Meditation Medicine: A Survey of Psychotropic Drug use in the Development of Western Buddhism

Psychedelic Press UK

The following essay has been written by Kevin Murray and is published here with his kind permission. Please find his contact details at the bottom of this article.

Psychotropic drugs and their role in the history of Buddhist practice in the West is a contentious topic, but for many practitioners in the 1960s and 70s, these substances offered formative rites of passage which provided valuable insights into meditative states of consciousness. As these neophyte Buddhists developed commitment and ability in their practice, most abandoned these chemical catalysts, and “today many teachers advise against the path they travelled” (Badiner 17). In this essay, I will examine the influence of certain hallucinogenic and psychotropic substances on the expansion of Buddhism in the West. I contend that the current generation of Buddhist students are steeped in the spiritual myths of the 60s and cannot help but consider their teacher’s awakening via psychotropic substances with…

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