According to the entheogen theory of religion: religion is essentially rooted in the experience of intense psychedelic tripping, the world religions consist of collections of stories which serve as metaphorical descriptions of psychedelic experiences (in particular the experience of mystical death and rebirth/ressurection/transformation).

This theory fits with the scientific evidence that entheogenic drugs trigger mystical/religious type experiences when they are administered in an appropriately conducive setting (the recent Johns Hopkins psilocybin study concluded this).

It would be interesting to get the atheist take on this theory, the issue here isnt religious beliefs (such as the belief in God) but rather religious/mystical/transcendent experiences of the kind that people commonly experience under the influence of entheogenic/psychedelic substances.

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How are you 'not sure' about this part of Hoffman's theory? This is not the entheogen theory of religion, the issue of determinism/fatalism relates more strongly to Hoffman's other theory, the cybernetic theory of ego transcendence (or the ego death theory). Hoffman employs the model of the 4-dimensional block universe (where time is the 4thspatial dimension, the universe is an eternally frozen 4-dimensional block) to explain the experience of radical control loss in the psychedelic state of consciousness (psychotic bad trip)

@ John Burrows The way it's presented in Hoffman's website seems to imply that these things go hand in hand, that is the "Entheogen theory of Religion" and the "Cybernetic Theory of Ego Transcendence." That the "ego death" experience, in a way, has always been the insight of hard determinism according to Hoffman.

I find it an interesting take on "ego death," because in my own experience with psychedelics, the whole reason I stumbled across Hoffman's website is because I felt the psychedelic experience was some how revealing the illusion of free will, and when I typed to see if anyone else was getting that impression in Google, that led me to Hoffman's website. So, I thought that a peculiar coincidence that it wasn't simply my own impression, but other people were getting that, too.

Terence's argument against determinism was extremely weak in light of his strongly deterministic theories about time and the eschaton. It only takes up about 1 sentence in 'invisible landscape'. Rational, critical thought leads inevitably to determinism, and psychedelic exploration also leads inevitably towards deterministic ego death.

Yes, because the psychedelic experience seemed to imply a "hard determinism," I became obsessed with the idea, and it's a common topic that springs up every now and then on this forum. But usually, the furthest it'll get is a discussion about Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, Gödel's incompleteness theorems,  quantum indeterminacy, etc. You know, things which throw a wrench in trying to make sense out of all this. I thought Terence had some pretty weak arguments for libertarian free will, because he seemed to side with the notion that there exist some kind of existential libertarian free will. I want to quote a segment from the Hazelwood House Trialogue, he says at 35:38:

“If a prophecy comes true, does that mean then that in principle all of the future is determined? You see, we have to avoid determinism here because a true determinism means thinking is pointless, because in a rigid determinism you think what you think because you couldn’t think anything else. So the concept of truth is utterly without meaning in a rigid determinism.”

If I had to comment on the "truth" in the light of a "hard determinism," I'd imagine it to mean that every moment is an experience of "truth" in some sense, because every moment is an inevitability in a "rigid determinism." There's another mention of this is in his talk "Philosophical Gadfly" at the 2h25m26s mark.

That is the primary project, the secondary project is then to demonstrate how all religious myths describe the experience of discovering timeless determinism in the intense altered state. According to the entheogen theory, there was no historical Jesus or historical Buddha/Mohammed/Moses etc. All these stories are mythic symbolism that allegorically describe tripping, they are not singular historical events. Anyone can trip out and witness the transformative beautific vision (if only they know the secret forbidden technique), not just some singular historical person who lived 2000 years ago. The historical individual is utterly unimportant, what really matters is the experience that they are depicted as going though – entheogenic ego death.

I'm not sure if you're familiar with Aldous Huxley's "Perennial Philosophy," which basically a similar idea, that all religion has its root in "mystical experience" or the "ego death experience." I agree with you about Ramesh, I've never come across anything written about Ramesh where he discusses psychedelics, because I've read a couple of his books, and I've seen some videos of his on YouTube. He does seem like a well-read person on all these topics, so I only assumed that perhaps he's considered psychedelics. Alan Watts, on the other hand, who was good friends with Huxley, would often express this view of "Perennial Philosophy" as well in his talks, but Watts, like Huxley didn't see psychedelics as the sole root to this experience. I linked to this in an earlier post, but I'll re-post it. Watts doesn't use the term "ego death," but he does use Richard M. Bucke's term "cosmic consciousness," and he also spoke of the founders of religions not as symbolisms as Hoffman does, but as normal human beings.

Alan Watts discussing "Cosmic Consciousness" as the root of religion

So, that's why I find this title "Entheogen Theory of Religion" to be somewhat misleading only if you interpret it through Huxey's "Perennial Philosophy." In other words, the title "Entheogen Theory of Religion" seems to imply only the imbibing of psychedelics can produce the "ego death" experience. I know Michael Hoffman doesn't believe that there were such people as Gautama, Christ, Muhammad, etc., but if, say, someone like Gautama were a real person, then it's possible that he could have had an experience of "ego death" naturally through meditation. However, "Entheogen Theory of Religion," as I mentioned earlier could still fit if you include Strassman's conjecture, that even in the natural experience through meditation, it may come back to an entheogen, because he speculates that the natural experience may be a result of an induction of endogenous N,N-DMT.

@ Jimmy

Do you really believe that people can experience ego death just by meditating?

@ John Burrows Have you ever looked into the case of Ramana Maharshi or other practitioners of Advaita Vedanta? The insight they arrive at seem quite on par with the insight one takes from psychedelics. 

I'm not sure if you've ever read Strassman's work, but he speculates that what meditation may be is a natural induction of endogenous N,N-DMT.

Now, I meditate, and have never been able to produce any psychedelic-like experience through it, but I don't believe I've been able to do it properly. I've explained this in another thread, so I'm going to copy and paste it here, but make some edits as some of the stuff I go over we've already established in this thread, like your comments on Ramesh Balsekar, for instance.

All the Buddha demanded from the devotee was nothing less than the extinction of the ego. So, in my own investigation, I've come to see Buddhistic meditation as a kind of quietism, an experiment in consciousness where the purpose, in way to put it, is the cessation of thoughts. Now, that may seem anti-intellectual pastime, but I think you'd find, if you were to attempt it, you'd find it's quite a difficult psychological endeavor.

The more I look into meditation as practiced in ancient India, the more it seems to imply that what is going on in meditation, is not only the cessation of thought, but the cessation of "personal will." Now, perhaps, this is what Gautama truly meant by "desire," after all, "desire" is what was translated by scholars in trying to decipher the Sanskrit and Pali languages. But I think "desire" leads to all these other connotations that may cause confusion, I believe that perhaps what was meant by Gautama was something more subtle than "desire," and that is "personal will," your sense of "agency." So, it's not only thought that is an obstacle in meditation, but also your sense of "personal will."

Since you seemingly direct your thoughts, they are included in your impression of "personal will" or "doership" as they call it in India, but notice there is also emphasis on breath. So, aside from the powerful obstacle of thoughts, there is also the obstacle of breath. In other words, you can feel as though you inhale or exhale, and that you will this to happen, but the goal of breath in meditation, if it is the cessation of "persona will" is to breathe involuntarily as in sleep. Do you will your breath in sleep? Gurus even speak of meditation being a "conscious sleep," and sleep an "unconscious meditation."

So, I think what one is attempting to rid of in meditation is this personal sense of "agency." Of course, you cannot "try" and rid of your thoughts. That would be paradoxical as in attempting to rid of your ego with your ego. There is a common analogy in eastern philosophy of a ripples the water of a pond representing thoughts, in order for the pond to become still, it must be left alone. This silencing of the mind is the emphasis of meditation.

Art of Meditation

As you probably know, there's speculation of DMT involved in the REM stage of sleep when the heavy dreams are taking place. If you ever watched someone smoke DMT, within about a minute, they seem to instantly enter into a state of REM. Likewise, if you ever watched some of these documentaries of the fMRI tests that have been done on Tibetan monks or Zen Buddhists, during meditation they, too, instantly undergo REM. Coincidence? 

Now, I know Terence McKenna often rejected the idea that one could enter these states "on the natch," but he later in life admitted that perhaps this was a possibility, and that endogenous N,N-DMT had something to do with it because he had enough people come up to him and make this claim throughout his life.

Michael Hoffman's take is interesting to me, because of its inference to fatalism. You know, here's a lot of rhetoric in eastern philosophy and in religion in general surrounding the concepts of predestination and free will. For instance, in Hinduism, you'll often hear the rhetoric such as "There is no doer" or "nondoership" basically referring to free will as an illusion. We've mentioned Ramesh Balsekar's interpretation where he claims, yes, there is a cosmic law, and if you somehow distinguish this veil of "ego," which he does equate to the seeming impression one has of having a "personal will," then you see that all your actions (or anyone's actions) weren't necessarily your actions, but the actions of the universe itself. This is also called "nondoership" or "akarma" in Hinduism which seems quite congruent with the notion of "ego death."

Perhaps this is why there's a lot of talk in Buddhism of "sentient beings," and that no matter where "sentient beings pop-up" or "life arises" in the multiverse, they ultimately have to succumb to this principle of predeterminism. It's an interesting concept, because then it says no matter how evolved a sentient being may be, it is in a way, no superior nor inferior to any other being (or thing, for that matter). I like to imagine that maybe this is why a Buddha can sit in total acceptance and content.

If you do take into consideration this interpretation, then it's as though they (buddhas) do not feel impelled to tell others of their insight, because from their perspective, everyone is, in a way, exactly how they should be according to this cosmic law. So, it wouldn't matter either way if they were ignorant to this revelation or not, there's no urgency for them to awaken from the hypnosis of the ego. So, they're not going to come knocking on your door in the fashion of Jehovah's witnesses in attempt to "awaken" you. What do you think?

@ Jimmy

“Have you ever looked into the case of Ramana Maharshi or other practitioners of advaita vedanta? The insight they arrive at seem quite on par with the insight one takes from psychedelics”

Per the entheogen theory of religion, advaita vedanta functions as a philosophical model of what is discovered during intense entheogenic cognition; Brahman the ultimate reality that is the source of everything. But as far as I know Ramana Maharshi never tripped out on entheogens.

“I'm not sure if you've ever read Strassman's work, but he speculates that what meditation may be is a natural induction of endogenous N,N-DMT.”

He makes this claim amongst many other similarly baseless speculations, such as DMT coming from the pineal gland. I don't see any real value or relevance in Strassman's work, the only thing that is interesting about Strassman is that he was the only scientist who got the chance to do experimentation on human subjects with DMT. He didnt discover anything particularly interesting in his experiments, which is why he is only known for making these arbitrary speculations like 'DMT might get released when people dream or meditate' etc etc

“I meditate, and have never been able to produce any psychedelic-like experience through it, but I don't believe I've been able to do it properly.”

People don't typically experience anything that is remotely similar to intense psychedelic tripping during sober meditation, try to find an experience report that states otherwise. The (vanishingly rare, and suspect) exceptions prove the rule, the typical effect of meditating is a sense of calm and relaxation, nothing like the frenetic mental firework display of a strong acid/mushroom/DMT trip. Don't be hypnotised by drug-war lies and propaganda like the claim that you can trip without drugs just by meditating, it is very insidious but with your entheogenic awareness you ought to be able to see through it.

“Now, I know Terence McKenna often rejected the idea that one could enter these states "on the natch," but he later in life admitted that perhaps this was a possibility”

I was unaware that Mckenna changed his view about this, do you have a quote from him about this? I think that the important issue is not whether drug-free tripping is a “possibility”, but rather it is the point that drugs are the only immediate, repeatable and reliable way to trigger intense tripping (Hoffman uses the term “ergonomic” to describe this quality of drugs). It might be true that some people rarely trip out when they meditate, but by contrast everbody, always trips out when they take a sufficient does of entheogenic drugs.

“If you do take into consideration this interpretation, then it's as though they (buddhas) do not feel impelled to tell others of their insight, because from their perspective, everyone is, in a way, exactly how they should be according to this cosmic law. So, it wouldn't matter either way if they were ignorant to this revelation or not, there's no urgency for them to awaken from the hypnosis of the ego. So, they're not going to come knocking on your door in the fashion of Jehovah's witnesses in attempt to "awaken" you. What do you think?”

I think that these 'Buddhas' who you describe here are oversimplifying by not taking into account Mckenna's distinction of psychedelic and clueless.

He makes this claim amongst many other similarly baseless speculations, such as DMT coming from the pineal gland. I don't see any real value or relevance in Strassman's work, the only thing that is interesting about Strassman is that he was the only scientist who got the chance to do experimentation on human subjects with DMT. He didnt discover anything particularly interesting in his experiments, which is why he is only known for making these arbitrary speculations like 'DMT might get released when people dream or meditate' etc etc

I don't think it was necessarily baseless speculation, because the constituents to produce DMT are present within the pineal gland. The enzymes that are responsible in the process of the transmethylation of tryptophan and tryptophan itself are all present within the pineal gland. Tryptophan is two enzymatic steps away from transforming into N,N-DMT. In fact, in a recent study that was done this year, DMT was found through the process of microdialysis to be present in the pineal glands of rodents.

DMT found in the Pineal Gland of Rats

Terence McKenna once mentioned a citation in his interview with Art Bell of a study done at the University of Mississippi that confirmed there that there is a spike of DMT in deep sleep, particularly the REM stage of sleep. I tried to look for the official citation recently to link to it in this thread, but I could't find it. So, I'm not sure what Terence was referring to, but maybe you might have better luck finding it. I'll link to the spot where Terence mentions this in the interview below. It's after the 8 minute and 27 second mark.

Art Bell interviews Terence McKenna

Of course, I'm sure that you're also heard the speculation that DMT may be released  involved with human death and the near-death-experience. Watts referred to this as a "natural satori."

Alan Watts - Natural Satori

Don't be hypnotised by drug-war lies and propaganda like the claim that you can trip without drugs just by meditating, it is very insidious but with your entheogenic awareness you ought to be able to see through it.

Well, if Strassman's speculation is true, that meditation is the induction of endogenous DMT, then I suppose it isn't necessarily "tripping without drugs," because according to this claim, drugs are still part of the process. I've never found an "experience report" of sober meditation being described like a DMT-trip, but I do often find among people who claim they have had these type experiences of what Hinduism calls "nonduality" do seem to come to similar insights and conclusions. If you look into descriptions of "nonduality," you find that they're quite syonymous with "ego death."

Aside from meditation and near-death-experiences, there is also the possibility of other states of mind seemingly producing these psychedelic-like effects, a good example is Jill Bolte Taylor's "Stroke of Insight." Perhaps you're familiar with her story. She had a stroke, and there's plenty of videos on YouTube of her describing in careful detail this experience. When I first heard her describe this, I was surprised to hear how in tune it was to a psychedelic experience. Alan Watts also mentions a friend of his who had a similar experience while having a stroke, and believed it was "the most beautiful experience he had ever had."

I was unaware that Mckenna changed his view about this, do you have a quote from him about this? I think that the important issue is not whether drug-free tripping is a “possibility”, but rather it is the point that drugs are the only immediate, repeatable and reliable way to trigger intense tripping (Hoffman uses the term “ergonomic” to describe this quality of drugs). It might be true that some people rarely trip out when they meditate, but by contrast everbody, always trips out when they take a sufficient does of entheogenic drugs.

There's a mention in that same interview with Art Bell where Terence speaks of being able to do it "naturally" is a possibility and I'll post a link to it below, but I wanted to try and find another talk where he does mention that he's had enough people come up to him in his lifetime telling him that they could naturally enter the states he describes with psilocybin through meditation that he concluded that maybe DMT could be induced naturally in these states. I know it was a talk he did that was perhaps only a few months prior to his death, because he spoke about his seizures and that he had been having really strange dreams that were comparable to his DMT experiences.

This is another clue that led McKenna to believe that perhaps it is a natural possibility, because there's another talk where he discusses a dream that he had where in the dream he was offered a pipe filled with DMT, and smoked it, and had a full-blown vivid re-experience of a DMT trip. Now, I did try and find that piece, but unfortunately, I could not. I'll be looking out for it, though. You see, I used to be obsessed with McKenna's talks and discussions, and at work, I'd just make dozens and dozens of these playlists of just about every audio piece you could find on YouTube of Terence's talks, and usually I could recall a specific instance in these talks (since he named most of them) where something was mentioned relevant to a discussion like this, and so I'm really disappointed that I couldn't find this one. However, I do agree with you that psychedelics are far more effective and reliable in producing these experiences, because I could imagine that a monk could perhaps live a full life of disciplinary meditative dedication inside of a temple without ever reaching this state of mind. And perhaps he will experience it at death, but who knows for sure?

I'm linking to the 8 minute and 24 second mark on the hyperlink below, but if you don't have an ad blocker, and you get a YouTube ad, then it might prevent it from starting at that specific point and so it may start at the beginning, so if it does, feel free to fast-forward to 8m24s.

Terence McKenna - "on the natch"

I think that these 'Buddhas' who you describe here are oversimplifying by not taking into account Mckenna's distinction of psychedelic and clueless.

While Huxley doesn't speak about psychedelics in "Perennial Philosophy," he does speak of these kind of experiences in terms of mystical experiences and mysticism. Alan Watts borrowed the term "cosmic consciousness" from Robert M. Bucke who didn't coin the term, but did write a book with the same title, "Cosmic Consciousness." Bucke also wrote of these experiences in terms of a kind of "phenomenon in consciousness" that seems to occur due to various reasons. So, whether natural or psychedelically induced, I believe the phrase still holds true as "psychedelic and clueless," because I really believe that even if it does happen naturally, it is likely to be mediated by endogenous DMT.

Alan Watts - Cosmic Consciousness

@ Jimmy

“that's why I find this title "Entheogen Theory of Religion" to be somewhat misleading only if you interpret it through Huxey's "Perennial Philosophy."”

Bear in mind that Huxley wrote that book before he discovered tripping himself, at that point in his writing career he was still blind to entheogenic experiencing. The books to read by Huxley are doors of perception and heaven and hell, those were his psychedelic books. He doesnt mention drugs in the perennial philosophy

“Michael Hoffman doesn't believe that there were such people as Gautama, Christ, Muhammad, etc., but if, say, someone like Gautama were a real person, then it's possible that he could have had an experience of "ego death" naturally through meditation.”

The crucial question to ask is, given that entheogens make this kind of experience available on-tap to anyone who wants it, then what is so special about this one man Gautama? Why postulate a single man as the founder of a religion? Per Hoffman's theory of non-historicity of the religious founders, it isnt the person that is so special that they start a whole religion, rather it is the experience that the person is depicted undergoing that is so special (as every psychedelic person has discovered). Once this is realised, it becomes superfluous and unnecesary to postulate a single person as the founder of the religion. It is a 'big bang fallacy' to assume that religions started from one special man at one point in history; per the entheogen theory, it is lots of people tripping out over multiple generations that gives rise to religions like buddhism and christianity

The crucial question to ask is, given that entheogens make this kind of experience available on-tap to anyone who wants it, then what is so special about this one man Gautama? Why postulate a single man as the founder of a religion?

I have a sort of different perspective on this. Since you've mentioned Gautama, I suppose I will start with Buddhism. If you look into Buddhism, Gautama isn't necessarily emphasized as the one appointed individual who is a "special case." Alan Watts once described Buddhism as "Hinduism stripped for export." In other words, the essentials of Hinduism are taken. Watts pointed out that Hinduism poured great emphasis on asceticism which usually involved various techniques such as fasting, intense pain,  abstinence, etc. which they felt were paths to enter into these altered states. Then, the way Watts puts it, Gautama came along and through his enlightenment realized that all emphasis on asceticism was wasted effort and worthless. That all you need do is vanquish the "ego" to have this experience. Now, earlier I mentioned that maybe this distinguishing of the ego in meditation means the cessation of "personal will," but one thing is for sure, Hinduism and Buddhism are both surrounded by the notion that this revelation or insight is one that is attained through an altered state of consciousness. So, these religions were more or less aware that it had to do with a phenomenon in consciousness.

The term "Buddha" is not a proper name, as you may now, but a title given to anyone who awakens or who has undergone enlightenment. Gautama is only emphasized because he, of course, founded Buddhism and is the original buddha, but this doesn't necessarily make him special or superior to any other buddha. I'm not sure if Hinduism contains a term for someone who has experienced samadhi or moksha. I want to say yogi or sadhu, but these terms imply that they're still seeking enlightenment rather than having already undergone it.

Now, let's consider for a moment that this notion of "Cosmic Consciousness" is true, that these type of experiences do lie at the root of religion, whether naturally induced or psychedelically induced. Then if you look at western religion, on the other hand, in comparison to eastern religion, say, Christianity for example, you have Christ as interpreted through the bible as "the one appointed divine being." Christ is emphasized as the one and only person that has this union with God being the one and only direct offspring from God according to the bible, so on and so forth.

Alan Watts, if you take a listen to that talk I linked to in my previous post, "Jesus and His Religion," elaborates on this point. That if you suppose that Christ, if he was a real person, had such an experience then you'd also have to highlight the fact that he probably didn't know of any other religion other than those of the immediate near east, and that would in turn ultimately impact how he would interpret his "mystical experience."

Watts goes on to say that Christ might have knew about Egyptian religion, a little maybe about Greek religion, but mostly about Hebraism. There's no evidence whatsoever that he knew anything about Indian or Chinese religions. This would explain why Christ is depicted as "the son of God," because if you interpret this this type of experience through the filter of Hebraism where God is thought of as an omnipotent, omniscient entity then this could lead to what Jung called, ironically enough, ego inflation, a kind of megalomania of the God complex sort. This sort of interpretation is also present in more contemporary cases where a powerful LSD experience can cause one to undergo a very similar ego explosion in the fashion of a "Messiah complex."

So, the phrases in the bible quoting Jesus as in "Before Abraham was, I am," "I am the way, the truth, and the life," "I am the living bread that comes down from heaven," "I and the father are one, and he who has seen me has seen the father" all reflect this. So, Christianity seems to have been founded on this particular bent where Jesus of Nazareth is God, but stop right there! Nobody else.

So, what happened was that Jesus was pedestalized, he was put in a position that was safely "upstairs." So, his troublesome experience of "cosmic consciousness" would not come and cause other people to be a nuisance, and those who have had this experience, and expressed it during those times when the church had political power were almost invariably persecuted. Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake, Johannes Scotus Eriugena was excommunicated, Meister Eckhart's theses were condemned, and so on and so on. A few mystics got away with it, because they used cautious language.

So, you see what happens if you pedestalize Jesus, if you appoint a "special person" as the one sole person that has this direct bridge to the divine, then you've automatically precluded the possibility for you to undergo the very same phenomenon that Christ underwent.

Pardon me for this prolix response, but I feel as though sometimes these ideas are somewhat difficult to express in concise form, and comes off a bit disingenuous if you're too succinct.

So, back to your question, "Then what is so special about this one man Gautama?" There is nothing particularly special about one person founding a religion. The way I see it is that religion is a kind of by-product of the people during those times long ago who had this experience and felt impelled to communicate it, and so then alas each one of these people become the founder of a religion. However, in the case of eastern religion, it is realized that this is a potential for everyone rather than the myopic view of Christianity where Christ is the only person vouchsafed to this direct communion with God.

Of course, today in western religious churches, you never hear anything about mysticism.  And the point I was attempting to make here is that due to this pedestalization of Jesus, religions such as Christianity is then not the religion of Jesus which was the realization of divine sonship, the realization of "cosmic consciousness" that is potential in us all, but the religion aboutJesus which pedestalizes him and and which says that only this man of all the sons of woman was divine, and no one else.

As a result, western religions become religions peddling high abstraction instead of direct experience. Espousing such concepts to be muddled, misinterpreted, misconstrued, handed down from generation to generation to be twisted, misremembered, contorted to meet social and political needs and so forth and so on. So, Christians must be subdued to these inherited series of mangled concepts which require you to believe based on "faith," and so their whole notion of reality is heavily distorted into these various concepts, and each Christian then understands their religion through the lens of their own individual eisegesis.

So, I felt your question would have made more sense with Christianity, that instead of saying what's so special about Gautama, the question makes more sense if you ask what's so special about Jesus? But perhaps it's because we're so bombarded with western religion in most parts of the English-speaking world, that we'd project that point-of-view across to eastern religion where, in eastern religion, it's instead viewed as a kind of panentheism where Gautama is regarded as divine as anyone else.

I do agree with your point that since more importance was put on Christ as "the son of God" rather than what Christ had experienced as a normal human being, people were left to rationalize and indulge in reverie about God instead of striving for an insight in consciousness that would resolve their conflicts.

So, if this point-of-view or Psychedelic theory is correct, then how do you suppose the anthropoidal projections of God as entity came about? Sometimes, I imagine that the early concepts that were based more on a kind of theosophy became intertwined with people who hadn't had a mystical experience's personified abstractions, so then God became a deified concept bestowed with the same attributes that were originally expressed in attempt to articulate facets of the experience of "cosmic consciousness." I'd really love to hear your thoughts on that, John.

That's why I've sort of leaned against Perennial Philosophy. I'm not sure if you ever had a chance to listen to Watts' talk on it, but he was at great pains to express this very point that I've been emphasizing, that in Christianity, Christ was pedestalized as the "divine appointed being,"  he was the only son of God, and so he takes this very strange place in the religion. So, I'm not sure what most people think of Christ, or even what Christians think of Christ, but from a perspective naive about these type of experiences, it's almost like thinking about an extraterrestrial or something. Christ is this eerie, numinous being from that perspective. 


Now, step over to Buddhism. Gautama admitted his mortality. The Buddhists surrounded their entire religion around this phenomenon in consciousness. Watts joked once that if Jesus was born in India, and had announced to everyone, "I and the father are one," then Hindus would have replied, "At last! You have found out," because they knew that everyone was in a sense "God" or "Brahman" or rather they knew that everyone had this latent revelatory experience within them.

If you posit that the "Entheogen Religion Theory of Religion" holds any merit, then it's a tragic situation that millions and millions of  people who are unfamiliar with this stuff are being made to feel guilty about simply trying to understand their own spiritual yearnings and their own place in the cosmos. I believe it's retarding cultural transformation that these things are illegal. Well, anyway, I apologize for my lack of brevity.

I have had wonderful moments of the 'oceanic feeling', which to me seem very normal, but deepened states of mind. I have never seen/felt anything truely weird, no alien abductions, no angels, and no disembodied voices. A few meditation experiences have very much impressed me with very intense mental images and visualizations, some of which seem to have been helpful while working on projects or life's challenges.

I think you are missing out on the simpler and far more likely explanation . And that is that the type of experiences associated with entheogens can be acquired from simple techniques that require no special plants or chemicals. Things like meditation, prayer, fasting, repetitive mantra's , going alone into the wilderness for long periods of time , spinning in circles until exhaustion sets in etc etc. To add to this these sort of practices are found in all religions.

"the type of experiences associated with entheogens can be acquired from simple techniques that require no special plants or chemicals."

Entheogens trigger intense mystical/religious experiences immediately repeatably and reliably, including the experience of death and rebirth/mystical transformation which is the centrepiece of all the major religions. People do not typically report entheogenic style experiences from drug free alternative practises such as meditating or praying etc.

According to the entheogen theory, meditating and praying make more sense as activities to do within the entheogenic altered state. A person who only meditates and never takes entheogens is avoiding exposure to the altered state, rather than trying earnestly to experience the altered state.

"Entheogens trigger intense mystical/religious experiences immediately repeatably and reliably,"

You are wrong there mate, the problem about entheogenic trips is how extremely unreliable the experience is. Yes they can cause mystical experiences but their is no real reliability of experience from one trip to another. How many times can you take a hallucinogenic drug and have an absolutely amazing trip only to afterwards take ever increasing amounts trying to chase the same trip? Or have a set of experiences once on the drug but never have the same experience again.

There is also the fact that these meditation type practices are ripe throughout all religions well drug use is often frowned upon. In the religions really devoted to altered states of cosciousness through meditation , like Buddhism , drug use is heavily discouraged as it completely messes up their control of the mind .

"including the experience of death and rebirth/mystical transformation which is the centrepiece of all the major religions." This is completely possible without drugs and is known as samadhi in some schools.

Lastly, trying to use drugs + meditation to explain something that meditation can alone cause is a serious violation of Occam's razor.

"How many times can you take a hallucinogenic drug and have an absolutely amazing trip only to afterwards take ever increasing amounts trying to chase the same trip?"

This question is completely at odds with the biological/medical reality. Psychedelic drugs do not produce any tolerance after a few days, they can be taken on a regular basis and will never fail to produce intense alterations of consciousness if the correct dosage is taken

"trying to use drugs + meditation to explain something that meditation can alone cause is a serious violation of Occam's razor."

You could just as easily say the precise inverse of this ^ statement: "trying to use drugs+meditation to explain something that drugs can alone cause is a serious violation of Occam's razor". As i suggested earlier, these practises such as meditating/chanting/drumming etc make far more sense as activities to do within the entheogen-induced altered state sessions.

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PI = 4

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