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Sacred Knowledge: Psychedelics and Religious…
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Sacred Knowledge: Psychedelics and Religious Experiences

by William A. Richards

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Many people associate the term 'psychedelics' with LSD, hippies, and the sixties. But these drugs have a long and controversial history outside of that context, including the MK-Ultra secret government mind control experiments. This class of drugs' history fascinates me, and so I was looking forward to reading about the religious and ceremonial uses throughout history.

The author has worked in research for many years, directly with psychedelics. He has also taken psychedelics on several occasions, experiencing the trip for himself. He clearly knows his topic. In this book, he shares many stories from his research. We meet the people, who are all quite ordinary, and we learn about what the psychedelic trips were like for them, as well as how the experience impacted their lives.

I was a little disappointed that Richards didn't cover more of the history of using psychedelics for religious purposes. Instead, his approach here mostly concerns modern use, as a method of religious or spiritual enlightenment. He also touches on research for using psychedelics in the treatment of medical issues such as alcoholism and depression.

At times Richard's exuberance is a little much, as if psychedelics are the ultimate panacea. Still, he does not advocate going out to your neighborhood drug dealer and buying a bunch for personal use. He advises caution, emphasizing the right state of mind, setting, and a trusted escort for your psychedelic journey.

This book offers some fascinating insight into a class of drugs that has yet to give up all of its secrets.

*I was provided with an ebook copy by the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review.* ( )
  Darcia | Dec 29, 2015 |
Richards, a now retired professor, has written his vade mecum on psychedelics, chemical stimulants and the history of a variety of psychological-social experiments, some of which hold hope for curative sessions with the psychically wounded. The field is not without its doubters and government intervention (for government’s purposes) is not particularly laudatory. He writes from the background of psychotherapy, theology and comparative religion…a broad range indeed. To those who are caregivers this is a good book to keep on your reference shelf. He writes clearly, dispassionately (some may dispute this) and appears to have no hidden agenda.

I received an electronic copy in return for an honest review. ( )
  mcdenis | Dec 15, 2015 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0231174063, Hardcover)

In the early 1960s, scientists openly advocated for experimentation with psychedelics. This effort, however, quickly turned into a discredited enterprise involving recreational drug use. But what if a study of psychedelics was undertaken with trusted scientific rigor? William A. Richards does just that in Sacred Knowledge, the first well-documented, sophisticated account of the effect of psychedelics on biological processes, human consciousness, and revelatory religious experiences. Richards argues that, if used responsibly and legally, psychedelics have incredible potential to assuage human suffering and constructively contribute to the quality of life on our planet. His work is based on nearly three decades of legal research with volunteers aged twenty-four to eighty-one.

Sacred Knowledge enriches humanities and scientific scholarship, expanding work in philosophy, anthropology, theology, and religious studies, as well as in mental health, psychotherapy, and psychopharmacology. Richards's analysis also contributes to social and political debates over the responsible integration of psychedelic substances into modern society. His book is an invaluable resource for readers who, whether spontaneously or with the facilitation of psychedelics, have encountered meaningful, inspiring, or even disturbing states of consciousness and seek clarity about their experiences. Testing the limits of language and conceptual frameworks, Richards makes the most of experiential phenomena that stretch our concepts of reality and advances new frontiers in the study of belief, spiritual awakening, psychiatric treatment, and social well-being.

(retrieved from Amazon Tue, 14 Jul 2015 08:59:49 -0400)

In the early 1960s, scientists openly advocated for experimentation with psychedelics. This effort, however, quickly turned into a discredited enterprise involving recreational drug use. But what if a study of psychedelics was undertaken with trusted scientific rigor? William A. Richards does just that in Sacred Knowledge, the first well-documented, sophisticated account of the effect of psychedelics on biological processes, human consciousness, and revelatory religious experiences.… (more)

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