Trip: Are you familiar with the work of the Council on Spiritual Practices? Do you have any thoughts on their work? I’m particularly interested in how their notion of “spiritual guide” seems to have resonance with the notion of “shaman” without having any particular religious overtones of its own.
AS: I am quite familiar with the CSP and would like to support it in any way I can. There is much talk of the use of psychedelic drugs as the means of understanding the body or the mind, but these views seem to always suggest that the drugs do things. More delicate are their roles as catalysts that allow things to be realized, things that may already be in the person’s reality but not recognized or appreciated. Here can be the gracious realization that there is something of the divine in each of us. This is the spiritual side of our psyches, always present but now revealed in some remarkable way. This is the concept behind the alternate name that has been used, entheogens. And this realization need not require a drug — it can come from any of a number of processes as varied as meditation or falling in love. But the opening of that part of the inner person is of ultimate importance, and the CSP is committed to exploring this process.