Monday, August 7, 2017

Buddhist Geeks - Meditating on Psychedelics

Buddhist Geeks
I was interested to see this podcast show up, both because of the subject matter (Meditating on Psychedelics), and the fact that for me it marked the return of Buddhist Geeks, a podcast that had been more or less pronounced dead.

Apparently this was an introductory podcast to usher in a series of episodes on the topic, which in theory I look forward to.  This was a fairly lukewarm, delicate, kind of "make sure we're not stepping on anyone's toes" kind of thing, mainly focusing on the need to be flexible and open about what is for some a controversial topic.  It is what it is.  The last 20 percent of the podcast was a plea for funding, which I understand, but sheesh.

A survey had been sent out to followers to gauge where people are on the subject of Buddhism and psychedelics.  For myself, I didn't feel like I fit into any of the categories and it's not as if I have no views on the subject.  To me it's kind of like anything else - psychedelics are neither "good" nor "bad".  There is an entire spectrum of experiences.  After listening to the podcast and decoding the thrust of the survey I would have to pick the "Psychedelic Buddhist" category, which is essentially a "maybe" category, saying “yes to the mixing of the Psychedelics and Buddhism and at the same time acknowledging that there are downsides, things to watch out for, and much that is still not well understood about the pairing."

I do sincerely wish that every person could get to the point where they could feel good about themselves, become familiar with their psychological makeup, maybe do a bit of meditation, and slowly work up to a psychedelic experience starting from low/medium doses in a safe setting, keeping in mind the advice from any number of reasonable Psychedelic Trip Guides.

My view might be something like Sam Harris', who when thinking about his daughter growing older and experimenting with substances, felt that his greatest fear was that his daughter wouldn't try a psychedelic at some point.  Of course Sam is perhaps being strong in making a point, but the fear is that to live a human life, and to not experience what is possible, and perhaps even probable given the considerations above, the unimaginable power, glory, and freedom of a genuine mystical experience, that would indeed be a tragedy.  Your mileage may vary.

As to the Buddhist or spiritual direction, I would say the psychedelic experience is indeed conducive to these kind of insights, and more generally insights of any kind.  The other side of that is that the mind may be presented with so many ideas and connections that it may tend to run off into those and lose itself in them.  Keeping the mind in a meditative mode while under the influence of a psychedelic is actually the best way to raise the odds for an amazing experience.

As far as the BG podcast, a bit more "meat" in the form of some surprising views from Vince Horn on the subject of Buddhism can be found in the previous episode Stirrings from the Bardo.

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