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Possible Drug Induced A & P
Answer
10/23/10 3:24 PM
I've landed here due to Daniel's Book, which was unlike any other spiritual book I'd read before (much kudos to Daniel for writing it!). I wanted to check the possibility that I may have gone through the A&P ten years ago. I used to take psychadelic drugs weekly for a period of 3-4 months in fairly high doses (mainly ecstacy). Near the end of this period something shifted in the way I was feeling. I became more self conscious, felt anxiety for no reason and found it difficult to function in daily life. I discontinued my drug use shortly after as I figured it was to blame for the way I was feeling but it didn't make much difference - a dark cloud still hung over me. The last 10 years have been a nightmare.

There doesn't seem to be any particular moment that stands out as being the A&P event. It was a long time ago, though and unitive, joyous experiences were pretty much the norm when taking ecstacy!

I've being carrying out various spiritual pursuits for the past 8 years, trying to sort this out (mainly various forms of yoga, qi gong and a little bit of meditiation) but it's mostly been from books, I've had no formal teacher. More recently I've been practicing breath meditation daily and achieved some of the samatha jhanas (2nd or possibly 3rd), I focused on this as I knew a certain level of concentration is required to begin insight practices.

Is there any way to test for definite where I am on the path? I had always assumed that I was experiencing psychological problems caused by the drugs but thought I'd check this out.

Cheers,

John

RE: Possible Drug Induced A & P
Answer
10/24/10 11:02 AM as a reply to John H.
Hi John, welcome to the DhO!

John:

There doesn't seem to be any particular moment that stands out as being the A&P event. It was a long time ago, though and unitive, joyous experiences were pretty much the norm when taking ecstacy!


Well, there you have it, any and all of those are A&P :-) The actual "event" when it flips into dark night is pretty hard to catch, unless you know what you are looking for when you have it, and even then it takes a lot of concentration. I never did. Even after the A&P "event", you can still go back and relive the A&P experience many times --- for instance, by taking ecstasy again.

Since you're meditating, and had 10 years of dark night, I suppose that by now you want to go all the way. If that is the case, then go get stream entry! Things should improve --- at least they did for me (I had a similar story, but with LSD rather than ecstasy).

Have fun :-)
Bruno

RE: Possible Drug Induced A & P
Answer
10/25/10 2:59 AM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
Thanks Bruno. It's definitely my intention to get stream entry as soon as possible. I've started reading Practical Insight Meditation on Google Books, so I'll be noting till the cows come home! It could be difficult during the day, though, as I work at a computer and have to give my work a fair amount of thought.
Cheers,
John

RE: Possible Drug Induced A & P
Answer
10/25/10 3:14 PM as a reply to John H.
Yeah, I know a relatively large number who crossed the A&P in similar circumstances, and if you ask around you will find it is quite common, much more common than most people realize, and it explains a lot of things we see in society.

Anyway, good luck in your practice, and think about retreats,

D

RE: Possible Drug Induced A & P
Answer
10/26/10 4:41 PM as a reply to John H.
I had the (mis)fortune of crossing the A&P for the first time after taking MDMA, dark nighting for some years after. I wondered for a while (after having found and read MCTB ) whether I was simply depressed and pathetic for not being able to find a way to get out of it, or whether what I was experiencing was this dark night that I read about. I gave insight meditation a shot and soon found out an answer, which is a good thing, given that the dark night sucks like nothing else if there is no explanation at hand for what it is, as well as the knowledge that there is a way of working with it.

There are two things in particular that happened after that first A&P, one was an experiential, or a perceptual change - things simply did not seem the same way anymore, there was some difference in how reality was perceived that I could not quite put my finger on, or explain. I knew that something changed and I could not quite remember how it was to be the way I was before. Also, the spiritual search, the longing, the insight disease, kicked in and with force.

All the best,

Pavel

RE: Possible Drug Induced A & P
Answer
10/27/10 3:19 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Thanks for the encouragement Daniel. Although I'd love to go on retreats and make some faster progress, it isn't really feasible at the minute. My fiance is rather narrow minded by her own admission and finds al this 'meditation stuff' rather strange. The idea of me trotting off for a week or even a weekend would not go down well and could put a bit of a strain on our relationship. She sleeps late at the weekends (usually till about 12), so I'm planning on getting a good few hours practice in before she wakes up.

I currently sit for 30 mins on weekday mornings but I'm planning on getting up earlier and increasing this to around 1 hour. I've also started to recline for a little while when I first wake up and before I go to bed and find showering and brushing my teeth etc a great time for noting practice, so hopefully this, coupled with some noting/choiceless awareness during the day can give my progress a boost.

Many Thanks,

John

RE: Possible Drug Induced A & P
Answer
10/27/10 4:58 AM as a reply to Pavel _.
Hi Pavel,

Your post really echoes my experiences! Something seemed to change rather suddenly, but it seemed to come out of nowhere and I couldn't really explain what it was or why it happened. I initially attributed it to a distinctly bad come-down but it continued way longer than normal and was preceptually different.

Even now I still have some doubts that I've crossed the A & P and wouldn't be too surprised if I was at ground zero and ended up experiencing the first few Nanas and then crossing the A & P (again)! But at the end of the day, it doesn't really matter where I am on the path as I have an almost instinctual urge to pursue it regardless. I'll work on the assumption that I'm in the Dark Knight and I'm sure things will become clear in time.

Many Thanks,

John

RE: Possible Drug Induced A & P
Answer
10/27/10 10:59 AM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
Bruno Loff:
Hi John, welcome to the DhO!

John:

There doesn't seem to be any particular moment that stands out as being the A&P event. It was a long time ago, though and unitive, joyous experiences were pretty much the norm when taking ecstacy!


Well, there you have it, any and all of those are A&P :-) The actual "event" when it flips into dark night is pretty hard to catch, unless you know what you are looking for when you have it, and even then it takes a lot of concentration. I never did. Even after the A&P "event", you can still go back and relive the A&P experience many times --- for instance, by taking ecstasy again.

Since you're meditating, and had 10 years of dark night, I suppose that by now you want to go all the way. If that is the case, then go get stream entry! Things should improve --- at least they did for me (I had a similar story, but with LSD rather than ecstasy).

Have fun :-)
Bruno


I thought A&P took some effort to reach? If you can just take ecstasy or LSD and have an A&P event pretty much guaranteed, wouldn't most people who have took those be in some kind of dark night?

RE: Possible Drug Induced A & P
Answer
10/27/10 11:03 AM as a reply to Pavel _.
Pavel O.:

There are two things in particular that happened after that first A&P, one was an experiential, or a perceptual change - things simply did not seem the same way anymore, there was some difference in how reality was perceived that I could not quite put my finger on, or explain. I knew that something changed and I could not quite remember how it was to be the way I was before. Also, the spiritual search, the longing, the insight disease, kicked in and with force.

All the best,

Pavel


Heh, very interesting... my spiritual search starting did pretty much coincide with me taking MDMA for the first time, although I assumed until now it was a coincidence (I just happened to start meditating a few days before taking it). I do remember while rolling that first time, even though I only meditated a handful of times, "Hmm this feeling, this perception must be what meditation is trying to reach..."

About a month afterwards I noticed my perception of the world was different. I just seemed to notice things more. Things were clearer/crisper, etc. I assumed it was my daily meditating that helped me do that, not the MDMA< though..

Anyway the reason I'm posting at all is cause of your last sentence, "Also, the spiritual search, the longing, the insight disease, kicked in and with force." I definitely started reading a ton about Buddhism, looking at sutras, looking for forums, etc. Definitely was inspired to meditate..

RE: Possible Drug Induced A & P
Answer
10/27/10 1:58 PM as a reply to Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem.
John:

Your post really echoes my experiences! Something seemed to change rather suddenly, it continued way longer than normal and was preceptually different.

Even now I still have some doubts that I've crossed the A & P and wouldn't be too surprised if I was at ground zero and ended up experiencing the first few Nanas and then crossing the A & P (again)!


Well, if you aren't dark nighting, then you must somehow be living through some other process whose description matches dark night exactly. So I would say you are not at ground zero at all. Oh, and by the way, you will cross the A&P many times to come, so that is to be expected.

Beoman:

I thought A&P took some effort to reach? If you can just take ecstasy or LSD and have an A&P event pretty much guaranteed, wouldn't most people who have took those be in some kind of dark night?

It depends on how you take it. If you just take the drug to party, then maybe it'll not cause any obvious change in that way. But if you take some psychedelic and investigate the experience just a little bit, then not only will the psychedelic experience be really powerful, it will also lead you into this direction. Oh, and btw, everyone I know who took LSD has gotten some kind of dark night sooner or later. Some have decided not to investigate, and it eventually passed (many months after). A close friend is still stuck in it after eight years, riding the nanas over and over again, and not certain if he wants to do something about it.

Beoman:

I do remember while rolling that first time, even though I only meditated a handful of times, "Hmm this feeling, this perception must be what meditation is trying to reach..."
(...)
About a month afterwards I noticed my perception of the world was different. I just seemed to notice things more. Things were clearer/crisper, etc. I assumed it was my daily meditating that helped me do that, not the MDMA< though..

For myself I do know that LSD caused permanent perceptual changes even before I started meditating at all. In any case, you can see that your MDMA experience opened your eyes to possibilities, in which you might not believe otherwise?

RE: Possible Drug Induced A & P
Answer
10/27/10 2:55 PM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
Bruno Loff:
John:

Your post really echoes my experiences! Something seemed to change rather suddenly, it continued way longer than normal and was preceptually different.

Even now I still have some doubts that I've crossed the A & P and wouldn't be too surprised if I was at ground zero and ended up experiencing the first few Nanas and then crossing the A & P (again)!


Well, if you aren't dark nighting, then you must somehow be living through some other process whose description matches dark night exactly. So I would say you are not at ground zero at all. Oh, and by the way, you will cross the A&P many times to come, so that is to be expected.


I often have this feeling too.. that I haven't even crossed A&P and am just beginning barely.

Bruno Loff:
Beoman:

I thought A&P took some effort to reach? If you can just take ecstasy or LSD and have an A&P event pretty much guaranteed, wouldn't most people who have took those be in some kind of dark night?

It depends on how you take it. If you just take the drug to party, then maybe it'll not cause any obvious change in that way. But if you take some psychedelic and investigate the experience just a little bit, then not only will the psychedelic experience be really powerful, it will also lead you into this direction. Oh, and btw, everyone I know who took LSD has gotten some kind of dark night sooner or later. Some have decided not to investigate, and it eventually passed (many months after). A close friend is still stuck in it after eight years, riding the nanas over and over again, and not certain if he wants to do something about it.


Aren't you doomed to be in the Dark Night after A&P? How did it just pass? I have heard that LSD tends to unhinge oneself if taken too often, though.

Would taking LSD to hit A&P and then go into Dark Night be kind of like jumping headfirst into a situation you're not prepared for? Since you don't even have any of the meditative practice that you'd need to get you there sober.

True about making the experience more powerful though. Every meditative effort I put in resulted in my rolling more intensely.

Beoman:

I do remember while rolling that first time, even though I only meditated a handful of times, "Hmm this feeling, this perception must be what meditation is trying to reach..."
(...)
About a month afterwards I noticed my perception of the world was different. I just seemed to notice things more. Things were clearer/crisper, etc. I assumed it was my daily meditating that helped me do that, not the MDMA< though..

For myself I do know that LSD caused permanent perceptual changes even before I started meditating at all. In any case, you can see that your MDMA experience opened your eyes to possibilities, in which you might not believe otherwise?

It certainly did. A moment sticks out when I was outside and I just opened my eyes after focusing on my breath for a few minutes. It was shockingly beautiful. Actually shocking.. my mind was reeling in its splendor. The mental state of my brain was also markedly different... all 'dark stuff' is rather obliterated while under its influence.

I'm sure LSD would bring about new possibilities. Haven't tried it yet. I'm n,ot sure I want to.. on the one hand it seems like an easy, not to mention fun, way to bend the mind beyond what it would normally, but on the other I feel any insights I get afterwards would be tainted by it, like I wouldn't know whether they're "authentic".

RE: Possible Drug Induced A & P
Answer
11/28/10 2:28 PM as a reply to Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem.
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RE: Possible Drug Induced A & P
Answer
10/27/10 3:40 PM as a reply to Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem.
Beoman:

Would taking LSD to hit A&P and then go into Dark Night be kind of like jumping headfirst into a situation you're not prepared for? Since you don't even have any of the meditative practice that you'd need to get you there sober.


Yes, that's exactly what happened to me. I had one year of horrid depression, the after effects of which linger to this day (11 months after said depression was gone). Although I didn't take LSD to hit A&P, it just happened of its own accord.

RE: Possible Drug Induced A & P
Answer
10/27/10 5:22 PM as a reply to Why What.
Noah P Kndrvg:
Beoman, LSD can be very very fun, but every time I have taken it there have also been moments of immense discomfort, both physical and mental. It can certainly cause delusions (usually of a temporary nature - I've known several people who have thought they were caught in some strange solipsistic purgatory almost identical to their "old" life, for instance), but it WILL teach you what you need to learn, even if that means kicking you in the pants. It's not easy though, the psychedelic experience is always a challenge, at least for me. I'd recommend mushrooms over LSD, though I doubt I could really articulate why. I have not tried MDMA.

Also, my first experience of the tenth nana was while on LSD, and it was quite ass-kicking, but it was EXACTLY what I needed. But you definitely shouldn't trip if you have even a slight suspicion you might be in the dark night.
If you do decide to partake, educate yourself, enter with an open mind, and be careful. There is much to be learned.


Yep I understand that it can be very painful too, and that for example you could feel terror and pain you didn't know was possible. So you're saying that if I'm in the Dark Night, I will be taught many of its lessons perhaps all at once, kicking me in the balls, and that that might be painful? =P. Will keep that under advisement. I have a feeling I would enjoy the trip but that it wouldn't be 'easy'.. and for some reason I have a hunch my mind will stray into a thought like "hmm I wonder what it's like for my arms to be cut off..." and that might manifest itself..

EDIT: One point of contention, though... if LSD teaches you what you need to learn, then why can't we all just take LSD non-stop for a month or two or so and become enlightened? That seems to instead lead to mental illness, like with Syd Barret for example..

RE: Possible Drug Induced A & P
Answer
11/28/10 2:28 PM as a reply to Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem.
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RE: Possible Drug Induced A & P
Answer
10/27/10 7:11 PM as a reply to Why What.
Having read all of this, I have a couple more things I would like to add.

I am of the opinion that psychedelics have nothing, I would like to stress that again, nothing to do with insight. Any and all stages of insight hit through the use of psychedelics will have to do with what the mind does while under the effect of the drug rather than the natural effect of the drug (as Bruno points out). This means that taking drugs will not automatically make one hit a stage of insight (regardless of type of drug, dose, or frequency of use). Also, I have never heard of anyone making it farther than the Dark Night through the use of psychedelics, I certainly have not ever heard of anyone attaining to stream entry or beyond.

The problem with hitting A&P through drugs is that the A&P is more or less valueless and in actual fact more of a barrier to practice than much else (as it is so easy to fixate on it, or to want it to return), it is a glimpse of something that is far too easily misunderstood (easily resulting in the mistaken belief that the progress of insight is about states rather than the momentary nature of reality regardless of the state currently being experienced; equally it is easy to fixate on the pleasant qualities of the A&P and believe those to be somehow superior or preferable to others, which makes the Dark Night all the more painful).

I have heard it said that psychedelics have various positive uses but I would not include meditative attainments as one of those, there simply is no proof for this. I still find drugs interesting (even if I do not anymore have much of an inclination to experiment with them) but compared to meditation and its fruits, drugs are in my opinion rather shallow.

There is also the point which was raised above that someone who would come across one of the insight stages through drug use would not know what to do next, given that they have not developed any appreciation or understanding of what it is that they are going through or the intuition to know what it is that they have to do now. I think that this is the most important point and a very big warning to those who are looking for a shortcut.

All in all, if you are into insight, meditate, practice, there is no other way around it.

RE: Possible Drug Induced A & P
Answer
10/27/10 7:35 PM as a reply to Pavel _.
Yeah, the psychedelic experience seems almost like the antithesis of vipassana to me. You shouldn't take a psychedelic in an attempt to further your meditation practice. It's most certainly its own beast. Honestly, I'd be much more interested to hear what happens when an AF person takes a psychedelic.

RE: Possible Drug Induced A & P
Answer
10/27/10 10:08 PM as a reply to Why What.
Noah P Kndrvg:
Yeah, the psychedelic experience seems almost like the antithesis of vipassana to me. You shouldn't take a psychedelic in an attempt to further your meditation practice. It's most certainly its own beast. Honestly, I'd be much more interested to hear what happens when an AF person takes a psychedelic.


What does AF stand for?

I've heard a few stories about Buddhist monks taking psychedelics. Take them with a grain of salt.

One group took LSD. The trip became too intense, so it had to be aborted.

One monk took X. He said it took him 20-30 years of studying Zen to reach that level of clarity, but he's glad he did it the long way. He said it might be a good experience to show meditators what can be possible, but that it might be easy to get caught up in it.

Then I heard a story of one highly disciplined monk who could take LSD and not have any effects from it. Not sure what to think of that..

@Pavel: Your points resonate with me. I figured that any insight would be from the mind reacting to the drug, not the drug itself. And I also feel that taking psychedelics to further one's meditation is probably the wrong way to go about it.. while it is interesting to meditate in altered states of mind, I can recognize that being sober is definitely important to get serious work done.

RE: Possible Drug Induced A & P
drugs psychedelics
Answer
10/28/10 3:21 AM as a reply to John H.
Really great info that puts stuff into perspective:

Jack Kornfield on psychedelics:
http://www.lycaeum.org/~sputnik/Misc/buddhism.html

Seung Sahn:
http://www.lycaeum.org/~sputnik/Drugs/LSD/LSD.Buddha.html

RE: Possible Drug Induced A & P
Answer
10/28/10 7:08 AM as a reply to Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem.
Bruno:
Oh, and by the way, you will cross the A&P many times to come, so that is to be expected.


I'm curious about this. Do you simply mean after stream entry when working towards 2nd Path, 3rd Path etc? Or is it possible that I could regress and have to cross the A&P again?

Pavel:
The problem with hitting A&P through drugs is that the A&P is more or less valueless


I was wondering about this myself. Since I've taken a shortcut, I haven't built up the faculties of mind, the speed, the precision etc that would be endowed if I had crossed the A & P by meditative means. Does this mean that I will have to learn the teachings of the first three nanas (again)? Does it also mean that it will take a while to get to A&P proper before I can progress out of the Dark Night?

Cheers,

John

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