There is a lot of exciting research into psychedelics happening right now. Depression, end of life care, PTSD are just a few areas where psychedelics may have a big positive impact.
Podcast link – Dan Harris with Michael Pollan: Psychedelics + Meditation
YouTube link – Roshi Joan Halifax, Michael Pollan, Dacher Keltner: The Power of Awe
Both the podcast and the video are excellent. Check them out.
In the summer of 1978 I lived near the beach on Phuket in Thailand. In those days the island had not been developed yet and there was only one hotel. I never looked at the hotel because I found something I liked better. For $1.50/night I stayed in a hut by the beach for several weeks. Several people I met told me to order a mushroom omelet at the little cafe on the beach. They smiled when they suggested this. One morning I decided to order this mystery omelet. The rest of that day I spent on a rock in the surf and in my hut, meditating. It didn’t occur to me that I had taken a drug because to me, after three years of daily meditation, it didn’t feel different.
Recently, neuroscience has confirmed a connection between meditation and psychedelics in that MRI brain scans taken of people meditating and of people taking psychedelics look very, very similar.
In fact I felt that the trip was simply an extension of my meditation practice. What I mean by that is that the experience was somewhat like riding an e-bike. I am still riding the bike and I am still pedaling, but the e-motor helps me get up to speed quicker and makes the climb a little easier. And it is true that many, many people turned to meditation after such a psychedelic experience. In fact, American Buddhism might not have happened without people who, after psychedelic experiences in the 60s and 70s, traveled to Asia to learn meditation and brought back what became Western Buddhism. Or take Dr. Alpert as an example, who became Baba Ram Dass. In any case, that day I laughed so much that my whole mouth was tired the next morning. Smiling so much can wear you out… :-)
Here is a selfie I took in my little hut on Phuket.
Here is a quote by Michael Pollan – from the above-linked video.
I mean the two biggest problems we face as a civilization I would say are the environmental crisis and tribalism. Both come from the objectifying of the other and therefore the willingness to exploit the other whether the other is people of a different faith, people of a different race, or nature, and so a solvent for this kind of thinking is exactly what the culture needs right now.