Why I Don’t Do Psychedelic Drugs

EcstacyMollyPills350A couple days ago I participated in a webinar about Buddhism and Psychedelics presided over by Allan Badiner, author of the book Zig Zag Zen.

At the end of the discussion Mr. Badiner referenced something I’d said earlier. I was talking about my previous experiences with LSD. The fourth and final time I took it, I had an incredibly bad trip that scared the bejesus out of me. After our session was over he told me that maybe I wasn’t doing psychedelics anymore just because I was scared of them. He said that if I were to try any again I ought to do MDMA (aka Ecstasy, Molly, “E”, etc.). He said it had opened his heart and made him more compassionate.

So I thought about it, and I asked myself why I do not do psychedelics. Can I answer that question and not just give a knee-jerk reaction? Because if I just said it’s because of Buddha’s Fifth Precept against using intoxicants, aren’t I just like someone who says, “The Bible said it, I believe it, that settles it”?

So here’s why I don’t do psychedelics. Not why you shouldn’t. Why I don’t.

Number One, they scare me. The last time I tripped was an epic nightmare. You can read all about it in my book Hardcore Zen. I spent most of that night in abject terror on a drug I desperately wanted out of my system with no choice but to wait until it wore off. I also lost my concept of time, so even though I understood that I’d be OK again in a few hours, I could not figure out what an hour was to save my life. The concept was still available to my brain, but I could not make any sense of it. So for all I knew I was going to stay high and terrified forever.

But that’s not the only reason I don’t do those drugs. I spent a few minutes after the webinar was over just letting my mind roll over the possibility of getting ahold of some MDMA and trying it out for myself to see what actually happens. Then I realized a few things.

For one thing, I wouldn’t trust any so-called “MDMA” I might be able to get in Los Angeles no matter what the source claimed. At best, it would be something cooked up by some dodgy chemist in a basement mixing up stuff to sell to high school kids. I would not be able to fool myself into believing that the major market for this drug is responsible adults engaged in safe consciousness exploration in controlled environments.

Bull shit. If you’re making MDMA – or LSD, or growing ‘shrooms, etc. – your target market isn’t a handful of people using that suff as a sacrament for religious purposes. Your target market is kids who wanna party. I don’t want to support the people who supply that market or put anything they make into my body.

You might be inclined to counter that by asking if I examine the entire manufacturing and distribution chain of everything I purchase to determine if it was sourced ethically. Obviously the answer is “No.” But that’s irrelevant. I may not be certain whether or not underpaid children in a sweatshop in Malaysia made my shoes, but I do know for certain that any MDMA or other psychedelic drug I might purchase comes from a highly unethical source.

I also don’t want to incapacitate myself for an indeterminate length of time and require someone to babysit me. Because that’s what all the “set and setting” crap that people who are into drug-based consciousness exploration talk about really means. It means someone sober has got to be around to make sure I don’t hurt myself. Who am I to demand someone look after me like I’m a child?

And what about all this stuff where people say MDMA or other such substances made them more compassionate? Does this mean that now that the ravers of the 90s are adults we live in a kinder, gentler world where everybody’s nice because they all learned real compassion from listening to techno music while high on Molly? I don’t see it. Plus, I hung around a bunch of young MDMA fans on a few occasions recently. They were no more compassionate than anyone else I ever met, in fact they were kind of jerks to each other.

Real compassion is a skill. It’s not just a big warm fuzzy feeling in your “heart space.” It’s knowing what to do with that feeling. It’s knowing when it’s appropriate to get all huggy and when it’s not. Because sometimes a hug is the least compassionate response. And sometimes being all warm and cuddly is a way to run away from what really needs to be done.

Also, one of the best reasons not to do those drugs is staring every single user right in the face every single time they use it. After our conversation Allan Badiner very kindly and in the interest of being helpful sent me an email detailing how to use MDMA properly if I ever wanted to try it out. It involved taking a large dose of Vitamin C first, along with magnesium and amino acid supplements both before and after the MDMA. And, of course, the proper “set and setting” which includes the aforementioned babysitter.

The fact that I’d need to do so much preparation indicates to me that maybe I’d be doing something that’s kind of dangerous and probably not actually good for me.

As a Buddhist I would also have to do a lot of mental gymnastics to try to convince myself it was proper behavior. For example, apparently a lot of folks into Buddhist-based drug-induced consciousness exploration like to say that the Fifth Precept was actually specifically about alcohol and can be extended to other supposedly “consciousness restricting” drugs but does not apply to “consciousness expanding” drugs.

No. Sorry. The precept is not against alcohol or drugs. It’s for sobriety. It’s not saying “don’t get drunk.” It’s saying “stay sober.” There is a difference.

Besides, “consciousness expanding” drugs were well known and widely used in India in Buddha’s time for spiritual exploration. There is no evidence the early Buddhists used them at all. The whole argument is so full of holes I couldn’t possibly accept it on any terms.

More to the point, if I have to do a lot of mental gymnastics to justify any action, that is a clue that the action itself is problematic and probably ought to be avoided.

So that’s why you won’t see me at any raves any time soon. Besides, I hate techno music.


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94 Responses

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  1. Shodo
    Shodo July 22, 2015 at 12:57 pm |

    I tend to agree with you Brad… Psychedelics and the “experience” in zen are really not the same.

    With Psychadelics, something is happening to you…
    With Zen, there is no one there to have anything happen to.

    1. senorchupacabra
      senorchupacabra July 22, 2015 at 2:30 pm |

      I think this is a really good point.

      I also, personally, feel that the simple act of taking a mind-altering substance is admitting that there’s something “wrong” or “limited” about the everyday mind, which is a false dichotomy of sorts. The Buddha-mind is the everyday-mind. (The s0-called Buddha mind is also the LSD/MDMA/Psilocybin mind, but, at the very least, such chemically-induced efforts are superfluous).

      I’m not enlightened. I’m not even all that intelligent. But even I understand that much.

  2. Pjotr47
    Pjotr47 July 22, 2015 at 2:09 pm |

    Once upon a time in a morning I looked outside trough the window. A deep calmness and feeling of love came over me by simply enjoying the beautiful weather, birds were singing and the nice green of the trees was vibrant and alive all this while being sober.
    A few days later, after almost never using drugs anymore, somebody offered me some MDMA on a party. I took some. Well it felt really annoying, fake, artificial, plastic like, synthetic cotton wool kind of fake, especially with the natural experience as described above still in mind! And I could not stop this fake feeling it kept on going and going it was gross. Compared with the kind calm warm natural feeling of love I can experience while enjoying nature, this MDMA experience is a joke, annoying and not real not even close. I decided never to do MDMA ever again, a nice sunrise will do (when it is not to early in the morning).

    1. senorchupacabra
      senorchupacabra July 22, 2015 at 2:35 pm |

      This is great. I’ve had similar experiences.

      I had a period, like many adolescents and young adults in the country, where I was “experimenting” with various mind-altering substances, and your description here is pretty similar to my experiences. Even the drugs I liked, my response was very much, “Eh.”

      I feel like one of the points of these types of–for lack of a better term–“spiritual” journeys is being able to have peak experiences (if you are to have them at all) while, like, raking your yard or washing your dishes or yelling at your petulant teen child. I thought the whole point was to realize the essence of reality RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW. Not after taking some vitamin C and magnesium and ingesting a party drug that most kids use to help each other fuck.

      But perhaps I’m closed minded.

  3. Fred Jr.
    Fred Jr. July 22, 2015 at 2:21 pm |

    Go sobriety! Good for you Brad! All that fear you encountered may be protecting you from experiencing something. Some people make those drugs for other reasons:


  4. Cygni
    Cygni July 22, 2015 at 2:30 pm |

    I’ve never been to a rave, one time I took a modest dose of ecstacy and LSD together at an outdoors Killers concert, it was a really beautiful experience, even after, the hour and a half walk home from the train station on the warm summer night was exquisite. Fortunately I didn’t have a cell phone in those days to start texting people how much I loved them.

  5. Goodieb
    Goodieb July 22, 2015 at 2:37 pm |

    “More to the point, if I have to do a lot of mental gymnastics to justify any action, that is a clue that the action itself is problematic and probably ought to be avoided.”

    Thanks for this. This really hit home for me and sums up how I’ve been feeling about alcohol lately.

    In the 90’s I went to plenty of raves and did my share of ecstasy. I remember it being a pleasant enough feeling but that returning to reality was hard and ultimately ended up increasing my anxiety. Once I had some bad ecstasy and had what the doctor coined and ecstasy hangover for a couple of months – basically vertigo that wouldn’t go away.

  6. Fred
    Fred July 22, 2015 at 2:59 pm |

    Ira Israel :

    “Brad Warner believes that Buddhism and psychedelics are two ways up the same mountain: “A guy in a helicopter gets the same breathtaking view as someone who has climbed the mountain, but he gets there more quickly and more easily.” However, Brad feels the seeker taking the fast and easy route may miss some lessons and joys along the way.”

  7. Zafu
    Zafu July 22, 2015 at 4:09 pm |

    I’m high on Molly and OH BOY do I feel the love! Waves of compassion are running through me. I’m a new me?! A kinder gentile me.

    Yall should try it. Buddha say it okay!

    1. Fred
      Fred July 22, 2015 at 4:37 pm |

      Duality on Molly is still duality. Duality on acid is still duality. Duality on mescaline or ayahuasca is still duality.

      It may be shinier, brighter and pulsing or dissolving, but “you” are still locked in that primary split.

      1. Zafu
        Zafu July 22, 2015 at 4:51 pm |

        I am Love. I am compassion. No disparity, baby cakes.


      2. Oh Matty Blue
        Oh Matty Blue July 22, 2015 at 10:13 pm |

        I was pretty much thinking the same thing, it’d be thoughts, just different….thoughts. If anything, from any practicing lineage’s point of view, it might be interesting for deepening one’s resolve in empty cognizance as your true nature, assuming one has been sitting long enough to have already “gotten the point”, so to speak.

        Who knows, it’d be an interesting experiment at the very least, if only to confirm Kobun Chino’s simple assessment of “…..it was stupid”.

        (and as far as precepts go….meh. If our Lord Buddha Christ gets angry, I’ll just slap some headphones on him if I start making too much noise…..wait, I don’t want to piss him off even more.)

        (This quote I read earlier today seems relevant as well)

        1. Cygni
          Cygni July 22, 2015 at 10:47 pm |

          I dreamt about Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche and five of his attendant monks about a week ago, he had lost a little weight and could get around fine unaided, somehow we could understand each other somewhat although we were speaking different language’s.

          1. Oh Matty Blue
            Oh Matty Blue July 23, 2015 at 2:50 pm |

            I wish I had the chance to have met/seen him in person at least once, if only to see this gargantuan Tibetan guy (this is Chogyam Trungpa and he walking together; I think Trungpa was about 5’7″ or 8″, so I’d imagine Dilgo Khyentse was about 6’6″ or 7″) completely decked out in regalia. Thankfully there are still plentiful words of his to read.

            I’ve kinda wondered recently too if the Mystics from Dark Crystal aren’t based on Dilgo Khyentse; he was large, (as you know) sort of had to hunch over on other people to be able to walk, had long gray/white hair, sort of had a larger nose, (*cough* had a large tail), and was really the perfect person to base that kind of character on, even if the act of doing that is somewhat based in stereotype anyway.

            What’d he say? (by the way)

          2. Cygni
            Cygni July 23, 2015 at 7:16 pm |

            I’ve come across that photo before 🙂
            That’s an interesting Dark Crystal comparison, I can definitely see the similarities, Dilgo Khyentse was an almost prototypical mystic and master, it certainly would have been great to see him in person im sure.
            The details of what was communicated in the dream has faded from memory unfortunately, I think he was giving me some simple advice on some matter, I can still see him in my mind’s eye.

  8. Mumbles
    Mumbles July 22, 2015 at 4:24 pm |

    If you’re going to do MDMA, best go to the source for info, the man (may he R.I.P.) who first synthesized it:


    Back in the day, his books TIHKAL and PIHKAL were a revelation. You can find both online via the link.

  9. intokyo
    intokyo July 22, 2015 at 4:34 pm |

    I don’t know if MDMA made me more “compassionate”, but it did make me a somewhat nicer person, and that wasn’t the result of taking it and sitting around listening to techno. It was the comedown, when the drug wore off and I felt like I was here. I learned a lot from that, and one thing I learned is sometimes a hug isn’t the best response to somebody else who’s having a shitty time. Sometimes it’s best to just let them work the problem out on their own, to trust that they’re a smart enough person to figure things out for themselves.

    But I’m not going to try to church it up with a bunch of Buddhist talk and say that taking a drug is “skillful means” or anything. I recognize that most Buddhists practice for years to get where they are, that Buddhist philosophy and practice have developed over years and years of hard work by extremely talented, hard-working people, and that popping a pill isn’t a miracle cure for your problems. But as far as MDMA is concerned, I took it, it showed me the world in a radically different way from what I was used to, it changed who I was. It was a valuable experience.

    There are a number of kits you can use to test for the purity of MDMA in Ecstasy or Molly, and they often sell them at raves. The rave community isn’t just a bunch of jackasses flailing around to bad European House music. It’s often responsible adults who happen to listen to shitty European House music. I’ve met quite a few of them.

    But I’ve never had a problem with recreational drug use, personally. People have always used drugs, and people are probably always going to use drugs. If someone wants to take a drug and party all night, that’s their business. So long as they don’t get behind the wheel of a car or something like that, they can do what they like.

    Not everyone who manufactures and sells drugs is a crook from some Just Say No PSA. A lot of them are just normal people who are heavy into the drug culture, or are selling drugs to make ends meet. I’ve met drug dealers who refused to sell their products to certain people for their own ethical reasons.

    There are also people who take MDMA with licensed doctors to treat PTSD.
    For example: http://www.mdmaptsd.org/

    Anyway, I don’t do MDMA anymore, or any psychedelics or entheogens really, because there are other, more useful things I can do to feel better and get a much nicer perspective on life. I can do Zazen, I can go to a sitting group, I can listen to a talk on Buddhism. I could just go for a run. I could volunteer my time at a food bank. But I still value the experiences I had when I did MDMA. That’s just me, though.

  10. Rose Moon
    Rose Moon July 22, 2015 at 4:55 pm |

    Thanks Brad for your wise words on this subject. In the early 1980’s I was given MDMA by a psychiatrist before it hit the streets and I have to admit it was the first time I’d ever felt what love was. I’m grateful for that because I was too messed up to know otherwise. The street stuff though is scary, unpredictable, and bad for the physical body. I’m all about sobriety and reality. I love going to 12 step meetings and hanging out with other sober people. We are the ones having the most fun!

  11. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote July 22, 2015 at 5:22 pm |

    I cleaned up my comment from the last thread, and I feel very sober- maybe it was the three fillings:


    1. Mumbles
      Mumbles July 22, 2015 at 6:05 pm |

      “Sometimes that activity of support for the fluid ball feels like this:”

      The empty hand grasps the hoe-handle
      Walking along, I ride the ox
      The ox crosses the wooden bridge
      The bridge is flowing, the water is still

      How so, Mark? I read Fuxi’s poem as very subjective and not at all universal in the sense of something that can make a lot of sense to just anyone; otherwise it is wide open to just any old interpretation. You relate it somehow here again to your theories, Fred seems to think it relates to an experience Brad had once upon a time… I am not convinced that either of you are feeling what Fuxi expressed. Prove me wrong?

      1. Mark Foote
        Mark Foote July 22, 2015 at 8:38 pm |

        Mumbles, try this.

        Bartilink says there’s pressure in what he termed the “fluid ball” of the abdomen, even in just standing around. More so if you are lifting weight (he put something in the abdomen, surgically, to measure it).

        I’m contending that normal resting activity supports pressure in the fluid ball, and the fluid ball supports the spine and the posture in general. So the activity when nothing seems to be doing anything, but I’m upright, supports the fluid ball; something must be doing something.

        How to get a feeling for the fluid ball of the abdomen, in relation to the activity of posture; maybe start with the arms and the hands, imagine someone sitting down to balance a house of cards warming up by shaking it out. Down to the sacrum and an empty hand grasps the hoe handle, roughly.

        If you sit cross-legged, then about 25 minutes in, maybe, look for support for the fluid ball from the left and right calves in alternation, it’s mostly a placement and weight thing that affects the stretch in the ilio-tibial bands but there’s a fascial connector from the quads to stretch the bands above the knees so the hams and the quads are involved and it feels like breathing through the legs; walking along, riding the ox.

        At about 30 minutes in or 35, the stretch across behind the sacrum with the legs and the gluts and the tensor fascias involved allows the left and right of the PC to support the fluid ball, everything is wound up in the balance, the ox crosses the wooden bridge.

        The cessation of habitual activity in the movement of breath, the freedom of the location of awareness to shift around, like the rest really can’t be done, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. The bridge is flowing, the water is still, the fluid ball has support from all over. If the freedom of the location of awareness to shift around responds to the comprehension of the long or short of inhalation or exhalation in support of the fluid ball, everything but the comprehension of breath is background; one aspect of the sixteen in Gautama’s way of life.

        for Grand Canyon:


        1. Mumbles
          Mumbles July 23, 2015 at 5:04 am |

          So, if I’m understanding you correctly (that would be amazing!) on the one hand you have a poetic, koan-like explanation for something someone once thought of or experienced (Fuxi), and on the other you have found a way to adapt or interpret this poem/insight by overlaying your own conceptual theory, relating it to meditation practice but really observing physical responses and have decided that’s what it “means” (to you). I think (after all it’s your opinion, now here’s mine, right?) it’s a beautiful interpretation, Mark, while at the same time know from personal experience how dangerous this can be. It can lead to thinking you’ve “figured it all out.” But then you have to ask yourself, what was it I was trying to understand? And why? What motivates this? Peace, brother.

  12. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote July 22, 2015 at 5:23 pm |

    I always wanted to see something like this, but I never did, and I’m not willing to do anything with atropine so I’m sure I never will (except in the clouds):


    1. Fred
      Fred July 22, 2015 at 5:48 pm |



      Eyes closed visual hallucinations for 11 days

    1. Fred
      Fred July 22, 2015 at 5:57 pm |

      Look at this and repeat

      “I am dropping the body-mind”


      Caution – if things start to get fucked up, stop doing it.

  13. crystallizingchaos
    crystallizingchaos July 22, 2015 at 6:06 pm |

    I agree with your conclusion, but I didn’t buy this argument – “The fact that I’d need to do so much preparation indicates to me that maybe I’d be doing something that’s kind of dangerous and probably not actually good for me.”

    This would apply to anything that required preparation and safety precautions, like mountain climbing, bungee jumping or even driving, all of which are considered entirely okay things to do by almost everyone.

  14. sean
    sean July 22, 2015 at 9:59 pm |

    I’ve always appreciated your perspective on drugs/psychedelics and Buddhism as it’s really hit home for me personally. I’ve done my fair share of psychedelics, as well as other drugs, and have been in recovery for a while. I started doing a lot of that stuff also on a “spiritual journey” of sorts, as well as just to enhance my reality, the way I played/heard music, to have more fun, etc. I used to have this acid dealer who prided himself on only selling acid to people who used it the “right way.” Gradually I became someone who just used it to get fucked up rather than seek spiritual revelations or whatever.

    I think more so than whether or not taking these sorts of drugs are good/bad (for lack of better words), it’s more important to know and cultivate the self-awareness of how they affect oneself. I definitely had all sorts of mind-expanding experiences that may have opened my mind in ways. Some of those ways may have been beneficial, while others have left me in extremely strange states that I was not prepared for and still suffer effects from today.

    At the end of the day, for me at least, pursuing my Zen practice compared to pursuing psychedelic usage are very very different paths. When I was into drugs, I had this idea that it was all about trying to “expand” reality, experience other dimensions, release various unconcious aspects of my personality, see things more truly/clearly, maximize sensation, unleash creativity, and just get really twisted to be honest. I came to find out that aiming for those things is just another way of being attached to some fantasy, idea, or substance to make me feel ok or more whole. Eventually I found myself feeling like I needed to do psychedelics (even when I was more into other drugs like opiates/benzos later on) at least every once and a while to reconnect with this feeling of being “home” in a way. Like it helped me put things back in perspective.

    To me, my Zen practice is not about trying to seek some other dimension of reality that I don’t normally experience, make music sound cooler, be able to play the piano better, expand my mind, or anything like that. In hind-sight, seeking shit like that really only brought me eventual pain, suffering, dissatisfaction, and unfulfillment. My practice today is about embracing reality at this moment, the beauty of the mundane aspects of life, and recognizing/accepting the fulfillment of the “dimensions” of reality that I experience right now in a non-tripping-balls state.
    I’m not gonna lie, I’ve had some great experiences on acid, mushrooms, saliva (which was actually my favorite for a while), ecstasy, molly, all that stuff. But it was all so fleeting.

    In my eyes, there’s really not much difference to me between seeking that spiritual expansion through acid or ecstasy to make me happy and say seeking more and more money or expensive cars or heroin or whatever your thing is to make oneself happy. To each their own though of course. Not that there’s anything wrong with any of that stuff, but it definitely doesn’t fit in with my practice. And this may sound ignorant but I do find a lot of those spiritual psychedelic user types are just phony assholes rationalizing their excessive drug use. Ecstasy is pretty fun though, very superficial though. sorry to take this in a whole different direction but in these gung-ho psychedlic users eyes, what separates psychedelics so much from other drugs? in all honesty, i found heroin to be the most “spiritual” for lack of a better word. why are some drugs looked on as ok and not others?

  15. room101
    room101 July 23, 2015 at 1:31 am |

    During my 20s when I was young and stupid mushroom and cannabis desperado, I remember the first Buddhist talk I attended. It was a lecture of Lama Ole Nidal in Sofia. At certain point he begun to rave against LSD which he had used excessively with his wife prior to traveling to India and getting into Tibetan Buddhism. It was very lame and a sheer absurdity f0r the obvious reason that without psychedelics his life story may have very well be that he ends up as a bank clerk or selling shoes instead of giving us a lecture on the nature of the mind.

    Back then I made a firm vow that I will never betray so cheaply the psychedelics though at the time I was already starting to perceive some of the wacky sides of this type of consciousnesses exploration.
    Now that I have totally abandoned any types of drugs beside coffee and sugar, and in the light of my sobriety and years of sitting, I see more clearly than ever the goofy sides of the psychedelics. Nevertheless, I still totally stand behind my vow. Psychedelics can be awesome in many ways for a lot of folks. Personally, I just think it is foolish to do drugs because they interfere with my shikantaza. However, I would have never started this idiotic wall gazing without having my mind totally blown out by those substances and witnessing some sublime states. Not only I would have never started practicing zazen without my first mushroom experience, but it is totally unlikely I would have continued beyond the first 3-4 years of sitting after which it was more or less clear that my practice does me a lot of good.

    As for the arguments of Brad, I find them strangely unreasonable for him. He begins how the fifth precept should be put aside and ends his piece how it is against this precept after all:)

    I only once tried MDMA. It was a present for New Year from a Dutch fellow with whom I was studying anthropology in Leiden. The experience was quite revealing. Anyway, the point is that at least in the Netherlands, those type of drugs are not circulated among the rave scene only. They are oftentimes distributed for free among friends and there are a bunch of places where you can go and test the shit which is also free of charge and without fearing imprisonment . But hey, that is Holland. The bottom line is that the purity and the malign nature of this market is also not a solid argument but an issue that has to be considered depending on your circumstances and whereabouts . And finally, I find the argument that the rave kids doing Extasy did not turn out to be embodiments of Avalokitesvara to be totally phoney. Many people who meditate remain total jerks also. That does not invalidate meditation per se. It is like LSD and Jimmy Hendrix – not every one who drops acid will be able to play Villanova Junction and Are You Experienced but lets face it, the influence of the psychedelics on Jimmy is there and it wouldn’t have been the same without those drugs.
    Yet I agree that the proponents of psychedelics should focus their minds more on the dark side of their drug practice. I think that may come about when those substances are made legal.

  16. Michel
    Michel July 23, 2015 at 1:54 am |

    Oh! That video really doesn’t incite you to drop that, does it?

  17. Andy
    Andy July 23, 2015 at 3:48 am |

    The youtube video Fed posted induced a nice effect on Van Gogh’s Sunflowers. Cheers.

    This made me smile: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WCcxwieuDH0

  18. sri_barence
    sri_barence July 23, 2015 at 9:41 am |

    On “Set and Setting:” SET refers to your mindset going into the trip. If you are already in a state of anxiety or depression, or some other “negative” state, your trip will reflect that state. So you have to be mentally ready. SETTING refers to your immediate physical surroundings. You should be in a comfortable, safe place. There should be clean water available, and supportive people around.

    Even with the right set and setting, it is still possible to have a bad trip. Caveat emptor. From Wikipedia:


  19. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote July 23, 2015 at 10:52 am |

    “It can lead to thinking you’ve “figured it all out.”’- Mumbles, at 5:04am

    I’m aware of that. I am excited, mostly by the way my activity seems to coordinate around that “fluid ball”.

    This morning I realized that a key part of what I am experiencing is the practice I got with finding pitch, yaw, and roll right where I am, when I first stumbled on that. Without that, the heart-mind doesn’t stay around the tan-t’ien. I rewrote my piece, again, to be sure to say so.

    And thanks for asking about it, John. I really appreciate it. We’ll see how it goes from here, I’m fully expecting everything to be topsy-turvy in no time and sometimes those manifestations of activity are not exactly without stretch and involuntary loss of sensory orientation. Sort of like being st*ned on the cosmic dance floor…

  20. mika
    mika July 23, 2015 at 12:29 pm |

    I’ve never done any drugs other than alcohol and pot once or twice when I was young. After reading some recent research into using psychedelics in treating mental disorders by guided trips I have to admit I am a bit curious about the experience and would possibly want to try it if an opportunity presented itself. But I hold many of the same caveats as Brad does for acquiring such substances (and those have been the main reason why I probably never took any, that and not really hanging around in circles where such things were readily available). Perhaps if it becomes legal for psychologists to use these things and they start to offer it in a controlled environment I’d try it once just to see what all the fuzz is about.

    A question for Brad though, regarding your stance on drugs and the 5th precept, do you abstain from alcohol (and other drugs) completely or just try to limit your intake so you stay more or less sober? Or do you?

  21. iHateZazen
    iHateZazen July 23, 2015 at 6:23 pm |

    Just my two cents, but the reason I don’t think drug use doesn’t equal Zen is that Zen isn’t about striving for a height experience. Zen is about cold, hard reality (here and now) not fantasizing about your next fix or about obsessing about some previous experience.

    1. Oh Matty Blue
      Oh Matty Blue July 24, 2015 at 1:04 pm |


      (I didn’t get that comment about “60” until just now)

  22. Alan Sailer
    Alan Sailer July 23, 2015 at 7:49 pm |

    I like this discussion and can find little to strongly disagree with, either in Brad’s essay and the comments following. It’s a complicated subject and there are a lot of ways to be right.

    Years ago I attended a talk at BurningMan with Ann and Alexander Shulgin. It was interesting to hear them in a lively question and answer session. I admire their courage in publishing the details of his research in PHIKAL and TIHKAL but I’m not sure if it was a good idea…


    1. Cygni
      Cygni July 23, 2015 at 9:02 pm |

      TIHKAL #1 AL-LAD 200 ug + M1 + Vulnicurna = Genie in Space * * *^^π∆

  23. Used-rugs
    Used-rugs July 23, 2015 at 8:01 pm |

    “I’m not fully straight-edge anymore.” -Brad Warner

    At least you’re honest. Only a charlatan could listen to a band like this while completely sober. That’s like watching a 3D movie without your glasses. But anyway, freedom from craving, everything in moderation, yada yada yada, middle way whatever:


  24. Michel
    Michel July 23, 2015 at 11:29 pm |

    As I don’t intend to renounce wine at meals, which is pretty standard in France, I just set myself the “driving limit”. That is, I should not have drunk so much that, if controlled, I’d be stopped and given a fine (and eventually having my driving licence taken away).
    But I do have decided to abstain getting wasted!

  25. Stuey
    Stuey July 24, 2015 at 8:34 am |

    I can’t believe that people are still trying to sell the same old Timothy Leary crap and getting away with it. I think the main issue with mind altering drugs is … obviously….that they alter your mind. If anybody thinks that putting an unknown substance into their body that could contain anything, bought from a drug dealer is going to change their life for the better they should remember, you cannot be deceived. It will probably change your life if you take drugs, not for the better though, its amazing the risks people will take with their own mental health on the advice of some idiot giving the impression he knows what he’s doing. Really, you cannot be deceived, is sitting Zazen too hard?

    1. Cygni
      Cygni July 24, 2015 at 11:54 am |

      Meditation practice is not without its risks as well. One should know the dangers before getting involved in any activity.


  26. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote July 24, 2015 at 9:37 am |

    Zen is about cold, hard reality (here and now) not fantasizing about your next fix or about obsessing about some previous experience.

    I agree, for the most part, but I think there’s a reason we have such a detailed record, first from Gautama the Buddha (via the memorization skills of members of the order, and particularly of Ananda, his cousin), and second from the Chan teachers in China, particularly Yuanwu with his “Blue Cliff Record”.

    It’s similar to the record of modern organic chemistry, if you ask me, although I’m no chemist. What I mean is that the modern chemist can follow a procedure to produce a substance and verify that the substance has been produced.

    The Ancestor said, “What is it that comes like this?”
    The Master was without means [to answer].
    After attending [the Ancestor] for eight years, he finally understood the previous conversation. Thereupon, he announced to the Ancestor, “I’ve understood what you put to me when I first came: ‘What is it that comes like this?’”
    The Ancestor asked, “How do you understand it?”
    The Master replied, “To say it’s like anything wouldn’t hit it.”
    The Ancestor said, “Then is it contingent on practice and verification?”
    The Master answered, “Practice and verification are not nonexistent; they’re not to be defiled.”

    (Soto Zen Text Project, © Sotoshu Shumucho 2005, “Treasury of the Eye of the True Dharma”, Shobogenzo, Book 13, “Ocean Seal Samadhi”, Kaiin zanmai, translated by Carl Bielefeldt with Michael Radich)

    When I find the place where I am, practice occurs, actualizing the fundamental point; ok, and the Gautamid’s way of life in the rainy season looks like McMindfulness to most people, but still occurs as practice, still actualizes the fundamental point. Trick is, I can’t make practice occur, and exactly when I find the place where I am is not entirely under my control, either.

    I’m driving toward saying, Gautama had some scientific method going on in there, mixed up with other things; I think the same is true for Zen. Is it useful to look down at the tracks?- Shunryu Suzuki warned against it, but I appear to have lacked the talent to master sitting the lotus even once a day without exercising the gray cells.

    Are there things that can be said that might be useful to someone? Apparently, or a lot of people have wasted a lot of time, preserving (or attempting to destroy) the words that have been passed down. Is there a Gestalt that no one can make happen for me, involving the senses (including equalibrioception and proprioception), for which the words of the ancestors and my own investigation might prepare the soil? For which, even peach blossoms or the sound of a tile hitting bamboo might be sufficient?

    When we let go of our minds and cast aside our views and understandings the Way will be actualized. One sage clarified True Mind (Reality) when he saw peach blossoms and another realized the Way when he heard the sound of tile hitting a bamboo. They attained the way through their bodies. Therefore, when we completely cast aside our thoughts and views and practice shikantaza, we will become intimate with the way… This is why I encourage you to practice zazen wholeheartedly.

    (“Shobogenzo-zuimonki”, sayings recorded by Koun Ejo, translated by Shohaku Okumura, 2-26, pg 107-108, ©2004 Sotoshu Shumucho)

  27. mtto
    mtto July 24, 2015 at 12:14 pm |

    Howdy Folks,

    The site is migrating again, and I’ve found a real WordPress consultant to fix any problems that come up. Hopefully those of you with long load times will be flying fast in a few days. Yea!

    In the short term, the site may or may not go dark for some period of time (minutes?) Maybe if you post a comment at just the wrong time (at the immediate moment of transition?), it won’t make the migration?

    Also, a reminder that there are spam filters on this site. Occasionally, your real, non-spambot comment will get marked as spam by the plugins. I will approve your comment when I see it, but you will have to wait some number of hours. Please do not complain to Brad; it won’t help. I do check the spam filter almost every day. Thanks for your practice of Kṣānti pāramitā, (patience.)

    1. anon 108
      anon 108 July 24, 2015 at 4:39 pm |

      Hi mtto,
      So it was you who found my comment of a couple days ago in the spam box and posted it for me? Thanks. If not, thanks…for the other stuff.

  28. Mumbles
    Mumbles July 24, 2015 at 3:20 pm |

    This is welcome news, mtto, thanks for the update. Fingers are crossed…

  29. anon 108
    anon 108 July 24, 2015 at 5:16 pm |

    While I’m here..

    I don’t do psychedelic drugs because:

    I can’t find any. Or rather, I’m not so desperate that I’m motivated to locate a reliable source. Nevertheless, I do want to access three or four further mild but meaningful psychotropic entertainments before I die.

    I’m going to a party tomorrow. I’m told there’ll be pot. Im going to smoke some, most likely after I’ve loosened up with (just enough) sangria. Worked a treat last time.

  30. Dharmahuasca
    Dharmahuasca July 24, 2015 at 8:12 pm |

    Unlike Brad I do integrate the use of psychedelic medicine, primarily Ayahuasca/Santo Daime, with my Buddhist Dhamma practice. Yet, I agree with many of the points he has made in his written comments and on the webinar.

    The topic of psychedelics and Buddhism is complex. What I would like to note at the moment is that there is a fair amount of new research into the therapeutic potential of psychedelics. At the moment they are being investigated, with good initial results, for their effects on PTSD in veterans returning from Afghanistan and Iraq as well as victims of sexual trauma; on anxiety in fourth stage cancer patients; on nicotine addiction and soon on alcoholism. There have been and continue to be a number of studies on their effects on spirituality.

    I have a friend who was a alcoholic and opiate addict for 20 years. He used Ayahuasca-at first self brewed and then in the context of the Santo Daime- along with AA to get and keep himself sober. He now helps other alcoholic and addicts to do the same.

    Psychedelics first came into our culture through interest in their therapeutic applications and as tools for phenomenological and cognitive research. (Military and intelligence agencies also had an interest in seeing if they could “weaponize” them. They discovered they couldn’t with any reliable efficacy.) When their use became widespread and politicized during the 60’s they became victims of a cultural war. Now after several decades mainstream science is once again studying them.

    These new initiatives in psychedelic research also comes at a time of a growing interest in our culture about the use of Ayahuasca and other plant based and synthetic substances. This interest involves how they may possibly enhance, empower and contribute to healing, therapy-self understanding, spirituality, aesthetic/intellectual inquiry and the well being of oneself and others.

    Of course some people have an interest in being inebriated with various degrees of benign to tragic consequences. And not all sincere efforts at exploration are done with the needed amount of clarity and care.

    The question of how they may be of value (or not) in Dhamma practice is part of the broader, global cultural conversation. I will write more about my own process of integrating them in this comment section if it appears it will be of value.

  31. Conrad
    Conrad July 24, 2015 at 10:16 pm |

    The most useful aspect of using mind-altering substances is the understanding it can offer that all of human life is a chemically-induced experience. Everything about it is the product of chemicals in the brain, body, and nervous system operating just so. Disrupt that even a little bit, and things get very different pretty fast. It might be blissful, it might be scary, but it shows just how fragile and chemically dependent our human experience is.

    The few times I tried them, the most useful part of the experience wasn’t what changed, but what didn’t. There’s a basic awareness that doesn’t change at all, that doesn’t get high, that doesn’t get low, that doesn’t get scared, that doesn’t get blissful, that doesn’t get affected in any way by the chemistry of the brain. That was very interesting to see. Not that I hadn’t seen that before, I had, it was even the basis of my meditation and practice. But it was still very interesting to see the principle so dramatically demonstrated. Not that you need that kind of demonstration, but to me it’s what stood out, and what I took away from it all.

  32. room101
    room101 July 25, 2015 at 6:09 am |


    It is interesting how you manage to integrate entheogens with the Dharma practice. I wrote in this thread that psychedelics can be splendid for a lot of people in many ways. It has worked miracles for me (though with some degree of trade-off). However, I still do think this is completely separate human activity than meditation for example and meaningful comparison between the two is more or less futile. With time, to my suprise, more and more I begin to side with the Buddhist camp that regards regular psychedelic explorations as counterproductive to the practice and should be avoided.

    Peace to everyone!

  33. The Grand Canyon
    The Grand Canyon July 25, 2015 at 3:05 pm |

    Donkeys cross over.
    Horses cross over.
    Cross over.
    Cross over!

  34. kvltcat
    kvltcat July 26, 2015 at 12:11 am |

    I am an experienced user of psychedelics, and I’m also a Buddhist. I wanna first talk about my “drug history”, then we can go into my discovery of Buddhism and spirituality.

    Basically, I started smoking cannabis (pot, weed, ganja) when I was 15 (way too young in my opinion), and I still smoke very often. At 18, I had my first genuine experience with psilocybin mushrooms. Same year, I also used LSD and MDMA, and in the past I had tried Salvia. I used to take a number of different pills and drink alcohol, however, I quit doing both these things. For good.

    Ever since I was 15, I began to question the Catholicism I was raised with. That’s pretty normal, right? I’m sure all of us have questioned the religion we were raised with, and chose either to leave it or stick with it. I developed a fondness for Eastern thought, specifically Buddhism, which really stuck out to me. I battled with it for a few years, I had some trouble accepting doctrines on reincarnation and bodhisattva and such, but as the days go by and my meditation practice continues, it all seems more clear to me. When I was 18 and had my first experience with “shrooms”, that was it. That was the defining moment that led me to Buddhism. I have always been a believer that natural drugs that grow on the Earth can definitely provide some insight into our minds and show us things about ourselves. I remember coming to the realization that I was actually a Buddhist all along; for the past few years, I had followed ahimsa (not even killing insects), I maintained a vegetarian diet, and still do, followed the Noble Eightfold Path, and read up on Buddhist teachings for fun. Some other personal insights happened, all of which led me to pick up some books and start really learning how to be a Buddhist.

    Here’s the thing; I understand the Buddh’s fifth precept, and I am sure it pertains to all possible drugs. But the thing is, who’s to say the Buddha himself didn’t have insights based on this experience? As a believer that these things can teach us, show us truths, seeing how active and widespread the use of psilocybin was in India at the time, perhaps the Buddha himself may have ingested this. Not to ‘blaspheme’ or anything, but the possibility is there, and in my view, it wouldn’t take away from Buddhism in any way. In fact, it would make it even more human than it already is.

    Regarding Brad’s negative experiences, that is an understandable reason to say “I don’t want to do this anymore.” Hell, the fifth precept alone is enough to say “no, not for me.” But if someone is interested in spiritual exploration that involves the use of psychedelics, they are no less of a Buddhist than Thich Nhat Hanh, the Dalai Lama, or whoever else. I know this is not Brad’s point at all. But I have also had negative experiences from LSD, and I’ve found that these negative experiences are reflections on guilt and things in my life or about myself that maybe need to be changed. The chemical is just making it easier for you to see that.

  35. Shinchan Ohara
    Shinchan Ohara July 26, 2015 at 11:03 am |

    I have nothing to add.

    … but Conrad has a point. Entheogens can be a rapid way to get clear on the fundamental featureless features of experience qua experience.

    quaquaquaquaquaqua experience.


    1. Dog Star
      Dog Star July 26, 2015 at 11:20 am |
  36. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote July 26, 2015 at 3:07 pm |

    Thanks, Dog Star- that is hitting the spot!

    “One might talk about, discuss about, what does it mean to be ‘enlightened’. It is something to do with going back to, going back to what you actually are. It’s not like what you become. That’s an idea. It’s not some day, or somewhere from this place, from what you are. And sitting in meditation, being who you are, is something to do with this facing to your own true figure. Not made up or taught or wished to be.”- Kobun Chino Otogawa

    I made it down to Jikoji for the 13th memorial of Kobun’s passing (I know you all would have been there if you could have been, ha ha). Got to hear a recording of the lecture the above quote came from. By the end of the question and answer on the recording, I was sitting easy, such was the energy of the man on the recording.

    mtto, I’d like to thank you for your work on behalf of Brad and his troupe of monkeys (of which I am one). You are in for barrels of laughs, should you accept the next assignment, a little challenge that Google created for us all a few months back (with no fanfare that I am aware of):


  37. Dharmahuasca
    Dharmahuasca July 26, 2015 at 6:41 pm |

    Greetings Room 101,

    For me the fundamental questions are: Can psychedelics support ones well being? Can they empower and enliven ones life expereince? If so can they also play a role in being a positive force in ones dhamma practice?

    I can’t quite relate to your sentiments when you wrote: “I still do think this is completely separate human activity than meditation for example and meaningful comparison between the two is more or less futile.”

    I will make a first attempt to explain what I mean. Forgive my tone if it comes off as lecturing. Its a stylistic strategy to try to bring clarity to my own thought.

    I’m not comparing the use of psychedelics to meditation practice. I am asserting that they can support ones well being, be empowering and enlivening and be a positive force in dhamma practice.

    Meditation is one aspect of dhamma practice. An absolutely fundamental and key practice. Yet, it is not a singular endeavor: It involves, at least, cultivating mindfulness, concentration and wise effort.
    Nor does it exist outside of an integrative and embodied path which includes among other things: ethical conduct and right speech; discernment and clarity of views; the sublime heartfelt attitudes of goodwill/lovingkindness, compassion, appreciative joy, equanimity; the paramis of generosity, patience, honesty, renunciation etc. One can of course add too and combine these with other terms and concepts from the various Buddhist schools (I am oriented to the Pali based traditions).

    My assertion is that psychedelic medicines can be used as therapeutic tools-both in a formal and more general sense- to help us understand, untangle, be released from and dissolve some of the cognitive-emotive-somatic blocks and conditionings that give rise to afflicted aspects of our self identity and behaviors. They can also give a sense of breadth, depth and vision to our life experience which can be empowering and enlivening. These aspects can help one in relating to their personal experience, in relationships and with the world at large. This can nurture the ground in which dhamma practice is cultivated.

    More than that when using a psychedelic medicine one can engage in specific dhamma practices like anapanasati and the sublime attitudes to both ground the psychedelic experience and allow the energetic, intuitive and psyche manifesting qualities of the medicine to enhance, inform and deepen those practices.

    Yet, no substance can replace or be compared to Bodhi Dhamma.
    Psychedelics are not a path. Not even a practice. They can be a tool. They can also be a hindrance depending on how one approaches them.

    Another very serious issue is that when we speak of “psychedelics” we are being way to broad. Which specific psychedelics? At what dose? In what context, set and setting?

    LSD is not Ayahuasca is not MDMA is not Psilocybin is not Peyote and so forth. 10ml of Ayahuasca if quite different from 60ml. 50mcg of LSD is quite different from 250mcg and so forth. Taking LSD or psilocybin at a concert, alternative festival or at home is not the same thing as using Ayahuasca in the context of a curandero ceremony or the Santo Daime. Taking MDMA with a therapist to treat PTSD is very different from taking it at a rave. And so forth.

    I’m going on in this manner to illustrate that there are a multitude of issues involved with trying to understand and discuss this topic. Again forgive me if I’ve over extended myself in some ways.

  38. Mumbles
    Mumbles July 26, 2015 at 7:36 pm |

    I think I dropped this here lately but it’s appropriate down on the bottom here I think, see what you think…


  39. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote July 26, 2015 at 10:02 pm |

    Something more from the alchemical muddle in Mark’s brain, vis-a-vis the 13th memorial service in the open space preserve on Skyline above Los Gatos and Santa Cruz:

    ‘I got to hear a recording of one of Kobun Chino Otogawa’s lectures over the weekend. He said:

    “… mind sits, as body sits, as breathing sits. We don’t know which comes first. Any of those can come first. Usually mind sits first…”

    To me, the mind that sits is the heart-mind, and my heart-mind feels at home when my vestibular sense comes into play right where I am; that to me is the mind sitting. The body sits as proprioception comes into play, and the placement and weight of the body “with no part left out” supports pressure in the fluid ball of the abdomen. The breath sits as the natural comprehension of the long or short of inhalation or exhalation comes into play, rendering the distinction of sense and the relaxation of activity autonomic.

    True enough, that any of these can come first.’

    (“Donkeys cross over, horses cross over”, here)

  40. room101
    room101 July 27, 2015 at 4:06 am |

    Dear Dharmahuasca,

    I thank you for your attempt to bring clarity to your position. Actually I agree with a lot of what you write. It is obvious that there are a lot of different psychedelics and great variety of ways and contexts to use them. From brain washing (MK-Ultra, Shoko Asahara, Charlie Menson) to just having a good time, or as you point out – a theraputic tool.

    I’ve never tried LSD due to concerns of the shit that I’ll ingest along with the acid. Cross cultural research consistantly shows that since the 70s never have been pure acid on the streets. So for those of you who think you tried acid, think twice. God knows what you got into your system but it is almost 100 per cent that it was not LSD but some close resemblence at the very best.

    Also I have never taken ayahuasca. So I am not in a position to pass thoroughly informed judgment on those substances. However, I assume there can be some common ground when we discuss these chemical agents. And for me there are a few subtle but fundamental ontological problems in regularly using psychedelics for “enlivening and empowring ones life” as far as dharma practice is concerned.

    First, I’ll try to illustrate very important problematic aspect of doing drugs with my initial powerful insight that I ought to stop smoking pot on a regular basis. One beautiful day in the springtime I was walking down the street under some blossoming plum trees when suddenly a gust of wind swirled myriads of blossoms in the air. I stoped and begun to observe this fascinating white curtain graciously spiralling around me. It was very beautiful. Then a feeling occured that I should have been stoned to fully appreciate the moment, which was followed by disapointment and regrets. Later, when I examined honestly that this “enlivening and empowering” of my life that I recieve through the high of cannabis just creates entanglements and cravings of its own that prevent me to appreciate life when I am not enlivened and empowered by the substance. I think you can get the point. For me that is also the major difference from zazen peak experiences and drug experiences I’ve had.

    My several mushroom ecstasies, though they cleared a lot of personal shit from the past (including what appeared to be some prenatal and birth struggles and traumas ) always left me coveting to return to those heights. And later I always repaid for this high with some depressive episodes usually feeling how misserable I am at the moment.

    On the other hand, the first profound “aha” experience while sitting was followed by intention to dismiss it as soon as possible so I can continue with the practice, which further led to spontaneus moments of clarity or total contentment within the moment. Watching a leaf fall and that is marvelous in itself, taking a shit in the toilet how glorious is that, etc. And I regard that this is a fundamental pillar of dharma practice – to be fully present within what you have in front of your nose as it is. I am afraid that drugs either lead one further away from that or at the very least do not foster such attitude at all. I hope this does not sound paternalizing. I am just sharing my experience and thoughts on the subject. People are different and from aspirin to MDMA, every drug addresses the user’s nervous system individually after all.


    1. Fred
      Fred July 27, 2015 at 11:50 am |

      “More than that when using a psychedelic medicine one can engage in specific dhamma practices like anapanasati and the sublime attitudes to both ground the psychedelic experience and allow the energetic, intuitive and psyche manifesting qualities of the medicine to enhance, inform and deepen those practices.”

      This is thought delusion.

      Take a large dose of ketamine and see if you can even find your ass.

      1. Fr3d
        Fr3d July 27, 2015 at 1:51 pm |

        I have dropped body and mind. It’s super awesome.

        The empty hand grasps the hoe handle
        Walking along, I ride the ox
        The ox crosses the wooden bridge
        The bridge is flowing, the water is still

        1. Alan Sailer
          Alan Sailer August 4, 2015 at 1:36 pm |

          “The bridge is flowing, the water is still”.

          Last week I was out backpacking in the Sierra Nevada range. A beautiful sunny day and I was resting next to a small pond that was rippling in the breeze. For a fraction of a second I was startled to see the bank of the pond rippling and the pond still.

          It was kind of fun after it was over.

          It was the same sort of thing one can see when sitting in a stationary train when another train passes by.

          Frame of reference, baby.


  41. Cygni
    Cygni July 27, 2015 at 1:39 pm |

    From my own experience, I used to approach a psychedelic experience, particularly a high dose psilocybin experience, as a dress rehearsal for death. So the Bardo dissolution type practices can be paralleled if you have a yogic propensity along those lines. Probably part of the reason some people fear psychedelics in out culture is related to our fears of death and an unwillingness to look directly into those areas of ourselves. This is an important dimension of the psychedelic experience, so its nice to see the end of life anxiety studies happening.

    1. Fred
      Fred July 27, 2015 at 3:00 pm |

      “This is an important dimension of the psychedelic experience, so its nice to see the end of life anxiety studies happening.”

      It’s a crock of shit.

      “So the Bardo dissolution type practices can be paralleled if you have a yogic propensity along those lines.”

      This is even farther far out deludedness, feeding into your suicidal impulses.

      1. Fr3d
        Fr3d July 27, 2015 at 3:28 pm |

        I am not deluded. I have dropped body and mind. The wisdom it gave me is so awesome. I’ve been verified.

        “I” am here on the internet to set “you” all straight.

        The empty hand grasps the hoe handle
        Walking along, I ride the ox
        The ox crosses the wooden bridge
        The bridge is flowing, the water is still

    2. mb
      mb July 27, 2015 at 3:21 pm |

      And of course the famous “The Psychedelic Experience” book by Leary, Alpert and Metzner was an “instruction manual” for precisely that use of psychedelics.

      A Manual Based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead

      I once tried to be my “own set and setting” by underlining pertinent passages in this book in advance of actually dropping acid by myself when I was staying at a family vacation cabin in the mountains in the early ’70s. However, I soon found that the underlines took on a life of their own!

  42. Cygni
    Cygni July 27, 2015 at 4:53 pm |

    Yeah, I read “The Psychedelic Experience” back around the same time I started taking psychedelics, when I was fifteen. I had a copy of the Walter Evans-Wentz translation in high school, when I was twenty I ‘switched’ to the more authentic Trungpa/Fremantle translation. I still appreciate the psychedelic version, I picked up a used soft cover copy at some point for nostalgic reasons. I’d recommend the “The First Complete Translation” version that came out around five years ago, the introduction by the Dalai Lama is worth a read in itself. Again, this is down the Vajrayana path more than the Zen thing.


  43. Dharmahuasca
    Dharmahuasca July 27, 2015 at 6:46 pm |

    Greetings Room 101 (and anyone else interested in the conversation)

    Thanks for engaging in the dialog.

    I think you are right on with your observations about the possibility of people developing problematic attachments to substances psychedelic and otherwise. Cannabis is tricky because while it can be a good medicine for a variety of conditions and while it can enhance certain aspects of our experience it certainly can become an attachment, a habit and even an addiction.

    To me it can also sometimes muddy clarity and create too much diffuse and divergent thought/feeling after initially enhancing basic cognitive-emotive-somatic awareness.

    The key question to me- and not just about psychedelics but about any of our actions, feelings, thoughts and inclinations- is: Does this support or hinder my life and practice? The more refined ones awareness becomes the more nuanced ones understanding is of whether it is a help or hindrances.

    When you wrote about your experiences with psilocybin you mentioned what you felt was their positive therapeutic effects while at the same time you related both your desire and attachment to return to the ecstatic heights and the depressive episodes later on when you were back in the valley of daily life (my characterization).

    This too can be a serious problem. One can of course crave and become attached to of all kinds of experiences. Sex, drugs, rock and roll for sure but also food, classical music, the wilderness, mediation retreats, books, online forums….

    Yet, something that has immediate and direct psychopharmacological effects has even more potential for attachment and craving because of the intimacy of the experience and, in the case of psychedelics, the way they can hold, weave together and illuminate any given phenomenon.

    This can be especially true when psychedelic medicines are not being used in the context of a community, with guidance and a context of ongoing spiritual practice (though even that isn’t a guarantee from attachment and craving to these agents).

    In the latter part of your post you seemed to be comparing what is experienced on psychedelics to mediation and finding the former wanting. I understand your view in the context you are writing it. Yet, I want to emphasize I am not comparing psychedelics to Buddhist Dhamma any more than I would compare holotropic breath work or sound healing to Buddhist Dhamma. Again psychedelics can be tools that support Dhamma practice in the same way that breath work, sound healing, yoga and psychotherapy can.

    Yet I realize this is bit too facile because those modalities more often than not involve participating with another person or persons in a creative embodied relationship. With a psychedelic you can of course simply take it and something will happen. Yet, this is why I say they are not in and of themselves a path or even a practice. But it can be a tool.

    In my view to be a useful too in Dhamma practice one needs to be engaged to various degrees in practices/inquiries like, well, breath work, sound healing, yoga, psychotherapy and so forth (of course all those things can support ones Dhamma practice without ever using a psychedelic). And most importantly one needs to have a solid Dhamma practice grounded in tradition and community. That could take a number of forms yet having a teacher and a sangha is key (and again this is true regardless of any engagement of psychedelics).

    Ayahuasca is the primary medicine that I integrate with my Dhamma practice (and let me reiterate that it is Dhamma that is primary not the medicine). While Ayahuasca is a indole tryptamine it is very different from its indole cousins psilocybin and LSD. It is different both because it is an admixture of two plants (sometimes more in curandero traditions) with two psychopharmacological agents. It is also different in the way and timing it came into our culture. And it is different because it has a long history of shamanic/healing use and at least a century of use in disciplined spiritual practices like the Santo Daime and UDV both who have won the legal right to use it in the US.

    I will write more about how Ayahuasca specifically relates to my Dhamma practice tomorrow.
    (BTW I am trying to multi task writing this post while listening and commenting in the Webinar that Brad was featured on last week. I hope that hasn’t muddled this post too much).

    1. Shodo
      Shodo July 28, 2015 at 6:43 am |

      I am interested in this conversation.

      What is it do you think Ayahuasca gives you that inhances Dharma practice?

      Whenever I hear someone go into specifics, it seems that it’s more about therapy. “I want to look at my demons… but I don’t wanna spend a lot of money on a therapist” sort of thing.
      What is it *specifically* about it that relates to practice of buddhadharma?

      Here’s a somewhat funny video about Ayahuasca (along with some “specifics” of the benifits that I’ve heard given.) 😉


      (His video on “How to choose a Guru” is pretty funny too.)

  44. Dharmahuasca
    Dharmahuasca July 27, 2015 at 7:33 pm |

    PS A key part of your post was contrasting Ah Ha moments with clarity, contentment and being present with whatever is at hand. I mean to address this important point in the context of Dhamma practice and psychedelics.

  45. Dharmahuasca
    Dharmahuasca July 28, 2015 at 7:55 am |


    I don’t have much time at them moment so I’ll give you a short answer (as I indicated I am writing longer response specifically about Ayahuasca and Dhamma)

    The therapeutic aspects of Ayahuasca in and of themselves are supportive of our Dhamma practice. To whatever extent you can clear up, come to terms with, cleanse, release, heal some of the psychodynamic issues that create hindrances for you the less noise you will have in your practice. Of course Dhamma itself is therapeutic. Its the ultimate existential therapy! Obviously there is a lot of interplay between psychotherapy and Dhamma practice as well as some clear distinctions in practices and aims.

    Like I said this is a quick answer.
    And I’ve seen that video. It is very funny and insightful its exaggerated way (for some maybe not so exaggerated).

    1. Fred
      Fred July 28, 2015 at 8:02 am |

      Is this your Zen Master Konrad Ryushin Marchaj Sensei, Shodo?

      If so, he is a practicing psychiatrist, and biased towards ego contamination.

      1. Fred
        Fred July 28, 2015 at 8:23 am |

        People who are physically or psychologically addicted to a particular neurochemical state, will do and say anything to enter that state. This would include stating that its a religious, spiritual or sacramental activity.

        I have never done DMT with a MAO Inhibitor so I can’t comment on that specific altered state of consciousness.

        However, the ingesting of the other chemicals is an act engaged in by a self masquerading its deludeness.

      2. Shodo
        Shodo July 28, 2015 at 9:36 am |

        Fred asked:
        “Is this your Zen Master Konrad Ryushin Marchaj Sensei, Shodo?”

        Probably not Fred. Though if it was, it wouldn’t make me treat them any different.
        (Or make me any less skeptical… 😉 )

    2. Shodo
      Shodo July 28, 2015 at 9:45 am |

      Dharmahuasca said:
      “…I am writing longer response specifically about Ayahuasca and Dhamma.”

      Cool – can’t wait to read what you have to say.

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