Buddhism and Psychedelics

An open and inclusive investigation into Buddhism and spiritual cultivation

Re: Buddhism and Psychedelics

Postby lojong1 » Fri Jul 30, 2010 8:24 am

Moth wrote:I'm interested to hear what you folks think.

I should have had plain peach and melon without that artificial tripleberry sponge crap.

~ The Psychedelic Experience ~
A manual based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead
By Timothy Leary, Ph.D., Ralph Metzner, Ph.D., & Richard Alpert, Ph.D.

http://www.leary.ru/download/leary/Timo ... 20Dead.pdf

Drug tests, Tibetan Dhamma, government interference...otherwise I dunno yet what's in it.
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Re: Buddhism and Psychedelics

Postby Potato » Sun Aug 08, 2010 7:51 pm

There are some religions in which psychedelic use is an accepted practice. Buddhism is not one of them. If you want to experiment with such things, that's up to you, but don't try to legitimize such experimentation as arcane Buddhist practice. To do so is to do both yourself and Buddhism a disservice.

Timothy Leary may have found parts of the Dharma appealing, but I don't think he studied it in great depth.
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Re: Buddhism and Psychedelics

Postby lojong1 » Sun Aug 08, 2010 8:46 pm

Potato wrote:...don't try to legitimize such experimentation as arcane Buddhist practice.

Alrighty then, I didn't and I won't.

Timothy Leary may have found parts of the Dharma appealing, but I don't think he studied it in great depth.

Agreed. Same with Aleister Crowley, who had some respect for the Buddha-Dhamma but clung to his own deepest unwholesomeness and died [an angry drug addict?].

For one who has not taken any precepts and is not a member of the sangha, I say go hard and good luck with that. At best, if it doesn't completely destroy you, you'll convince yourself that the mind is capable of some wacky sht, then stop using.
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Re: Buddhism and Psychedelics

Postby Moth » Mon Aug 09, 2010 10:29 pm

lojong1 wrote:Agreed. Same with Aleister Crowley, who had some respect for the Buddha-Dhamma but clung to his own deepest unwholesomeness and died [an angry drug addict?].


Aleister Crowley isolated the technique of Samadhi, mastered it (supposedly), and then assumped he had mastered Buddhism. It's funny how he completely disregarded mindfulness and compassion.
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Re: Buddhism and Psychedelics

Postby lojong1 » Mon Aug 09, 2010 11:08 pm

Moth wrote:Aleister Crowley

Then again, maybe he cultivated his reputation as a way to ensure his teachings, and buddhism, would remain in the world longer. With as strong a base in samatha as he advocated, would it even be possible to go so far astray?
Now there is a whole new-age scene of depressed, 'cutter', black-magic dabbling, drug-addicted, outcast satanists who would likely be turned off of buddhism by an orthodox first impression. They check out 'Magick in Theory and Practice' and find that, in order to progress in that discipline, they first need the same foundation as a buddhist!
Crowley's greatest teacher and lifelong friend was the first--or among the first--westerners to ordain in Burma, and helped spread real Dhamma in England.
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Re: Buddhism and Psychedelics

Postby Kenshou » Mon Aug 09, 2010 11:40 pm

lojong1 wrote:With as strong a base in samatha as he advocated, would it even be possible to go so far astray?


There's nothing much uniquely Buddhist about it, and a person can be really good at samatha or samadhi or whatever while still holding all sorts of funky (and "wrong", from the Buddhist perspective) views.
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Re: Buddhism and Psychedelics

Postby lojong1 » Mon Aug 09, 2010 11:58 pm

Kenshou wrote:There's nothing much uniquely Buddhist about it, and a person can be really good at samatha or samadhi or whatever while still holding all sorts of funky (and "wrong", from the Buddhist perspective) views.

Agreed 100%. The sloppy question was, can you attain Jhana while forcing your wife to screw goats, and sodomizing the offspring before eating it for dinner? Or will a strong base of samatha necessarily clean up a guy's act a little?
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Re: Buddhism and Psychedelics

Postby jcsuperstar » Tue Aug 10, 2010 2:49 am

i don't know how this thread got off and on to Aleister Crowley, but there was nothing particularly Buddhist about anything he said, did or taught. and concentration techniques are not
Buddhism although we may use them in Buddhism. I've known people deeply into occult practices and I've read all the recommended literature on the subject to see if the claims made that our two practices overlap and i can say no they don't. practicing breath meditation does not make one a Buddhist, in fact i first learned breath meditation in 3rd grade as a stress relieving practice, nothing Buddhist about that either. Hinduism, taoism, christian mysticism and shamanistic practices use concentration techniques as well, so do remote seeing practices and other "mental cultivation" practices. in fact the first step in any mental training seems to be to sit down and shut up. the similarities tend to end there.



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the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat
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Re: Buddhism and Psychedelics

Postby lojong1 » Tue Aug 10, 2010 6:46 am

Thread lead to Crowley because he was a drug fiend; and I figure OP doesn't mind, and may not even consider this off topic. I admit, my link between Crowley and Buddhism is far-fetched, but Crowley, Thelema and drugs go together so well, and Jcsuperstar gave such mixed messages about the off-topicness of their interelatedness...
Concentration techniques are not Buddhism although we may use them in Buddhism.
I agreed with that in my last post.

I've known people deeply into occult practices and I've read all the recommended literature on the subject to see if the claims made that our two practices overlap and i can say no they don't.
I'm talking Crowley and Jhana practice, that's it. If Crowley/Thelemites and Buddhists practice Jhanas, then yes there is overlap. On Occult literature: "the most common form of the Wiccan Rede is 'An it harm none, do what ye will'." Argue all you like, I'm calling that a very buddhist thing to say. It's a reworded interpretation of Crowley's own 'Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law!,' and his own commentaries on the meaning show that it 'overlaps' SOME buddhist teachings nicely.

Practicing breath meditation does not make one a Buddhist
Buddha practiced it before he 'became a Buddhist.' If an angry young Thelemite with no interest in Dhamma learns to enter Jhana after reading Crowley or practicing breath meditation, it will then be easier for him to relate to buddhism. Any small step towards Nibbaana makes you a temporary buddhist [I'm not interested in converting to another view of that right now].

In fact i first learned breath meditation in 3rd grade as a stress relieving practice, nothing Buddhist about that either.
Nothing Buddhist about stress relief? Dukkha, 4 Noble Truths, Samma-Samadhi...It's just not uniquely buddhist, as Kenshou clarified.

Sit down and shut up. The similarities tend to end there.
Until you add Jhana, and I'm still waiting for an answer: Is it possible that Crowley would have been able to commit the unwholesome acts he was infamous for, while at the same time developing Jhanas? If not, then drug addicted outcasts reading his work may in that way be jumping even closer to arahantship than merely sharing common ground with an insincere 'buddhist'. If that isn't the making of a real buddhist, then I lose this one.

Moth no longer needs Crowley or drugs because they did help him. Way off?
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Re: Buddhism and Psychedelics

Postby Kenshou » Tue Aug 10, 2010 7:02 am

Is it possible that Crowley would have been able to commit the unwholesome acts he was infamous for, while at the same time developing Jhanas?


Well first of all, do we know that he was doing jhana practice specifically? Or some other kind of general tranquility meditation of some kind?

Secondly, the suppression of unwholesome states due to jhana is a temporary thing, the only permanent fix is enlightenment. It isn't as if the parts of the mind capable of unwholesome things are burnt off totally, and so unwholesome action is still possible.
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Re: Buddhism and Psychedelics

Postby PeterB » Tue Aug 10, 2010 7:22 am

What the hell is this thread about now ? How did we start with a request to condone drug taking and end up in the alienated loony tune world of Alistair Crowley ?
Or maybe in fact in was a logical and inevitable progession.
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Re: Buddhism and Psychedelics

Postby jcsuperstar » Tue Aug 10, 2010 7:29 am

couple things:

is jhana specific to only Buddhism? no

does the effect of meditation practice necessarily lead one closer to nibbana? no. look at the story of Devadatta, someone who gained great magical powers yet failed to even gain stream entry.

there is a difference between samadhi and the Buddha's right samadhi (probably why the Buddha pointed it out) so if one isn't practicing samadhi in the way instructed by the Buddha for the purposes that he taught such practices, one is not doing a Buddhist practice.

If not, then drug addicted outcasts reading his work may in that way be jumping even closer to arahantship than merely sharing common ground with an insincere 'buddhist'. If that isn't the making of a real buddhist, then I lose this one.

i have no idea what this means :shrug:
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ

the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat
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Re: Buddhism and Psychedelics

Postby jcsuperstar » Tue Aug 10, 2010 7:31 am

PeterB wrote:What the hell is this thread about now ? How did we start with a request to condone drug taking and end up in the alienated loony tune world of Alistair Crowley ?
Or maybe in fact in was a logical and inevitable progession.

:shrug: loosing focus seems to be a common trait with the use of Psychedelics
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the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat
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Re: Buddhism and Psychedelics

Postby PeterB » Tue Aug 10, 2010 8:34 am

Tell me about it....when I first got into Dhamma a group of my friends did too.
The ones that stayed with it were the ones who avoided psychedelics, in the main.
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Re: Buddhism and Psychedelics

Postby Moth » Wed Aug 11, 2010 5:56 pm

lojong1 wrote:Is it possible that Crowley would have been able to commit the unwholesome acts he was infamous for, while at the same time developing Jhanas? If not, then drug addicted outcasts reading his work may in that way be jumping even closer to arahantship than merely sharing common ground with an insincere 'buddhist'. If that isn't the making of a real buddhist, then I lose this one.

Moth no longer needs Crowley or drugs because they did help him. Way off?


I used to be quite fond of Aleister Crowley, specifically 'Magick in Theory and Practice' as you mention. However after a few months into my study of Thelema, I could no longer bear its fundamental contradiction. Crowley uses "Buddhist" meditation as a basic means of progression in his magickal system. In the first chapter of Magick he attempts to strip Buddhism down into a basic formula, essentially focusing only on Samadhi techniques. However Samadhi alone, as the Buddha explicitly states, is not a means to enlightenment, cannot produce wisdom in of itself, and is ultimately transient (that is, confined to the meditation itself). Thus it is only one aspect of the Noble Eightfold Path.

Aleister Crowley illustrates this beautifully, as despite his mastery of Samadhi he was still full of defilement. What really helped me realize this was reading his autobiography, in which it becomes painful clear how self-obsessed, racist, cruel, lustful, etc the man was. Progress towards enlightenment is characterized by the cessation of defilements. In each of the four stages certain defilements are either suppressed or completely uprooted, until alas none remain. This most certainly was not the case for Crowley as his entire philosophy centered around pleasing his demons, and look where that got him.

Magick fundamentally concerns itself with desire. Whether it be desire for esoteric understanding, desire of material gain or sensual pleasure, or desire for spiritual rank (i.e. his hierarchical system based on the tree of life). Buddhism is fundamentally concerned with the cessation of desire (or more specifically craving). The momentum of Buddhism is renunciation and dissolution whilst the momentum of magick is indulgence and consumption.

To address your last point, Crowley and drugs helped me overcome Crowley and drugs. No! Mindfulness helped me overcome Crowley and drugs. I have had this discussion with my friends who are still drug users and they have tried to make the point that despite having given them up, these things helped me reach the path I've now chosen. In the sense that you have to make mistakes in order to learn, yes, I suppose they are correct. Magick lead me to make many huge mistakes, the ramifications of which ultimately lead me to seek out Buddhism, simply through the intensity of my suffering at the time. Psychedelics gave me a glimpse of non-self but only for a moment, at the same time confusing me a great deal. I no way do I recommend them as a vessel towards the Buddhist path, as I feel I was lucky to escape them. Many simply do not have the same realization.
Last edited by Moth on Wed Aug 11, 2010 9:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Buddhism and Psychedelics

Postby SDC » Wed Aug 11, 2010 7:25 pm

Moth wrote:To address you last point, Crowley and drugs helped me overcome Crowley and drugs. No! Mindfulness helped me overcome Crowley and drugs. I have had this discussion with my friends who are still drug users and they have tried to make the point that despite having given them up, these things helped me reach the path I've now chosen. In the sense that you have to make mistakes in order to learn, yes, I suppose they are correct. Magick lead me to make many huge mistakes, the ramifications of which ultimately lead me to seek out Buddhism, simply through the intensity of my suffering at the time. Psychedelics gave me a glimpse of non-self but only for a moment, at the same time confusing me a great deal. I no way do I recommend them as a vessel towards the Buddhist path, as I feel I was lucky to escape them. Many simply do not have the same realization.


Well said, Moth. I think it is significant that you are willing to leave the drug use behind and lean further towards the dhamma.

I smoked pot on and of for years (14 to 26) because I was bored and always angry. I used alcohol, mushrooms and acid occasionally, once again out of bordem and frustration of what my life experience was at the time. It made things interesting and easier, cool experiences were had, I was willing to look at other viewpoints and philosophies that seemed foriegn and strange. I loosened up. I took risks in that regard and after I stopped using drugs that willingness to look outside the box remained. Buddhism happened to be something I moved towards. I wish I could have had that willingness beforehand, but for some reason I didn't. Maybe if I had just gone about life without drugs it would have been there anyway, I will NEVER know though. As I said earlier, I can not say either way.

Since you somewhat attribute drug use for your movement towards Buddhism as well, please keep a few things in mind. The teachings do NOT work well in performing that function of filling a void in life. Temporarily yes, but in the long run, in my experience, no. The way I see it, the teachings are a bridge that we develop, cultivate and use to work around the void. And through consisent and proper practice the void below gradually closes on its own and the bridge is no longer necessary.

Good luck with it, Moth. Please stick around dhammawheel and keep this thread updated.
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Re: Buddhism and Psychedelics

Postby Goob » Fri Sep 02, 2011 1:50 am

I agree with the comments that psychedelics may often lead to delusional thinking and the misguided opinion that one has experienced something "true" as opposed to normal everyday consciousness. However I think most people with little experience of psychedelics mistakenly categorize it as a 'lights & colors' show where magic rainbows explain the meaning of shoes. I have used psychedelics (mainly LSD) on a number of occasions in my younger days and this cliché was never the core of any of my experiences. What stood out as the most important aspect of them was a renewed perspective and my own actions in relation to others wellbeing and my reliance on permanence and material objects. It allowed me to view the effects of many of my actions from a new light and made me want to change certain negative aspects of my behaviour. Surely you could argue how stable this resolve and insight is, but for many people that questioning never comes at all. However, I see it as an incentive and neither a method or a goal in itself.

I think that psychedelics (including marijuana) may offer people from a certain background and mindset the necessary space to question certain assumptions about their lives and their own minds. It may be (note the 'may') beneficial to some people in experiencing what the mind is capable of fabricating, that there is something supramundane (although not necessarily 'true' in the buddhist sense) beyond a house and a mortgage and the occasional beer binge and cruel jokes.

If not for anything else they might be useful for realizing how ultimately unsatisfactory they become after a while when you depend on them for happiness, just like all conditioned things. Most people I've known with experience in psychedelics have eventually realized that it is impossible to cling to the experience and that there is a limit to the perspective they bring.

Surely one also has to credit the influence the psychedelics for the imapct they had on the social and creative movements in the sixties and the way they in their turn helped pave the way for a climate in society which became more fertile for "non-mainstream" religions such as buddhism. I'm sure that most people here would like to think that they would have ultimately found their way to Buddhism as they have now regardless of changes of the past but I am of the opinion that this possibility is intimately tied up with the change in society and among movements in the last five decades.

Also, yes, it may be a fabrication, but as someone pointed out earlier, what isn't a fabrication? As Thanissaro Bhikkhu explains in regards to Mindfulness of Breathing it too is a fabrication but a fabrication you learn to play with until you know how to fabricate it well enough to quiet your mind, and once the mind the calm enough and the will to stop fabricate is strong and trained enough the mind heads in the other direction - non-fabrication, i.e, the Unconditioned. I am not saying that LSD is an equally positive or quieting fabrication to Mindfulness of Breathing but perhaps the understanding of fabrication is equally important there, if it can be understood in that way.

I am not recommending that anyone take psychedelics, nor am I not recommending it. People need to make their own mistakes and realize certain things about unsatisfactoriness for themselves. I wanted however to offer some more nuanced thoughts about what could be useful about certain mistakes as opposed to others who have posted here with much experience of buddhist doctrine but little in terms of experience of psychedelics.
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Re: Buddhism and Psychedelics

Postby mpcahn » Fri Sep 02, 2011 4:42 am

I have experienced a "Oneness" on Acid it before I got into Buddhism. I spent a year chasing that dragon. Another experience got me started on the path by giving me an extremely sped up vision of samsara and the suffering in it, this led to an extreme sense of samvega and I found Buddhism as a way out. Now I am drug free. I respect that acid got me started on the path but I feel that it would be useless and counterproductive at this point.
is the mind us? Is it ours? Slash on down! Whatever is going to be destroyed, let it be destroyed. We feel no regrets. We want only the truth. (Ajahn Maha Boowa)
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Re: Buddhism and Psychedelics

Postby Moggalana » Fri Sep 02, 2011 9:18 am

Let it come. Let it be. Let it go.
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Re: Buddhism and Psychedelics

Postby Jaidyn » Fri Sep 02, 2011 5:42 pm

I fear that, if not developed "naturally", these insights and altered/heightened states lend me no good influence over the process. My psyche may finally turn against me as I experience the states or the absence of the states, because I lack the mental fitness or insights to reach there by myself or to stay there in a good way.

As to the chemical alteration of the brain: we say drugs chemically alter the brain. Where do we draw the line to define bad alterations? Is the criteria for bad alteration when it comes in form of a certain pill or the alike?

Tricycle: AWAKENING WITH PROZAC: Pharmaceuticals and Practice
http://www.tricycle.com/feature/awakeni ... d-practice

(From Buddhist perspective I guess its bad when not used to cure illness)
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