This is an intriguing question that has interested people since antiquity. There's
a very strange story about John Strugnell, an extremely controversial personality
who was one of the first people to publish his translation of the DSS, namely the
Copper Scroll, or Treasure Scroll. He was quite anti-Semitic, and also believed
that Jesus's revelations came by eating magic mushrooms, and published a book about
this, which I think is out of print now. It went over like a lead balloon.
We know that many First Peoples used psychoactive drugs such as mescaline (in the
peyote "button"), and further north, the plains and woodlands peoples used "sweat
lodges" to induce a trance-like state which was part of their rite of passage
(amongst the Blackfoot this took a very extreme form amongst youths which involved
the Sundance. A young man who was ready to find his personal "totem" or "guardian
angel" we would say anachronistically, would push sharp, small sticks through the
skin on his chest, underneath the nipples, and dance around the sunpole until he
collapsed, tearing the skin off, and forming a scar which indicated his manhood).
We know that people have to be prepared for strong spiritual revelations, whilst
otoh, many revelations come not only without preparation, but even un-asked for
(our HP teacher gave one such example that happened to him once, where he was an
ignorant messenger of an important message to a third party who was not prepared to
receive the message directly).
"Much prayer and fasting" is the preferred method amongst LDS, and David O. McKay
and N. Eldon Tanner both taught that we should not only pray, fast and read the
scriptures, but meditate on them. Sometimes a kind of token helps -- one can see
the apostate forms of this amongst First Peoples practices that I've described
above, and we know this was a topic of some interest to Joseph Smith. I think this
is what the seer stone and the urim and thummim (and possibly the
much-misunderstood Jupiter talisman) were/are: a means of helping the mind focus on
one thing, and one thing alone, so that the "interface" or "buffer" is "cleared"
(to use computerese) to make way for a strong message. The strongest single
spiritual message I ever received, after a period of inactivity before my mission,
was about whether to serve a mission or not. I was afraid I wasn't worthy, and did
not want to go out into the field without a burning strong testimony. I got it, but
it took me all of an afternoon and most of the night before I received it. Whenever
I have doubts, or am feeling discouraged, I remember that experience (and an
earlier one I had as an 8-year old when I was forced to make a choice whether to
become LDS or stay Lutheran -- a story for another day).
Stacy Smith wrote:
> I've long suspected that psychoactive drugs, while helping someone to feel
> better, also lessens perception of personal revelation. Am I right?
> At 05:59 AM 11/17/2002 +0000, you wrote:
> >Quick recap and primer for all interested parties (or should I say, both
> >interested parties):
> >Xanthine (ZAN-theen) is purine with oxygens bonded in the 2 and 6
> >positions, that is, 2,6-dihydroxypurine. Ronn also referred to this as
> >2,6-dioxopurine and as purine-2,6-dione, apparently following alternate
> >(I would guess older) nomenclatures. Structurally, it's actually a
> >fairly small, simple molecule. See
> >http://www.serva.de/products/data/38420.01.shtml for details.
> >If you take xanthine and bond methyl groups (CH3) to it, you get a
> >family of substances called (unsurprisingly) methylxanthines. If you
> >bond three methyls in the 1, 3, and 7 positions, you get
> >1,3,7-trimethylxanthine, also called caffeine. This is the best-known of
> >the methylxanthines, which share some similar physiological properties.
> >If you bond only two methyl groups instead of three, you get a related
> >but slightly different molecule. Exactly which molecule you get depends
> >on where you put the methyls:
> >If you bond the two methyls to the 3 and 7 positions, you get
> >theobromine, which Ronn tells us is the primary methylxanthine found in
> >chocolate. Thus, when people tell you that "chocolate doesn't contain
> >any caffeine", they are technically correct, though wrong in spirit.
> >Theobromine differs chemically from caffeine only by a single methyl
> >group, and its stimulant properties are not dissimilar.
> >If you bond the two methyls to the 1 and 3 positions, you get
> >theophylline (1,3-dimethylxanthine), which Ronn tells us is more common
> >in tea than in coffee or chocolate. It's also an asthma treatment
> >because it's a bronchodilator, something Stacy apparently realizes. Ronn
> >tells us that regular old caffeine can be used in a pinch as a
> >bronchodilator, as well.
> >If you bond the two methyls to the 1 and 7 positions, which was Ronn's
> >"missing" family member, you get paraxanthine, or 1,7-dimethylxanthine.
> >Unsurprisingly, this is a major caffeine metabolite, which is to say
> >that this is one of the chemicals produced by your body when it breaks
> >down caffeine. It's also identified as an adenosine receptor ligand,
> >which means it ties itself to certain receptor sites. By the way, that's
> >typically how psychoactive drugs work -- they attach themselves to
> >various receptor sites.
> >Does this mean that paraxanthine is a psychoactive drug? I don't know;
> >maybe. Perhaps other xanthines or methylxanthines act as adenosine
> >receptor ligands. Maybe that's ultimately how caffeine produces its
> >effects on the brain. In any case, now you have some idea about caffeine
> >(found in coffee) and three closely related chemicals, theobromine
> >(found in chocolate), theophylline (found in tea), and paraxanthine
> >(found in Starbucks customers).
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Marc A. Schindler
Spruce Grove, Alberta, Canada -- Gateway to the Boreal Parkland
“Man will occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of the time he will pick
himself up and continue on” – Winston Churchill
Note: This communication represents the informal personal views of the author
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