Science in Christian Perspective


The Relationship of Drugs to 
Contemporary Religion
Furnace Street Mission 
Akron, Ohio 44309

From: JASA 25 (September 1973): 99-105.


Among the concerns that demand our attention as a country, as families, as philosophers, theologians, and churchmen, the problem of drug abuse has been outstanding. Its only rivals come, perhaps, from our crime, poverty and environmental difficulties. Remembering that all social problems are intensely personal problems it should not seem too far afield to seek religious under- and over-tones to such a personal problem as drug abuse. My own interest in the subject has been cultivated by my experience with residents at the halfway house which I direct for ex-convicts and through contacts made with one of the many drug groups at Kent State University.

Drug abuse forms an interesting pattern which relates to our country's past. We can detect a definite correlation between technology, historical problems, and drug abuse. During the 1800's the needle and syringe made their first appearance in our country. By 1860 morphine sulphate was developed and came into its own during the civil war. As man devised better ways to kill and maim he found that, medically he was limited to the practice of amputation and reduction of pain. The latter was largely responsible for rise of morphine as a problem. By 1865 we had over 400,000 addicts and morphine addiction came to be known as the "Soldier's Disease."

A few general comments are in order. 1. Due to the variety of personalities which construct the drug-abuse scene, not all involvement can be attributed to religious motives. (e.g., the common experimenter). 2. I have narrowed our study to those aspects which relate to the field of religion. This means we are considering a very limited and select group within the vast community that represents o continuum varying in aspects of frequency and nature of abuse. 3. We concern ourselves with the hallucinogens as a brood class and for the purpose of the paper, include marijuana in that group. 4. 1 make no claim to be exhaustive. It is my main concern to be informative and illustrate the religious aspects of drug use. I hope I can stimulate some interest to the point that we can wrestle together with this problem that has mode the entire church feel almost helpless and certainly not blameless.

Someone then came up with the enterprising idea that if one substituted heroin for morphine the problem would cease and, sure enough, soldier's disease began to disappear-morphine became less and less in demand. And then we discovered that heroin was 15 times stronger than morphine and the problem had only begun. [In the background, keep in mind that the railroads were pushing their way from the West using oriental workers who brought with them theft supplies of opium].

In 1906 a drug reform bill was passed to bring more strict limitations to the use of drugs. However, by 1919 the problem had grown to such proportions that further legal action was undertaken. In 1920 the Courts prevented physicians from writing prescriptions for heroin and transferred the treatment aspect from the doctor to the realm of law enforcement.

In 1927 amphetamines (speed) made its appearance and was very helpful during the war when people in transportation had to work long hours. Someone also noticed that its use curbed the user's appetite, so our country was introduced to what has been called the "diet pill" with its thousands of unknown addicts.

In recent years three distinct eras can be observed.1 (1) Prior to 1965 drug abuse was confined to select groups-doctors and jazz musicians. (2) By 1965, however, Dr. Timothy Leary from Harvard had begun to make his impact (by the way, Leary neither smoked nor drank). Jazz groups picked up his message and proclaimed they had found instant beauty. The media joined in and the average age of the user at this time was about 23. Then came the bummers and the media began to change their message; people reacted with hysteria in certain areas and consequently brought about some quick legislation. (3) 1967 began the third era. It was characterized by the death of Haight Ashbury. The flowers and love withered. The teenyboppers and plastic groups made the scene and the average age of the abuser dropped to 15. The drug was speed. It began with popping Mom's diet pills and graduated to shooting [by the way, 76% of the shooters go on to heroin].2

We have today, a society where over 17 million young people have used marijuana more than once (34 of these will use it until they are thirty and become problem cases). 7 to 8% of the regular users will become skid row eases. In a recent study it was discovered that of those who used it only once and then stopped, only 1% ever graduated to using acid. Those who used it once a week, however, had 58% of their ranks graduate to acid. Of these who used it once a day 77% had "dropped" acid.3 While some of the drug abuse has tapered on the West Coast, "grass" has had a continued popularity in the midwest and it is predicted to continue for another two years.
With the above as background material, let us look to some of the phenomena of drug use that has particular relevance to the religious motivation behind the use of drugs.

Drug Phenomena

I wish to point out in this section certain drug experiences which are pertinent to the religious application of the hallucinogens. No attempt can be made to include all of the drugs of this classification. Nevertheless, I believe it is possible to point to a common groundwork of sensations that are the core effects desired by the religiously oriented user.

Marijuana (grass, Mary Jane, bhang, cannabis, pot, etc.)

Cannabis is most basic to our consideration. Much is being learned each day that alters what we previously had thought. It is found in a variety of strengths and has a broad nomenclature. While effects vary, the user who imbibes the smoke with as great a quantity of oxygen as possible usually experiences a transient euphoria with feelings of superiority and superhuman powers of insight. Sights and sounds become very vivid and meaningful. There is a distortion of the user's sense of time and space coupled with loss of judgment. As well as exaggeration of sympathy and antipathy, the user reaches "El Kif" an Indian term for "Blessed Repose." At this point the will to act is severely restrained and one experiences what may be called "oneirocritic ecstasy."4 One 20 year old woman stated that while smoking pot, "she became convinced that she did not exist in a spatial sense." She thought that she was merged with the universe or, alternatively, a point in space without dimension. Another said that "during the experience and for some time afterwards she would have the 'horrors"'. She described this as a feeling that indescribably evil things would happen to her because of the kind of person she was.5

Marijuana produces a marked dependence factor (note I did not say addictive). Dr. Edward Bloomquist told the National District Attorney's Council on Drug Abuse, "He [the user] gets hung up on a life cycle. This guy is as much a slave as the heroin junkie except for the physical results .... there is an increased factor that influences a search for mystical religions along with a preoccupation with the new morality. One can philosophize readily but logic is impaired. One convinces himself that everything is beautiful." Bloomquist added, "It alters the user's relation to reality. It removes kids from a rational religion"6 Many have referred to it as the "Heavenly Guide" because they have had illusions of beholding the infinite. In summary, "Cannabis is a surprising drug that can make the impossible seem real and the real seem unnecessary."7


Under LSD the user can experience a variety of hallucinations, delusions, time and space distortions, abnormal body sensations, and other deviations from normal consciousness.8 It is here, particularly, that we begin to touch the mind expansion element. In reality, it is more of a distortion rather than an expansion of consciousness but has been labeled such because one's sense of perception is immensely accentuated. Wilder Smith writes, "Changes in thought follow a free flow of bizarre ideas , , . . some LSD adherents claim inspiration under the influence of the drug . . , the subconscious rises to the conscious level.9

We can detect a definite correlation between technology, historical problems 
and drug abuse.

Above all, the tripper seems to experience an accentuation of all reality-light, shade, color, etc. These effects actually become a source of ecstasy (a word which has become very much a part of most definitions of religions). The person experiences new aspects and dimensions with entirely new insight to himself and other phenomena. As Smith writes, "their eye has learned to see the transcendent and their ear has become accustomed to transcendental melodies."10 "Most of us live 70 years. The acid user lives a million years in a second. It is a highly intense thing-he not only talks with God he was God. This religious thing has become a real thing.11

A number of trippers have very genuine mystical experiences and it is at this mystical experience that one reaches the psychedelic peak or transcendental experience that is of particular interest to our topic. Thse mystical experiences can be classified under 8 headings:

1. Oneness with the cosmos a sense of unity with it.
2. Transcendence of time and space in which the subject feels himself to be outside dimensions of space and time.
3. Blessedness, peace, lace, deepest emotion.
4. Awe, wonder, humility, reverence, sacredness of the experience.
5. New insight into the meaning of life and a new sense of comes.
6. The paradoxical experience in which the tripper recognizes the identity of opposites.
7. The ineffable experience which words are incapable of describing.
8. The experience of transience, which occurs when the mom inscnsity of experience of permanent change of   behavior is taking place and is the result of the mystical LSD trip.12

In addition to LSD there are other forms of hallucin-ogens very similar to it and in some cases stronger. Mescaline (Peyote), which is derived from the peyote cactus plant, is used by the Native American Church. A dose of 350 to 500 mgs. produces illusions and hallucinations from 5 to 12 hours. Psilocybin and psiloeyn are derived from certain Mexican mushrooms and are similar to mescaline except more potent-a dose of 4 to S mgs. is ample.13 DMT, Buffotenine, Ihogaine, DET and DOM or STP are others.

Concluding this section, a number of factors are important to keep in mind. First, as Dr. \Vinick said, "Drug experience is an immanent, arational experience."14 It is a "NOW" experience. Generally, the drug user has little sense of the future or his functional relationship to it.15 It is an intensely individualistic thing; extremely subjective (hence, at times, not even words can describe it). It almost appears to he an attempt to "Go West young man, Go West" within the borders of the user's mind rather than geographically without. It is not uncommon to hear the user justify its use in order to "Get my head straight." It's an attempt to expand the individual's conscious; to experience and feel all of life. Jannis Joplin said, shortly before her death by an overdose of heroin, that when she was singing, "I'm not trying to think; I'm trying to feel."16

Add to the above elements an aspect of commitment in a religious proportion that has been thwarted by conventional sources of spiritual gratification and we are then ready to consider the religious nature of the phenomena in practice.


Keeping in mind those aspects summarily covered above, consider the religious nature of the drug culture and its particular relationship to several of the hallucinogens.

East/ West

One must observe the important distinction between Eastern and Western thought. This is the stage upon which the religious drug scene takes place. The West has been traditionally objective, materialistic, and "realistic". The East has been traditionally subjective, pantheistic, ethereal-mystically oriented, The early Greek ideas and Judeao-Christian message proclaimed that a "plan and purpose reflected the nature of a rational and energetic God who had created the universe. Because western man believed this explanation modern science was born."17

Eastern religions, on the other hand, teach, "that all things that exist in the universe . . . are of no importance because they are temporary . . . . the only important thing is the realm that exists out and beyond the world." The Eastern mind thinks that one can reach the realm only by completely denying the world around him.

The groundwork laid by drug effects predisposes the user to a form of Eastern religion such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Bahai, etc.

We must realize that science and technology have divorced themselves from their original presuppositions; they have produced a "law unto themselves", so to speak. Presently, our culture is reeling under this as its implications begin to influence our four basic institutions of socialization. Hoebel, an anthropologist, says that dominating the contemporary American thought-patterns is a rational and mechanistic concept of the universe that has smothered the mystical aspect of life emphasizing action rather than contemplation.19

Couple this with America's (and, increasingly, the world's) depersonalization, industrialization, and urbanized culture and it is not difficult to see how man loses his internal personality. Wilder Smith says, "modern technology is putting man out of touch with transcendence, in general We should not he surprised, therefore, to find a surge of reaction forming against this vacuum, whether it comes from a poet, from a Nlareuse, and/or a fed-up generation which has discovered itself in a very real predicament. "Man's lack of interest in the Divine and his absorbing concern with power, possessions and his own ego, show him to he lost and, therefore, because he has found no divine redeemer, damned."21 Against this background the religiously oriented user does his thing in search for identity, meaning, ecstasy, transcendence and personalization.

It is the author's contention that with the reaction of a portion of our populace against western culture, a number of the 'seekers' have turned to an Eastern framework and that the groundwork laid by drug effects predisposes the user to a form of Eastern religion such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Bahai, etc. It is by no accident that Leary should include in his hook, Politics of Ecstasy that he has become a Hindu .22

Leary says that psychedelic experience is fundamentally a religious experience-transcendentally oriented. "The instruments of systematic religion are chemicals. Drugs, Dope. . . . Drugs are the religion of the 21st century. Pursuing the religious life today without using psychedelic drugs is like studying astronomy with the naked eye."23 This is the ease, says Lean', because "man is so sick that today it is safe to say that drugs are the specific and almost the only way that America is ever going to have a religious experience. "24 "You see, 7,000 or 4,000 years ago LSD wouldn't have been necessary. Man was in touch he was in tune, he was turned on. LSD existed in natural form ."21 What the world needs, Leary would say, is not love, but a transcendent mystical ecstasy that can bring the tripper into a new relationship with God.

Life and the use of drugs must be strictly religious. Religion is ecstasy and this, says Leary, is the main emphasis of the psychedelic drug revolution-not escapism and not kicks, per se. The purpose lies in man's search and need for euphoria and the only channel through which it can be obtained is via hallucinogens. Leary has worked out an interesting theology at this point. Realizing the risk factor of LSD, he writes, "I'm operating from a religious metaphor. I say that the confrontation with divinity is going to change you and there are some people who are using it in such a state of sin that they don't want to confront divinity; they freak out [clef, to lose all contact with reality; to have a hummer or a had trip]. Such people should he warned that if you come into the temple you're going to face blazing illumination of the divinity. It's going to change you completely; you're never going to be the same ."26
If chemical mysticism can meet even a fraction of our euphoric/ ecstatic deficiency, then perhaps we should not wonder at the helpless feelings some of us have experienced as we have watched the young defect to the drug induced springs filled with the waters of deception.

Religious Phenomena of Certain Hallucinogens

1. Cannabis or Marijuana.

While LSD has played a main role in psychedelic re ligion it has to be remembered that cannabis has not been excluded. Leary says, to participate in the "Sacrament" of drugs, "Marijuana should be used once daily and LSD once weekly. "27 This practice induces enrichment of human experience, increased creativeness and the expansion of the human consciousness, "The remarkable thing about cannabis", writes Bloomquist, is that "whatever you were before you took the drug, whatever you had in mind as the goal to reach while in it, is increased and enhanced . . . . If one wishes to pray, one may think he is in intimate contact with the Eternal ."28 After a cannabis induced trip a jazz musician remarked, "since then, I have been a soul." One of the most common replies is the user's insistence that he has talked with God and that he has gotten in tune with the universe or has in some similar way explored the mystical and the occult.29

In Jamaica the lower classes call it the "wisdom weed" and use it to enhance their good qualities and get closer to God.30 Its use has been common to many of the Negroe Cultures in Africa where it has been used to provide supernatural powers for the witch doctors.31 India has used it to obtain a hallucinogenic state for hundreds of years as an aid to spiritual attainment. Throughout the orient it is used for similar effects, especially for successful yoga-which is big among many of the committed users.

2. Peyote

Peyote has been used and is continuing to be used legally to induce hallucinogenic states of worship within the Native American Church. "The Peyotists contend that in the drug-induced state they receive spiritual power , . . . by observing the rite properly the individual's sensitivity is heightened either in reference to himself (introspection) or to others (mental telepathy). The introspection is an intensive self-evaluation which leads to silent or vocal prayer to God, confession of sins, repentance, and consecration of the Peyote ethic in the future."32

3. Psilocybin.

Psilocybin (derived from the sacred mushrooms of the Aztecs) is in continued use today by a group of Mexican cultists who have syncretized native beliefs with Christian beliefs to construct a "theology" which asserts that the plant is a gift from Christ which enables others to communicate directly with Him.33 Today this drug has become one of the more widely used and most powerful of the hallucinogens.

4. LSD

We have already mentioned a great deal about this chemical. Lcary regards it not just as a medium but a sacrament comparable to the Roman Catholic concept of the Host.34 LSD for Leary is "Western Yoga. The aim of all Eastern religions, like the aim of LSD, is basically to get high: that is, to expand your consciousness and find ecstasy and revelation within."35 Again, "LSD and the LSD cult is perfectly in tune with the wisdom of the Buddha and the great philosophies of the past. The Buddha could walk up the road to our house here at Millbrook and he'd see the signs of his profession because we belong to the same profession, people who are changing consciousness, who are pursuing the eternal quest.36

Should you have any doubt about the relation to LSD as an experience, listen to the words of a chronic
alcoholic who was hospitalized, given LSD, and who had previously had very little interest in religion.

I found myself drifting into another world . . . I saw a gleaming, blinding light with a brilliance no man has ever known. It had no shape nor form, but I KNEW that I was looking at God Himself. The magnificence, splendor and grandeur of this experience cannot be put into words. . . All the trash and garbage seemed to be washed out of my mind . . . . It seemed as if I were born all over again . . . goodness and peace . . . all around me. Words cannot describe this. I feel an awe and wonder that such a feeling could have occurred to me a great scene was about to unfold within myself. I actually shook and shuddered at what I felt ... I saw a glorious beauty of space unfold before me, of light, color, and of song and music . . . of a oneness in fellowship, a wanting to belong to this greatness of beauty and goodness that unfolded before my eyes
I could see my family handing me great love . . . . I cried, not bitter tears, but tears of beauty and joy. A beautiful organ was playing . . . it seemed as if angels were singing. All of a sudden I was back in eternity
Peace and happiness, tranquility . . . My heart was filled with joy that was overwhelming . . . I felt that time was thousands of years ago, thousands of years from now.
I felt with every sense of my being that I was in hell. My body grew warmer and warmer, then suddenly burst into fire . . . . I lay there and let my body burn up . . . . All at once, after all the doubts and fears, I knew that I was a mother and that I loved my child
the music playing was "The Lord's Prayer". There must have been a short pause in the music but to me it seemed an eternity. I said, "Don't stop it. God is whole in me!" At this point I felt as if God were holding me in His arms and revealing Himself to me. I smiled and said, "I've found Him, I've found Him!" I had such a tremendous sense of peace and well being. After so many years of running alone and afraid, God was now with me.37

Drug use is symptomatic of the deep chaos and restlessness of the age.

Thus far, I have tried to show that there is a definite correlation between drugs and contemporary religion for those users who are religiously oriented. I don't believe it would be pushing the issue too far to say that beyond our "religiously oriented" group, drugs also play an important "spiritual" role for those who may not actually be thinking in religious terms. For many, drug use is symptomatic of the deep chaos and restlessness of the age. As an example, I cite a study made by Richard Blum and Associates which broke down into five different groups the motivation of a cross-section of LSD users: 1. The informal professional sample, 2. the experimental subject sample, 3. the therapy patient sample, 4. the informal blackmarket sample, and 5. the religious-medical center sample.38 While the religious sample was motivated by a quest for self-knowledge, self-expansion and "becoming", at least one of the remaining four groups (the informal black-market) said they had "the desire for aesthetic enhancement coupled with self-enhancement . . . in search for a new euphoric state"39

It is also important that we note the particular definitions of religion used and the goals they seek. The underlying concepts are: 1) That God is, at best, a vague force within nature. Transcendence, does not infer that one transcends himself outside the system of the universe-it is more of an identifying with or union with it. 2) That the divine spark is really inside man himself. 3) That self-knowledge and insight are the vehicles for tapping that divine spark (via drugs). 4) That there are really no rules or patterns to this experience of transcendence-it's really your "own thing". One gets a scent of the romantic humanist framework as he 5) relates what is within him to the cosmos or universe which becomes mysteriously personified.

Noting its vast subjective framework, it becomes less difficult to interpret the conglomerated syncretism of many religions with an admixture of each individual's idiosyncrasies. It becomes a tune played against the moods of the past six to ten years within our country.


I hesitate to directly assign all religious drug use to one underlying assumption. Yet, I can't help but think that the chief factor, among others, is our steadily increasing awareness of the significance of living without any foundations or categories. Perhaps Jung laid a good foundation for what I'm about to propose in his work Modern Man In Search Of A Soul. Here, he implies that modern man has removed himself from the context of a common unconsciousness and, thus, has become "unhistorical". He is left "without the spiritual moorings necessary to normalcy in mental health."40 We have lost the sense of spiritual tradition. Perhaps our pragmatic framework is paying off with its just and due dividends. It almost appears that we think of ourselves as the one culture of man's history that is immune from the processes of erosion and starvation from within. Perhaps the great experiment has failed and the American dream is about to turn into a nightmare.

Jung writes that man, "has become unhistorical in the deepest sense and has estranged himself from the mass of men who live entirely within the bounds of tradition."41 Dr. Bruce Harkness, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Kent State University, remarked that we are facing a generation that has no ties with the traditions of the past. As he so aptly put it, "We have a generation that has forgotten Hitler." What he said, I believe, corresponds with what Jung is trying to tell us. Jung continues, "In repudiating the historical context, Western man is marked by the loneliness with its associated meaninglessness; he has east himself adrift from vital cultural moorings for aimless wandering on the waters of uncertainty."42

It would appear that we are in the midst of attempting what Freud advised us: throw off the illusions of religion that we use to cover our impotence and, thus, become vibrant, released persons.43 It would also seem that we are discovering that while we have the ability to "east it off", we do not have the "potency" to "pull it off." Jules Masserman has picked up Freud's shortcoming at this point. For while he adheres to Freud's view of religion filling the role of illusion he maintains that it is a necessary illusion. Living without the illusion of religion would be, "as excruciatingly unbearable as existing without our skins."44 Where Freud tells us to be delivered from the illusion, Masserman tells us, "we mortals cannot ordinarily stand unprotected in the blinding, searing light of truth. Without the illusion that religion provides, man would face the hostile world weak and defenseless, unable to withstand its cruel and crushing forces.45 While we differ as to the

We will have to show our young people that there are better and more lasting ways to experience the potential, depth, variety, richness, ecstasy and meaning of life 
than by chemicals.

nature of revealed religion as "illusion", Masserman has done us a service by laying down one of the most fundamental descriptions of contemporary man.

Jennings wrote,

Twentieth Century secularists have challenged the soul concept in dealing with the larger question about the reality of the supernatural realm. The consequence of this skepticism by Western man is that he must rely upon himself in the face of apparent impotence. As a segment of Western culture, Americans have called into question the mystical certainties held by western man a few centuries ago and have replaced these verities with the ideals of material security, general welfare, and humaneness. The spiritual heritage has been replaced by scientific and technological materialism. . . the apotheosis of science or scientism has destroyed the sanctuary of spiritual reality to which we could retreat when confronted with overwhelming circumstances.46

Man is left with the thought that our momentary experiences are the only source of any ultimate verity which we may seek; man is left with despair. Francis Schaeffer has written, "It arises from the abandonment of the hope of a unified answer for knowledge and life...Modern man has given up his hope of unity and lives in despair-the despair of no longer thinking what has always been the aspirations of men is at all possible. On the basis of meaning, rationality, and logic, nothing really makes any difference."47 Michael Green caught the significance of this in reference to the drug addict when he termed him, "the extreme example of twentieth century man more dead than alive ."48 It is this same fundamental proposition of meaninglessness that makes it next to impossible to dialogue with many hard-core users.

It's these twentieth century people who are struggling with the questions of our day. As Schaeffer says, it's the film producers, the jazz musicians, and the hippies who are grinding out today's philosophy. It's against this background of meaninglessness, he says, that drugs are being used. With Leary he writes, "This overwhelming desire for some non-rational experience is responsible for most of the serious use of the drugs LSD and STP at this time. With the sensitive person, drugs are today not usually used for escape. On the contrary, he hopes that by taking them he will experience the reality of something which will give his life some meaning.50

Aldonus Huxley made a real contribution to this way of thinking. Huxley was looking for an experience that validates itself. This is called a "First Order Experience." This is an experience that takes place above the line of reason and nature. It is the attempt to find meaning from the realm of the irrational. Right up to the moment of his death, Huxley insisted that the means to achieve this mystical first order experience was via drugs.52 This was his hope-a new religion above and beyond the rational. From what I can make of Huxley, the mind or brain and nervous system stood between man and his experience of the universe. The brain was a protective development to filter out the overwhelming amount of insignificant trivia and allow man to focus his attention on those things which could be adapted for survival.53 It is for this reason that one must take the irrational approach and bypass the intellect and logic to return to that state where man may perceive, in depth "God" (paramatman or the sum of all things). It is not surprising to discover that Huxley was a follower of Vedantic Hinduism. Perhaps, along the same basic path, Marcuse would say we have to by-pass reason to return to the world of "beauty". We heard it from Leary as he called us back to original ecstasy through LSD. It's all the same thing. It is a call to return to man's early state from which the beginnings of his religious feelings stem and from which they have evolved. Its either ease the results are the same and the elements are far from foreign to any committed drug-user.


It has been the purpose of this paper to point out the inter-relationship between certain hallucinogenic drugs and religion. In addition we have attempted to establish a reasonable causeor seedbed-from which our phenomena have spread. It would be my greatest pleasure to be able to present a list of "instant" answers and corrections but I'm not at all certain how I'd go about it. I should guess that we will have to show our young people that there are better and more lasting ways to experience the potential, depth, variety, richness, ecstasy and meaning of life than by chemicals. While we possess the Answer, perhaps the results will continue to be tragic and heartbreaking. For while drug use is leading our people through a premature hell, the phenomena of its impact only serve to remind us that man cannot live by bread alone. And if we cannot be culturally, intellectually, and ecstatically sensitive enough to give the whole "bread of life", I'm quite certain that our people will pass us by in search of a few crumbs to placate their hunger.


A Brief Relation Of Pertinent Drug Phenomena To Hinduism And Buddhism

Hinduism teaches that beyond the world is the Is brahmanatman which is something of a god.. The brahmanatmain is all that really exists because the world of time and space is maya-the temporal which has no meaning. Everything that lives and breaths is called an atman, or a soul, which, while in maya, strives to return to the para matman (world-soul)
The only way that the atuan can return to the pamuatni an is by reincarnation-a release of the soul. When the atm an has lost itself and identity in the paramatman is it is said to have reached the state of nirvana. This has some striking features with which the contemporary religiously oriented drug user identifies:
1. In his intense search for a subjective irrational experience, the drug user has an instant method of yoga, the hallucinogen, by which he can escape the maya to become part of the paramatman of the universe. He can possess an instant nirvana.
2. Hinduism teaches that the world is of no value and that reality is something you can glimpse only through intense discipline and sneditatmoo-a chief characteristic of the drop-out.
3. Vedanta, a syncretistic form of Hinduism, says that the creator god, Brahman, incarnated himself in humanity mane times-Christ, Bsmddah, Krishna, and many others. These incarnations are called avatars a form of "super-savior." (A recent folk-opera, Jesus Christ, Superstar, has great similarity at this point. He is pictured in the script as the superstar because he spoke of love and forgiveness and was an example of these qualities in action. ) I have noticed a very interesting factor among many of the committed users with whom I come in contact. They are very interested in Jesus Christ, as was expressed in a very popular song "Spirit In The Sky". However, they have never, to my knowledge, assigned to him any greater role than that of an avitar-one of the headers.
4. The followers of Vedanta believe that the most recent incarnation of Brahman was that of Ramakrishna who is said to have practiced Hinduism, Christianity, and Islam and received a vision of God through each. Krishna would often say, "Many faiths are but different paths leading to the one reality, God.54
It is of some interest to note that one of George Harrison's recent songs speaks of "Lord, I really want to love you" while in the background the vocal group chant "Krishna, Krishna." In addition, Vendanta perhaps heirs to exrlain the presence of such extreme syncretism amidst many of the hippies' Eastern faiths. For further study, observe the development of the Bahai faith.
5. The Vedanic creed states, "we reject none, neither atheist, monist, polytheist, agnostic, or theist - . . - we
do not insist upon particular codes of morality. Each of six is welcome to his own peculiarity ..." 55
There is a noticeable correlation here with the user's preoccupation or practice of the "New Morality" as was pointed out by Bloomquist.
6. The final factor that closely correlates with the user's concept of God, is the tact that while a big case is made for the union with the impersonal god, Brahman, the real search for this experience takes place within the the individual for that, it appears, is where the real divine aspect is found. Likewise, for the Hindu, man is God .59 This directly substantiates all that Leary has written about religion and the attempt to find God thru intense experience of ecstasy within oneself.


Zen Buddhism has not until recently, under the influence of the rise of Eastern religious orientation within contemporary music and culture, been reckoned with by the Christian Church in theUnitcd States. As Walter Martin points out, it has largely been associated with the Beat/ Hippies cultures for whom it has served as a pseudo religio-philosophic platform57.  It carries with it certain irrational and pantheistic tendencies, that are making it increasingly appealing to this generation. (See Schmaeffer's discussion of the significance of Pantheism in contemporary thought .58
Gautaoma Buddha wandered for seven years before he found "the true path" under the legendary tree and then experienced nirvana. Zen Buddhism picks up at this point and says that the experience of nirvana is not so exclusive as was previously implied and that it does not involve countless rincarnations. It is something that any mediator can experience now. As Martin relates, "With the true Zenist, teachings of the Buddha place man within the tensions of the eternal now and reality becomes timeless."59 Man will find this only if he acts instinctively in the 'now.' "The snap of the finger can he a lesson . . . . indicating that the very moment is the immediate experience of reality, past time-embracing all dimeusions.''60
Based upon the individual's instinctive-meditative experience with the eternal moment, reality is not something that is objective and possesses correlative truth. It becomes subjective, egocentric, and reflective. As Barrett concludes, "Zen is the most irrational and inconceivable thing in the world ... not subject to logical analysis or to intellectual treatment. It must he directly and personally experienced by each of us in his inner spirit.61 It is a world of no antithesis.
Consequently, Zen is an approach that laughs at all attempts to dogmatize. What is real within your mind is what represents the truth for you. Susuki wrote, "Absolute faiths is placed in man's own inner being
Zen wants to live from within, not bound by rules, but by creating (soc's own rules,"eS hence, there is no need for formal morality.
Another interesting factor that Zen shares in common with the religiously oriented drug user is that it seeks a Salon or enlightenment experience which is an awareness of man's original inseparability with the universe. The foundation of Zen's philosophy is that God and the individual are one in the now-act of perceiving Him.
It is not by accident that every point mentioned above: the now orientation, the reflective-meditative experience-oriented subjectivism, the rejection of authoritative rules and espousal of finding "your own thing" in morality, and the intense goal to be at one with God and the universe through an introverted mystical experience, correspond, point by point, with the summary of religious phenomena oriented to the drug user.



lUngerleider, J. T. M.D. Asst. Professor of Psychiatry, U. of California Medical Center, Los Angeles. Chicago: National District Attorney's Association's Institute On Narcotics And Dangerous Drugs, April 15, 1970.
2Starkey, C. M.D. Denver General Hospital, Denver, Colorado. Chicago: National District Attorney's Association's Institute On Narcotics And Dangerous Drugs, April 13, 1970.
3Lynch, Va., Ph.D., Professor of Pharmacology and Allied Sciences, St. John's University, Jamaica, New York. Chicago: National District Attorney's Association's Institute On Narcotics And Dangerous Drugs, April 13, 1970.
4Wildcr Smith, A. E. The Drug Users, Wheaton: Shaw, 1970. p. 63.
5Bloomqoist E. R. Marijuana, Beverly Hills: Glencoe Press, 1968. p. 201,
6Bloomquist, F. B. M.D. Assoc. Clinical Professor of Surgery (Anesthesiology) University of Southern California School of Medicine, Los Angeles. Chicago: National District Attorney's Association's Institute On Narcotics And Dangerous Drugs, April 13, 1970.
7bloomqoist, Marijuana, p. 17
8Jennings, C. J. "American Culture and Drug Use,' Journal ASA 20, No. 4 (December, 1968), p. 104.
9Wildcr Smith, pp. 31-32.
10Ibid,, p. 40.
11Bloomqnist, Chicago.
12Pahnke, Walter N. LSD, Man & Society. pp. 74-75.
13Burcau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, U.S. Dept. of Justice, Fact Sheet, 9-2.
l4Winick, C. M.D., Director, Program in Drug Dependence and Abuse, American Social Health Association. Chicago: National District Attorney's Association's Institute On Narcotics And Dangerous Drugs, April 14, 1970.
16Dick Cavitt Show, Network TV.
17Ridenour, F. So What's The Difference? Glendale: C & L Pub., 1967, p. 92.
18Ibid., p. 93,
19Jennings, p. 108.
20Wildcr Smith, p. 265.
21Ibid., p. 266.
22Leary, T. The Politics Of Ecstasy. New York: Putnam, 1968. pp. 157-293.
2Ibid,, p. 44.
24Ibid., p. 297.
25lbid., pp. 295-296.
26Ibid., pp. 299-300.
27Wilder Smith, p. 201,
Marijuana, p. 183.
29Ibid., pp. 24.
30Ibid., p. 81.
31Jennings, p. 105.
32Ihid., p. 112.
33Ibid., p. 105.
34Wilder Smith, p. 263.
35Leary, p. 135
36GIbid., p. 296.
37Smith, p. 42.
38Jennings, p. 106.
39lbid., p. 106.
40Jennings, p. 111.
41Ibid., p. 111.
42Ibid., p. 111.
43Hartshorne, M. H. The Faith To Doubt. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall, 1963. pp, 12, 1617. See also Freud's Future Of An Illusion & New Introductory Lectures On Psychoanalysis.
44 Ibid., p. 22.
45Ibid., p. 23.
47Schaeffer, F. A. Escape From Reason. Chicago: Inter Varsity Press, 1968. p. 45.
48Creen, Michael. Man Alice. London: Inter Varsity Press, 1967. p. 9.
49Schaeffer, p. 57.
50Schacffer, F. A. The God Who Is There. Chicago: Inter Varsity Press, 1968. p. 27.
51Schaeffer, Escape From Reason, pp. 53-54.
52Schaeffcr, The God Who Is There. p. 27.
53Huxley, Aldons. Doors Of Perception. New York: Harper, 1954. pp. 22-23.
54Ridcnonr, p. 79.
55Ibid., p. 101.
56Ihid., p. 107.
57Martin, Walter B. The Kingdom Of The Cults. Minneapolis: Bethany Pub., 1968. p. 234.
585ee Pollution And The Death Of Man:The Christian View Of Ecology by Francis Schaeffer, Wheaton: Tyndall, 1970 for a further elaboration of the significance of pantheism in our contemporary culture. Especially Chapters two and three.
59Martin, p. 235.
60Ibid., pp. 235-236.
61Ibid., p. 236.
62Ibid., p. 236.