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Does LSD Harm Meditation Progress

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Does LSD Harm Meditation Progress
Answer
1/2/18 10:08 AM
Would a one-time LSD session make concentration/insight advancement more difficult in any way? Any effects at all?

What about mushrooms?

The last of the five precepts are to avoid intoxicants, so I suppose they do some kind of harm...

All best

RE: Does LSD Harm Meditation Progress
Answer
1/2/18 9:20 PM as a reply to Jack.
Jack:
Would a one-time LSD session make concentration/insight advancement more difficult in any way? Any effects at all?

What about mushrooms?

The last of the five precepts are to avoid intoxicants, so I suppose they do some kind of harm...

All best
Jack,

There seem to be mixed feelings about psychedelic use in the Dharma world.  The danger is that they are a wild card. They have widely different effects on different brains. There is no way of telling if a one-time LSD session would have any negative or positive effects on your place in practice or your mental well being.

However, I wouldn't use the fifth precept as a reason against exploring. At that point I'd say you are surrendering to dogma. Most intoxicants cause decreased mental clarity. Heavy use harms the body and put people at risk of addiction (leads away from awakening, therefore the fifth precept). Psycedelics, however, as you probably know are used for spiritual purposes in cultures around the world. Used responsibly, they often lead to increased mental clarity and are sometimes used to help people overcome addictions.  

This all being said, if it were me, as a former psychedelic user and newly serious practictioner, I would not partake in psychedelic use for I am well aware of what can be attained without it through consistent practice. It doesn't seem worth it throwing a potential wrench in the works.   

RE: Does LSD Harm Meditation Progress
Answer
1/3/18 7:46 AM as a reply to Nick O.
Thanks for your good answer, Nick.
If it is a potential wrench, I'll just avoid it.

RE: Does LSD Harm Meditation Progress
Answer
1/3/18 11:54 AM as a reply to Jack.
I would as well suggest you to gain some confidence in the dharma realms and then decide if psychedelics are of any use for you ;)

RE: Does LSD Harm Meditation Progress
Answer
1/3/18 12:43 PM as a reply to Jack.
Jack:
The last of the five precepts are to avoid intoxicants, so I suppose they do some kind of harm...

1.
I undertake the training rule to abstain from killing.Pāṇātipātā veramaṇī sikkhāpadaṃ samādiyāmi.
2.I undertake the training rule to abstain from taking what is not given.Adinnādānā veramaṇī sikkhāpadaṃ samādiyāmi.
3.I undertake the training rule to avoid sexual misconduct.Kāmesumicchācāra veramaṇī sikkhāpadaṃ samādiyāmi.
4.I undertake the training rule to abstain from false speech.Musāvādā veramaṇī sikkhāpadaṃ samādiyāmi.
5.I undertake the precept to refrain from intoxicating drinks and drugs which lead to carelessness.

1-4 = dont be a dick
5 = dont take anything that makes you be a dick
The key word here is carelessness.
Most people forget that part.
~D

RE: Does LSD Harm Meditation Progress
Answer
1/4/18 12:17 AM as a reply to Dream Walker.
No, the fifth precept is, as far as I know, litterally against fermented drinks that cause carelessness, if we’re going to get dogmatic. I don’t know if LSD is fermented. It can certainly make you care about nothing and/or everything though. 
Mushrooms are not fermented. While there are serious risks, like doing very stupid and dangerous things on them, this is interesting:

https://youtu.be/JCXQ2syNsKU

RE: Does LSD Harm Meditation Progress
Answer
1/4/18 1:31 AM as a reply to Pål R.
But psychedelics produce/catalyze a lot of content and your mind must be better able to handle it, otherwise it will lead to carelessness.
And even if meditation and magic mushrooms produce similar brain changes, it's a difference when you build up a stable practice with self discipline and life ethics or just do trips and wait for some qualities of mind to come.

RE: Does LSD Harm Meditation Progress
Answer
1/4/18 1:41 AM as a reply to Jack.
I've experience with LSD and various psychedelics. My exp. with LSD is that it can trigger a powerful A&P and remove doubts regarding practice. After seeing what your mind is capable of, there is a strong rise in motivation to practice. Downside is that after ~100 hrs of meditation LSD puts you in very pleasant jhanic-like states - bodily bliss is so strong, that it's hard not to increase doses. When doses increase, crazy shit start to happen and can destabilize you.

I stopped taking LSD for that reason.

I prefer psilocybin - it does not produce bliss in body for me, but deactivates default mode network, activates right brain and deactivates amygdala. Crazy shit still happens and has destabilizing potential, but it's much easier to handle than LSD and IMO has higher therapeutic potential.

DMT is too much for me. According to reports it can blast you into a different dimension and very seriously fuck with your mind.

In short: these are powerful tools, caution is advised.

RE: Does LSD Harm Meditation Progress
Answer
1/4/18 7:57 AM as a reply to Pål R.
Pål R:
No, the fifth precept is, as far as I know, litterally against fermented drinks that cause carelessness, if we’re going to get dogmatic. 

Ahh if true, this would make sense for me. I'm a former heavy drinker. Alcohol really takes its toll on my practice and increases cravings of all types.  Because of this,  I've only had 1 drink in the last 3 months. I still use tiny doses of cannabis occasionally at bedtime and while I've typically associated it with closing a screen door on awareness, there have been times lately where it really magnifies the senses, giving me a closer look at things. 

And now that more people have responded to this thread I feel more comfortable to say, Jack,  that I probably wouldn't have been into any of this spiritual business if it weren't for prior psychedelic use. But still, tread lightly and be careful! 

RE: Does LSD Harm Meditation Progress
Answer
1/11/18 4:12 AM as a reply to Jack.
howdy Jack,
i was "dosed" with some pretty strong windowpane back in the '70s' and this led to an experience that i learned decades later (thanks Daniel) was the A&P.  it was a shocking, near death, experience where "I" was bourn down to ever more subtle levels of conciousness. 

"I" remained present the entire time but the experience left a "question mark" in me so deep that from that moment on I was "on the ride".

personally i feel that the dangers of psychedelics far outweigh the benefits but that is based on some pretty black personal experience.  they are too untrustworthy for me to rely upon.  they CAN be destabilizing just as intense dry insight can be.

just  my two cents.

tom

RE: Does LSD Harm Meditation Progress
Answer
1/11/18 9:48 AM as a reply to Jack.
LSD & PCE: An Empirical Experiment by Tommy McNally

https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/3074604

RE: Does LSD Harm Meditation Progress
Answer
1/12/18 4:05 AM as a reply to An Eternal Now.
I agree with the wild card perspective. Reports here on this forum are all over the place, as are plenty of other reports I have heard from people who have contacted me. The following conclusions are all from reliable field reports of the effects of psychedelics:

Is it true that psychedelics can break people loose from mental restrictions and launch them into insights and enhanced perspectives? Definitely.

Is it true that psychedelics can break people's brains and cause serious long-lasting problems? Definitely.

Is it true that psychedelics often just lead to a trip that doesn't break anything or provide obvious positive benefits? Definitely.

Is it true that psychedelics can sometimes lead to some really adverse behaviors with long-term consequences? Definitely.

Is it true that psychedelics can often be handled well in good contexts without adverse behaviors? Definitely.

Is it true that psychedelics are illegal in most countries and can get people landed in jail with adverse criminal records and high fines? Definitely.

Is it true that psychedelics are often used by people in countries where they are illegal without running afoul of the law? Definitely.

Is it true that psychedelics can cause people to cross the A&P sometimes? Definitely.

Is it true that psychedelics can cause people to suddenly plunge in to the Dark Night stages sometimes in dramatically altered and very destabilizing forms that can cause long-term psychological trauma which can take years to sort out and recover from? Definitely.

Is it true that psychedelics have been taken hundreds of times by some peole without any obvious insights at all to show for it? Definitely.

Is it true that psychedelics have been taken hundreds of times by some people without any adverse effects to show for it? Definitely.

Is it true that psychedelics can land people in emergency departments with very high medical bills and embarrassing and adverse job consequences if their employer finds out? Definitely.

Is it true that psychedelics can offer people a taste of something that people later decide to find on their own power by meditating? Definitely.

Is it true that psychedelics can tempt people that believe them to be an easy way to get the benefits of meditation without actually having to do the work, thus providing a side-track that derails the meditation practice of the person who took them? Definitely.

Is it true that psychedelics can get some people into jhana-like states, particularly if they learn to guide them in that direction? Definitely.

Is it true that psychedelics have cause reliable reports of people getting stream-entry or higher paths by taking them? No so far that I have heard.

That's my summary of the debate.

RE: Does LSD Harm Meditation Progress
Answer
1/13/18 7:13 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Very good points Daniel, thanks.

RE: Does LSD Harm Meditation Progress
Answer
1/13/18 12:14 PM as a reply to An Eternal Now.
Other than the nyanas and jhanas (both which can be triggered by psychedelics), psychedelics can also lead to direct realization of Pure Presence-Awareness (usually in the form of I AMness for many people I personally know, as well as the famous teacher Ram Dass), also other states like PCE (Pure Consciousness Experience of all senses without self/Self), and so forth. In Actual Freedom teachings, Richard talks about an accidental Psilocybin experience triggering hours long PCE as the starting point that led to his search which eventually culminated in an Actual Freedom.

Rarely does psychedelics alone lead to the effortless and natural state of Presence as all phenomena as that requires deep insight. In Tommy's case it may have facilitated his contemplation and resulted in certain insights but that's because all the stars are aligned including where he is at in his practice, the experiences/insights he already had and the pointers/teachings he had been reading along with a little psychedelic 'help' that sort of facilitated his contemplation as it probably induced a PCE sort of state for him.

And of course, there are no guarantees that you will experience X if you do X amount of LSD/mushroom/DMT/etc. There are dangers abound especially if done at higher dosages. (But the same can be said about meditation practices, perhaps to a different extent) Psychedelic effects are usually transient and wears off after 6~12 hours but long term negative effect on mental wellbeing can happen especially if the person is mentally unstable or has a genetic inclination towards psychiatric issues to begin with, or after some particular bad trips, etc, or one might get HPPD after abusing psychedelics on regular basis.

RE: Does LSD Harm Meditation Progress
Answer
1/14/18 2:56 PM as a reply to An Eternal Now.
Back from a 10-day retreat to find so many answers!

Admittedly, my interest in LSD is that I've been writing a story that involves psychedelics and mind-stuff—I've read others' accounts and begun reading the Psychedlic Explorer's Guide, and thanks for posting the Tommy M. thread, I'll check it out), but I felt like a phony, like secondary accounts might not make for the best content to pull from. Thus my inquiry...

Besides a concern for harmful lasting effects / wild-cards, my concern was whether experiencing some other state so easily would demotivate daily practice, getting in the hours of cushion-work.

Thanks for the responses.

RE: Does LSD Harm Meditation Progress
Answer
1/14/18 3:25 PM as a reply to Jack.
Jack:
Back from a 10-day retreat to find so many answers!

Admittedly, my interest in LSD is that I've been writing a story that involves psychedelics and mind-stuff—I've read others' accounts and begun reading the Psychedlic Explorer's Guide, and thanks for posting the Tommy M. thread, I'll check it out), but I felt like a phony, like secondary accounts might not make for the best content to pull from. Thus my inquiry...

Besides a concern for harmful lasting effects / wild-cards, my concern was whether experiencing some other state so easily would demotivate daily practice, getting in the hours of cushion-work.

Thanks for the responses.

Semi-related, but i've always thought that the 'depersonlization' aspect of an LSD experience mirrors a similar feeling i've had coming out of a meditation retreat and visiting the local town ie you're watching people going about their business on automatic pilot in their own world at a faster pace than you've now operating at and it comes across like a computer program, or a new 'virtual reality' - I'm assuming it corresponds with mind-body and seeing all phenomena as empty of 'selves', people don't look like autonamous creatures. Perhaps that's where the Timothy Leary 'hive mind' phrase originates from.

RE: Does LSD Harm Meditation Progress
Answer
1/17/18 5:59 PM as a reply to Jack.
aloha,

   Recently listening to some old alan watts tapes, he claims that the precept regarding taking intoxicants referred specifically to taking three particular substances. And we have no idea now what those substances were. It hardly matters; no doubt the buddha would expect you to use good judgement. Many teachers emphasize not dissipating yourself in low dives at the expense of paying the rent and feeding the kids, that sort of thing. Legitimate spiritual exploration seems ok to me, particularly in kali yuga, or mappo.
   
   I haven't taken psychedelics in many years (though I am thinking about doing shroomz again), but back in the day I took as many as anyone, perhaps 1000x times, all types. One day lsd, the next mescaline, to keep it fresh. When people used to ask me if I had flashbacks, I'd say, 'Flashbacks? I never came down.' True enough - take these drugs, even once or twice, and you will be permanently changed. (Beats being a straw dog.)

   My first few 'trips' were unsettling. I got to observe my ego as a separate entity from the observing consciousness, and it wasn't a pretty picture. I stayed away from psychedelics for some months, while I tried to digest the insights. I could not. The futility of reasoning about it and the meaninglessness of everything I had thought of as true and real slowly brought my mind to a stop. I found myself looking at a bush on the horizon and deciding that the bush was so meaningless, I could just blot it out.  I could blot out the bush, I thought, but it wouldn't be just black behind it, because black was meaningless too. It would be...just...void.... Void. At this point I reached the nadir, and it became the zenith; I was ecstatic. I had a series of brief experiences. I felt the air around me to be thick, almost solid, and myself continuous with it, with the earth, and the universe.  My reasoning mind was equal to the physical world, vast chains of logic and mountains of Reason extended everywhere along with the Real, utterly beyond what I could grasp. I 'realized' that 'I' was the creator of the universe, and that I could by golly paint it purple with green stripes if I wanted to, any color I liked. It was silly to construct a world from scraps of books and tv and conversation, when I could make it whole out of my Heart's Desire. I felt fear, briefly, because I knew then I would always be alone, that I was Alone, all-one. I had a red pill/ blue pill moment, I could back out, be just like everyone else, rejoin the herd. At the time I had not read anything about spirituality, knew nothing of buddhism or taoism and had rejected christianity; I had never heard of "the void." Later when reading what chuang tzu wrote of fishes out of water who spent their time moistening each other with slime and spit, as opposed to the fishes who got away and swam freely in clean water, I realized that was the 'choice.' I chose to proceed with the opening/unfolding, still full of Joy but aware of the gravity, having feelings/insights more intense than anything I had ever felt; an enduring knowledge that nothing in the sensual world could remotely compare to This. At this point, the narrative ends, I don't remember a thing after that. I suppose I was 'in' nirvana. I emerged from this condition at least three weeks later, possibly as many as six weeks, I was still deeply impressed. Memory began again as friends were talking, and the first thing I remember hearing was a friend saying, "that is ok for you, but the rest of us don't see it that way." I asked them what I had been saying, and they told me I had been telling them for weeks that there was nothing to worry about, that everying was perfect and everything was going to work out perfectly. I remembered none of it, but apparently I had been functioning just fine as a naval petty officer during the time I was 'away'; only my friends had noticed anything different, and only my roommate had realized I was 'gone.' The rest is mere history, perhaps I'll write my memoirs someday hehehe.

   People may tell you that these drugs merely provide a transitory experience and that is true as far as it goes. The experience may provide you a key to escape plato's cave. The acquisition of absolute faith that nirvana is more real than anything in samsaric time is a pearl beyond price. 

   Don't let the fact that the media never ever run a good drug story fool you, most of us have had very positive drug experiences, and certainly the musicians we like to listen to have. I recommend watching 'the bill hicks story' for a treatment of mushrooms and media hypocrisy. It would be more appropriate to think of these substances as "sacred" than to put them in the pejorative catchall "drugs," or, worse, call them "recreational." 

   And don't take these drugs unless you are completely sincere and willing to risk your attachment to ego and externals. If you have no intention of using the key to open the door, don't bother obtaining the key. Consider what it might be like to know you are Alone.

   Lastly, don't fear enlightenment, it won't hurt you or anyone else. You won't abandon your commitments 'in the world' - everyone has to do something and one thing is as good as another, so when we awaken, we begin Life where we are 'thrown.' You might no longer care which team wins the big game, but you will care if your daughter's feelings are hurt.

   So, a qualified thumbs up for taking psychedelic drugs. If it is your first time, go alone and fasting into nature, or be with a friend who is similarly inclined; or both. (cubensis is mellow and dreamy, even in quantity; mexicana is right next to acid in intensity, and more is stronger - we took 50 or 100 cubensis, or two or three mexicana... we used to dry cubensis, grind it and take it in capsules... tillamook dairy farmers used to charge hippies for searching their cow pastures for mushrooms; I once found an earring in a cowpie...I understand they grow in the hills above waimea on the big island, and in the upper reaches of waipio valley, but I have never seen them)

   As far as the specific of lsd helping or hurting a meditation practice: if meditation is digging through hard rock, lsd is dynamite. Used effectively, you might knock off a few thousand lifetimes of samsaric struggle and go more directly for the prize. The question is, do you meditate to become enlightened, to achieve nirvana, or are you looking for your practice of meditation to make your life in the world more comfortable and pleasant? (That's aut-aut, not vel-vel.) Lsd is  a tool that might enable you to be more genuine, authentic and real. It might be wise to place yourself in a situation that supports this process before ingesting.

   Be careful; good luck. "The world is a blind-fold..." rumi says.


aloha, terry

RE: Does LSD Harm Meditation Progress
Answer
1/18/18 5:09 AM as a reply to terry.
Interesting report. I find it particularly interesting the specific statement that got you out of your condition. It is horribly bizarre that you don't recall functioning just fine for three weeks' time!

This woman took LSD once a week for 10 months. She also has an interesting report:

https://aellagirl.com/2016/08/21/421/

She also has a follow-up post about that experience: Permanent mental effects from LSD.

RE: Does LSD Harm Meditation Progress
Answer
1/18/18 12:15 PM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
aloha bruno,

   I suspect that nirvana and our ordinary memory-based consciousness  cannot coincide. Thus the poignancy of seeking nirvana, you have to give up your life for it (hence as the buddha knew, only suffering people would seek It; blessed are the sufffering). The christian image of this process is a grain of corn planted in the ground and thence multiplying 100-fold. "Who seeks to save his life shall lose it, but who loses his life for My sake shall preserve it." Or as the sufis say, "die before you die." The applicable sufi story is about the river which came to the sands and ended in a quagmire. Try as it might, the river could not get across the sands. The wind offered to carry the river across the sands, but the river was afraid, it would have to disappear for a time and didn't know how that would feel. The wind talked her into it though, and she evaporated into the air, to rain down on verdant fields far away and reassemble into a river again. 

   Your focusing on the words which brought me out is insightful; this was very significant. I could (apparently) maintain the nirvana state *until* I began to try to see how my friends viewed things. Once I thought about It from their point of view, that everything was not perfect and wouldn't work out well without a lot of worry and effort by their egos, I snapped back into "ordinary" ego-based consciousness. I think this is the bodhisattva tendency, to return to aid being(s) rather than to stay high as a pratyekabuddha. (NB heraclitus' statement, "To god all things are fair and good and right, but men hold some things wrong and some right." )

   I don't regard this story as a drug report, btw. I hadn't taken any drugs at all for months when it occurred. At most, the insights introduced by lsd provided the key that eventually led to the opening of the door. 


terry

RE: Does LSD Harm Meditation Progress
Answer
1/18/18 4:39 PM as a reply to terry.
   I suspect that nirvana and our ordinary memory-based consciousness  cannot coincide.

Well, I would guess that if you managed to feed yourself, go to your job, pay your bills, etc for a couple of weeks, your memory and common sense must have been working to some degree, right?

What do you make of the description that I linked above, where she strongly believes that had she continued to pursue her LSD project, she would loose all will to live (or not to live) or feed herself, or do anything and die of sheer apathy.

A friend psychonaut once expressed the sense that this was indeed the direction where psychedelics took you, whereas I personally have the sense that I would be completely functional in the place I wish to arrive at, whenever I am granted a good glimpse of that place.
Your focusing on the words which brought me out is insightful; this was very significant. I could (apparently) maintain the nirvana state *until* I began to try to see how my friends viewed things.
It's like they called you back. It also doesn't bode very well for this state you experienced. Did it really take you three weeks until you had your first moment of empathy?

RE: Does LSD Harm Meditation Progress
Answer
1/19/18 3:28 PM as a reply to Jack.
~~"I believe that psychedelics may be indispensable for some people—especially those who, like me, initially need convincing that
profound changes in consciousness are possible. After that, it seems wise to find ways of practicing that do not present the same risks.
Happily, such methods are widely available."  https://samharris.org/podcasts/drugs-and-the-meaning-of-life/



A little late to the party to comment, but I love Sam Harris' take on pychedelics.  I too, would likely not have progressed as far in my practice or taken it as seriously had I not had a few guided, safe psychedelic experiences.

As for James Fadiman's book, "The Psychedelic Explorer's Guide," it was very helpful in planning my experience.
A little planning, an experienced guide, appropriate dosing and a little luck made for a singular and very positive event.  That said, there is wisdom in proceeding with catution.  Like meditation, pshychedelics may not be for everyone. 

"Human death from toxic pharmocologic effects ofLSD has never been documented," according to Presti and Beck from the chapter on
"Myths and Misperceptions" in the The Psychedelic Explorer's Guide. 

As for the concern regarding long term, negative effects, Fadiman's book states, "Lasting (chronic) negative psychological effects are a
different story.  LSD and other hallucinogens are frequently discussed as being associated with a significant and unpredictable risk of
"going crazy,"as well as a haunting fear of "perpmanent brain damage."  Such folklore includes outrageous statements like "use LSD
seven times you are legally insane," or "I know someone who took LSD and fel like they turned into an orange, and they still feel like they
are an oragne."  Other effects spoken of are the development of chronic anxiety, depression, paranoia, psychosis, or suicidal and violent
behavior, to name but a few. 

While we are not disputing the possibility that lasting negative effects of LSD use might occur in particular individuals, review of the clinical
literature suggest that chronic problematic effects, when they do occur, are most often associated with psychological instability that was present prior to LSD use.  For example, people with borderline personality functioning or latent mental disorders (having a positive family 
history of schizophrenia) may experience activation of  symptoms from LSD use and chronic problems thereafter.  Such individuals would
also be at risk for exposure to a variety of other environmental stressors."

RE: Does LSD Harm Meditation Progress
Answer
1/19/18 3:32 PM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
Bruno Loff:
   I suspect that nirvana and our ordinary memory-based consciousness  cannot coincide.

Well, I would guess that if you managed to feed yourself, go to your job, pay your bills, etc for a couple of weeks, your memory and common sense must have been working to some degree, right?

What do you make of the description that I linked above, where she strongly believes that had she continued to pursue her LSD project, she would loose all will to live (or not to live) or feed herself, or do anything and die of sheer apathy.

A friend psychonaut once expressed the sense that this was indeed the direction where psychedelics took you, whereas I personally have the sense that I would be completely functional in the place I wish to arrive at, whenever I am granted a good glimpse of that place.
Your focusing on the words which brought me out is insightful; this was very significant. I could (apparently) maintain the nirvana state *until* I began to try to see how my friends viewed things.
It's like they called you back. It also doesn't bode very well for this state you experienced. Did it really take you three weeks until you had your first moment of empathy?

aloha bruno,

   That I managed to perform all the essential functions of life in a state of consciousness that I could not later remember for a month or so indicates to me that what we know as ordinary consciousness is not necessary to living an ordinary life, for all intents and purposes. You could be talking to someone and they might be 'gate, gate, paragate.' Given the fact that I went into this state full of transcendental joy and came out of it feeling the same way, I tend to think of the whole business as a positive. In fact, the episode has been central to my life ever since. 


   I am not interested in lsd horror stories. The media pay well for such stories, as they are rare.

   My friends were actually very supportive; they lived with me for years after that, some many years, accessing what I learned while unconscious. Then, the times were different.

   I've been reading ryokan, I'm sure I can find a poem or two for you, to illustrate the matter, let me see... here we go:

"Water does not go,
moon does not come.
And yet,
how pure its reflection
on the waves!”
~ryokan

and another:


"On a pitch-dark
night road
I get lost
watching the moon
set behind the faraway mountain.”
~ryokan


terry