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Entheogens in a religious context: The case of the Santo Daime religious tradition

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Abstract

This essay first draws upon the work of William James and others to propose a nonphysicalistic understanding of the relationship between the brain and consciousness in order to articulate a philosophical perspective that can understand entheogenic visionary/mystical experiences as something other than hallucinations. It then focuses on the Santo Daime tradition, a religious movement that began in Brazil in the early part of the twentieth century, to provide an example of the personal and social ramifications of taking an entheogen (ayahuasca) within a disciplined religious context. The essay claims that the Santo Daime is one example of a contemporary mystery school; gives a brief history of the development of this religion; discusses the key theological assumptions of this movement; investigates the important role played by visionary/mystical experiences within this religion; underscores the centrality of healing and spiritual transformation for members of this tradition; and ends with an examination of the crucial significance of spiritual discipline within this entheogenically based religion.

Barnard, G. W. (2014). Entheogens in a religious context: The case of the Santo Daime religious tradition. Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science, 49(3), 666-684. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/zygo.12109
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