Benny Shanon was born in Tel Aviv, Professor of cognitive psychology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Israel. After studying philosophy and linguistics in Israel, completed his doctorate in experimental psychology at Stanford University in His work concerning consciousness deals both with ordinary states and non-ordinary ones. In particular, for the past decade he has been investigating the special state of mind induced by ayahuasca, conducting the first systematic investigation of the effects of this brew from a cognitive psychological perspective.
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Born in Tel Aviv , Shanon studied philosophy and linguistics at Tel Aviv University and received his doctorate in experimental psychology from Stanford University. He is best known for the Biblical entheogen hypothesis, the idea that the use of hallucinogenic drugs influenced religion. In this work, Shanon provides a rough cartography of the visions and non-visual effects ayahuasca can induce. He writes that he had consumed ayahuasca himself several hundred times and gathered a corpus of empirical data from published literature, structured and unstructured interviews he conducted and his personal experience.
In total the corpus comprises some 2, ayahuasca experiences. Shanon's controversial theory that the patriarch Moses was under the influence of hallucinogens when he received the law, is referred to as the Biblical entheogen hypothesis.
In particular, he draws attention to five specific episodes of Moses' life that he believes exhibit patterns very similar to the experience encountered by those under the influence of ayahuasca: .
Encountering the Divine, altered perception of time, synaesthesia , fear of impending death, and visions of fire, serpents, light perceived as God, and entities whose faces aren't visible, are all experiences that Shanon has found to be common after ingesting ayahuasca, and most are "especially symptomatic" of ayahuasca.
It is these experiences, among others, that Shanon parallels with the above events of Moses' life. He also makes note of the similarities between the three-day purification before the Ten Commandments were revealed and the traditional contexts of ayahuasca use; the "shining" appearance of people after taking ayahuasca with Moses' appearance after returning the second time from the Mount; as well as the responsiveness of the ayahuasca experience to certain personality traits that Moses possessed.
He further corroborates his hypothesis with botanical and ethnobotanical information, linguistic considerations, exegesis of Talmudic and mystical Jewish texts, as well as data on the effects of a substance analogous to ayahuasca.
Shannon states that his hypothesis is "admittedly speculative". He concludes by saying:. Taken together, the botanical and anthropological data on the one hand, and the biblical descriptions as well as later Jewish hermeneutics on the other, are, I propose, suggestive of a biblical entheogenic connection.
Admittedly, the smoking gun is not available to us. However, so many clues present themselves which, like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, seem to cohere into an intriguing unified whole. I leave it to the reader to pass his or her judgment. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Time and Mind. Retrieved 28 February Namespaces Article Talk. Views Read Edit View history. Contribute Help Community portal Recent changes Upload file.
T he Guardian ran two articles on my work concerning the putative use of psychoactive plants in ancient Israel Moses saw God 'because he was stoned - again' , March 6; Face to Faith , March 8. Your news report conveys a picture very different from the one I present in the scientific journal Time and Mind, which is devoted to the history of culture and consciousness. Your report contains words and sentences I have neither written nor uttered, some introduced in quotation marks as if coming from me. Terms such as "drug", "trip", "high" and "stoned" are ones I have nothing to do with and which I do not condone. Moreover, your first report suffers from some basic misunderstandings of my crucial arguments.
I never said Moses was stoned when he saw God
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