Eminent Elders Explore the Continuing Impact of Psychedelics
Edited by Roger Walsh, MD and Charles S. Grob, MD
The Elders: Ram Dass, Betty Eisner, James Fadiman, Gary Fisher, Peter T. Furst,
Stanislav Grof, Michael Harner, Albert Hofmann, Laura Archera Huxley, Zalman
Alexander T. Shulgin, Ann Shulgin, Huston Smith and Myron Stolaroff
Reviewed by Donald P. Allen
Reviewer's Note: A note to remind readers that all reviewers bring personal experience, dispositions and (usually) prejudices to the task. My experience goes back to being a member of the preliminary research group organized by Myron Stolaroff. The group used the preparation approach and methods developed by Canadian researchers and refined by Al Hubbard. The group served as a working "proof model" for protocols later adapted by Stolaroff and the staff of the International Foundation for Advanced Study (IFAS) for the research program conducted in Menlo Park, California. I took leave from a career in industry and served as a research associate at the Foundation. There I guided over 150 people through preparation, testing, their LSD experience and follow-up. These people revealed their lives and very souls to us and I was indeed fortunate to observe, close-in, the life impact and changes that properly conducted LSD experiences allow. I observed how these changes held in follow-ups. They were confirmed by the subjects' personal reports and standardized testing results. My own experiences transformed my life and subsequent career. Thus, I admit to being a sympathetic reviewer of this compendium.
Introduction: This book succeeds in bringing to the reader an immense range of experience, observations, dimensions of and impact of the psychedelics, practical results that came to pass, and all mixed with nuggets of wisdom. The various roles and potential of the psychedelics is covered explicitly and implicitly. The editors and their collaborators provide a well framed context for the individual reports. The uniqueness of each elder's point of view is evident, yet a cohesive whole results in areas of impact and the aspects of the human psyche, spirit and soul that have been affected and clarified. Taken as a whole, the narratives underpin the need for further work, for new explorers and researchers to take up where they, the elders, left off and to continue the refinement and understanding of these potent tools. The reader cannot help but realize the implicit potential for personal improvement and growth, and further positive impact on future families and societies as a whole.
Background: The editors begin by reviewing the advent of psychedelics and their impact on tribal societies from time immemorial. Mentions of Soma are found in RgVeda, the most ancient of Indian scriptures dating back 3,500 years BC. The entheogen, kykeon, whose identity has been lost, was used to produce visionary consciousness in the sacred Eleusinian mystery rites of the ancient Greeks and most likely affected the writings we still study today. In more recent history interest in natural psychedelics was raised by the seminal works of Wasson, Harner, Furst and others. Among many examples, were investigations of the use of peyote (mescaline) in rites of the Native American Church and use of the psilocybin-containing "magic mushroom" among Mexican Indians. Until the 20th Century, such rites were largely ignored by Western Societies or marginalized by most anthropologists as curiosities that led to tribal myths. Spiritual or mystical encounters with Creation, God or the Over-Self were relegated to the realm of eastern meditators or religious mystics. Carl Jung, in his works which explore the personal and collective unconscious, was led to consideration of universal archetypes seen in dreams and hypnogogic visions. Add to that the popularized works of Joseph Campbell, which led to a realization that far flung, disparate tribal myths among peoples who had not discovered historic mutual history or physical connection, were united in common themes. Campbell's anthologies thus underscored a universal presence of meaning and apparent themes of oneness of all mankind.
Albert Hofmann's discovery of LSD-25 spurred post-WWII research that led to numerous experiments and clinical investigations in England, Canada and the U.S. by Savage, Hoffer, Osmond, Hubbard, Eisner and Cohen, et al, and seminal work in Czechoslovakia by Grof. This awakening led to the Harvard experiments of Leary and Alpert and the spreading advent of "street acid" during the "flower children" heyday of the 1960s. Societal fear and a government "antibody reaction" ensued, and legitimate, government authorized research was abruptly halted in 1965. This did not stop a select few from private research and self-experimentation, including the work of Leo Zeff and the Shulgins. In the recent decade, the formation of the Council of Spiritual Practices occurred, a group originally led by Bob Jesse, whose objective was to research how entheogens could be brought into the training of clergy as a legitimate channel for society to expand its utilization of entheogens for enhanced encounters with spirituality and the divine.
In 1998, the Institute of Noetic Sciences and the Fetzer Institute recognized the need to gather the wisdom of the psychedelic elders. They established a small invitational conference, "A gathering of Elders," which took place November 19-22, 1998. The conference was held at the Seasons Retreat Center at the Fetzer Institute in Kalamazoo, Michigan, the 35th anniversary of the death of Aldous Huxley. The purpose for this meeting was to tap into the wisdom that many of the elders have gleaned about what life has taught them through the psychedelic experience. Some 37 attendants were invited, 9 of whom were part of the organizing committee, and the balance those familiar with appropriate application of psychedelic substances, including Dr. Albert Hofmann, the inventor of LSD.
Several of those who were present took it upon themselves to interview many of the elders. This book, published by SUNNY in 2005, is the outgrowth of that work. Roger Walsh MD of U.C. Irvine, and Charles S. Grob MD of UCLA, with the aid of contributors Alise Agar Wittine and Gary Bravo MD, have edited the interview material from the pioneering researchers-doctors, pharmacologists, shamanists, clergy, anthropologists, humanists, professors, philosophers, and spiritual teachers. Their perspectives, insights and vision for future use of the psychedelics are summarized in this remarkable compendium.
The Book: The introductory section begins with a capsule history of the psychedelic movement that took place in the second half of the 20th Century-a very good short summation.
The High Road-History and Hysteria: This section adds historic sweep to the context of the book. Opinions may vary, of course, about what results were significant milestones. This reviewer noticed that the editors' emphasis occasionally missed certain notable implications of specific work and some key published results. For example, in recounting the work of IFAS, they emphasized one modest but promising study of creativity enhancement. However, they passed over the body of IFAS published papers that demonstrated measured significant positive changes in the beliefs, attitudes and behavior of hundreds of normal, educated people who had experienced one or two properly prepared for and conducted LSD sessions. This is noted because of the promise of further work in this area.
Four sections follow, Research: Consciousness, Creativity and Chemistry; Psychotherapy: Personal and Transpersonal; Culture and Consciousness; and Religious Implications: Psyche, Soul and Spirit. The following is a brief summary of each section and its reports of elders in that category.
Research : Consciousness, Creativity and Chemistry
Here, the editors briefly comment on the status of and implications of the research efforts of the last 50 years, pointing to promising work on creativity. At this point they leave to implication rather than advocacy the need for more government-authorized research to address personal, religious and social needs, although their final conclusion lays the groundwork for such advocacy.
James Fadiman-Fadiman is a "tell it like it is" editor, lecturer, author and playwright. He weaves a wonderful capsule of his personal saga and observations through his psychedelic participation and research. His involvement with early IFAS research is described and the subsequent establishment of transpersonal psychology and beyond. He is above all candid and clear about the promise and pitfalls of psychedelics in western culture. All cultures become ossified and resistant to change, yet he has faith in the younger wave that is coming-faith that psychedelics can reappear in use as entheogens that facilitate true spiritual development, and as psychological agents that aid resolution of the ills of developing and injured psyches.
Albert Hofmann-In his 99th year interview, Hofmann put his work and its implications into a grand perspective. He advocates the truism that only by experiencing a psychedelic in the right setting can one put it to beneficial use. He laments that religions fail at bringing the masses to genuine spirituality, and that entheogens can aid that objective. He recommends Aldous Huxley's lecture compilation, The Human Situation, as a template for how to see the possibilities for advancing "the ego, consciousness and the future of mankind." This grand old man who first synthesized LSD and who was just celebrated in his 100th year at a worldwide L.S.D. Symposium held in Switzerland, advocates the further use of psychedelics in a "proper and respectful" manner.
Myron Stolaroff-A transformed engineer, who in his industrial career became a Silicon Valley corporate executive, Stolaroff dedicated the last 45 years of his life to furthering the beneficial utilization of psychedelics, most recently through the executive directorship and as a board member of the Albert Hofmann Foundation. He relates his personal tale of discovery and good works, from the original experience with Al Hubbard in Canada, through the founding and managing of the IFAS clinical program where professionally designed and executed research measured and demonstrated the potential of psychedelics. Published IFAS testing results from hundreds of subjects showed notable and lasting changes.
Stolaroff was queried about the nature of his and others' psychedelic experiences, how he views various schools of thought as a result. He puts the nature of the experience into both deeply personal and universal perspectives. He describes being led to that which is truly real, that which is numinous, sublimely universal and underpins all Creation. He emphasizes how one becomes more responsible in the conduct of one's life in the here and now. Stolaroff is asked and speculates about possible weaving of psychedelics into the development of more effective members of society. He describes the training and attitudes that are essential to becoming an effective guide.
The Shulgins-Alexander ("Sasha") Shulgin, a noted and experienced pharmacologist and chemist, and Ann Shulgin, a lay therapist, provide illuminating answers to common questions about the psychedelics. Although advocates, their descriptions come across as clear and unbiased. Their answers about specific effects of compounds are, in this reviewer's reading, particularly clear and understandable. They contrast nicely with Gary Fisher's descriptions, below, that convey the indescribable spiritual, context-shifting effects. Essentially, the Shulgins report that various compounds may tend to open doors to realms of existence or aspects of perception, but the specifics of a given experience are unique to each individual and the direction of the experience is determined by the deeper self as best serving that individual at that time in the then present circumstances.
The Shulgins candidly state that, after decades of experimenting with a wide range of compounds, they still do not know how they work. With respect to government resistance, Sasha opines how unconscious fears about their own unconscious underlie the resistance of government officials to broader research with and use of psychedelics. He describes his own self-training and how one gets answers to personal issues with the aid of MDMA. Ann clearly details the pluses and limitations of MDMA-assisted therapy. She describes moving cases and the proper conduct of MDMA therapy. Her candor and clarity are refreshing. Sasha notes the potential of other interesting compounds to be explored.
Psychotherapy, Personal and Transpersonal
In the introduction to this section, Walsh and Grob summarize three traditional methods of changing painful and pathological behavior. They position psychedelic-based therapy as a potential accelerator of progress in how we deal with mind, pathology, therapy and human potential.
Betty Eisner-Ms. Eisner joined Sidney Cohen in his pioneering work conducted in the mid- and late 1950s at UCLA and at the Veterans Administration Hospital in West Los Angeles. She describes her initial positive experience with LSD as a UCLA graduate student in psychology and the development with Cohen of a therapeutic approach, later labeled "psycholotic"-a series of increasing, low-dose LSD sessions for patients with alcohol and neurotic problems. Early work was done with Bill Wilson of AA fame, who wanted AA to open a whole new approach to attaining sobriety based on psychedelic experiences. The AA board became frightened and it never materialized. So encouraged with personal and therapy patient results, Eisner worked with Cohen eighteen months, and then opened her own practice which continued for twenty-two years.
Eisner gives credit to Osmond, Hoffer and above all, Al Hubbard for developing powerful protocols for effective use. Cohen and Eisner developed methods that also included the use of ketamine, Ritalin, and Carbogen (Meduna's mixture of CO2 and O2). Eisner describes their effects and advantages. She relates Cohen's encounters with Tim Leary and his efforts, joined by Hoffer and Osmond's attempts, to get Leary to cease the illegal use of psychedelics. The spread of "turn on, tune in and drop out" street usage so dismayed Cohen that he withdrew from legal LSD research.
Eisner implies that the reaction of medicine, psychology and governmental agencies in shutting down psychedelic research can be traced to Leary and Alpert. Eisner is clear about the impact of mystical/spiritual psychedelic experiences on recreating one's personal perspective, centeredness, mental health and values. She advocates their use as teaching drugs for psychiatrists.
Gary Fisher-Fisher, educated in Canada and the U.S., who described himself as formerly "a tight-assed psychologist" who was "psychologically and emotionally constricted." He was an early researcher with the use of psychedelics in treating autistic and schizophrenic children, and later in treating adult mental illness and in helping patients who suffered from terminal cancer. Fisher was introduced to psychedelics by his psychiatrist brother, who had been tutored by Al Hubbard. He later became a collaborator of Tim Leary's in Mexico, the Caribbean and Millbrook, New York. He subsequently withdrew from involvement with Leary over differences in objectives and methods. His implications are similar to Eisner's, that Leary was a principle factor that led to the government's anti-psychedelic policies.
Fisher's answers to questions are stunning. The reader gets the full notion of the power and potential of properly used psychedelic sessions. Among examples are the miraculous transformation of an unreachable child who was psychotic, wasting away and totally self destructive; and the amazing relief experienced by a woman, who was hospitalized with terminal cancer and had been on huge doses of pain medications, who was able to cease their use, to the dismay of oncologists.
In a most engaging manner, Fisher answers other questions about use and dangers of psychedelics through which one perceives underlying facts that grew out of his experience and the apparent promise of these materials.
Stanislav Grof-Grof, who began his medical career in Prague and later in Maryland, is widely regarded "as the world's foremost researcher of psychedelics." He originally specialized in psychiatry, but was drawn to the theoretical achievements of psychoanalysis. Later, as a result of an LSD experience of personal cosmic proportions, he joined a group of researchers who sought deeper understanding of these materials. Grof takes us through his early development which included a harrowing jail experience after the Communist takeover of Czechoslovakia, rejection of organized religion, and his baptism into spiritual realms through his own and his patients psychedelic experiences. Grof takes us on a tour of how his inner drives became revealed, and he came to see himself as "being driven." He is both the subject of and the observing self during these experiential revelations and tells how they were tied to the "unfinished gestalt of my birth." We are shown how Grof's and his patients' unfinished resolution of their birth experiences influenced his later non-psychedelic endeavors, e.g. holotropic breath work.
Grof now sees that emotional and psychosomatic disorders have a large component rooted in birth and early childhood, and other, deeper roots arising from "the transpersonal domain of the psyche-karmic, archetypal and phylogenic." He states that these roots "reached deep into the fabric of the cosmos and existence" rather than being the products of postnatal experience as portrayed by mainstream psychiatry. Grof describes some 4,000 patient LSD sessions as psycholotic, aimed at the roots of personal behavior and life issues. He goes on to describe his involvement with the Spring Grove, Maryland "psychedelic therapy" methods of eyeshades, headphone music, etc. which led to faster personal results, but less understanding of the psyche's levels and processes that underlay the results obtained.
Grof narrates his experiences with Abe Maslow in which they found great agreement even though Maslow never experienced psychedelics. He gives his view of what led to the government clamp on psychedelic research and details his vision of how it could be effectively carried out.
The interview with Grof is masterful. It gives the reader a detailed picture of this pioneer's view of the significance to the world that is offered by adroit application of the psychedelics-ameliorating our individual and collective ills and revealing our deep connection to the universe.
Culture and Consciousness
The editors note that western anthropologists have found that "fully 90% of the world's other cultures have one or more institutionalized altered states of consciousness." Psychedelics have played a significant role in shaping native cultures, particularly in ritual, art, spirituality and myth. Their "conscientious ritual use for specific sacred and spiritual purposes" stands in stark contrast to what has happened in the West where freewheeling, unstructured use has led to a ban of legitimate pursuit of knowledge and tools for societal betterment. The editors discuss what leads to a drug's acceptance in a culture and note the paradox in government spending of billions to quash marijuana use while spending comparable amounts to support tobacco growth, in spite of its huge negative impacts on health and medical costs. They conclude that the "cross-cultural study of psychedelics has much to teach us about cultures, including our own."
Peter T. Furst-Furst has been a renowned anthropologist with SUNY and University of Pennsylvania and has written extensively on native art, ethnology and cultural history of psychedelic plants. In this fascinating summary, Furst gives up-to-date answers to questions ranging from the inventive fiction of Carlos Castanada's works on don Juan Matus (Furst says that Castaneda was a fellow grad student at UCLA who got the idea from works of Barbara Meyerhoff) to the entheogenic history of peyote, mushrooms, cannabis seeds and a host of others. He reveals that evidence from archeological digs shows that entheogens were used as far back as 5000 B.C. by Indians of the lower Rio Grande. Further, there is evidence of medicinal and possible use of psychoactive plants from Iraq-dwelling Neanderthals upwards of 80,000 to 100,000 years ago.
There are many other interesting reports about tribal uses. Furst hopes for increased exploration of "ethnomedicinal use" of shamanic plants in research on the active components.
Michael Harner-Complementing Furst's interview is that of Harner's work on shamanism. An archeologist educated at U.C. Berkeley, Harner moved from academic research on Western Hemisphere Indians, from the Canadian Arctic to the Amazon, to become the acknowledged world expert on shamanism. He undertook shamanic training beginning with Shuar tribal teachers and then in numerous locations throughout the world. In 1987 he founded the Foundation for Shamanic Studies, an organization with worldwide membership that among other activities, funds shamanic research, and "in an intriguing cultural reversal has reintroduced shamanic practices to parts of the world where the tradition was lost or suppressed."
Harner describes how the Shuar and other tribes utilize Ayahuasca ("natemä") in personal development and divination. He learned the native cosmology of three separate worlds, most of mankind's time being spent in the "Middle World." Shamanism is by and large limited to that world. Among the Shuar, Conibo and Shivaro, his training led him to perceive and interact with the presence of spirits, "good and not so good." He says that spirits aid or hinder us. He also encountered that fact that entering altered shamanic states did not necessarily require Ayahuasca or comparable plants, but could be attained with sonic stimulation, percussive sounds in the theta range of EEG waves. He states that such monotonous sounds amount to "sonic driving" and teach that there is "more than one door" to non-ordinary reality.
Harner says that the shamanic state is not a human capacity, but is at the will of the spirits who become available. A shaman is merely the agent of these spirits and his tenure can abruptly cease. Their role, says Harner, "is to reduce spiritual ignorance and suffering in ordinary reality." In distinction, he describes the Tuvan of Central Asia, who practice attaining the "Upper World." They "go past the stars" and "describe the nine heavens and the tenth 'white' world beyond." (Perhaps these are analogous to the ten sepherot described in the Jewish Kabbalah.)
Harner's responses are rich with information about spirits and spiritual realms and include not only warnings about pitfalls, but descriptions of approaches with practical everyday benefits to us, such as "depossession." Harner ends with discussions of many aspects and particular recollections of his work, some of them about Carlos Castenada of whom he has a deep appreciation.
Laura Archera Huxley-Huxley has been widely honored for her humanistic achievements. Her early career followed her discovery as a violin prodigy in Italy. Her broad talents led her to the U.S. where she played in a major symphony orchestra. She put aside her music career and delved into documentary films, and became a studio film editor. Before marrying Aldous Huxley in 1956, she had been engaged as a psychological counselor, lecturer, and seminar leader in the human potential movement. With her husband, she explored the potential of the psychedelics, and at Aldous' request, administered LSD to him just prior to his death.
Huxley's interview reveals a woman of deep soul, wisdom and commitment. The reader can see how her soul and wisdom infuses her view of life and its crucial situations. Her attitude about how psychedelics should be handled rings true and balanced. She is committed to the future-she quotes Aldous' grandfather, Thomas H. Huxley's marvelous statement on surrender to the highest, and answers a question about her legacy with a moving prayer about what we owe to the unborn.
Religious Implications -Psyche, Soul and Spirit
Walsh and Grob aptly summarize the collision between the historic evidence of religious and spiritual impact from natural psychedelics, and the strongly held views of many religious scholars. Scholars are split and many view "psychedelic epiphanies…pseudo spiritual at best and delusional at worst." On the other side stand Ram Dass, Rabbi Zalman Schacter-Shalomi and Houston Smith who argue for "the possibility of experiential equivalence of contemplative and chemical induced mysticism." The editors note Houston Smith's caution, "drugs appear to induce religious experiences; it is less evident that they can produce religious lives." In the opinion of this reviewer, the editors missed an opportunity to note that mankind's desire for simplistic cause and effect truths is not met by the psychedelics. A large part of the reason may lie in the fact that we humans have been granted uniqueness, free will and choices.
Rabbi Zalman Schacter-Shalomi-Schachter-Shalomi escaped from Austria in WWII and was educated in the U.S. A Professor Emeritus at Temple University, "he is recognized as a major scholar of Hassidism and Kabbalah." Schachter-Shalomi was a founder of the Jewish Renewal movement." He pioneered the practice of "spiritual eldering" and is widely published.
In his rabbinic training at a Lubavitch yeshiva, he was exposed to meditation and prayer well beyond the traditional talmudic studies. Schachter-Shalomi became dedicated to "waking up more" than our usual waking state. He credits dialogue with the diamond cutters of Antwerp and the renown Rabbi Joseph Isaac Schneersohn as fundamental to his spiritual growth.
Introduced to psychedelics by Tim Leary, it is interesting to note that Schachter-Shalomi maintained his independent path and never joined the cult aspects of Millbrook. He was on a broadly based quest and saw beyond the "tune-in, drop-out and blow your mind" Millbrook mantra. What he discovered is summarized in this statement:
"We are brain cells of the global brain. An 'organismic' understanding of the universe emerged for me out of my psychedelic experiences, and allowed an awareness of Gaia [the living earth]. We are each vital organs of the planet. The optimal contribution we can make is to be the (noblest) self that we can be."
In his later years, Schachter-Shalomi has focused on "eldering work…to help people move from just ageing to sageing." This requires inner work, to deeply look at their lives and "contextualize their failures." His view is that a transformation results, wisdom deepens and energy is released with which one can do the good works of the Gaia.
Ram Dass-A former professor of psychology at Stanford and Harvard, Dick Alpert met Tim Leary and his life was never the same. He came through his introduction to psychedelics, discovered his deep seated problems with authority, experienced with Leary being fired by Harvard. After his sojourn to India, he became Ram Dass and redirected his life toward the spiritual.
Walsh and Grob state that "by presenting examples from his own life and using contemporary concepts, he became what Carl Jung called, 'a Gnostic intermediary'," thus overcoming the Western tendency toward "ritualization of religion." The editors summarize the guiding principles of his life as "practice, karma yoga, and service." His books introduced multitudes to spiritual practice, accounts of his guru, and a spiritual perspective on aging.
Reading The Tibetan Book of the Dead led to a desire to accompany his friends to India. Ram Dass describes his life-altering experiences with his guru-to-be, Maharajji, and how he loses him and finds him again. In this "accidental" re-meeting, he learns that the guru told his wife in the morning to prepare for Ram Dass and 35 companions who would arrive for dinner that evening, just as resulted from, what seemed to Ram Dass, a spur of the moment decision to detour to a spot where rivers came together. His descriptions of his experiences are vivid and he weaves in a spiritual perspective on levels of reality and meaning. Nonetheless, a kind of tiredness creeps in to the narrative, perhaps related to the never-ending ordeal with the aftereffects of his stroke. Regardless, Ram Dass gives the reader what one hopes for, a deeply personal sweep of his outer and inner world and sense of being, and the role psychedelics and meditative contemplation play in them.
Houston Smith-Born in China of missionary parents, Smith became one of "the most influential scholars of religion of our time." He held renowned professorships at MIT and Syracuse University and U.C. Berkeley. Smith "not only analyzed religious traditions intellectually, but he practiced them…very seriously." They included Christian, Chinese, and several other major religion traditions, all mixed with time in retreats, contemplation and yoga. Unlike most such professors, Walsh and Grob point to Kant's long ago observation that intellectual studies of religion lead to "empty concepts." Smith's distinction is the depths unveiled by his personal contemplative and mystical experiences. The editors note that "his observation that drugs can produce authentic religious experiences in some people, but it is by no means certain that they necessarily produce religious lives," remains compelling today. He pursued the role of chemical agents in spiritual quests and coined the term, "entheogens" to more accurately describe their effects.
After his studies of the paths to enlightenment, he admits to "…whoring after the Absolute." After ten years…of breaking my legs" in Zen meditation, with only modest effects, he read Aldous Huxley's books, particularly Doors of Perception, and was led to an inner desire to search more in that spiritual direction. An opportunity followed that came from Huxley's visit to MIT and Huxley's relationship with Leary, who enticed Smith and his wife with psilocybin. His religious and personal cosmology made a tectonic shift. Smith feels that entheogens and psychedelics should be limited to access through trained persons or agencies that will provide time-proven, beneficial attention to goals and environments. They should not be made available to just anyone ("Do not cast your pearls before swine-it does neither any good.")
Smith's interview gives the reader the experience of his inner truths and modest wisdom. He explains why taking entheogens become one of the three most significant moves of his life. They led to his beliefs based on personal "ontological" evidence-the philosophical words for taking conceptual understanding into deep, personal experience of their reality. This was coupled with an opening of his heart and changed the way he held other people.
Finally, Smith speaks out for not making such experiences personal possessions, but having arrived at deep sense of responsibility toward others, the imperative not to merely talk, but to responsively act out in everyday life the virtues that derive from his encounter with the eternal.
In Conclusion-What did these elders learn and what can we learn from them?
Here, Walsh and Grob do a beautiful, exacting job of distilling the implications of the book "in five areas of insight and transformation:" Understanding psychedelics and their use; understanding the workings of the mind; psychological transformation and therapy; the effects on one's relationship to spirituality and religion; and finally, the effect exerted on their professions. The findings are beautifully summarized; a distillate of the depths contained not only in the book's questions and the elder's responses, but as an unknown author once stated, "the spaces between their words."
Ultimate truth is contextual and is rooted in what my late wife called, "the complimentary contraries; that is, the paradoxical nature of ultimate truth." Reading the contents in these priceless interviews can help a reader to glimpse the overall context of the truths and perspectives of psychedelics in the progress of mankind.
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