelling the resulting ordinary state of consciousness as "spiritual", in a sense which is a recent post-1960s invention in reaction to the completely and embarrassingly impressive efficacy of entheogens at reliably and ergonomically producing intense primary mystic experiences.
Those who haven't heard about early Christians using entheogens are always those who haven't tried to look for and recognize the references that are available in reasonable abundance. Theirs is a paradigm-based blindness. The concept of "church" originally meant "a eucharistic meal gathering". The heart of the Death Star that blows it all up as having an entheogen-shaped core is the question, what exactly was the eucharistic meal -- it was "mixed wine". Then the entire question becomes, "What exactly and specifically was in the 'mixed wine'?"
What's needed today is a bulleted list of all the indications -- actually, indications-with-interpretations -- that support the maximal entheogen theory of religion. Only now are there enough books and websites, a handful, that cover the evidence and provide the interpretations. Today's entheogenists think small and assume the minimal entheogen theory of religion, supposing that entheogen use in religion was rare and suppressed.
It is easy to provide a list of books about entheogens in religious history. Using online resources, one can glean much of the worldview that enables recognizing the evidence that is ample for even the maximal entheogen theory of Christian history all before the modern era; that not only early Christians, but the Christian tradition overall during the ancient and medieval/Renaissance eras was based on the use of visionary plants, and not rarely or by a deviant few, but throughout popular and ecclesiastical culture.
It is easy to construct an interpretive framework or paradigm in which religious themes in general are recognized as perennially emanating from the visionary-plant based altered state of cognition. Such a paradigm, the just-now-forming "maximal entheogen paradigm", argues against the "minimalist" assumption still used by today's tepid and self-defeating entheogen scholars, who inadvertently end up giving more of an impression that entheogens were just the deviant and minor method that the prohibitionists and entheogen-diminishing meditation advocates claim they were.
Original, experiential, mystical Christianity
Mystery Religion, Myth, and the Mystical State
Holy Spirit and Christian Spirituality
Word and Power (doctrine and spiritual experience)
Hermeticism and Ancient Mystic Astrology
Entheogen theory of religion -- http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/listmania/list-browse/-/KDBM4IID0J82
The active eucharist that reveals the kingdom of God -- http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/listmania/list-browse/-/1WMWVXJ8FZPJD
Eucharist (Catholic authors)
Eucharist (Catholic authors II)
Lord's Supper (Prot., E. Orth, Ecum.)
Ancient wine as visionary plant beverage -- http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/listmania/list-browse/-/286BVZYFN78Z9
Mythic-only Christ theory
Religious myth: allegorical metaphor of mystic experiencing
The kingdom of God is at hand
Christianity as political rebellion against "divine" Caesar
Ancient Near Eastern religion
Philosophy of Mother of God
Mary "John" Magdalene, The Beloved Disciple
Sophia, religious comprehension
Theology of Religious Pluralism
A child's lightweight plastic toy hammer is safe: it can neither be used for real work, nor is it dangerous. There is a correlation between the danger and potency, or power, of many items. Meditation is safe, and, concomitantly, it is ineffective. Entheogens are potentially dangerous, and are potentially powerful. Alternative methods of inducing the mystic altered state, such as meditation, lack the potential to be dangerous and lack the potential to be effective.
Furthermore, it is an error of extremism and propaganda to overgeneralize about the danger of entheogens. If you go to the point of extreme overkill with most anything, that is dangerous. Entheogens are safe if used in moderation. The anti-entheogen mentality always makes the most extreme and unreasonable assumptions, silently, covertly, and unconsciously, such that all drug use is amplified to use maximum quantities: that mindset never pictures doing a single 100-mic tab of acid; no, it's always envisioned as 5 to 10 tabs.
The possibility of measured doses taken in moderation is eliminated from consideration, resulting in a uselessly biased conception of entheogen use and intensity, so that moderate meditation is compared to extreme dosing. The truth of the matter is that meditation ranges typically from ineffective to only slightly effective and negligibly intense, whereas entheogens can be taken in a controlled quantity anywhere one wants, from a tenth of a 100-mic hit of acid, for example, up to 10 hits.
The larger the dose -- assuming no tolerance is in effect; assuming at least half a week since the last session -- the more dangerous; and likewise, the smaller the dose, the safer. Meditation is uselessly limited to a typical range that's low-intensity and ineffective, as though you were to brag about your car's safety after restricting it to going 1 mile per hour: it's safe, but you'll never get anywhere. Entheogens are potentially effective as well as safe; meditation is limited to being safe but ineffective.