Visionary religion is probably the oldest form of religion in the world. Since we began gathering in tribes and evolved social organization, people have craved a glimpse outside the world of our quotidian existence. Social organization makes individual survival more certain, but as Hobbes noted, the “social contract” that bands us together for survival also encloses us within a limited sphere of perception. Indeed, the more we have evolved social organization, the more we find that people desire a release from the conditioned mind-states.
In Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World a drug called soma, borrowed from the Vedic religion’s name for the drink of the gods, provides relief from the ennui of a techno-utopia:
[T]here is always soma, delicious soma, half a gramme for a half-holiday, a gramme
for a week-end, two grammes for a trip to the gorgeous East, three for a dark eternity on the moon; returning whence they find themselves on the other side of the crevice, safe on the solid ground of daily labour and distraction…