Council on Spiritual Practices

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Council on Spiritual Practices

The Council on Spiritual Practices (CSP) is an organization bringing together religious scholars, scientists, and spiritual guides who share a mutual interest in the importance of the direct experience of the sacred dimension (for which each religion has its own descriptive terminology). It is their belief that such experiences, which are facilitated by various spiritual practices and the entering of different altered states of consciousness, have salutary effects upon the individual experiencing them and secondarily upon their acquaintances and the world. To that end, CSP has developed two programmatic thrusts. First, it attempts to discover approaches to primary religious experiences that are safe and effective. Second, it assists both individuals and spiritual communities by introducing them to spiritual experiences.

It is CSP's assumption that direct religious experience is not confined to any one religious community but occurs in all of them. Thus, it works in a multireligious context.

The council emerged in the 1990s in the wake of a series of court cases that supported the laws prohibiting the use of consciousness altering drugs even in a religious context. A significant aspect of CSP's program and raison d'être is its Entheogen Project. Entheogens are substances taken to facilitate spiritual or mystical experiences, the most well-known examples being LSD and peyote. The project, building upon a generation of re-search, attempts further research on the use of entheogens and explores creative ways that public policy might be altered to accommodate their use. Safety remains an issue in the use of entheogens and many advocate that newcomers make use of an experienced guide. CSP advocates a code of ethics for such guides, who should be properly motivated, competent, and tolerant of a wide variety of religious beliefs.

The council may be contacted at Box 460820, San Francisco, CA 94146-0820 or through its Internet site at


Council on Spiritual Practices. May 16, 2000.

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Council on Spiritual Practices

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