Posted in Buddhist community activities, Buddhist Health and Wellness, Conflicts in Buddhist Life

Experiences of ‘Other’ the desperate finding meaning through the wrong use of drugs, or other harmful means

There was a substrand of query in Secular Buddhism on Sugato’s blog so I sent this reply.

Here is a few links to DMT but I wondered if it has anything to do with secular buddhism? Is altered states with drugs a method it proposes? or was it a pattern or a part of their lifestyle?

It is highly dubious that this would be useful to Buddhists at all; and might only interest those who do spend the time learning with a guru or as a part of their traditions’ practice and need to visualize devas and buddhas for their practice-not meaning that they want to pursue it but rather the chemical studies indicate that this is a physical effected type of perception so that means they might be inducing the same state after some time and affecting their body chemistry; the altered states in this way require no guru, no skills, and no need to be a Buddhist it is just a drug that is smoked, injected, and eaten. Within 45 secs this one goes right to the brain…shocking isn’t it?

I do not approve of this type of artificial means to altered states and it is not a part of Buddhist practices, growing up in the 60s I saw my fair share of adults and teens (not my parents who were ok with their buds on the weekends) tripping and their minds were then and are even now when their clean long after as they age, addicted.  Their habits, their life focus is spent trying to fight that memory and experience of addiction.  It’s hard for them and their families.

I’ve seen adults coming in loaded by that I mean high and/or drunk to join a service in a temple, join meditation classes having heard to their talk and expressed anticipation for the expected ‘trip’ (hey some don’t hide that fact and tell anyone or in one case one pulled out his loaded med box and grabbed handfuls in glee, giggling…his family was called and they put him in the hospital again…he was an adult).

DMT a slew of studies happened on this drug that is now a schedule 1 class drug in the USA. Derived from a plant in South America, there have been studies done on near death experiences and drug induced altered states.  See this wiki article for along chemical analysis and pharmacology and the latter half has the information about the research efforts and the various studies of it.

A review in the American Journal of Psychiatry:

DMT: The Spirit Molecule: A Doctor’s Revolutionary Research Into the Biology
of Near-Death and Mystical Experiences

By Rick Strassman, M.D. Rochester, Vt., Park Street Press, 2001, 358 pp.,
$16.95 (paper).

 Just a word about encounters with people in temples, nearly all the people attracted to coming to temples need to be there for various reasons, we can’t know what; the most difficult times for those who encounter people there is when the hurting ones come in they are in the greatest need of peace, a temple is a safe place for all levels of people to be in to study Buddhism.  For this reason we tolerate almost any type of suffering person, as long as they are not hurting someone, not committing a crime or involved in some kind of mental or medical crisis they are welcome.  This means its a quite a degree of latitude of allowable behavior that many are not used to seeing; we feel that by allowing them to remain they receive some benefit, a measure of safety and comfort.
That is why in my earlier post I recommended the Mental Health First Aid.  There is a stigma many people have about mental health, the name for one, the other is fear of that perceived stigma in their own minds.  This fear spans all cultures and countries.  They also fear the label, becoming mentally ill, misperceiving the difference between crisis coping and a long-term challenge of the mental kind or developmental or sociological kind.  Not enough study in Buddhism is usually the problem in perceiving their own state of being, or obstacles within their own state of being.  The reasonable answer is widespread diligent study of Buddhist sutras/suttas plus the commentaries of various traditions masters that are legitimately monks and nuns.



I am a Bhikshuni ordained in Mahayana Chinese Buddhist tradition. I'm currently translating Vinaya sutras from the Chinese Mahayana Tripitaka.