The spiritual use and that means of mind-altering medicine. There are medicine each pure and artificial that may produce experiences related to spiritual experiences: VISIONS, ecstasy, cosmic journeys, what the poet Baudelaire referred to as “artiﬁ cial paradises.” They can even produce interior HELLS as horrible as any that may be imagined. Nonetheless medicine have had a non secular or sacramental use the world over. Shamans of PRIMAL RELIGION in Siberia and the Americas have taken hallucinogenic mushrooms, peyote, datura, and different plant substances to assist induce visions of the divine realms and messages from gods. Some students imagine that soma, the well-known sacred drink spoken of within the VEDAS of historical India, might have been made out of the ﬂ y-agaric mushroom, and a couple of have speculated that the mysteries of Eleusis in historical Greece might have employed the identical hallucinogenic plant. Today the Native American Church within the United States makes use of peyote, a hallucinogenic cactus, as a sacramental substance to be taken in a reverential setting as a way of communion with GOD.
However, religions resembling JUDAISM, CHRISTIANITY, ISLAM, and the key jap FAITHS have usually rejected the usage of medicine in faith, believing that the visions and raptures they induce are spurious and not authentically from God. (Certain nonmainstream Hindu, Buddhist, and Taoist sources, chieﬂ y associated to TANTRISM, have seen some optimistic non secular worth within the supplies, however for essentially the most half as an initiation into realities that ought later to be realized by nondrug means.) They have acknowledged and condemned the hazards that may lie in drug use: lethargy, escapism, indifference to different problems with life, and ﬁ nally dependancy to the purpose that one will neglect duties and commit crimes for the sake of the drug.
In the mid-20th century, a brand new curiosity within the non secular that means of drug expertise arose. One vital impetus for it was a e book, The Doors of Perception (1954), by the well-known mystic and novelist Aldous Huxley (1894–1963). Huxley vividly described the way in which the abnormal world turned transﬁ gured and splendid as if it have been all divine, like the way in which it was seen by nice artists and Zen masters, after he had taken mescaline, a substance made out of peyote.
However, Huxley additionally believed such stimulants ought to be restricted to these actually mature and prepared for them. Another impetus was the invention of LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide), a extremely visionary artificial substance. The use of medicine, allegedly for non secular functions, was an vital side of the counterculture of the 1960s. But the “drug culture” shortly ﬁ lled with drug-induced crime, illness, psychological breakdown, and exploitation, and hallucinogenic medicine have been outlawed in every single place within the United States by 1966, with exceptions allowed for the Native American Church, the place drug use has continued to be a authorized problem. Whatever function medicine might have had within the spiritual lifetime of the distant previous, they’re usually not welcome in that of the trendy world, and most faiths see combating drug use as an vital a part of their mission to assist people reside disciplined and productive lives.