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How Ecstasy Can Take You on the Healing Path ... Even for a Former Nun

Ralph Metzner re-examines uses and potentials of MDMA "Through the Gateway of the Heart."

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Under favorable circumstances and with a supportive set and setting people feel that the MDMA experience has elicited true compassion, forgiveness, and understanding for those with whom they have important relationships; and most importantly, for themselves, for their ordinary, neurotic, childish, struggling persona or ego. The relative absence or attenuation of normal amounts of anxiety and fear in these states is perhaps the single most important feature in regard to their therapeutic value. People report being able to think about, talk about, and deal with inner or outer issues that are otherwise always avoided because of the anxiety levels normally associated with those issues.

The accounts presented in this book derive from about fifty individuals, of various ages, professions, and degrees of psychospiritual sophistication. They were apparently gathered from about twenty anonymous therapists, mostly, though not exclusively, from the West Coast of the United States. Some of the reports are from guided therapeutic sessions; others are from sessions with serious psychological or spiritual intention, where the “sitter” might be a trusted friend or partner, rather than a therapist. A considerable number are by individuals who are themselves therapists—which suggests that some of the most promising potentials of these substances  may lie in the training of therapists – where the capacity for empathy is a highly-valued.   

A smaller number of the reports are from group experiences, usually of a highly structured or ritualistic nature. Although the relatively unstructured, recreational use of Ecstasy in informal small groups of friends is probably more common, most people are agreed that the use of rituals similar to those of the Native American Church, or other shamanic traditions, is the preferred mode of operation when powerful sacramental substances are taken in a group context.

The editor of this volume, the writers of the Foreword and Guidelines, and the publishers, do not advocate the use of any illegal substance. Nor do they advocate that individuals attempt to treat their own medical or psychological problems with the use of this or any other substance. Nor do they recommend the use of these substances by individuals without the supervision and consultation of one’s physician. Given these obvious limitations on the use and accessibility of these drugs, the question might be raised as to the point of publishing these accounts since the experience with MDMA is now one that has become illegal. The answer to this question that the therapists and their clients using these substances would give, is that it is in the public’s interest to be aware of what is an extraordinarily promising new tool for the exploration of the human mind and for the improvement of human relations.

Perhaps greater public knowledge of these substances and their potential human benefits can lead to a considered re-examination of the social and legal framework with which our society deals with such matters, so that as other substances of similar import are discovered, their uses and potentials will not be wasted. Many of the individuals whose experience are recounted in this volume expressed the wish and hope that, given the gravity of the planetary crisis in which we find ourselves, aids to the evolution of consciousness such as these substances will be thoroughly explored, and applied to the solution of the immense human problems that confront us.


The following is another excerpt from "Through the Gateway of the Heart." This excerpt, titled, "I Was Resting in the Palm of His Hand," includes the experiences of an ex-nun during an MDMA treatment.

35 year-old former school teacher, ex-nun

Set: therapeutic, spiritual.