the psychedelic community: pros and cons

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Luke
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the psychedelic community: pros and cons

Post by Luke »

I've never personally been involved with the psychedelic community, but I have been reading articles about them and been watching videos about them for some time (mainly about Terrence McKenna and Alex Grey).

Many other threads have discussed drug use, but drug use is only one part of the psychedelic community. In addition, there are all their events, their beliefs, their artwork, their lifestyles, and their influence on other people outside their community.

So what are your opinions about the pros and cons of the psychedelic community, their views, and their activities?

To me, the general positive side of them is that they promote love and friendship between people, they value the natural environment, and they are opposed to consumerism and materialism.

To me, the main negative side of them is that they have what Buddhism calls wrong views: almost all of them believe in souls (atman) and in some kind of creator god/universal mind (brahman)--both of which Buddhism explicitly rejects.

Many people in the psychedelic community have some positive feelings about Buddhism--or at least about what they think is Buddhism--, however, most of these same people promote very non-Buddhist views which are really much more like Hindu views.

They also fall into the "all religions are one" trap and are too blissed out to appreciate any significant distinctions between the beliefs of world religions.
Urgyen Dorje
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Re: the psychedelic community: pros and cons

Post by Urgyen Dorje »

I spent some time seriously exploring psychedelics and shamanism. I also spent some time exploring what I'd call the philosophical or intellectual side of psychedelic culture, namely the works of Leary and McKenna. It's a difficult thing to consider, as I very much appreciate the transformative and healing potential of entheogens. But I also recognize the spiritual trap they provide. I have always resonated strongly with psychedelic thinkers and practitioners because of their reaction against materialistic society, and as you say, many good things come from that. At the same time, I found their view, from the vantage point of dharma, essentially materialistic, and thus limited.
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Thomas Amundsen
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Re: the psychedelic community: pros and cons

Post by Thomas Amundsen »

Pro: I think one overlap between parts of the psychedelic community and the Buddhist community is the belief that existence is illusory.

Con: Being involved in psychedelics can get you in trouble with the law or compromise your employment, etc.
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Re: the psychedelic community: pros and cons

Post by Kaccāni »

Pro: You get a glimpse of basic forms if you really can't work with hypnagogic images.
Con: You don't develop a skill. Meditation is about clarity. You want to get behind these phenomena yet see clearly through them. I don't see how that should be possible with psychedelics. You want a skill for samadhi, not a pill for samadhi.

What is it worth if you can only achieve it when you're on drugs and otherwise not able to function in any way?

Best wishes
Kc
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monktastic
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Re: the psychedelic community: pros and cons

Post by monktastic »

It's probably useful to make a distinction between popularizers like Terence McKenna and modern researchers like Roland Griffiths. The latter tend to be more circumspect. Their findings show that people tend to become more open and kinder. Often they feel a sense of deep connection and ineffable majesty and wonder. While some may go on to form metaphysical beliefs about these experiences that aren't in accordance with Buddhism, I think it's clear that the opening of the heart is incredibly healthy. Precious few experiences in life can produce that effect. If we as Buddhists can provide a community and framework by which they can contextualize the experience, and turn it into a path, that's fantastic.
This undistracted state of ordinary mind
Is the meditation.
One will understand it in due course.

--Gampopa
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Kim O'Hara
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Re: the psychedelic community: pros and cons

Post by Kim O'Hara »

monktastic wrote:... people tend to become more open and kinder. Often they feel a sense of deep connection and ineffable majesty and wonder. While some may go on to form metaphysical beliefs about these experiences that aren't in accordance with Buddhism, I think it's clear that the opening of the heart is incredibly healthy. Precious few experiences in life can produce that effect. If we as Buddhists can provide a community and framework by which they can contextualize the experience, and turn it into a path, that's fantastic.
Yes, and many people do make that progression from generic 'new age' thinking and drugs to a more grounded spiritual path such as Buddhism.

Making any kind of break from the media-dominated consumerist society is often the most important step, because it's so hard.

:namaste:
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Re: the psychedelic community: pros and cons

Post by Adder »

It's like swimming in the ocean, its a lot of fun but we are not dolphins.... so long as you don't drown or get eating by a shark. It's a taste of what is capable with perception, but artificially induced and (usually) short lasting. It might have some value in opening the eyes as to how perception can change, but abuse of it is asking for trouble in achieving natural and sustainable changes in perception - such as might be required for progression on the Buddhist path... perhaps!?
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Re: the psychedelic community: pros and cons

Post by seeker242 »

Luke wrote:
To me, the general positive side of them is that they promote love and friendship between people, they value the natural environment, and they are opposed to consumerism and materialism.

To me, the main negative side of them is that they have what Buddhism calls wrong views: almost all of them believe in souls (atman) and in some kind of creator god/universal mind (brahman)--both of which Buddhism explicitly rejects.
I would say generally the same thing. :smile: Although, I would add to the cons the idea that intoxication is ok or a good thing to do. Terrence McKenna for example thinks Buddhism is stupid for not including psychedelic usage. The psychedelic community is much too attached to psychedelics. Some people even consider it a replacement for meditation... :shrug:
One should not kill any living being, nor cause it to be killed, nor should one incite any other to kill. Do never injure any being, whether strong or weak, in this entire universe!
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Re: the psychedelic community: pros and cons

Post by madhusudan »

Politically, I tend to see the psychedelic movement as a channeling of the revolutionary 60s energy into harmless dissolution. From another point of view, any medicine (drug) can be helpful or harmful depending on its use.
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Re: the psychedelic community: pros and cons

Post by Urgyen Dorje »

If one looks at cultures who use entheogens as a part of their spiritual practice, one realizes that there is a point of spiritual development where the entheogen use drops away, or is at least defocused in favor of other aspects of development. Sure, the plant is spirit, the plant is an ally, the plant is medicine-- but there's a *point* beyond taking medicine for the sake of taking medicine. The point of the psychedelic praxis is not to trip and alter one's consciousness and breaking down one's rigid perceptions-- there's a larger purpose beyond that.

I found that is something that was missing in psychedelic culture. I mean, I thought, and still do, that McKenna had some fascinating ideas. Wild ideas about time and plant intelligence and spirituality, the "stoned ape" theory of evolution, and so on. Same with Leary. I still love his exopsychology. I love the people in that trip.

I love the people in that trip that I've met.

But I never got a sense as to what the larger vision or deam was. What is the great psychedelic monlam? I was already a Buddhist at the time, so it all become very pointness. Some experiences helped with my practice, but otherwise, meh.
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Re: the psychedelic community: pros and cons

Post by madhusudan »

Is it possible to historically contextualize contemporary psychedelic use as in some way derivative of the Dionysian Mystery Cult?

Not the greatest source, but the first sentence of Wiki states, "The Dionysian Mysteries were a ritual of ancient Greece and Rome which used intoxicants and other trance-inducing techniques (like dance and music) to remove inhibitions and social constraints, liberating the individual to return to a natural state."
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dionysian_Mysteries
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Luke
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Re: the psychedelic community: pros and cons

Post by Luke »

Urgyen Dorje wrote: But I never got a sense as to what the larger vision or deam was. What is the great psychedelic monlam? I was already a Buddhist at the time, so it all become very pointness. Some experiences helped with my practice, but otherwise, meh.
I don't know what the larger vision of other people in the psychedelic community is, but Alex Grey's larger vision is to build "art sanctuaries" which are also "trans-denominational interfaith churches."

a sacred art gallery/temple Grey already built in NYC
phpBB [video]


A more elaborate one he wants to build in the NY countryside
phpBB [video]


Here is the "Core Values" statement of Grey's "Church of Sacred Mirrors"
http://cosm.org/about/core-values/

But yeah, I do wonder what the overall result of building such places will be. They are buildings full of cool artwork, but they don't seem to promote any clear spiritual path. To me, it seems to be something like Unitarian Universalism with psychedelic drugs and cooler artwork.

And those people who are thirsting to be immersed in very cool spiritual artwork should definitely give Tibetan Buddhism a look! :D
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Re: the psychedelic community: pros and cons

Post by Kim O'Hara »

madhusudan wrote:Is it possible to historically contextualize contemporary psychedelic use as in some way derivative of the Dionysian Mystery Cult?

Not the greatest source, but the first sentence of Wiki states, "The Dionysian Mysteries were a ritual of ancient Greece and Rome which used intoxicants and other trance-inducing techniques (like dance and music) to remove inhibitions and social constraints, liberating the individual to return to a natural state."
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dionysian_Mysteries
Derivative? No - the cultural and temporal gaps between the two are far too great, and (AFAIK) we know far too little about the Dionysian Mysteries anyway.
Shamanism is a far closer source.
And we mustn't forget the other source, even closer to us: the great, universal, tradition of boozing until you fall down. :toilet: For every one person who has some religio/mystical reason for taking psychedelics, ten or a hundred are just doing it for fun.

:namaste:
Kim
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Re: the psychedelic community: pros and cons

Post by Urgyen Dorje »

Id probably say that for every 100 or 1000 tripping for fun, one walks away from it thinking: HMM, so that was interesting, so what's this reality thing about?
Kim O'Hara wrote:And we mustn't forget the other source, even closer to us: the great, universal, tradition of boozing until you fall down. :toilet: For every one person who has some religio/mystical reason for taking psychedelics, ten or a hundred are just doing it for fun.

:namaste:
Kim
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Re: the psychedelic community: pros and cons

Post by Kaccāni »

What's the point in working through your mind, when all you have to do is throw another trip? The motivation is completely different.

"Oh, I'm only tripping to develop my compassion, now leave me alone with my dreams ..."

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Kc
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Luke
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Re: the psychedelic community: pros and cons

Post by Luke »

Another "pro" of the psychedelic community is the quality of art that it produces.

Are any modern Buddhist painters as skilled or as interesting as Alex Grey?
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Re: the psychedelic community: pros and cons

Post by Jesse »

Kim O'Hara wrote:For every one person who has some religio/mystical reason for taking psychedelics, ten or a hundred are just doing it for fun.
Kim
For every serious Buddhist, there are probably 10,000 who do it just for fun, or to be part of a group, or because they were raised into it. Does that dismiss serious Buddhist practitioners?
Kaccāni wrote:What's the point in working through your mind, when all you have to do is throw another trip? The motivation is completely different.

"Oh, I'm only tripping to develop my compassion, now leave me alone with my dreams ..."

Best wishes
Kc
And the difference between this and meditating for long durations in order to alter our consciousness is? Only that we find meaning in our meditation, learn from it and apply it to our lives. The same is true of psychedelics. The experience is not the same as what we take from our experiences. If they use hallucinogens to do the same work we use meditation for, so what?

You can not deny that meditation is used to alter consciousness, otherwise it would have no point. Chanting also induces changes in consciousness. Buddhist practice itself does.

You've obviously never done hallucinogens, because the experience of bliss and complete encompassing compassion is a common experience, so is oneness.

The biggest flaw I've seen in the psychedelic community is that they take their experiences way too seriously, they could learn alot from Buddhist meditation(equanimity), and I'm sure we could learn alot from psychedelic experiences.
The cost of a thing is the amount of what I call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run.
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Re: the psychedelic community: pros and cons

Post by Schrödinger’s Yidam »

Of all the tens of millions of people that have tripped, not one has ever become enlightened through tripping.
1.The problem isn’t ‘ignorance’. The problem is the mind you have right now. (H.H. Karmapa XVII @NYC 2/4/18)
2. I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against lama abuse.
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Lama: Even If you had died the 3 Jewels would still have protected you. (DW post by Fortyeightvows)
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Re: the psychedelic community: pros and cons

Post by Anka »

smcj wrote:Of all the tens of millions of people that have tripped, not one has ever become enlightened through tripping.

Playing devils advocate here. How can you claim this with so much certainty. Part of Buddhism is letting go of our pre conceived notions, ideas, and thoughts about how things are so we can see their true nature.
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Re: the psychedelic community: pros and cons

Post by Jesse »

smcj wrote:Of all the tens of millions of people that have tripped, not one has ever become enlightened through tripping.
Impossible to know, but of the hundreds of millions of Buddhist practitioners very very few have become enlightened either.
The cost of a thing is the amount of what I call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run.
-Henry David Thoreau
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