Rick Strassman: LSD as a Gateway Drug to Buddhism

Psychedelics researcher Rick Strassman discusses LSD as a gateway drug to all sorts of dastardly behaviour, like...Buddhism and the search for enlightenment.

One of the things that got me interested in doing research with these psychedelics is because of how much overlap or similarity seem to exist between the stories that you hear from experienced meditators within the Eastern meditative traditions of Hinduism and Buddhism, and those reports that you hear from people who take these psychedelic drugs. And it always seemed to me there must be some sort of way of combining the two fields, that perhaps you can maybe be inspired to become a Buddhist or a Hindu through the psychedelic experience. And there are a handful of papers that have described that, that quite a few people got their start as Buddhists or Hindus from a big LSD flash.

I went to a Zen temple in my early 20s, and, ever the scientist, every chance I got to speak to a monk one on one, I asked every one of them if they had tripped on psychedelics and how important their trips were in their decision to become a monk. And I'd say 99% of these junior monks in their 20s all got their start on LSD.

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emlong's picture
Member since:
18 September 2007
Last activity:
1 hour 6 min

I love that phrase "a gateway drug to Buddhism." I guess the next question is what is Buddhism a gateway drug to?

Inannawhimsey's picture
Member since:
14 April 2009
Last activity:
1 year 2 weeks

DIY psychotherapy?

(take that, USA HMOs!)

---------
All that lives is holy, life delights in life.

--William Blake

jupiter.enteract's picture
Member since:
21 January 2005
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3 hours 2 min

Having had a background in both psychedelics and Zen monasteries, I'd say that yes, LSD (and other such substances) can open one's mind in ways that pave the way for spiritual awakening, and there are definitely similarities between them. There are some useful distinctions between them, though. For example one has relatively little control over one's consciousness during the psychedelic experience, whereas one of the aims of the meditative path is mastery of one's own consciousness, one's own mind, and not rely on external props.

It's also good to realize meditation isn't just about achieving higher, exotic, or more expanded states--not exclusively, anyway--so much as reaching a state of balance. To use a simple analogy, it's safe to say Hitler had a far more "expanded" consciousness than the bug crawling across my wall right now; but was it a more balanced awareness? Expansion isn't everything, in other words. One can reach enlightenment yet still be a f*ck-up in all sorts of ways (just look all the gurus and zen priests who wind up getting embroiled in scandals). I like Jack Kornfeld's quote: ‎"Even the most exalted states and most exceptional spiritual accomplishments are unimportant if we cannot be happy in the most basic and ordinary ways, if we cannot touch one another and the life we have been given with our hearts." That's not to diminish the importance of hallucinogens, by any means, just noting some distinctions. "Gateway" is a good way to think of it.

emlong's picture
Member since:
18 September 2007
Last activity:
1 hour 6 min

Heart centeredness may be the most revolutionary thing happening to people these days. I keep seeing rather large changes in the people around me. If that is coincidental to 2012 or a product of some galactic influx of energy I couldn't say, but there is a greater and greater embrace of heart knowledge above and beyond the mechanical intellect. It is nice to see more people relaxing into their emotional heart and not be so in envious awe of high IQ's and overbearing and dominant personalities.

Incidentally, the ormus I and many others have been working with also has a reputation within Asian Buddhist circles. Lots of Buddhists know what it is and will readily take a little if offered. There is actually a long tradition of making it in ancient cultures - especially in Ayurvedic medicine though there may have been no knowledge of its atomic structure back then - not that any such knowledge is actually required to make it. The latest addition to the meditative pot is orgonite. That to me is where the real leap is being made in awareness of pure energy. These substance are admittedly shortcuts, but viva la shortcuts.

red pill junkie's picture
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12 April 2007
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1 day 7 hours

One can reach enlightenment yet still be a f*ck-up in all sorts of ways (just look all the gurus and zen priests who wind up getting embroiled in scandals).

Which might explain why so many of the people who claim the Contact experience do not show a higher level of emotional balance and inner peace.

And why St Paul still persisted in being a major pendejo, even after having his rendezvous withe 'the light of God ;)

It's not the depth of the rabbit hole that bugs me...
It's all the rabbit SH*T you stumble over on your way down!!!

Red Pill Junkie
_______________
@red_pill_junkie

Inannawhimsey's picture
Member since:
14 April 2009
Last activity:
1 year 2 weeks

all of these different experiences that are being mentioned here i can categorize under the header "brain change" -- the person, voluntarily or involuntarily, engages in changing the makeup, wiring etc of their brain.

and some people can take it too far too fast, beyond their expertise...which can lead to things like mental illness, obsessions...

that's why trying to maintain an agnostic attitude (spirituality?) is so beneficial.

---------
All that lives is holy, life delights in life.

--William Blake

emlong's picture
Member since:
18 September 2007
Last activity:
1 hour 6 min

The most aware and expanded people I personally know do not talk about it much. They walk the walk rather than talk the talk.

Whoever said that contactees were supposed to be expanded by the experience? Most of them were just scared witless.

red pill junkie's picture
Member since:
12 April 2007
Last activity:
1 day 7 hours

And some were lying. Maybe even to themselves ;)

Or they played the part of useful idiots. For whom exactly, that's the question ;)

It's not the depth of the rabbit hole that bugs me...
It's all the rabbit SH*T you stumble over on your way down!!!

Red Pill Junkie
_______________
@red_pill_junkie