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Hallucinogens and Yoga
Date: Feb 19, 2009
New Visitors: It is recommended you read from the beginning of the web archive, as previous
lessons are prerequisite to this one. The first lesson is, "Why
In the native cultures of the world (including in ancient India), spiritual
experience has sometimes been associated (and ritualized) with the ingestion
of hallucinogenic substances derived from plants. In modern times,
in addition to alcohol, the use of such substances for
recreational purposes has become common, especially marijuana, certain types
of mushrooms, and synthetic substances, particularly LSD, which rose to
prominence in the youth counter culture of the 1960s and 1970s. Many
from that era give some credit to their drug experiences in helping launch
them on serious and drugless spiritual paths later on. It cannot be denied.
This leaves us with two lingering questions.
First, are drug experiences necessary to embark on a spiritual path? The
answer is obviously, no, for many pursue spiritual awakening without a drug
experience being the initial stimulus. However, it can be said that in many
cases, some sort of initial altered state of consciousness led to the
inspiration and desire for a more permanent awakening. Such an initial
experience can be caused by an accident, an illness, a spontaneous inner
awakening, spiritual vision, or other life-altering event. Or maybe the
aspirant just knows inside that there is something more to life than the
conventional knowledge society is offering. The seed of spiritual desire can
germinate from many causes. Ultimately, the call comes from within.
Drugs are only one of many ways people can be inspired to pursue a broader
possibility within. In virtually all cases where an initial altered state is
experienced, it will only be a preview, and not the onset of permanent
spiritual transformation. It is important to recognize that any particular
spiritual experience does not constitute a final outcome. For moving toward
a final outcome in terms of spiritual progress, a different strategy is
necessary, one which will systematically and gradually promote the
purification and opening of the nervous system to its full capabilities.
This leads to the second question: Are drugs an aid in ongoing yoga
practice? If there is any initial benefit found in the artificial experience
produced by drugs, then the repetition of that experience is not likely to
take us further. To assume so is a flight of fancy the magic bullet
syndrome. In the case of continuing with hallucinogenic drugs to recreate a
particular kind of experience, we will be producing the opposite effect
underneath adding to the obstructions lodged deep within our nervous
Spiritual development is not primarily about having a temporary peak
experience. Rather, it is a natural and permanent awakening, which can be
achieved only through ongoing deep inner purification. This is why anyone
engaged in daily deep meditation will find urges for substances that produce
artificial experiences falling away. This applies to hallucinogenic drugs,
alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, and eating habits that retard the natural
expression of the divine light emerging from within us.
The guru is in you.
For detailed instructions on deep meditation, see the
AYP Deep Meditation book.
For detailed discussion on
the implications of artificially induced states of
consciousness, see the
Diet, Shatkarmas and Amaroli
see AYP Plus.