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Cleansing the Doors of Perception: The Religious Significance of Entheogenic Plants and Chemicals
by Huston Smith
Publisher:
Jeremy P. Tarcher / Putnam 
Year:
2000 
ISBN:
1585420344 
Reviewed by CB, 9/11/2001

In Cleansing the Doors of Perception, Huston Smith presents a valuable perspective on the relationship of self to divinity, through plants and chemicals that can initiate the mystical experience. Mr Smith is one of the leading religious scholars known for his classic “The World’s Religions”. He approaches the subject of this relationship with passion, which is interesting considering his own experiences happened nearly 30 years ago. Why the passion? Smith certainly champions the validity of these tools and notes that cultural use has been documented for thousands of years.

Through his essays he relates the potentials and the dangers of these materials and calls for the subject of religious use be opened for all to discuss. Acknowledging entheogens (defined as ‘virtually non-addictive mind-altering substances that are approached seriously and reverently ’ by Smith) are important to evolution, he highlights that the experiences elucidated are not for everyone. Here I quote Smith’s statement to Dr. Timothy Leary during his first experience with psilocybin, ” I feel like I have been in an operating room, having barely squeaked through an ordeal which for two hours my life hung in the balance.” Smiths details entheogen use culturally and religiously with reverence and respect. An excellent book for the exploration of religious perspectives in relation to entheogen use.

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