....whys guy.... ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb
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- up to my arse in alligators
In the spirit of comparative religion I would like to point out that mystical experience is just as common to polytheism as it is to monotheism. Though polytheism and monotheism are drastically different neurotheology and our common biological make up as humanbeings suggests that polytheistic mysticism and monotheistic mysticism are the same at a fundamental level.
With all due respect, I cannot help but feel Thomas' contributions are every bit as valid. In fact, considering the "post hoc, ergo proctor hoc" fallacy, I can't help but feel that it is really begging the question as to whether or not any genuine spirituality can be forced or induced. One step further, how can we be certain that the state induced is indeed spiritual?, and certainly of a kind and manner of spirit conducive to our well being.
As you point to, use of entheogenic agents is not unique to monotheism...in fact, as a general rule it is discouraged in monotheism in my experience. Seems I recall, and would need to follow up with a Strong's, but if memory serves me the term "sorceror" as used in the Old Testament Hebrew was specifically what we today would call a drug peddler or drug pusher. Yes, monotheism does use other methods as you point such as fasting and flagellation, but since this thread wishes to be limited to the use of psychotropic agents (and increasingly more limited to psilocybin mushrooms only) then by such limitation monotheism as a whole is excluded. Neither Judaism, nor Christianity, nor Islam, and as far as I know not Zoroastrianism, utilize entheogenic principles to induce mystical experience. Even Hinduism does not rely solely on entheogens, and what little I understand I doubt that would include psilocybin. The arguments trying to drag monotheism into this are a bit...unfounded in this regard.
Monotheism, when *not* incorporating such extreme practices to purposely invoke spiritual communion, seeks rather for the "top down" experience...in G-d's way and in G-d's time. It is those who perceive the Divine in a different manner, that humanly strive to provoke the spiritual communion, who enter that communion with the attitude of forcing G-d into their preferred schedule, on their time and terms. This "bottom up" way of approaching spiritual communion is quite contrary to Judaism and Christianity.
There seems to me a great deal of wisdom to the monotheist way of approaching the Divine. For one, to return to the "post hoc, ergo proctor hoc" fallacy...reducing the spiritual communion with the Divine to the action of chemicals in the brain is short sighted (no offense intended). Because an illusion or dream or supra-normal reality can be artifically caused does not necessarily mean that experience is "reality," let alone truth. LSD may well make one see purple unicorns...but it hardly means purple unicorns exist, other than perhaps in the mind of that person under the influence and nowhere else in reality or truth. Because one sees "god" under the influence, doesn't necessarily mean they have indeed experienced G-d.
The same chemicals that react on the brain to induce transcendental states approaching that of "experiencing G-d" are the exact same chemicals that act on the brain for the emotion of love. I've pointed to a number of studies to that regard in the past, and it so far has silenced the atheist critics who up to that point use the method of reduction to imply that love is "nothing more than" the act of chemicals in the brain. Here, we are faced with a very similar issue. If G-d is no more than chemicals on the brain, then we are left with the realization that He is nothing more than a hallucinogenic trip.
And if monotheism were of the habit of using hallucinogens to pursue that spiritual communion, a case could rightly be made...a case that *can* be made for those polytheist or whatever pill-popping psychotropic sorcerors, that G-d is in reality and truth an illusion. This is not so for Judism, Christianity and I would dare say Islam, precisely because G-d does not require drugs to interact with followers of these paths.
Sure, like you pointed to there are those on the periphery that do what they can to provoke or enhance that spiritual communion...fasting, flagellation, I'm sure there are a few others that escape me. But these are not the same as introducing a psychotropic substance into the brain to alter its perceptions. At least in the case of fasting, the idea is to *cleanse* the body of toxins, not introduce them, in order to make that spiritual connection.
But there is a distinct difference between going to G-d on His terms, and bringing god to the person on that person's terms.
I would be remiss if I did not add one important caveat...not all spirit has the interests of humanity at heart. If one goes looking, they will find...but what they find may not be what they want to believe it is. Whereas an agent of G-d coming to one on G-d's terms will make its presence known in no uncertain terms. I can't prove this outside of experience, but I know it as sure as I'm writing this.