Thread: "Buddhism in America is over...."

  1. #1

    "Buddhism in America is over...."

    Soto Zen teacher Brad Warner writes on his blog:

    Buddhism in America is over and Lion’s Roar has killed it.

    I hate to sound so pessimistic, but right now it’s hard to see it any other way.

    Lion’s Roar, a huge, wealthy and supposedly “Buddhist” website, recently published the most pro-drug article I have ever seen in any Buddhist publication. I’m not even going to link to it, it’s such a piece of shameful garbage. It’s entitled “The New Wave of Buddhist Psychedelics.” Look it up yourself if you want to waste your time.

    Tricycle magazine put out a similar piece a little while back (see my article a couple weeks ago for more on that). But at least Tricycle had the decency to include a few dissenting voices. The Lion’s Roar piece has none.

    Continues at the link:

    This is the article he's refering to :

    The New Wave of Psychedelics in Buddhist Practice

    Matteo Pistono takes a close look at how some Buddhist teachers are not only turning toward psychedelics in their practice, but also making it a part of their teaching.

    Any thoughts ?

  2. #2
    Forums Member justusryans's Avatar
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    Jun 2012
    Buckingham, Virginia
    Many thoughts actually. Do these people not know anything about right livelihood? Do they know nothing of the dangers of psychedelics. Using these powerful drugs to “awaken” your mind is not the best idea I’ve ever heard of. Buddhists have been practicing Buddhism for thousands of years without hallucinating drugs. I don’t think encouraging others to to do this is very skillful. It’s,in fact positivity dangerous, as well as illegal. Meditation is what’s needed to open your mind. Not drugs.

    I’m very disappointed....

  3. #3
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    Sep 2010
    Hi Justusryans

    I totally agree, the use of drugs to get"enlightenment experiences" is just plain crazy.

    We live in a world where instant experience is required, we are willing to pop a pill to get what we want, thereby bypassing the work involved in developing a practice.

    I think Brad Warner's reaction is tipically over the top. I do not believe that enlightenment can be experienced in a conditioned temporary state like a drug fuelled trip, the drug experience is just another, albeit a radical one, conditioned state of mind.

    As the article alluded to, it is the mind set, or conditions they set up, that produces the experience, this is not the unconditioned experience of awakening, it is just another experience.

    I am constantly amazed at the human capacity for delusion, this is just another. There are no short cuts

  4. #4
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    Mar 2017
    It's interesting that there is a large movement to rediscover shamanism around the world, which is often embedded in a culture of psychedelics. At the same time many medical people are pushing for them to be used for treating various problems people have as a safe alternative to other therapies. Personally, as a biologist, I'm always wary of putting stuff like that into your body and as a Buddhist I'm even more wary of trying to bring shortcuts to the path.

    The 'doorway' idea comes from the number of people who took drugs and then turned to Buddhism as a way of exploring the experiences they had. You can see the logic without supporting the strategy. Another thing to look out for is elecromagnetic stimulation of different areas of the brain which is supposed to bring about similar outcomes without the need for drugs.

    I think a lot of this comes from the continuing tension between wanting to meditate, and to follow the path, to bring about change in your life, and the often slow, or even glacial, pace of that change. There is also the reluctance of many to describe their experiences while meditating so that it appears to be a rather boring chore to undertake as part of the path. Personally I have had some of the best experiences of my life just sitting meditating, but this aspect isn't given much prominance in Buddhist literature.

  5. #5
    Previous Member
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    Sep 2018
    Both of these publications are not very "Buddhist like", if you know what I mean. They both, especially Tricycle, seem to be more concerned with selling people $100 yuppie meditation cushions. Isn't Lion's Roar a Shambhala publication? If I'm not mistaken, it was started by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, the founder of the Shambhala lineage, which is also only nominally Buddhist. When it was called the Shambhala Sun it was really good, but more than the name changed when they started calling it Lion's Roar.

    I'm not really sure what it means to say that Buddhism in America is "over". There are a lot of Buddhist centers in my town, and two Zen centers for me to go to. I must say that the attendance at the Zen centers is low, but that's understandable, as not everyone is interested in it's highly disciplined, belief free, stripped down form. A lot of people I know that attend other Buddhist lineages have a lot of beliefs, and they are OK with that. I would even say that is what attracts them to the other lineages.

    But is Buddhism about having centers to go to or glossy publications? I don't think it is. Buddhism in America is still largely a fringe spiritual path that attracts a lot of non practicing people that identify as Buddhists, but do not actually practice Buddhism. As McKmike said, people seem to be very fond of delusion. Maybe it's because most of us started with something like Christianity and came to Buddhism with all the non fact based belief systems still intact to a certain degree.

    I know one thing for sure....delusion loves company. We live in a world of delusion, let's not forget that. Spiritual practices that are about breaking free of delusions often just offer up their own delusions in exchange for the newcomer's old ones. I can't tell you how many times I have mentioned to people something about Zen that was practical and down to earth, only to be met with blank stares. Those people seem to want to hear about elaborate practices and rituals. Telling them that my spiritual practice is largely about paying attention to your breathing is NOT what they want to hear, so they just tune it out. Anyway, I don't think those publications are representative of anything other than slick marketing.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by steve marino

    I know one thing for sure....delusion loves company. We live in a world of delusion, let's not forget that. Spiritual practices that are about breaking free of delusions often just offer up their own delusions in exchange for the newcomer's old ones.

    Yes, I think sometimes that can be true, but not always.

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