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Cleansing the Doors of Perception: The Religious Significance of Etheogenic Plants and Chemicals (Anglais) Broché – 17 juillet 2009

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The book is about the mystical use of entheogenic drugs

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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) 4.4 étoiles sur 5 18 commentaires
73 internautes sur 75 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A Sober Look AT Spiritual Use of Entheogens 23 septembre 2000
Par Thomas M. Seay - Publié sur
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
As an advocate of the use of entheogens (psychedelics) as a means of expanding consciousness, I have to praise this book for several reasons.
One, due to Dr. Huston's reputation, many people who would not have considered psychedelics as a spiritual path will now have to take the spiritual use of these substances seriously.
Two for those of us who do use entheogens, Dr. Smith offers an interesting critique of the psychedelic movement of the 60s. He asks himself if the corrolary of "tune in" and "turn on" has to be "drop out".
He also underscores the importance of paying attention to "set" and "setting" (the attitude of the user and the physical environment in which the user takes the psychedelic). He rightly notes that a lot of people pay lip service to this idea without being rigorous in it's application. There seems to be a kind of libertarianism, even philistinism, in the contemporary psychedelic scene. We're going to explore alone without paying attention to the lessons from other cultures who have used these substances for thousands of years. Understandably we do so under the banner of authenticity, but I think we lose out. We should not ape or follow the lessons of those cultures dogmatically, but we should investigate them and heed what is good...especially about set and setting.
Third, he assigns psychedelics their proper place. They are tools. And like any tool, psychedelics work for some and not for others. Or they work for a time for us and then we need to leave them behind. Any way it goes, we are left with integrating the lessons learned from our psychedelic explorations into our everyday life.
This is a sober treatment of the role of psychedelics, not an absolute glorification. I love to dream and hypothesize along with Terence McKenna, but I also love the grounded nature of "Cleaning The Doors of Perception".
If you are interested in a serious discussion of psychedelics,please check out our webclub "Entheogens and Psychedelics" at [...]
19 internautes sur 23 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Fascinating, informative and valuable. 1 avril 2006
Par Joseph Davis - Publié sur
Format: Relié
Somehow, over the past 40 years of so, certain drugs have gotten a very bad reputation. Drugs, that is, that do not have official approval. Alcohol, prescription opiates, anti-depressants, caffeine, and nicotine (perhaps the most addictive substance on the planet) are fine, and are even sanctioned and promoted by the power grid that calls the shots. Entheogenic substances (formerly known as hallucinogens) however, after experiencing their apogee during the long lost, much lamented sixties, have been consigned to the same prison cell as heavy duty opiates, destructive stimulants such as cocaine and methamphetamines, and other negative drugs like GHB, Rohypnal and Ketamine. This book does an excellent, scholarly job of explaining and illustrating why this is a very bad thing. Entheogens have been with us for a long, long time, and may have been the catalyst for the formation of many of our major religions. Psilocybin, mescaline (peyote), and Soma (perhaps Amanita Muscaria) have been responsible for stimulating some of the most profound insights and experiences ever recorded. LSD, a modern entrant to the entheogen club, appears to be just as effective. There is a test in the book -try to distinguish between a genuine religious mystical experience and an entheogenic mystical experience. I failed the test.

Smith is no spaced out weekend tripper. He effectively documents the modern age of the entheogens by describing the mid-century efforts of Aldous Huxley (The Doors of Perception), Albert Hofmann (the inventor of LSD), and tune-in, turn-on, drop-out Timothy Leary. You can see how things went wrong in the latter sixties, especially after LSD and other zeitgeist challenging drugs were criminalized. Not that Smith advocates downing these substances like candy. Far from it. These drugs deserve respect, and they had respect in the societies that used them many years ago. The hard reality is that these drugs are political. Look around you. It's not a happy place we live in right now, in spite of what your net income may have been last year. The planet is heating up, with drastic consequences soon to be evident. There is an asymptotic concentration of power in the hands of a very few. The most powerful nation on earth (indeed in history) is becoming increasingly erratic and warlike, and teeters on the edge of a catastrophic economic collapse. The sick world economic arrangement encourages huge population centres like India and China to ape the behaviour of the United States. The media that might help people to figure things out have been bought and co-opted by the powers that wish the status quo to continue. If you have any gnostic leanings at all, it's hard not to believe that the Archons are firmly in power. These drugs, the entheogens, allow you to cut through the smoke, the propaganda, the confusion, the maya, to let you see what really is. They offer hope that you are part of a mysterious, fundamentally wonderful and positive universe and that things will be alright. So, to the powers that be, they are dangerous, and thus illegal. Just read some of the testimonials and the experiences in this book. They have the ring of truth to them. Not that Smith is advocating entheogens as a quick escalator to the divine. No, he makes it clear that, although certain drugs can shake up your world view and make you question where your life is going, and make you aware of another, better plane of existence, it's how you live the rest of your life that matters. A drug may point out your destination on the map, but you still have to work to get there.

The case of Soma, an early pillar of the Hindu religion, is interesting. Smith speculates that the secret of Soma may have been intentionally 'lost' by Hindu religious leaders about 3000 years ago because use of Soma had gotten out of control (much as hallucinogen use did in the 1960s). A more likely scenario, in my view, is that Soma was suppressed by a religious elite because it represented a threat to their power. With increasing institutionalization comes increasing repression, because powerful people then have a lot to lose. If you ingest an entheogen, you see your own version of reality, unreality, or whatever. You don't have to take what your priest says or what you read in a sanctioned text to be the final word. The power structure thus loses the ability to define reality.

Some quibbles. The title (Cleansing the Doors of Perception) implies (at least to me) that a seeker will find ways or even methods within to raise their consciousness or make progress towards enlightenment, but this book is more of a starting point in that regard, not a primer. It might be better titled Concerning the Doors of Perception. Also, I found Smith at times to be gratingly deistic. I react to the over-use of the term 'God'. That word is too restricting and has too much negative baggage to be useful in such a discussion. Smith also at times comes across as somewhat credulous. Anecdotes are not necessarily persuasive evidence of paranormal phenomena such as telepathy or precognition. If these phenomena are real and many people have the capacity to demonstrate them, let them be tested scientifically like any other legitimate phenomena. Of course, when they are tested the results do not materialize. (Their supporters call this the 'shyness' effect.) But the above are only minor annoyances and do not take away from the value of this wonderful book.
7 internautes sur 8 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Good, but missing pieces of the picture. 9 août 2012
Par J.W. - Publié sur
Format: Broché
This is a great book in many respects, well written and persuasive. Smith covers a range of topics, from whether or not entheogenic experiences provide genuine glimpses of a greater reality, to historical discussions and modern studies which produced startling results. He also provides a much needed reality check for the counter-culture that espouses the spirituality of these substances on one hand while failing to live a spiritual life on the other.

There is something that prevents me from giving this book the full 5 stars, however - not for what is in the book so much as what is missing from it. Like most books revolving around "World Religions," most of the discussion is centered on Judeo-Christian and Eastern spiritual viewpoints. There is a single chapter which combines an intro Smith wrote for a book on the Eleusinian Mysteries and interviews with members of the Native American Church, and throughout the book there are a few brief mentions of entheogenic use among other cultures, but Smith does not delve long or deeply into any of these topics. What disappoints me about this is that there continue to be many traditional cultures that actively make use of entheogens in their rituals, including many tribal cultures that may represent a clearer viewpoint of mankind's oldest natural religious impulses, yet Smith does not discuss these beliefs. Instead, he focuses most strongly on how the entheogenic experience meshes with Eastern beliefs, despite acknowledging that the Soma of the Hindus was suppressed before the Vedas were even finished, and that use of substances is considered one of the highest sins in Buddhism. My point here is not that certain entheogenic experiences do not echo Eastern spiritual beliefs or may not have influenced them, but rather that such influence waned thousands of years ago, that these belief systems have changed from this time and their mythologies taken on different interpretations partially due to societal shifts and partially due to distance from the original source of revelation. In addition to discussing these points, why not discuss the living worldviews of some of the traditional cultures that have had a continuous, intimate relationship with entheogens - worldviews which often do not resemble those of the East or West, except in the common belief that there is a more vital world beyond our everyday perception?

Most cultures that have had both a long term and current involvement with entheogens gravitate towards shamanic worldviews in which harmony between the self and the living yet sacred world around us is the highest value, rather than focusing on redemption as in Western religions, or extinction of the self as in Eastern ones. Wouldn't the cultures that have a long standing familiarity with these plants also be some of the best primary sources of what they teach? Instead, Smith does what many others do - assume that religious experiences can be arranged in a hierarchy, and that the goals held highest by the dominant religious forces are clearly the highest spiritual goals in an objective sense. Where belief systems diverge from these goals, there are only cursory mentions, and I was disappointed when, in the second appendix, Smith dismisses consideration of shamanic cultures because shamans are lacking in "sanctity" - presumably because they function as intermediaries between humans and the spirits doing active work for people in the world, rather than spending their lives gazing at their navels.

Still, I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the topic, but with the caveat that they should explore entheogenically derived philosophies not covered by the major world religions of today as well.
26 internautes sur 26 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A Fascinating Book 21 février 2001
Par Paul Fucich - Publié sur
Format: Relié
I found this book to be very interesting. Most of the people that I have known who are part of the "drug culture" (and by drug culture I mean anyone who partakes of any drug on a regular basis) would have no idea of the value of the chemistry covered in this book. Why?, Because our culture primarily abuses drugs. Personally I have not yet met an individual who did not use chemistry in conjunction with their dysfunction. Unfortunately, this book will be appreciated mainly by the few folks who have no serious chemical addiction. I loved this book and found it fascinating.
I was especially fascinated by the chapter on Stanislav Grof. I learned more about pure psychotherapy from this book than any book I have read on the subject.
This book speaks about cultures within cultures such as The Native American Church. It illuminates the fact that there are societies who use natures chemistry to fight drug addiction. Near the end of the book you hear the testimonials from the patrons of the Native American Church, and it is most enlightening.
This book is about religion, philosophy, psychology, the science of mind, and the study of reality--all in one short and sweet text. I found it very eye-opening and inspiring.
24 internautes sur 24 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Forbidden Doors 3 mars 2001
Par Edmund Aaron Bravo - Publié sur
Format: Relié
The third millenium is upon us; where humanity will be at its conclusion is anyone's guess. Huston Smith, a very well-repected religious scholar in the US, has taken a bold position on the topic of entheogens (psychedelics) by advocating their limited use in opening the mind to deep, spiritual experiences.
The book is loaded (no pun intended) with information concerning the historical significance of entheogens dating from the birth of the world's earliest religions in the Far East. Also included are fascinating accounts of his own powerful experience during the Good Friday event at Boston University.
If you are interested in, or have ever experienced forms of perception OTHER than the "default" setting in your own consciousness, this is an excellent book. The author's conviction that entheogens make possible ecstatic, mystical states which take one into the heart of cosmic awareness is genuine...and tempting.
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