The Convergence of LSD and Spiritual Practice

Previously there existed many rumors about the danger of using psychedelics. A few decades ago, it was said that LSD had people staring at the sun until their eyes were permanently damaged. It was only an urban legend perpetuated by the Washington State’s Commissioner for the blind. It wasn’t true. He lost his job. Karma served. The late Timothy Leory also knew the value in psychedelics. His advocacy for the use of LSD got him fired from his job as a professor of psychology at Harvard University. I’m sure at the time, it must of been offensive to the institutional academic community for an esteemed and educated man to be advocating to the use of drugs. He lost his job also. Tricky dick Nixon waged a war against the counter culture generation of hippies who were diving into the use of drugs. His reign was way before my time, but the memory of my parents generation wont forget Nixon for regarding drugs as the reason why boys didn’t fight his war in Vietnam. He was exactly right! Historically speaking, if you send a 19 year old male to fight a war, they will go! LSD had the 60’s generation of young men questioning weather or not it was a just war. The truth is – LSD will have you question all kinds of conceptual frameworks. Why is it?

As a Buddhist, I’ve discovered a lot of similarities in the practices of phychonauts in the western world and spiritual laymen and practitioners in the East. In my studies, I learned that many of the western Buddhists who brought Buddhism and Eastern practices to the Unites States started with the use of psychedelics. This is similar to Eastern Buddhists who sometimes use psychedelic drugs as a holy sacrament. What is the similarity between the systematic practice of looking inwards through meditation, and the strange journey through the world of LSD?

When ego is lost, limit is lost.
You become infinite, kind, beautiful.
-Harbhajan Singh Yogi

Ego Loss
From here, I can only speak in my own experience as a seeker. The discovery of ego loss has seemed to be the ends of both meditation, and the self discovery during an acid trip. My first experience with LSD was a complete loss of ego. This feels dreadful. It feels like death. It’s no wonder why the world of psychology is beginning to find success in using LSD as a form of therapy for cancer patients facing death. It’s because the experience of the loss of ego is as if rehearsal for final death. Although LSD wont kill you – it will kill your ego. Realize that it is ego which our psyche desperately clings to as a survival method. This is the psyche’s job. It builds walls of safety through identity, which in turn becomes the same walls of imprisonment. You cannot know life this way. You can only know safety and identity. This is an abstract concept. My identity is American, male, student, brother, son and the list can continue on for a very long time. With hundreds of identities, I feel a sense of belonging. Identity comes with it’s limitation. When we cling to an identity, we also take upon ourselves all the roles and responsibilities that come with it. There is so much suffering in identity. My discovery has been that the ego is only an illusion. This takes a lot of observance with the minds eye. The construction of ego is made of that which Buddhism refers to as the five aggregates – Form, Sensation, Perception, Mental Activity, and Consciousness. I would like to say that I’ve meditated enough to understand this “ego loss” as my experience. But that isn’t true. Ego loss came to me with the use of LSD. What’s left after the ego is dissolved is something that I highly implore you to seek after. Breathing meditation was a really good start for me. I’ll write a blog about breathing meditation soon.

Indian philosophy teaches that in order to know life, you must empty your mind of all the conclusions and apparent knowledge you may have about the nature of your life. This is a simple logical argument. You cannot know life if you’ve already decided what it is. This is supported by modern science. The research tells us that most of what we experience is a simulation of what the mind has gathered. With that information comes the systematic practice of unloading all the baggage which we’ve collected. This is called devotion. It’s complete and utter humility. LSD brought me to complete and utter humility without my consent. Of course, I didn’t know what LSD would be. This is what is was. It began to melt my world and bring down all the software which I’ve collected as a survival process. What’s left? Something abstract and beyond the reals of logic. I’ve written about it in a previous blog Dear LSD.

My spiritual practice is not to learn more. It is to learn less. I dont know what the meaning of life is. I don’t know why I’m here. I don’t know where I came from. I don’t know who I am. I don’t know why things happen the way they do. This is the best place to start your spiritual practice. Are you confused yet? Good! You should be confused. Confusion is a great place to start on the spiritual path. In recent years I’ve learned to used LSD NOT as a form of recreation, rather, as a sacrament. It’s a tool meant to supplement and assist me along the path. I use it seldom, and I’ve trained myself to be sensitive enough to know when it is calling my name.

I don’t recommend the use of LSD. It’s a slippery slope, and it has it’s dangers. You will not need it anyways. Anything that LSD can teach you, life can teach you even better – only if you will be sensitive enough to observe.

Dear friends, if you are reading this blog, I hope that my words will bring some clarity. Please have clarity – I think it will be good Karma for me if you do.

Erik H.

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