Psychedelics

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Psychedelics

Postby Tenretni » Thu Aug 15, 2013 3:51 pm

I'm interested in the connection between the psychedelic experience and Eastern philosophy. Psychedelics seem to bring Western minded people to "Eastern" conclusions about reality and self as well as enhance creativity; on the other hand, Eastern traditions and sages speak at times of psychedelic-like experiences encountered on the spiritual path, via meditation or even spontaneously in the case of unique individuals.

From a mainstream point of view – skeptic of mysticism, hostile to drugs and attached to the idea of a coherent, free and rational self - this connection is not mysterious: different ways to similar delusions. But for someone who happens to revere Eastern wisdom, it would appear that these might be different ways to the same Truth.

This brings up a few questions:

In Buddhism, in the practice of Anapanasati, out of the 16 steps to enlightenment, steps 5 and 6 are described as experiencing "rapture" and then "bliss", after developing deep levels of concentration. Are there any other religious traditions that seem to include "psychedelic" experiences developed through practice?

Spontaneous modes of expanded consciousness experienced by unique individuals seem universal; Jean Dark and Sir William Blake come to mind (both, consequently, spiritual and creative figures). What other examples from Western history seem to fit this phenomenon?

And if these experiences are indeed, in the right setting, conducive to spirituality and at times even to enlightenment, it would seem quite tragic if the Western setting is thwarting this potential, rendering potential sages confused, troubled and ashamed. I think for instance of the Indian Papaji. From childhood he had seen vivid visions of Krishna. As these visions became less frequent he set out on a journey to find again the Hindu god, eventually coming to deep realizations about ultimate reality. He abandoned the idea of the visions of Krishna as being reality, understanding that what appears and disappears is not real, and thus searching for that that is always present and doesn't change, the true nature behind the self, the bare awareness beyond conceptions or ego, behind the very question Who Am I. This is an inspiring and profound teaching in my opinion. Had Papaji grown up in the west, I suspect he would have ended as a miserable being on the fringes of society instead of as a great teacher. Could there be similar individuals, gifted by nature but cursed by their cultural setting, who have spontaneously experienced true reality without the proper preparation or guidance, now rotting in insane asylums? What specific mental "disorders" may fit what would otherwise be defined as spiritual, potentially enlightening modes of perception?
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Re: Psychedelics

Postby Sherab Dorje » Thu Aug 15, 2013 4:37 pm

Toke on this discussion dude... viewtopic.php?f=34&t=9996&hilit=drugs+buddhism#p125720 ...cough, cough, splutter, whoa that's heavy! :smile:

As for this:
In Buddhism, in the practice of Anapanasati, out of the 16 steps to enlightenment, steps 5 and 6 are described as experiencing "rapture" and then "bliss", after developing deep levels of concentration. Are there any other religious traditions that seem to include "psychedelic" experiences developed through practice?
This entire reality is an illusion, a mirage, a shadow play, a facade, empty of essence, created by the senses and tempered by a hefty dose of delusion; why would you want to create more illusion? Why make it even more psychedelic and confusing? I figure one would be trying to see through the illusion, not make it more confusing.
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: Psychedelics

Postby Tenretni » Thu Aug 15, 2013 5:15 pm

A man sees his life through green lenses since infancy.
Suddenly there's a change: the green turns to orange.
This is in potential a very enlightening experience.
It's not that the orange worldview is more truthful than the green. The insight is in the realization that neither green nor orange is part of reality "out there", that there are, in fact, lenses through which reality is perceived and shaped. Without such an experience, the man will surely find it hard to realize that the greenness of it all is not an objective property of existence. Even if he acknowledged this intellectually, he may only really feel it and fully realize the implications after seeing with his own eyes that there's an alternative to the green worldview.

I believe that the psychedelic experience can work in a similar way, showing one (through direct experience and not just conceptually) that reality doesn't passively enter our minds through the senses but is created by the brain. That is a powerful, unforgettable and inspiring lesson. Not confusing, but illuminating. It was for me, anyway.
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Re: Psychedelics

Postby Sherab Dorje » Thu Aug 15, 2013 5:20 pm

Tenretni wrote:A man sees his life through green lenses since infancy.
Suddenly there's a change: the green turns to orange.
This is in potential a very enlightening experience.
It's not that the orange worldview is more truthful than the green. The insight is in the realization that neither green nor orange is part of reality "out there", that there are, in fact, lenses through which reality is perceived and shaped. Without such an experience, the man will surely find it hard to realize that the greenness of it all is not an objective property of existence. Even if he acknowledged this intellectually, he may only really feel it and fully realize the implications after seeing with his own eyes that there's an alternative to the green worldview.

I believe that the psychedelic experience can work in a similar way, showing one (through direct experience and not just conceptually) that reality doesn't passively enter our minds through the senses but is created by the brain. That is a powerful, unforgettable and inspiring lesson. Not confusing, but illuminating. It was for me, anyway.
Maybe, maybe not. Like I said: check out the thread I linked to, you will find most of this discussion has already been done to death there.
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: Psychedelics

Postby flavio81 » Thu Aug 15, 2013 6:20 pm

What Greg said, we've discussed this on the "Marihuana" topic.

Besides that, as far as i know, no tradition inside Buddhism -not even inside Vajrayana- recommends or suggests the use of any psychedelic as a helper on the buddhist path.

The mind is constantly being deceived by turning the input of the six senses into all kinds of illusions. A psychedelic won't liberate you from that problem.
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Re: Psychedelics

Postby zerwe » Thu Aug 15, 2013 9:17 pm

There are many people who become seekers of a spiritual path as a result of psychedelic experiences.
However, from the Buddhist point of view, to try to employ psychedelics as a means of spiritual practice
will only increase one's delusion.
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Re: Psychedelics

Postby padma norbu » Thu Aug 15, 2013 9:29 pm

My take on it:

1. I used to think psychedelics held some spiritual truth,
2. then I didn't,
3. then I was indoctrinated against them by online Buddhists,
4. then I read several articles, papers and books about psychedelics in ancient Buddhist traditions and realized it was indeed part of at least some Buddhist traditions
5. and I also realized that some buddhists still use them and get value out of the experience,
6. then I began to wonder if the secret practices of the ancient traditions I read about in the articles are still practiced secretly by certain traditions but of course outwardly this is denied still because it is still secret,
7. then I remembered something Chogyam Trungpa said when he tried LSD, which is that it is "super samsara" and might have value. He was completely against marijuana, so there is a difference.
8. then I remembered something I read long ago, which is namely that if it was not for LSD, Buddhism would probably have never taken off like it did in the west (true: go to Woodstock today and see all the buddhas everywhere, the dharma shops and visit the big monastery on the top of the mountain!)
9. then I read Alex Grey is a dzogchenpa and, basically, agrees with #7 and 8 above, so still considers psychedelics sacred substances that have been helpful throughout recorded history for advancing civilization and opening minds, even saving lives.
10. now, I am rather like Alex Grey on the matter: I can't deny the value it held for me, although I do wonder if I would have been better or worse had I never tried them... one thing is for sure: I would have never become interested in Tibetan Buddhism and dzogchen, so I think it was a good thing for me to do. I would probably be some guy with a narrow-minded view of the world if I never used psychedelics.
11. at the same time, I don't promote psychedelics in the least and generally discourage them whenever I can... even though I'm pretty sure some people I know are secretly doing them and might even be part of some secret teaching I am not privvy to (NOTE: I do not want to give the impression too strongly that I really believe this because I would actually be very surprised if I found out secretly some gurus were dosing their students up with shrooms or whatever and giving some secret teaching)... either way is fine because I did enough psychedelics to be utterly bored of the experience, frankly. However, if I learned my teacher was doing some sort of ayahuasca retreat, then I'd definitely want to see what that's all about since it is a big deal for other "shamanistic" type cultures and I would certainly like to see what part it might play in Buddhist teachings, if it has a place, secretly or openly.
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Re: Psychedelics

Postby Lhug-Pa » Thu Aug 15, 2013 10:43 pm

Hi Padma Norbu,

The way I see it any potential benefit that one might have from the occasional ritual implementation of Ayahuasca, Yagé, Psilocybin, Peyote, Iboga, etc. would not be had with the use of an synthetic/artificial-chemical like LSD/acid. Because if natural/organic psychedelic plants induce something that we might could say is more or less only a facsimile of a specific type of Samadhi, and even if LSD induces an experience that seems similar to that of psychedelic plants, LSD would be only a facsimile of a facsimile, because LSD is an artificial/synthetic adulteration of the ergot (which itself is toxic—even thought it is natural—from what I understand) of which it is derived from. The reason as to why LSD is only a facsimile of a facsimile being that plants are endowed with a life that is lacking in synthetic/artificial chemicals.

And even if taking hallucinogens is apparently what got you interested in Dzogchen, it was only a secondary cause, and having a karmic connection to Dzogchen means that a secondary cause will eventually manifest with or without hallucinogens.

Also, I believe that DMT can be naturally derived from plants without having to get derived synthetically/artificially; and, even if this is the case, there still doesn't really seem to be any reason to take DMT if we consider—and it seems logical based on some things I've read about this—that part of the effect of doing Dark Retreat, is that a Dark Retreat would actually stimulate the Pineal Gland to produce DMT without having to ingest any artificial-chemicals or even any psychedelic-plants (of course with a full-on Dark Retreat, one has to have received Transmission, 'Khri/Tri, etc.)


Some relevant quotes:


Malcolm wrote:According to Garab Dorje, the purpose of using hallucinogens is to the see that the mind is malleable, not a fixed or permanent substance. So, in fact hallucinogens do have a use in Dharma, albeit an extremely limited and narrow one.



This of course doesn't necessarily mean that we should run out and get some psychedelics just because we want to "try Ayahuasca" etc.
Last edited by Lhug-Pa on Thu Aug 15, 2013 11:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Psychedelics

Postby padma norbu » Thu Aug 15, 2013 11:14 pm

Lhug-Pa wrote:Hi Padma Norbu,

The way I see it any potential benefit that one might have from the occasional ritual implementation of Ayahuasca, Yagé, Psilocybin, Peyote, Iboga, etc. would not be had with the use of an synthetic/artificial-chemical like LSD/acid. Because if natural/organic psychedelic plants induce something that we might could say is more or less only a facsimile of a specific type of Samadhi, and even if LSD induces an experience that seems similar to that of psychedelic plants, LSD would be only a facsimile of a facsimile, because LSD is an artificial/synthetic adulteration of the ergot (which itself is toxic—even thought it is natural—from what I understand) of which it is derived from. The reason for LSD being only a facsimile of a facsimile being that plants are endowed with a life that is lacking in synthetic/artificial chemicals.

And even if taking hallucinogens is apparently what got you interested in Dzogchen, it was only a secondary cause, and having a karmic connection to Dzogchen means that a secondary cause will eventually manifest with or without hallucinogens.

Also, I believe that DMT can be naturally derived from plants without having to get derived synthetically/artificially; and, even if this is the case, there still doesn't really seem to be any reason to take DMT because I speculate that if we consider—and I'm rather sure about this—that part of the effect of doing Dark Retreat, is that a Dark Retreat actually stimulates the Pineal Gland to produce DMT without having to ingest any artificial-chemicals or even any psychedelic-plants (of course with a full-on Dark Retreat, one has to have received Transmission, 'Khri/Tri, etc.)


Some relevant quotes:


Malcolm wrote:According to Garab Dorje, the purpose of using hallucinogens is to the see that the mind is malleable, not a fixed or permanent substance. So, in fact hallucinogens do have a use in Dharma, albeit an extremely limited and narrow one.


This of course doesn't necessarily mean that we should run out and get some psychedelics just because we want to "try Ayahuasca" etc.


Thanks, I generally agree with everything you said and you clarified something I suspected. Much appreciated!
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Re: Psychedelics

Postby Kim O'Hara » Fri Aug 16, 2013 9:05 am

Going right back to the OP...
Tenretni wrote:I'm interested in the connection between the psychedelic experience and Eastern philosophy. Psychedelics seem to bring Western minded people to "Eastern" conclusions about reality and self as well as enhance creativity; on the other hand, Eastern traditions and sages speak at times of psychedelic-like experiences encountered on the spiritual path, via meditation or even spontaneously in the case of unique individuals.

From a mainstream point of view – skeptic of mysticism, hostile to drugs and attached to the idea of a coherent, free and rational self - this connection is not mysterious: different ways to similar delusions. But for someone who happens to revere Eastern wisdom, it would appear that these might be different ways to the same Truth.

This brings up a few questions:

In Buddhism, in the practice of Anapanasati, out of the 16 steps to enlightenment, steps 5 and 6 are described as experiencing "rapture" and then "bliss", after developing deep levels of concentration. Are there any other religious traditions that seem to include "psychedelic" experiences developed through practice?

Spontaneous modes of expanded consciousness experienced by unique individuals seem universal; Jean Dark and Sir William Blake come to mind (both, consequently, spiritual and creative figures). What other examples from Western history seem to fit this phenomenon?

And if these experiences are indeed, in the right setting, conducive to spirituality and at times even to enlightenment, it would seem quite tragic if the Western setting is thwarting this potential, rendering potential sages confused, troubled and ashamed.


All of this was dealt with at length by Aldous Huxley in "Doors of Perception" and "Heaven and Hell" about fifty years ago, in the period when US fringe culture was just discovering psychedelics and eastern religions. Huxley worked through the parallels and differences pretty astutely, all things considered. Look up his work ... :reading:

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Re: Psychedelics

Postby lawrence » Fri Aug 16, 2013 7:33 pm

Gassho,
May I ask how does the use of psychedelics fit with the understanding of "non duel" awareness ?
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Re: Psychedelics

Postby Jikan » Fri Aug 16, 2013 9:13 pm

lawrence wrote:Gassho,
May I ask how does the use of psychedelics fit with the understanding of "non duel" awareness ?
Lawrence


I advise against duelling. That said...

different traditions have different understandings of what is meant by "non dual awareness." These may or may not be comparable; I don't claim to know because it would take a lifetime's research just to prepare to answer such a question (comparative studies such as David Loy's book on nonduality are often so weak for this reason).

Some traditions that are oriented around psychadelic use (think of traditional Native American uses of peyote, for one) describe experiences of oneness or nonduality. What has this to do with Buddhist understandings of the nondual? I would be surprised if anyone on the interwebz is able to answer this question authoritatively. I hope I'm proven wrong.. :shrug:
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Re: Psychedelics

Postby tomamundsen » Fri Aug 16, 2013 9:44 pm

Lhug-Pa wrote:
Some relevant quotes:


Malcolm wrote:According to Garab Dorje, the purpose of using hallucinogens is to the see that the mind is malleable, not a fixed or permanent substance. So, in fact hallucinogens do have a use in Dharma, albeit an extremely limited and narrow one.

Any idea which text this comes from? What hallucinogens would they have been using in Oddiyana? Datura?
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Re: Psychedelics

Postby smcj » Fri Aug 16, 2013 10:39 pm

tomamundsen wrote:
Lhug-Pa wrote:
Some relevant quotes:


Malcolm wrote:According to Garab Dorje, the purpose of using hallucinogens is to the see that the mind is malleable, not a fixed or permanent substance. So, in fact hallucinogens do have a use in Dharma, albeit an extremely limited and narrow one.

Any idea which text this comes from? What hallucinogens would they have been using in Oddiyana? Datura?

Probably soma, whatever that was. :shrug:
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Re: Psychedelics

Postby Malcolm » Fri Aug 16, 2013 11:58 pm

tomamundsen wrote:
Lhug-Pa wrote:
Some relevant quotes:


Malcolm wrote:According to Garab Dorje, the purpose of using hallucinogens is to the see that the mind is malleable, not a fixed or permanent substance. So, in fact hallucinogens do have a use in Dharma, albeit an extremely limited and narrow one.

Any idea which text this comes from? What hallucinogens would they have been using in Oddiyana? Datura?


It is in the VIma Nyinthig, and yes, the plant mentioned is datura. Also Datura was used in India for Mahakala initiations.
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Re: Psychedelics

Postby Kim O'Hara » Sat Aug 17, 2013 2:37 am

smcj wrote: soma, whatever that was. :shrug:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soma
which eventually leads to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ephedra - ephedrine - as a prime candidate.
But no-one seems sure.
I remember a BBC doco (may have been Palin in India) a few years ago investigated it but can't remember their conclusion except that it wasn't a mushroom, the other main contender.

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Re: Psychedelics

Postby greentara » Sat Aug 17, 2013 7:34 am

lhug pa, I believe taking drugs of any kind is an inferior way forward on a spiritual path. Ingesting Ayahuasca is a tough trot....all that vomiting beforehand.
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Re: Psychedelics

Postby Wayfarer » Sat Aug 17, 2013 8:05 am

Here is an interesting short essay on the topic The Paisley Gate by Erik Davis. There is also a stack of interesting and relevant papers on the Council of Spiritual Practices website.

My belief is that 'entheogens' are a valid and signficant part of the spiritual path. Of course they can be abused, and of course they can be dangerous. People can be harmed or misled by them, but I think the point still holds. The unique insight they afforded me was the extent to which what we think of as 'reality' is defined by social consensus. I came to the view that many people, most of the time, believe pretty much what people around them believe, and that this is a 'collective reality', even though people think they are really individuals.
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Re: Psychedelics

Postby smcj » Sun Aug 18, 2013 9:36 am

Since this is a completely public website, presumably with unlimited access by children even when parental controls are engaged, I think we should cool it with any kind of endorsement of psychoactive intoxicants--regardless of however many disclaimers or caveats are included. I took something when young and it derailed my life for a good amount of time. I was lucky to be able to get back on my feet again only after many years.

Yes, ultimately my pain from that experience led me to Dharma, so it could be tempting to say "all's well that ends well". But there is no guarantee that someone else that is harmed will find their way out like I have.

I have heard the Pratimoksha Vows summarized in a way likened to the Hippocratic Oath; First, do no harm. Maybe that should be included in the ToS.

My apologies for the :soapbox:
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Re: Psychedelics

Postby invisiblediamond » Mon Aug 19, 2013 12:38 am

There are plant teachers. There are tantric authorities for this, i.e., Vajrapani's glands falling to earth and becoming medicinal plants. You need someone with the "transmission" to use them, like anything else. Of course, that will be difficult. The plants choose representatives and reveal the methods for healing and growth. So that just taking them without understanding more than that will not get you a desired result; it will get you an undesired one though. The plant teachers don't want to deal directly with you, unless you have that connection to undergo their trainings, which can take years of dedication. So yes, there are buddhist shaman, that is, shaman (spiritual healers using plants not just instructions) who have realization in the view of emptiness. If you are serious about exploring this area, my advice is to pick one plant and stick with it for a long time until you learn all of its secrets. And don't get started unless you have experience with direct introduction in dzogchen. The philosophically oriented sarma systems can't deal with this because of their philosophy that embraces Hinayana saintliness. Don't add or change plants until you have completely mastered one. You can't follow two orders at once.
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