Higher Wisdom

Eminent Elders Explore the Continuing Impact of Psychedelics

Edited by Roger Walsh & Charles S. Grob

Subjects: Spirituality, Psychiatry, Psychology, Anthropology, Transpersonal Psychology
Series: SUNY series in Transpersonal and Humanistic Psychology
Paperback : 9780791465189, 280 pages, September 2005
Hardcover : 9780791465172, 280 pages, September 2005

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Table of contents


Preface: Psychedelics and the Western World: A Fateful Marriage
Roger Walsh and Charles S. Grob

Introduction: The High Road: History and Hysteria
Charles S. Grob and Gary Bravo

Research: Consciousness, Creativity, and Chemistry

1. Transpersonal Transitions: The Higher Reaches of Psyche and Psychology
James Fadiman

2. From Molecules to Mystery: Psychedelic Science, the Natural World, and Beyond
Albert Hofmann

3. How Much Can People Change?
Myron Stolaroff

4. Frontiers of Pharmacology: Chemistry and Consciousness
Alexander T. “Sasha” Shulgin and Ann Shulgin

Psychotherapy: Personal and Transpersonal

5. The Birth and Death of Psychedelic Therapy
Betty Eisner

6. Treating the Untreatable
Gary Fisher

7. The Great Awakening: Psychology, Philosophy, and Spirituality in LSD Psychotherapy
Stanislav Grof

Culture and Consciousness

8. Ancient Altered States
Peter T. Furst

9. Tribal Wisdom: The Shamanic Path
Michael Harner

10. More Recipes for Living and Loving
Laura Archera Huxley

Religious Implications: Psyche, Soul, and Spirit

11. Transcending Religious Boundaries
Zalman Schachter-Shalomi

12. Walking the Path: Psychedelics and Beyond
Ram Dass

13. Do Drugs Have Religious Import? A Forty Year Follow-Up
Huston Smith

14. Conclusion: What Did They Learn and What Can We Learn From Them?
Roger Walsh & Charles S. Grob

List of Contributors
On-line Resources

Interviews with fourteen pioneers in psychedelic research.


Psychedelics have been a part—often a central and sacred part—of most societies throughout history, and for half a century psychedelics have rumbled through the Western world, seeding a subculture, titillating the media, fascinating youth, terrifying parents, enraging politicians, and intriguing researchers. Not surprisingly, these curious chemicals fascinated some of the foremost thinkers of the twentieth century, fourteen of whom were interviewed for this book. Because no further human research can be done, these researchers constitute an irreplaceable resource. Higher Wisdom offers their fascinating anecdotes, invaluable knowledge, and hard-won wisdom—the culmination of fifty years of research and reflection on one of the most intriguing and challenging topics of our time.

Roger Walsh, MD is Professor of Psychiatry, Philosophy, and Anthropology at the University of California at Irvine. His writing and research have received more than two dozen national awards and his books include Essential Spirituality: The Seven Central Practices to Awaken Heart and Mind; The Spirit of Shamanism; and (with Frances Vaughan) Paths Beyond Ego: The Transpersonal Vision. Charles S. Grob, MD is Director of the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center and Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics at the UCLA School of Medicine. Dr. Grob is the editor of Hallucinogens: A Reader and is a founding board member of the Heffter Research Institute, which is devoted to fostering and funding research on psychedelics.


"…[Walsh and Grob] present a very interesting account of the 'other side of the arguments' which led to the banning of these drugs." — Scientific & Medical Network Review

"Higher Wisdom … offers a folksy oral history of the early days of LSD and the great awakening to the Western sensibility of holotropic ('moving toward wholeness') states." — Shaman's Drum

"This is a very rich array of culture history that details the conflicts connected with the 1960s and the use, both in research and by the general public, of LSD and other substances that subsequently have landed on the Schedule 1 list of illegal drugs … The researchers speak with one voice, although each has a different bit of history of the psychedelic movement to chronicle, because of their own past experiences and activities … The materials presented to the reader distill anecdotes, irreplaceable knowledge, and hard-won wisdom, culminating a half century of research." — PsycCRITIQUES

"This is an important book, not only as a valuable historical document, but as a reminder of the remarkable promise and peril of what are broadly called psychedelics. The fact is—apart from all the government oppression at one end to the hippie hype at the other—psychedelics are a profound doorway into areas of the psyche rarely glimpsed otherwise, and thus, at the very least, are important psychological research tools. However, because the oppressive side of the argument has generally won the day, accounts such as those contained in this book are not only invaluable historical records, but reminders of the importance of individual freedom of choice as well." — Ken Wilber, author of A Brief History of Everything

"Higher Wisdom takes us back into the rush of optimism on human potentials and spiritual depths that drove a generation of psychedelic researchers. Walsh and Grob have edited a fascinating book." — T. George Harris, former editor of Psychology Today

"This is an inspiring and important record, one of courageous explorers and amazing stories describing a critical chapter in the transformation of human consciousness." — Jack Kornfield, author of A Path with Heart: A Guide Through the Perils and Promises of Spiritual Life

"At a time when voluntary cultural amnesia about psychedelic research, psychotherapy, and spirituality is the norm, this fascinating book provides an essential antidote in the form of interviews with our cherished psychedelic elders. Skillfully selected and edited, these interviews testify to the remarkable healing, personal growth, and scientific potentials of these magical substances which they have evaluated throughout their lives." — Rick Doblin, President, Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies

"In taking psychedelics out of the hands of professionals, the government may have taken away some of the most powerful tools that psychiatry has ever had. We still do not know the full range of what is possible with psychedelics, and we are still trying to grasp the profound implications of these substances for our understanding of mind, pathology, therapy, and human potential. Will we have another chance to use them properly? Listen to the wisdom of these elders." — David E. Nichols, Purdue University School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences

"Brimming with the distilled experiences and perspectives of the first generation of Western psychedelic investigators, this is a terrifically rich resource for anyone interested in these unique, mind-altering substances." — Rick Strassman, MD, University of New Mexico School of Medicine and author of DMT: The Spirit Molecule: A Doctor's Revolutionary Research into the Biology of Near-Death and Mystical Experiences

"This is a very welcome addition to the reexamination of the constructive potentials of psychedelics in society. The book presents a remarkably balanced survey of some of the key issues raised by experiences with these substances—issues like the nature of ultimate reality, how to handle expansions of consciousness, how to raise children, how to deal with social pathologies. None of the explorers suggest psychedelics are an answer to these problems; rather, they seem to agree, psychedelics stimulate us to ask questions in a new way, to explore with conscious intention, to see from a wider perspective." — Ralph Metzner, author of The Unfolding Self: Varieties of Transformative Experience