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Buddhadharma : Fall 2018
MATTEO PISTONO 33 (Vimalasara) Mason-John, president of the Buddhist Recovery Net- work and coauthor of Eight Step Recovery: Using the Buddha’s Teachings to Overcome Addictions. “There is a part of me that is curious about ayahuasca. But then I have to remember, ‘I’m an addict.’ It is a risk. I don’t know what will happen. It may be bril- liant—I may get to glimpse enlightenment for a few minutes. But I’m not prepared to take that risk because I have that addictive mind.” Mason-John stresses that if a dharma practitioner wants to work with psychedelics, it should be done in a therapeutic setting. “Things can be revealed [on psychedelics] from your subconscious,” she says. “You are thrown all over the place in that journey and people don’t know what to do with all that.” “Psychedelics are definitely not for everyone,” warns one Califor- nia Zen teacher. “People with latent psychosis or schizophrenia, or those who have ever had suicidal thoughts, should not take these substances outside of a clinical setting. Psychedelics seem to open the valve on our storehouse consciousness, and all of our deepest habits and patterns of thinking and behaving come rushing out. The vastness and clarity of pure awareness is there, but it’s sometimes hard to recognize in the chaos, and even terror, of the psychedelic experience.” In Douglas Osto’s Altered States: Buddhism and Psychedelic Spirituality in America, he argues seeking altered states of con- sciousness has always been at the core of Buddhist meditation practice—but there are dangers. He reveals his own and others’ experimentation with psychedelics that led to bouts of psychosis and paranoia. “It took several months of hard work and profes- sional help to completely regain my physical and psychological Some Buddhist teachers, including those with firsthand experience, have concluded that what one experiences on psychedelics is a form of intoxication and that their use, therefore, violates both the letter and spirit of the fifth precept.