Observing how commonly patients in their studies reported experiencing death, rebirth, and feelings of cosmic unity, Grob observed:
Fear of their own physiological demise diminished, they became open to the possibility of consciousness existing after clinical death, and tended to view the process of dying as an adventure in consciousness rather than the ultimate biological disaster.
even without a fatal illness, every one of us has a terminal diagnosis—death—and anxiety over its inevitability is the ultimate existential crisis. Whether we approach our inevitable demise with fear and angst, spiritual reverence or simply a healthy curiosity, there is strong evidence that psychedelic therapy can help us reach that milestone with equanimity and grace.
…as have I. I think that in a clinical type of setting, with lots of trained and/or experienced support, this could definitely help with the transition.
I wonder if we should be cautious about learning to face our fears with pharmaceutical assistance. It could be helpful but it might not be a long term solution. Fear comes from within…perhaps we need to learn to face it from within as well.
This might add an interesting twist to the conversation
Few figures were as influential as Alan Watts and Aldous Huxley in popularizing experiments with psychedelic drugs and Eastern religion in the 20th century. Watts did more to introduce Westerners to Zen Buddhism than almost anyone before or since; Huxley’s experiments with mescaline and LSD—as well as his literary critiques of Western technocratic rationalism—are well-known. But in a countercultural movement largely dominated by men—Watts and Huxley, Ken Kesey, Timothy Leary, Allen Ginsberg, etc—Huxley’s widow Laura came to play a significant role after her husband’s death.
In fact, as we’ve discussed before, she played a significant role during his death, injecting him with LSD and reading to him from The Tibetan Book of the Dead as he passed away. In the interview above, Laura speaks with Watts about that experience, one she learned from Aldous, who performed a similar service for his first wife as she died in 1955. The occasion of the interview—conducted at Watts’ Sausalito home in 1968—is the publication of Laura Huxley’s memoir of life with her husband, This Timeless Moment . But talk of the book soon prompts discussion of Huxley’s graceful exit, which Watts calls “a highly intelligent form of dying.”
Back then I think many folks were definitely using them to help them face their fear of life (on campus) as @_Barry mentioned.
I was pondering this yesterday a bit. The Dzogchen practice of Thogal is called “leaping over the skull” and it written of as a serious shortcut to enlightenment. It even involves a bit of hallucinatory experience. That really brings to mind how we were using these drugs back in the day.
I think some religious doctrines can be inherently detrimental if they limit one’s more expansive development as an adult. I was raised as a Catholic and was educated in Catholic schools through high school. In fact, I came very close to pursuing priesthood under the influence of that doctrinal education.
Luckily the very worldly guidance councilor of the high school convinced me to wait a bit before going off to the juniorate. He said to date a few girls and then come back to see him if I still felt called.
Once free from that influence in college I found a different (but interestingly similar) path.
A well managed and psychologically prepared for psychedelic experience need not be a muddled and scattered thing. Once you tame that horse things can be very much under control. Some of the experiences I have had recently while navigating the liminal spaces between dreams have been very similar to what I experienced years ago while tripping.
I agree Steve, though being “religious” or some might call it “spiritual” doesn’t necessarily have to be negative, is all I’m positing here. We have to go the extra step to see if it is a problem, or in some cases, if it’s a solution. As to @Sujata’s point, perhaps the Bardos offer enough of a challenge without psychedelics since using them doesn’t seem to be a regular practice—though who knows? I get surprised by what people have learned from, and are doing with Dharma everyday, and often when I visit this site.
I’ll agree with your statement from my own very limited experience though I’ve seen how both sides, organized and scattered, have resulted in well intended outcomes but also manifesting unintended consequences. My own personal prime directive (#3) is “Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should.”