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Religion and psychedelics

KeromeKerome Love, love is mysteryThe Continent Veteran

There seem to be some really interesting links here...

I came across this long passage in Osho’s From Darkness to Light in which he was talking about how psychedelics relate to religion. Basically he said that psychedelics give you an actual experience, and that religion basically could not afford to give you a source of vision that was different from their own. It struck me as being largely true, and that a lot of the New Age movement and the decrease in authority of the church stems partly from the psychedelic-taking movement in the 1960’s.

Terence McKenna has said some similar things, when talking about his theory that religion and intelligence originated from mushroom-taking in early human history — the “Stoned Ape” theory. It’s fascinating stuff, especially as a lot of shamanic cultures have some kind of relationship with taking psychedelic compounds, and these may well be the remnants of very early human religions.

Also the whole increase in academic studies in how psilocybin (the psychedelic compound in magic mushrooms) helps depressed people overcome their difficulties, and all the anecdotal evidence on how ayahuasca helps people overcome their emotional blockages. There do seem to be some therapeutic uses, which may have fallen under the authority of shamans in ancient times.

It certainly makes me wonder how society will look in fifty years. A lot of people who have difficulties now may find that combinations of therapy and psychedelics will help them...

Comments

  • adamcrossleyadamcrossley Veteran Veteran

    I sometimes listen to a podcast called The Duncan Trussell Family Hour. Duncan is a passionate supporter of the medical and spiritual uses of psychedelics. He interviews Ram Dass, Jack Kornfield, Sharon Salzberg, Roshi Joan Halifax... a lot of the leading lights of American Buddhism. If I remember which episodes specifically address psychedelics, I’ll post a link. I too think there are beneficial uses to be explored, in the right context. I’d be interested to experience, for example, a course of therapy that integrated them. Probably without the right framework, though, you could risk plunging off the deep end, maybe beyond recovery.

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the void Veteran

    There's a new documentary series on Netflix called "The Mind Explained". There's an episode on psychedelics that I thought was pretty good. It talked about the political reasons they got listed as schedule 1 drugs and also the usefulness they can have as therapeutic aids in a clinical situation. It mentions the importance of a guide and that the role of shaman as guide is sort being taken over by psychiatrists.

  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    “Our style of society is the equivalent of a temper tantrum. It is completely self limiting. It is rapacious, it hands nothing on to its successors.”

    Terence McKenna

  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran
    edited September 29

    Hmm psychedelic and 'religious' experiences... reminds me of this...

    Glimpses into the other world where contentment reins supreme
    Are for all intends and purposes a Buddhist practitioner's dream
    A world like where we now live, but just seen through a different light
    Where an illuminated brightness radiates warm feelings of delight
    But try to capture a glimpse , one will find it just slips away
    For it's meant to flow through the mind, nothing there can stay

    I'm not advocating drug use...Each to their own...

    Dharma practice can give one a natural high/altered state of mind...with no nasty side effects...

    Bunkslobster
  • lobsterlobster Veteran Veteran

    It certainly makes me wonder how society will look in fifty years. A lot of people who have difficulties now may find that combinations of therapy and psychedelics will help them ...

    I hope so.
    They are strong break through substances, particularly LSD.

    We have discussed euphoric experiences. In some ways this is similar to opioids, however that is no reason to take heroin.
    Alcohol can create a sense of loosening and freedom. However Chugyam Trungpa type 'gin for breakfast' alcoholism is hardly enlightenment ...

    Those of us who have taken psychedelics, been crazy or experienced extreme changes in consciousness ideally know the difference between real and unreal ...
    Hopefully anyway ...

    https://www.kevinrdshepherd.info/bhagwan_shree_rajneesh.html

    FinnTheHuman
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran
    edited September 30

    Well, the closest I have been to psychedelics has been sleep and dreams. My dreams always have a very refreshing effect on my state of mind. But I find the psychedelic art of the 1970’s also quite inspiring. Not sure if I will ever take them though.

    I thought the quote that “taking a high dose of LSD is like strapping yourself to a rocket with no sense of direction” was quite funny. From what I’ve read the mind can take some very strange turns when high on this stuff.

    There are some interesting earlier threads on the forum, such as this one from 2011.

  • lobsterlobster Veteran Veteran
    edited September 30

    Interesting link @Kerome

    ... here is another ...
    https://www.lionsroar.com/the-new-wave-of-psychedelics-in-buddhist-practice/

    I have in the past been willing to experiment in quite extreme ways. The Buddha, bless his un-soul, did try some pretty extreme practices ...

    Wonderfully he realised these extremes are not a way to ease, peace and awakening. Move towards clarity of mind and being is a better plan as suggested by ye olde Buddha ...

  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran

    "Drugs can bring about meaningful experiences, but the one who takes a drug has not made causes for such effects. He has just temporarily altered nature, like injecting a monkey with hormones that send him shooting up a tree to pick coconuts. Such experiences may be true but not good or good but not true, whereas Dharma is always both good and true." ~A Still Forest Pool by Ajahn Chah

    I've taken psychedelics and found the above to be true. :)

    lobsterNerida
  • NeridaNerida Explorer Denmark Explorer

    There are some interesting earlier threads on the forum, such as this one from 2011.

    I just see a lot of people getting upset about their drug use not being accepted as ok in Buddhism.

    I was under the impression that intoxicants mean illicit drugs and alcohol. Am I wrong? I’m still learning.

    Thanks.

    lobsterVastmind
  • lobsterlobster Veteran Veteran

    Am I wrong?

    Just a few thousand years out of date perhaps ... ;)

    Temporary changes of consciousness, expectations, dharma doctrine intoxication can all be jolted into a new perspective by some new possibilities. What would you recommend? More meditation? Yep ... me too ...

    Right?

  • LionduckLionduck Veteran Veteran

    if you are trying to clear your mind or to stay focused, intoxicants, hallucinogens are distracting, to say the least. hence they are discouraged. However, in my practice, they are not banned. It is not a case of prohibition. there is no judgement of anyone taking or having taken any alcohol or drugs. Individuals may, due to their own biases, have a negative reaction to someone's non-medical use of any drugs, but that is not based upon the Buddhist Practice.
    Ofttimes, when someone begins his or her Buddhist practice, he or she has come from a very different socio-religious tradition. when that happens, he or she will carry, for a time, those traditions, biases like a old warn sweater. Of course, as such persons grow and learn, these negative biases generally fade away and are replaced with the openness and acceptance of each other through the practice. Naturally, some small number of nuts are harder to crack then others, so to speak.

    Peace to all

    lobsterShoshin
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    @Nerida said:

    There are some interesting earlier threads on the forum, such as this one from 2011.

    I just see a lot of people getting upset about their drug use not being accepted as ok in Buddhism.

    I was under the impression that intoxicants mean illicit drugs and alcohol. Am I wrong? I’m still learning.

    Thanks.

    It does seem to be a topic which in the past caused a few strong opinions.

  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    I found that a very interesting article, it contained some good discussion on the various viewpoints that different teachers brought forward about the uses of psychedelics. There were too many sections that were interesting to quote them all, but this one struck me in particular:

    Lama Urgyen, an American teacher of Tibetan Buddhism, has a more existential concern. “Don’t get involved in psychedelics unless you are willing to have your most deeply held beliefs—about you and your world—not only questioned but also shown to have no basis,” he cautions. “Your belief systems are constructed by thoughts. Psychedelics are like a solvent poured on your beliefs. You may watch all of that dissolve. And although dissolving belief structures is the ultimate point of the dharma, doing so with psychedelics is not for every practitioner.”

    Certainly Buddhism can dissolve belief structures if you apply it in a certain way, but it can also install new belief structures. It is both quite radical and ancient, refreshing and hidebound. It depends on what you take from the dharma and how you apply it.

    So it seems that for some people psychedelics could assist them in finding new modes of thinking, and give them a deeper insight into the dharma.

    Carameltail
  • FinnTheHumanFinnTheHuman Explorer England Explorer

    @adamcrossley said:
    I sometimes listen to a podcast called The Duncan Trussell Family Hour. Duncan is a passionate supporter of the medical and spiritual uses of psychedelics. He interviews Ram Dass, Jack Kornfield, Sharon Salzberg, Roshi Joan Halifax... a lot of the leading lights of American Buddhism.

    Yes Duncan Trussell, what a guy. Its through him that I got into like Ram Dass and those thinkers. I went a weird way into spirituality. Through Russell Brand to Joe Rogan to Duncan Trussell who led me to all those thinkers.
    Obviously Ram Dass is the archetypal example of someone who through psychedelics was opened to that new space of reality in which one transcends the Self. (I mean obviously theres like Aldous Huxley and people.A great film on Netflix is 'Dying to Know' Its about Timothy Leary and Ram Dass (Richard Alpert) and how they kind of went different directions.
    Ram Dass' guru Neem Karoli Baba called LSD a medicine. In that it does (or at least can) provide those break through moments. But he also said that drugs can take you to the room with Jesus for like an hour, but each time you've gotta keep on coming down. While meditation and the spiritual path is like an attempt to stay there, or even to show that we are always there.

    @Kerome said:
    “Our style of society is the equivalent of a temper tantrum. It is completely self limiting. It is rapacious, it hands nothing on to its successors.”

    Terence McKenna

    Its useful for the Capitalist and consumerist, and self-centred society we live in to keep these out of people's grasp, because people stay on a kind of 'mundane' consciousness.

    I mean, here's me talking like I take em, I don't, but I've had extreme experiences through ingesting marijuana. But also extreme experiences of no-self are a regular occurence now.

    Psychedelics can provide the breakthrough, but its important not to be seeking an experience through an external thing that is taken or ingested. All they can ever show you is that you don't exist and the dissolution of the Self. But the same is realised through meditation.
    As Alan Watts said- 'Once you get the message, hang up the phone'

  • CarameltailCarameltail Veteran UK Veteran

    Psychedelics are sure known to give mind enhancing effects that do benefit some people, some more than others it seems.
    But there is a health cost to it. And I think mind affecting substances are generally to be avoided.

    Some people do use such substances to gain some kind of insight and then they develop on from it.
    The best insights though are the ones you get when you really deeply focus on yourself.

  • taiyakitaiyaki Veteran Veteran

    I have had some very strong opinions on Consciousness-altering drugs over the years. Mostly in the past I was for it because it is what has brought me to Dharma. It was the jolt needed to realize that there was way more to reality than just how I see it. But it was just that a jolt and nothing really more than that.

    Now that I am practicing Dharma I Don't touch any kind of drugs. Anything that alters the mind would be counter to the intention and discipline of mind I am cultivating.

    You don't know what you're paying with when you do drugs because their allure is in the present. Meaning there are million ways drugs seduce you and rationalize taking them. And those rationalizations may be positive or exploratory or even dharma related. But you don't know what you're paying with. You always are paying as all results come from causes and conditions. And one way you'll see the causes and conditions and realize it totally wasn't worth it.

    But that isn't a popular narrative atm. But its just an opinion from some random guy on the internet. Wish you well.

  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    I’m not sure there is any way to get away with not paying, even meditation comes at a cost in terms of opportunity and mental flexibility.

    But it does seem to be clear from current investigations into the therapeutic uses of psychedelics that they have a role in the mental liveliness of people. Those who lose that liveliness can be helped, to some extent, through psychedelics.

    So it stands to reason that religion also can make use of psychedelics, in some way.

  • taiyakitaiyaki Veteran Veteran

    The payment is your life force. For instance the energy being pumped into your via LSD is like blowing up a balloon in your system and once it ends then the ballon called your system becomes flaccid. Then to experience all those interesting things you need to take LSD again to pump the system full of energy again. You keep doing this and pretty much it causes permanent harm to the system.

    I've played around with this stuff and also have seen many friends play around with these substances without understanding the price you pay.

    On some level the experiences you have are totally worth it. But as I am getting older and more into dharma I don't see the point.

    For myself dharma is about disciplining the mind and cultivating positive, wholesome states so that one can penetrate the nature of reality.

    Drugs no matter how insightful they are, are the anti-thesis to dharma.

    There is no denial about the therapeutic benefits. One day I assume they will be legal for clinical - therapeutic use. Let the professionals play with it.

    When it comes to religion, I'd rather not have anyone administer these kinds of drugs to their sangha, etc. It sounds extremely irresponsible tbh.

    But as an individual, you are free to do as you please, because in the end your body and mind pay the karmic consequences for your actions.

    adamcrossleyVastmindlobsterperson
  • VastmindVastmind Veteran Memphis, TN Veteran

    @taiyaki hey there!! Good to see you back! :)

    taiyaki
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    Obviously @taiyaki’s comments are quite strongly held opinions.

    But it’s interesting that the body naturally synthesizes DMT, a powerful psychedelic, in small quantities. It has been said that this is responsible for us dreaming. I wonder if it also plays a role in the visions some people see while meditating.

    I do think it is a bit strong to say “drugs are the anti-thesis to the dharma”, I can see cases where psychedelics and perhaps other drugs can be used to overcome certain barriers for the practitioner. It won’t be for everyone, but for some people I think it may have uses.

    We in the west are somewhat addicted to stability and permanence, look at what we do with people who naturally have visions, we pump them full of medicines that are supposed to remove these things.

    adamcrossley
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    edited October 21

    The only situation in which drugs are permissible for a practitioner is if they are recommended and prescribed drugs for use as a remedy in a medical situation.
    Otherwise, it's perfectly correct to state "drugs are the antithesis to the dharma" if they are being used solely in a recreational or experimental way.

    ...look at what we do with people who naturally have visions, we pump them full of medicines that are supposed to remove these things.

    Only in diagnosed cases where a person is clearly distressed, disturbed or mentally afflicted to the point of harm to themselves or others. Please don't generalise such cases and make it seem as if 'we in the west' have absolutely no truck with mysticism or those who are gifted with intuitive insight.

    adamcrossley
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran
    edited October 21

    Everything in moderation including moderation...

    I'm under the impression that one of the many aims of Dharma practice is to learn how to police ourselves, and in doing so ( as we develop the skills), like a pebble dropped into a pond, our behaviour (newfound approach to life) creates ripples, that have a beneficial impact upon others.....if (that is) they are prepared/ready/equipped to create ripples of their own...

    What I'm saying is that we each have to find what best helps us to genuinely improve the quality of our lives which in turn shines a light on the path for others to follow suit...

    It would seem that later in life some of the psychonauts of the 1960s 70s & 80s gradually moved away from the artificial stimuli that induced altered states when they found Eastern philosophies such as Hinduism, Taoism, Buddhism, which taught them a more natural/safer way to induce altered states of mind that improved their quality of life-lessening the impact of Dukkha AKA meditation techniques...

    Perhaps it was just a phase of their karmic patterns of the time ..... Cause= Looking for a way out of Dukkha... Condition =Drug induced Altered states... temporary relief...Effect= Seeking long term relief which Eastern philosophies offered....



    lobsteradamcrossley
  • lobsterlobster Veteran Veteran

    Insight from @Shoshin 🕊

    There are lost celtic and often indigenous, nature based spiritual paths that make 'safe' use of spirits, woo-woo (a technical term) and inner dream based journeyings which are progressive, tried and tested and often healing. They have been demonised by non herbal psychoactive delusions (other religions) 🍄👐🏼

    drugs are the anti-thesis to the dharma

    Indeed but what is the antithesis of dharma, do tell I have Buddhas for slaughter ... ;) 👨🏼‍🦲

    Kerome
  • NeridaNerida Explorer Denmark Explorer

    @lobster said:

    There are lost celtic and often indigenous, nature based spiritual paths that make 'safe' use of spirits, woo-woo (a technical term) and inner dream based journeyings which are progressive, tried and tested and often healing. They have been demonised by non herbal psychoactive delusions (other religions) 🍄👐🏼

    Do you mean Druidism? There have been many claims but no reputable sources that I have come across to back that up. There ARE references to drug use by the witches in Hamlet for example, and Hemlock and Nightshade were used regularly. But regardless of claims by modern witches and pagans, there is no definitive record of how exactly they were used - to my knowledge.

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    edited October 22

    They were used in probably exactly the same way any form of natural hallucinogenic item is used now. As a food item or a brewed drink. They used poultices too. Such methods have been passed down historically in archaic medical 'documents' and recipes. Such recipes and remedies have been handed down through the ages and are in common use even today.
    I'm surprised you say that no record exists, @Nerida. A short search on Google turns up a plethora of sources, links and archives.

  • lobsterlobster Veteran Veteran

    @Nerida said:
    Do you mean Druidism?

    I mean Celtic and indigenous. For example the mushroom/toadstool amanita muscaria is edible if treated right ...
    https://honest-food.net/eating-santas-shroom/
    Otherwise it is used by Siberian Shaman and others as a magickal portal ... Entering fairy land is dangerous ...
    http://www.herbmuseum.ca/content/haomaconnection

    Liberty caps, which look like pixie hats are a mild hallucinogen, again widely distributed and used by herbal/healers/daka types ...

    ... anyways ... if you want dreams, delusions, hallucinations and fantasy ... Buddhist dharma is not the place ...

    Shoshin
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    @lobster said:
    There are lost celtic and often indigenous, nature based spiritual paths that make 'safe' use of spirits, woo-woo (a technical term) and inner dream based journeyings which are progressive, tried and tested and often healing. They have been demonised by non herbal psychoactive delusions (other religions) 🍄👐🏼

    I recently came across the shamans of the Sami people in northern Norway, who go on trance journeys through drumming techniques. It’s going through a bit of a revival, with young western people being taught these techniques in very traditional settings... They too in the not too distant past were persecuted.

    drugs are the anti-thesis to the dharma

    Indeed but what is the antithesis of dharma, do tell I have Buddhas for slaughter ... ;) 👨🏼‍🦲

    The dharma has so many sides, it’s hard to think of one anti-thesis...

  • lobsterlobster Veteran Veteran

    ... anyways ... if you want dreams, delusions, hallucinations and fantasy ... Buddhist dharma is not the place ...

    However someone, somewhere will be offering Buddha Trips ...
    https://psychedelicsangha.org/home/

  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran Veteran

    I think psychedelics have a value in showing possibilities. But they seem like a temporary fix.

    lobster
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