>Egodeath.com discusses the possibility of "block universe determinism", the idea that free will is an illusion and everything really is unfolding by itself, as planned.
The "no-free-will" idea is powerfully paired with the commonplace idea of "no-separate-self", identifying the two as "the no-free-will/no-separate-self insight". The separate self illusion essentially *is* the freewill illusion; the first purpose of the illusory separate self is to wield the supposed power of freewill. New Age religionists worship the "no-separate-self" idea but whose worldmodel is shattered by Ramesh Balsekar's proposal in the magazine What Is Enlightenment? that the core of revelation is no-free-will.
At last even these religionists on their cliched "path" confront the meaning of having to sacrifice the ego's *most prized possession* as the sacrificial price of entering heaven and nirvana. Anyone is willing to kill their firstborn child, that's a low price. Kill the separate-self illusion? Everyone is fine with that. But what egoically possessed person would be willing to give much more than that, and sacrifice their own free will?
It is against the nature of ego to let go of its precious ring of power, its most precious possession, free will. The moment ego is brought to sacrifice free will, the ego dies, burned away as a husk, and only the true and real aspects of the person remain, with the ego remaining only as a vestigial ghost, one's childself now relegated to the shadowy underworld of Hades. The damned in hell are possessed by the freewill demon-delusion; the saints in heaven have had their freewill delusion burned off by the fires of purgatory.
>There is further a significant discussion of psychoactive substances (psychedelics/entheogens) and the possible role they have played in the emergence and development of world religions large and small.
>so in recent months i couldn't avoid the speculation that perhaps helen and bill [some creators of The Course in Miracles] had access to some LSD or other substances.
In the book Up From Eden, Ken Wilber speculates that foreign religions don't have strong long-term prospects in the U.S., but that Christian-derived religion and the technology of psychoactives are more likely to have a long-term future: he cited specifically Course in Miracles and LSD.
One researcher is gathering suggestive evidence for Amanita in the creation of Mormonism.
I am fully entering the realm of strategic, productive, and efficient speculation. What we need before we can gather evidential proof of the entheogen theory of the origin of religions is an *excellent hypothesis* that would, if it were true, explain everything. Feyerabend states that it's *not* the case that evidence builds up for a new theory until it overwhelms evidence for the old theory.
One paradigm doesn't come along and persuade inveterate doubters through compelling force of evidence. What actually happens is that there is, in the early adoption phase, a shortage of evidence for the new theory or paradigm, yet some researchers commit to the new theory *despite* its inferior evidence: the new theory just seems more sound and plausible, a more convincing proposition *despite* the early lack of evidence.
So it is with the current state of the entheogen theory of the origin of religions. There are conventional entrenched assumptions that entheogen use was rare, that it was cut off from the mainstream, that it wasn't influential, that it was used only by a rare and odd deviant religionist or two -- these are all entrenched axiomatic assumptions.
Now it is wise and powerful to wave aside all that knowledge, all that framework of conventional assumptions, and erect anew a different set of axiomatic assumptions that is part of a different highly viable paradigm. Forgetting all we think we know, consider this paradigm, this set of assumptions, motives... this "reality tunnel" (Robert Anton Wilson).
o Meditation was created to augment entheogens, and as entheogens were suppressed, meditation was used more and more with the effect of overly praising it and giving it credit that is actually stolen from entheogens.
o All religions began and were reinvigorated through entheogens.
o All the mystic geniuses who created and reinvigorated religions used entheogens.
o There is a great deal of explicit entheogen evidence, if we simply think to look for it -- such as the lily as symbol for datura, and the lotus blossom representing the entheogenic species of water lily, and Christian haloes as stylized Amanita cap.
o What percentage of late 20th Century U.S. citizens and Europeans used entheogens? Suppose 25%.
o What percentage of early Eurasians, 1000 B.C., used entheogens? Suppose 25%.
o What percentage of Eurasians 500 BCE--500 CE used entheogens, such as "mixed wine"? Suppose 25%.
There are exact parallels in comparing the debate of whether Classic Rock *is* Acid Rock, and whether Christian and other Mystery Religions were entheogen initiation religions. Everything hinges on cultural context, the actual incidence of using entheogens, and your assumptions about how rare or suppressed or uninfluential entheogens were in the period in question.
Those who say that Rush, being philosophers, in the Rock culture after the 60s, wouldn't have used entheogens, are living in a reality tunnel that is at odds with the statistical and cultural realities. It's less interesting to analyze Led Zeppelin -- there isn't much Mystery there, with Robert Plant picking a psilocybin mushroom at the start of his mid-1970s Rock concert movie.
But analyzing the controversial band Rush provides a great deal of insight on the debate over whether real Christianity was entheogenic initiation and whether medieval Christianity was also founded on entheogenic experiencing.
If you assume that the 1970s were as LSD-influenced as we *know* them to have been, and if you assume that mid-1970s Heavy Rock such as Queen and Led Zeppelin was strongly influenced by and devoted to drug-induced altered states, then it becomes highly plausible, not in the least implausible, that Rush also was strongly influenced by and devoted to entheogens. You adopt either one paradigm or the other, with a huge raft of axiomatic assumptions. Either:
o The 70s were somewhat saturated with drugs, but Classic Rock was largely independent of this, especially Rush.
o The 70s were totally saturated with drugs and Classic Rock was a mystic philosophical experiential religion devoted to the altered state, with some groups taking it to a highly refined art form, such as Rush.
Which reality tunnel seems more plausible? Which set of assumptions and way of thinking seems more sound and likely?
Arguments are interesting because they so often come down to incommensurable paradigms, mutually exclusive reality tunnels, with their own "coherent" sets of axiomatic assumptions. People must take responsibility for their faith-like adoption and choices of sets of axiomatic assumptions.
Would you accept the convention view, which is pushed into the following corner? "Around 1000 BC, entheogen use was common, and 500-500 it was common, and in the late 20th Century it was common -- yet, during Medieval Europe's Christian reality-tunnel, entheogen use was rare and not influential -- that Christianity was an exception."
I propose instead this axiomatic assumption: entheogen use is more of a constant across eras. In all eras of European history, entheogen use has remained constant -- suppose 25% (naturally, this figure needs heavily qualification or definition, but it is plenty clear enough for the ideas I'm laying out here).
So I don't think the question is "Was entheogen use common in Christianity in the early and Medieval eras?" We need to draw up stronger axioms than that: *Given* the assumption that entheogen use is practically a constant in Europe across the eras, what was its role, influence, and relation to the Christian religion? What is the relation between unofficial European religion, official Christian religion, and entheogen use?
I propose that entheogens were 25% present in unofficial European religion, in monastic religion, and in official religion. The populace was fully aware of entheogen religion -- as much as today's ignorant U.S. population is aware that entheogens produce religious experiencing and insight -- and the monastics were fully aware of entheogen religion, and so were the officials.
There was no possibility of disputing entheogens' central role in Christianity; all dispute revolved around social control, suppression, revival, unofficial prophets versus official priests, and so on. Many people were clueless about entheogens at the heart of Christianity, but many were not, just the same as today, many people are not clueless about the intense religious and philosophical potency of entheogens.
We all play huge social-control games around this huge potential, but no serious thinker is so clueless and idiotic to go up against this most concrete of facts. More characteristic is like Zaehner, striving to find ways to belittle the intense religious experience of entheogens as being in some vague way inferior to official, purportedly non-entheogenic mystic experiencing.
It's obviously a hopeless case to deny that entheogens produce profound, intense religious experiencing. All that the anti-entheogenist can do is distort and try to steer aside this reality, but not deny it head-on.
So which axiomatic assumption sounds most plausible:
o Our religious evasions about the importance of entheogens today are wholly different than during early Christian and medieval eras.
o Our religious evasions about the importance of entheogens today are essentially the same as during early Christian and medieval eras.
The phony, amoral, profit-driven "War on Drugs" (prohibition for profit) and the controversy about whether Rush is Acid Rock both provide much insight into axiomatic assumption-sets, which is essential for understanding how early Christianity, medieval Christianity, and religions in general originated and were reinvigorated through very common and very influential entheogen use. I would even hesitate to say any longer that entheogenic religion was "suppressed" or "suppressed to some degree" in Christianity.
The idea of "suppression" is too simplistic and always underestimates how very common and even *dominant* entheogens were throughout Christian history. Are you surprised to imagine Christians of the 1400s, 1500s, 1800s, 1700s... commonly using entheogens? But if we apply a certain set of axiomatic assumptions, everything falls into place in a different and self-consistent arrangement.
Imagine Christianity being dominant from 300 to 2000 in European culture and imagine that in all eras, 25% of people had significant religious experiences through entheogens. Even if 5 or 10%, the main idea still holds. In this reality tunnel, a significant percentage of mystics, priests, and laity were *constantly* experiencing the entheogen aspect of the Christian religion.
We cannot assume that this entheogen inspiration was ever absent -- not in the 1400s, not in the 1600s, not in the 1700s or 1800s. Do we fancy that we know so much about entheogens, but Europeans were worse-than-subhuman barbarian savages completely bereft of all knowledge of plants? But how could that be; it is *we* who are out of touch with plants.
They had potions. *We* are attracted to psychoactive plants, were not our ancestors? We proudly fancy ourselves the first generation since antiquity to have discovered entheogens.
We would likely be closer to the truth if we accept the axiom that entheogen use is a constant across eras, and that just as mystics today are very interested in entheogens, so were their ancestors. It is time to look out at the world and history and evidence from *this* set of assumptions and see how the story elements fall into place, painting a picture that is drawn together by its own compelling logic.
I'd be more inclined to admit that Christianity has always struggled around the central fact of the psychoactivity of the true sacrament, rather than any longer saying that entheogens were simply "suppressed". Commandeered, slightly, suppressed, a little... but not much. See the Amanita halos, see the lily daturas -- you call that "suppressed"? No, I call *us* blind and ignorant. Our entheogen-using Christian ancestors knew a thing or two about plant potions.
The greatest danger for us in retelling the story of Christian history and the history of religions is to underestimate the presence of entheogens. The greatest profit now is through erring on the side of overestimating the importance of entheogens. What is the maximum presence of entheogens we can possibly imagine in religious and Christian origins and ongoing reinvigoration?
Let us generally suppose that entheogens were "many times more important" in the start and continuation of Christianity than previously imagined. This axiomatic assumption produces highly suggestive and interesting possibilities that haven't been considered nearly enough.
After we make this "maximal influence" case, then we can consider backing off to some degree and acknowledging that entheogens were not the entirety of the origin and continuation of Christianity. I advocate the "maximal influence" case and am dedicated to enabling research on the question:
What is the maximum possible role of entheogens in the origin and continuance of religions? A case can be made, or at least a hypothesis can be formulated, but has never yet been made very strongly, that entheogens have been very central and dominant and popular in the origin and continuance of religions.
It is time to get this hypothesis, this proposition, this paradigm, in order; it is time to systematize a theory in which entheogens are given a maximal, rather than the accustomed minimal, role, in the start and continuation of religions, including Christianity, Buddhism, the Hebrew religion, and Rabbinical Judaism.
>On Amanita, the Course in Miracles perspective seemed apparent, right on. It seemed like we really are all heading inevitably toward god and the only proper response is profound and humble gratitude. I am convinced that one of the motivations for keeping psychedelics illegal is their potential for undermining the authority of established religions, since, if one can get one's spiritual experiences from substances, why join a church?
It is more important now to put forth a perfectly clear and explicit and straightforward theory to be considered, rather than relying on a base of compelling evidence. The theory comes first, the suggestive evidence comes next, and the compelling evidence is effectively constructed, assembled, and recognized much later. Paradigms aren't based on compelling evidence, so much as on their ability to bring a framework and perspective into focus so that we perceive a scene that has its own integrity.
We cannot perceive the "supporting evidence" until we already have the highly refined *theory* to look through as a focusing lens.