Drugs that induce profound changes in consciousness
through interference with normal sensory perception. Typical
drugs of this kind are mescaline, LSD, and psilocybin. The dissemination
of knowledge of hallucinogens and their widespread
availability in the 1960s created a significant subculture
in the West. The use of LSD and related substances opened
many to the spiritual life, even though most soon dropped their
The public was first alerted to the possibilities of psychedelics
through Aldous Huxley’s books The Doors of Perception
(1954) and Heaven & Hell (1956), which suggest that drug experience
is related to states of mysticism. His insights were developed
at great length by numerous writers in the following
two decades.
Opponents of the use of psychedelics have noted that their
use tends to make individuals dependent upon them for the
production of ecstatic experiences, and that they are no substitute
for the development of a mature mystical lifestyle.
Lewin, L. Phantastica, Narcotic and Stimulating Drugs. New
York E. P. Dutton, 1964.
Masters, R. E. L., and Jean Houston. The Varieties of Psychedelic
Experience. New York Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1966. Reprint,
London Anthony Blond, 1967.
Wasson, R. G. Soma The Divine Mushroom. New York Harcourt
Brace, 1971.
Zaehner, R. C. Mysticism Sacred and Profane. London, 1957.