Psychedelics and Religious Experience

| April 18, 2001

Psychedelics and Religious Experience, Alan Watts, California Law Review
Published in the California Law Review near the apex of America's psychedelic culture in 1968, this essay by Alan Watts examines the similarities between the states of consciousness produced by spirituality and those conjured by drugs. Watts is careful in describing the differences between mind-manifesting psychedelics and more common drugs like alcohol and barbiturates, stating emphatically that no one should drive while "high" any more than they should while drunk, reading a book, playing the violin or making love. He also points out the reluctance of "impertinent, scientifically minded, and intellectually curious" Western culture to embrace any sort of drug-related experience. Watts uses his own experimentation with psychedelics to infer that experiences of elevated consciousness are all equally relevant, whether they are brought on by chemicals or religious ritual. The article goes on to examine the still-relevent question of whether or not government should be involved in the control of psychedelic substances.
--Al Paulson
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