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Buddhadharma : Fall 2018
28 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER'S QUARTERLY heal the body and mind, including trauma, but also because she sees this as the safest and most supportive environment. “When we take these plant medicines in the proper setting,” says Washam, “time and again, I myself and others experience a sense of interconnectedness that is beyond words. I’m not talking intellectual understandings but rather a kind of body-based wisdom and love that arises from within. You are connected to others and to nature so deeply you will never forget. It is such a powerful shift in the way we view ourselves in the world. Is it going to enlighten us? No, that is not the job of ayahuasca. Its job is to help us wake up. We still have to do the work of being ethical, working with our heart and mind, and serving others.” Washam’s preliminary talks on set, or intention, encourage retreatants to adopt the bodhisattva ideal of serving all beings, even while on their powerful, and often frighten- ing, ayahuasca journey. inside the temple walls Increasingly, practitioners are inserting the “set and setting” into traditional Buddhist ceremonies and rituals. Vanja Palmers lived and trained for over a decade at Tassajara and Green Gulch and was authorized as a teacher by Kobun Chino Otogawa before returning to his home in Switzerland. He regularly conducts five-day Zen sesshins at Felsentor, his zendo near Lake Lucerne, which include long periods of sitting meditation, mindful walking, and work prac- tice in the mountainside temple. During five recent retreats, he and a group of up to forty meditators also ingested the psychotropic substance psilocybin. Milos Savic’s forthcoming documentary about Palmers includes footage of students approaching their teacher ➤ photo | Joe Robles / Unsplash