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Do psychedelics speed up the progress in meditation practice?

I have been wanting to know if the usage of psychedelics speed up one's meditation practice?
I heard about benefits of psychedelics from many people in regards to their practice.
I also heard about the limits of experiences you get from psychedelics e.g. whatever experienced while on trip, it is not a permanent shift in conscious or those experiences do not produce true wisdom, etc.

But it seems to me that no matter how wonderful or limited experiences psychedelics produce, once you have experienced psychedelics, in my opinion it does something to your brain. So that if you take up meditation and practice steadily, you would make a progress much faster than someone who just meditates without any help from psychedelics.

For example, many people experience something very similar to A&P while on trip. When those people with such experience take on meditation they seem to go straight to A&P stage and beyond - skipping lower insight stages. Now for average meditators, with meditation practice alone, it can take a while to reach the A&P stage, let alone stream entry. But the impression that I get from meditators who used psychedelics is that they seem to reach the stages (A&P, dukkha nanas, fruition) much faster.

I would like to ask those who have used psychedelics and attained the first path or close to it:

1.Did use of psychedelics speed up your progress in practice?
2. What are the pros & cons of psychedelic usage in practice?
(some people explained that certain part of their conscious remained foggy and expericed some form of depression even after attaining the first path).

I would greatly appreciate your feedback.

RE: Do psychedelics speed up the progress in meditation practice?
Answer
9/24/17 2:33 PM as a reply to paramatha K.
Ram Dass was one of the psychedelic gurus of the sixties along with Leary, and even he eventually admitted that they were a dead end, and he pursued meditation practise instead. They can definitely give you odd experiences which trigger various insights, but it's tough to integrate the experience unless you already have a solid practise and good concentration etc. Psychedelics also tend to increase dullness (both during and after), which doesn't really help practise any, and can make the experience seem more mind blowing that it was. The primary lesson psychedelics teach is that sensory experience is unreliable and malleable. If you already understand that, you don't really need them.

Essentially they're too chaotic when you don't have the relevant meditation skills, and once you do have those skills you don't really need the psychedelics. That's just my experience though, and I don't claim first path. 

Hunter S. Thompson put it fairly well when he remarked at his naivete in thinking that he could "buy enlightenment for $5 a dose".  emoticon

RE: Do psychedelics speed up the progress in meditation practice?
Answer
9/24/17 2:51 PM as a reply to Lars.
I personally think some recreational experimentation does a lot to show the mind that its pre existing understanding of reality is not the only way to look at things.  Using them to actually make progress will probably leave you nuts or depersonalized and stuck in a funky dark night.   The end result needs to be a fully integrated personality that can accept consensus reality and emptiness and I think drugs are a very hard and risky way to get there.

If you trip, my advice is to just do it for fun and dont take it seriously or think you are achieving anything. 

RE: Do psychedelics speed up the progress in meditation practice?
Answer
9/24/17 2:56 PM as a reply to seth tapper.
seth tapper:
If you trip, my advice is to just do it for fun and dont take it seriously or think you are achieving anything.


Agreed, and of course the classic advice always applies. Do it with friends you trust and feel comfortable with (or alone if you can handle it), in a place that is peaceful and friendly, while everyone is in a good mood. Don't take them with sketchy people in sketchy places when you're feeling sketchy (unless you're going for hardmode difficulty level experiences). emoticon

RE: Do psychedelics speed up the progress in meditation practice?
Answer
9/24/17 3:00 PM as a reply to paramatha K.
For those people I know who tried to use psychedelics as part of their meditation routine, all gave up disappointed. The drugs can give a temporary improvement in meditation ability on the come down of the drug that can't be replicated when it wears off. I know someone who said that the experience of jhana under the drug's influence made it a little easier for them to learn it later. Some have thought that they could hold on to some of the insights they achieved under the drugs influence by meditating on those insights after the drug wears off but they were never really sure. If there is any positive impact, it seems very limitted as far as I can tell. Everyone I know who tried has given up on the idea.

RE: Do psychedelics speed up the progress in meditation practice?
Answer
9/24/17 3:52 PM as a reply to paramatha K.
And also. When your concentration picks up and you start to experience kundalini and energy stuff, you definitely want to pass on the psychedelics then. A lot have made that mistake!

RE: Do psychedelics speed up the progress in meditation practice?
Answer
9/24/17 5:41 PM as a reply to paramatha K.
They were just a trip for me, even though I generally set them us as a sacrament and for a 'spiritual' purpose. I already knew I wanted to meditate, but psychedelics were more easily available than teachings in a small English village in the late 1970's and became a diversion. The pro is you see that reality isn't what you thought it was. When you get that there's really no need to keep repeating the process - it doesn't develop much further unless you like the sensational parts. I found that the same insight achieved through 'natural' methods fit better somewhow than the jagged patch that LSD provided and I have been able to progress beyind it. Same with Cocaine and QiGong - real energetics with QiGong are so much more consistent with the rest of my person than the harsh rush of Coke.

For Ram Dass LSD was a new thing - the kind of insight he got wasn't generally avaialble back then to a buttoned up Jewish academic. I can see how it might be useful for others, but ISTM that nowadays we have such good and reliable access to non-conventional views that it might not really be necessary. The cons of course include people losing their minds for good.

Rich

RE: Do psychedelics speed up the progress in meditation practice?
Answer
9/24/17 7:43 PM as a reply to paramatha K.
Thank you all for your feedback.
I have never used psychedelics nor am I interested in experimenting with them.
But I am interested in learning more about psychedelics' role in the meditation practice.
It seems psychedelics played a major part for some of the early pioneers of American Buddhism to set foot in spirituality.
And many people seem to be supportive of it in terms of further experimentation as to how it affects practice (at least from my research).

Anyway thanks again!

RE: Do psychedelics speed up the progress in meditation practice?
Answer
9/24/17 8:48 PM as a reply to paramatha K.
Sorry for the misunderstanding. You may have a point actually. Quite a few people seem to get past the A&P through psychedelics. Sometimes who never even were meditating. It's interesting to wonder if it could aid a cessation also.

RE: Do psychedelics speed up the progress in meditation practice?
Answer
9/24/17 10:04 PM as a reply to Adam M.
Buddhist Geeks founder recently started the podcast back up again and he is exploring the subject of psychedelics and meditation.  He has three recent podcasts exploring the subject in depth.  This might be what you are looking for.

RE: Do psychedelics speed up the progress in meditation practice?
Answer
9/25/17 7:18 AM as a reply to Adam M.
I got into practice largely by way of some overwhelming DMT and LSD experiences several years ago, and I agree with the posts above saying that they can be useful to see what's possible, and to break conventional paradigms, but beyond that it's very difficult to skillfully use them for practise. You only have to view a few 'psychonaut' communities online to see how well-intentioned people can get incredibly confused and paranoid via psychedelic culture.

There's also something to be said for the ability to 'taste' insight, as all these strange drug-induced lenses on reality come up you get that experience of insight that profound mystical states and perceptual shifts produce. They can show you first hand that the mind is much more flexible and far-reaching than you imagined, and show you plainly that the idea of identity as you usually know it is quite arbitrary. The insights you get only really apply to the psychedelic 'frame' of reality though, they don't really translate back into sober experience, so you can end up totally lost. You still have to do the work to get the kind of sustaining, deep insight into everyday existence, it seems. But I feel like psychedelics can do a good job of motivating otherwise unsure or sceptical people.

Back when I was taking psychedelics, I had a casual meditation practise going and would sometimes meditate on LSD. The combination can make an otherwise fairly mild trip experience extremely overwhelming, very quickly. It can be quite useful, in some sense it's like adding weights to the practise, as you have all this extra sensory data is competing for attention, and you can get into some very deep states quite quickly as a result of that and the natural trance-like qualities of the drug. But sloppily instructed meditation on LSD can also take you into high-intensity states and experiences you are wholly unprepared for and cause trauma - ie a bad trip.

Ultimately, I'm undecided on psychedelics. I was clinically depressed when I decided to try them out as a sort of last ditch attempt after being labelled 'treatment resistant' by the doctor and I credit them with basically saving my life with the experiences that I had. But I'm not sure about how useful they are for real insight practise, and I can certainly see the dangers. 

RE: Do psychedelics speed up the progress in meditation practice?
Answer
9/25/17 10:11 PM as a reply to paramatha K.
Hi paramatha K,

I went through an A&P experience on the two doors of Impermance and Suffering while microdosed on LSD in the early 70's (you can read about it in my memoir if you want more details). Mircodosing (10 ug as opposed to 100 ug for a full dose of LSD, other psychedelics are different) has only recently beccome recognized as a way to take psychedelics without getting the overwhelming sensory overload that happens when you take a full dose. People report having flow states regularly and reportedly some people in Silicon Valley microdose every few days to improve their ability to concentrate at work*. Shortly after that A&P, I began meditating regularly.

That said, I personally would not recommend for anyone to take psychedelics and meditate. Even in small doses, they can be unpredictable and meditation has its own potential difficulties, like the arising of difficult personal material and DN, in the early stages. For me, psychedelics had a tendency to confuse rather than clarify my understanding. I think if I had stopped taking psychedelics sooner and instead found a qualified meditation teacher, I probably would have made much better progress. Best not to mix the two.

Hope that helps.



*Personally, I think if they were to bring back real offices and get rid of these huge rooms filled with people three feet away from their neighbors most people wouldn't have problems concentrating at work.

RE: Do psychedelics speed up the progress in meditation practice?
Answer
9/26/17 4:55 AM as a reply to paramatha K.
My experiences align mostly with the previous answers.
Psychedelics won't do anything to get you down the path (except maybe to rise energy and kick you over A&P) because it's not about specific phenomena.
BUT I see value in them for psychological development, for which they are a very mighty tool, since they show you mercessly everything about you. If it is your intention psychedelics will help you to melt down your ego and to be "unified with the universe" (and that's even an understatement for how it feels emoticon) Anyway, they will not magically solve problems, but they tend to produce conclusions like: "Damn, I need to live a better life as a better person"

Concrete experience:
  • no practice + mushrooms: mostly bad trip and dark night afterwards (don't know if crossed the A&P while or before) // in the long run probably the reason to pick up practice
  • 3,5 years practice + shrooms: mystical state comparable to 4th MCTB path with ultraclarity and unambiguity, loss of so much resistance, psychological insights and revealing of misconceptions of me and the world (illusions) // though afterwards the state faded of course, it was the motivation for me to go all in with practice
  • 4 years practice + LSD: life relevant insights, psychologically liberating (losing grip of shame and self deprivation)
Mushrooms felt way more mystical and "godlike" (probably better choice if you want to have such an experience), whereas LSD felt like a journey you can steer.

RE: Do psychedelics speed up the progress in meditation practice?
Answer
9/26/17 11:53 AM as a reply to svmonk.
svmonk:
Hi paramatha K,

I went through an A&P experience on the two doors of Impermance and Suffering while microdosed on LSD in the early 70's (you can read about it in my memoir if you want more details)......Shortly after that A&P, I began meditating regularly.
So what I would like to ask you is:

Once you experienced A&P with LSD, and then you started meditation, 
how long did it take for you to experience A&P again through meditation?
And how often?

You see, most average people (with average concentration & mindfulness), getting to A&P stage with practice alone can take a while.
But once you experience A&P or something similar with psychedelics, and then take on meditation, it seems like (I could be wrong) you can go straight to A&P stages and beyond without having to go thru 1st ~ 3rd insight stages which can take a pretty long time for average yogis to pass. So in essence psychedelics can, in my opinion boost practice and help make a fast progress for some. And of course, the downside of using psychedelic is something that anyone interested in using them should pay close attention to.

And yes, I would love to read about your experience with LSD. Can you post a link? I don't know how to access your memoir.

Thanks! Really appreciate your reply. emoticon

RE: Do psychedelics speed up the progress in meditation practice?
Answer
9/26/17 12:15 PM as a reply to streamsurfer.
streamsurfer:
My experiences align mostly with the previous answers.
Psychedelics won't do anything to get you down the path (except maybe to rise energy and kick you over A&P) because it's not about specific phenomena.
BUT I see value in them for psychological development, for which they are a very mighty tool, since they show you mercessly everything about you. If it is your intention psychedelics will help you to melt down your ego and to be "unified with the universe" (and that's even an understatement for how it feels emoticon) Anyway, they will not magically solve problems, but they tend to produce conclusions like: "Damn, I need to live a better life as a better person"

Concrete experience:
  • no practice + mushrooms: mostly bad trip and dark night afterwards (don't know if crossed the A&P while or before) // in the long run probably the reason to pick up practice
  • 3,5 years practice + shrooms: mystical state comparable to 4th MCTB path with ultraclarity and unambiguity, loss of so much resistance, psychological insights and revealing of misconceptions of me and the world (illusions) // though afterwards the state faded of course, it was the motivation for me to go all in with practice
  • 4 years practice + LSD: life relevant insights, psychologically liberating (losing grip of shame and self deprivation)
Mushrooms felt way more mystical and "godlike" (probably better choice if you want to have such an experience), whereas LSD felt like a journey you can steer.
thanks! streamsurfer. emoticon

RE: Do psychedelics speed up the progress in meditation practice?
Answer
9/26/17 10:41 PM as a reply to paramatha K.
Hi paramantha K,

Here's a link to my memoir (title is Silicon Valley Monk): https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/495629. There's buttons for epub, PDF, and mobi (for the Kindle).

Regarding your question, it took about 16 years between the first A&P experience on psychedelics and the second, at my first 7 day Zen retreat. I stopped taking psychedelics around 2 years after the first A&P. For the first 3 years after the A&P, my practice was fairly sporadic because I was traveling a lot. After that, I did a daily practice for about a half hour each morning, reciting the Tibetan mantra "Om mani padme hum!" until I started Zen practice in 1988. So I would say, in my experience psychedelics didn't really accelerate the practice, but they didn't hinder it either, except to the extent that I didn't get motivated to actually find a teacher and get serious about it. Remember YMMV so I expect there are other people who experienced more of a benefit. For me, it opened the door, but it took a while for me to actually walk through it.

Hope that helps.

RE: Do psychedelics speed up the progress in meditation practice?
Answer
9/26/17 11:52 PM as a reply to paramatha K.
If you really want to understand what this is all about, forget the hallucinogens and take ecstasy.   Being love is a lot faster and more fun than picking your reality apart, IMHO. 

RE: Do psychedelics speed up the progress in meditation practice?
Answer
10/1/17 12:22 AM as a reply to paramatha K.
Several months ago I began experimenting with psychedelics with the goal of shaking up my meditation practice. I had some powerful, interesting experiences on LSD and psilocyin, but cannabis has proven to be the most effective entheogen. 

After two weeks of meditating with cannabis, I experienced an intense A&P, with violent shaking and intense kundalini phenomenon. A few weeks after that, I had a possible stream entry event which has been semi-confirmed by a well known teacher. The stream entry event happened while sober, but I believe my frequent usage of cannabis contributed. I'm still hesitant to regard it as stream entry, and I'm open to the interpretation that what I experienced wasn't the "real" thing. That said, I've been told Bill Hamilton and Shinzen Young were frequent users, so who's to say it wasn't legitimate.

It's definitely affected my meditation practice. I experience kriyas and kundalini while meditating even while sober, which never happened before I started using. And I've noticed a subtle positive shift in my general mental state, which seems to be permanent. 

Downsides? Meditating while on cannabis amplifies mental phenomenon, and one time I went too far and induced a panic attack. I now know how to anticipate it and back off before it goes out of control. Also, be prepared to ride out intense emotional swings and relive all of your worst baggage.

 

 

RE: Do psychedelics speed up the progress in meditation practice?
Answer
10/1/17 1:25 PM as a reply to svmonk.
svmonk:
Hi paramantha K,

Here's a link to my memoir (title is Silicon Valley Monk): https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/495629. There's buttons for epub, PDF, and mobi (for the Kindle).

Regarding your question, it took about 16 years between the first A&P experience on psychedelics and the second, at my first 7 day Zen retreat. I stopped taking psychedelics around 2 years after the first A&P. For the first 3 years after the A&P, my practice was fairly sporadic because I was traveling a lot. After that, I did a daily practice for about a half hour each morning, reciting the Tibetan mantra "Om mani padme hum!" until I started Zen practice in 1988. So I would say, in my experience psychedelics didn't really accelerate the practice, but they didn't hinder it either, except to the extent that I didn't get motivated to actually find a teacher and get serious about it. Remember YMMV so I expect there are other people who experienced more of a benefit. For me, it opened the door, but it took a while for me to actually walk through it.

Hope that helps.

Thanks svmonk!
I am not done reading your book yet due to my schedule.
But I read all the chapters about your personal history/experience in your spiritual journey.
Those chapters were truly interesting and precious!
You described experiences that are rarely discussed in the meditation community.

I would like to know about the strong experience you had at the retreat in Forest Refuge:
Did your use of psychedelics (although at that time it was 30+ years since your last trip) made the experience stronger than it could have been?
Practicing with wrong intention coupled with powerful concentration can produce less desirable experiences.
But could the psychedelics (if any of it was still left in your system) have contributed to having such a powerful experience?

Have you gone back to any long intensive retreat after that incident?

I want to thank you again for replying to my thread. Your experience was quite interesting and helpful.

RE: Do psychedelics speed up the progress in meditation practice?
Answer
10/1/17 1:49 PM as a reply to Jay Douglass.
Jay Douglass:
Several months ago I began experimenting with psychedelics with the goal of shaking up my meditation practice. I had some powerful, interesting experiences on LSD and psilocyin, but cannabis has proven to be the most effective entheogen. 

After two weeks of meditating with cannabis, I experienced an intense A&P, with violent shaking and intense kundalini phenomenon. A few weeks after that, I had a possible stream entry event which has been semi-confirmed by a well known teacher. The stream entry event happened while sober, but I believe my frequent usage of cannabis contributed. I'm still hesitant to regard it as stream entry, and I'm open to the interpretation that what I experienced wasn't the "real" thing. That said, I've been told Bill Hamilton and Shinzen Young were frequent users, so who's to say it wasn't legitimate.

It's definitely affected my meditation practice. I experience kriyas and kundalini while meditating even while sober, which never happened before I started using. And I've noticed a subtle positive shift in my general mental state, which seems to be permanent. 

Downsides? Meditating while on cannabis amplifies mental phenomenon, and one time I went too far and induced a panic attack. I now know how to anticipate it and back off before it goes out of control. Also, be prepared to ride out intense emotional swings and relive all of your worst baggage.

 

 

Thanks Jay!
So I assume in your case, it definitely helped you progress faster.
I never thought cannabis would produce that kind of effect.
And also, is using cannabis less dangerous than LSD or psilocyin?

Anyway I appreciate your feedback.