Thursday, February 15, 2018

Book Review: 'Taking The Psychedelic Leap' by Richard L. Haight

Oregon author Richard L. Haight has published three books – THE UNBOUND SOUL: A SPIRITUAL MEMOIR FOR PERSONAL TRANSFORMATION AND ENLIGHTENMENT, INSPIRIENCE: MEDITATION UNBOUND – THE UNCONDITIONED PATH TO SPIRITUAL AWAKENING, and now TAKING THE PSYCHEDELIC LEAP: AYAHUASCA, MUSHROOMS, AND OTHER VISIONARY PLANTS ALONG THE SPIRITUAL PATH. As is readily apparent from these books Richard is an instructor of meditation, healing, and martial arts, having begun his path of awakening at age 8 and taking his first steps towards sharing his enlightenment at age 12 with formal martial arts training and lived in Japan to master the sword, staff, and jujutsu as well studying a traditional healing art called Sotai-ho. All of this he shares, demonstrating that true spiritual enlightenment embraces all of life with deep aliveness, authenticity, innocence, and authority.

In his Introduction Richard shares not only his personal journey to the Amazon and the subsequent developments that brought him to writing this book: he also states ‘Psychedelics are both hyped and denigrated by differing factions within the awakening community. The more traditionally inclined tend to look negatively upon the use of psychedelics, whereas the more open-minded individuals tend to hail psychedelics. The chasm between these two groups is quite vast. I was caught between these two worlds by my “purist” ideology and the opposing pull to explore these substances. Heading into this experiment, I hoped that my experiences could somehow begin to bridge the gap between these two groups. My policy is to follow the pull wherever it leads me, come what may. To do otherwise would mar integrity and halt my awakening process. My subsequent experiment with psychedelics [ayahuasca, psilocybin mushrooms, and Salvia divinorum (‘diviner’s sage’)] involved 12 trips over a two-year period. In this work I intend to walk you through my approach to psychedelics and to detail my key journeys and what I learned from them. I will also share with you the most current scientific information available on these substances and their potential medical uses, legal statuses, safety profiles, and methods for usage. ‘

By sharing his own psychedelic experiences Richard clearly presents his case for their use in developing individual spiritual paths. His reports are fascinating insights into visionary states, experiences in those states with tricksters and demons. He explains his introduction to each psychedelic with a fine since of drama: ‘During my salvia trips, I saw that everything had awareness and a window of perception into the universe. Even “objects” like molecules, atoms, and subatomic particles feel and suffer from the environments that they are in. These objects inherit the atmospheres projected by human beings. If a person is genuinely happy, then so is the physical space around that person. On a feeling level your attitude means everything to the space around you.’

At book’s end in an Appendix he carefully explains the pharmacology and history of ayahuasca, psilocybin, and salvia divinorum – a very educational and well researched section that should make re-reading this book even more interesting than the initial exposure. Bound to be a controversial book, TAKING THE PSYCHEDELIC LEAP is a fascinating exploration of territory unknown to most. Grady Harp February 18

I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book.

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.