Meditating on Psychedelics : What Camp Are You In?

What Camp Are You In?

Now, this model isn’t meant to be exhaustive, complete, or academic in its thoroughness. Rather, it’s meant to serve as a simple way to orient the exploration so that it can move forward.

The Anti-Psychedelic Puritans: “Absolutely Not”

The Anti-psychedelic Puritan camp holds that psychedelic usage is dumb, harmful, and should be avoided always and at all costs. Folks in this camp may express the opinion that psychedelic usage has nothing whatsoever to do with Buddhist practice, is a distraction, or worse yet will seriously fuck you up.

  • The drug or other substance has a high potential for abuse.
  • The drug or other substance has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.
  • There is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision.

The Tolerant Buddhists: “Maybe, But”

The Tolerant Buddhists are the folks who recognize that psychedelics aren’t all bad, and that they have something to offer to some people some of the time. They say “maybe, but” because while they see that psychedelics may be helpful they also think they can be harmful and that they’re more of a gateway toward interesting things, like meditation practice, than an ultimate end point.

The Psychedelic Buddhists: “Yes, And”

A “Psychedelic Buddhist” — a coin termed by scholar Douglas Osto — goes further than the Tolerant Buddhist in terms of their appraisal of the potential benefits of mixing ritual psychedelic use with Buddhist practice. Psychedelic Buddhists hold that meditation practice & psychedelics can inform, augment, & enhance one another.

The Psychedelic Evangelists: “Absolutely Yes”

Psychedelic Evangelists claim that psychedelic use is categorically good for everyone. They hold that virtually everyone could benefit in some shape or form by experimenting, in the correct way, with psychedelics. They may refer to these substances primarily, or solely, as medicines. Their views are diametrically opposed to the anti-psychedelic puritans and they tend to be the most fervent activists and supporters of the medical and recreational legalization of these substances.

The Psychedelic Agnostics: “Don’t Know”

The Psychedelic Agnostics doesn’t take a position on whether, or how, psychedelics and Buddhist practice mix. People in this camp “don’t know”, perhaps because they haven’t considered the question much, or because they don’t feel they have enough information to take a stand.

An Unscientific Poll

Upon sharing this model, we conducted a little twitter poll to see where our twitter followers fell. We didn’t include the agnostic camp, simply because twitter limits their polls to 4 responses. Here are the results (so far):

How This Framework is Being Used

As I mentioned at the beginning I’m using this framework to help orient the exploration during the Meditating on Psychedelics series. I’ve decided to keep this series focused exclusively on 2 of these 5 camps: The Tolerant Buddhists & The Psychedelic Buddhists. If you’re interested in hearing more about the reasons for that listen to the opening podcast in the series: Meditating on Psychedelics and follow along with the series! It’s guaranteed to get trippy! 😜



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