CANCELED - The Secret & Not So Secret Drugs in Buddhism

Thursday June 13: 7:00PM 8:00PM

Due to unforeseen circumstances, this event has been canceled. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Doors open 30 minutes before the start of the event.

A slim long haired man tokes a joint and contemplates god by the banks of a river at sunset. This scene has taken place for millennia on the ghats of the Ganges, where cannabis has been consumed—and continues to be—as a religious sacrament by certain yogis and sadhus. Many were, in the early Vedic period, followers of the cult of Indra, “Lord of Soma” (the plant-derived elixir of immortality that Gordon Wasson claims is the psychoactive mushroom Amanita muscaria), and later Hindu Shaivites, followers of the god Shiva, "Lord of Ganja” (cannabis flower).

Mike Crowley (PhD) argues that drugs, and the cult of Shiva, secretly permeated early Vajraya¯na Buddhism in medieval India. Crowley contends that these Buddhists actively made use of a psychoactive sacrament known as amr?ita that—contrary to the prevailing general opinion—was a mushroom containing the alkaloids psilocybin and psilocin, probably the species Psilocybe Cubensis. Crowley lays out his argument in The Secret Drugs of Buddhism: Psychedelic Sacraments and the Origins of the Vajrayana (Synergetic Press 2019).

In this Olio, we'll look into the argument put forth by Crowley in his controversial book and unpack the social-religious consequences that his thesis brings to bear on contemporary Buddhism in the midst of the so called psychedelic renaissance. Today, most Buddhists believe that taking psychedelics is a violation of their Buddhist precepts. If Crowley is correct in claiming amr?ita (magic mushrooms) were a central feature of Vajrayana Buddhism, then a comprehensive reevaluation of the Buddhist precept regarding “intoxicants” as well as the way Buddhism is currently practiced is in order.

Teacher: Christopher “doc” Kelley is The Founder And Co-facilitator Of Psychedelic Sangha Nyc. He Received A Phd In Religion From Columbia University Where He Studied Indo-tibetan Buddhism With Robert A. F. Thurman. He Is A Part-time Associate Professor In Religious Studies At Eugene Lang College Of Liberal Arts, The New School University.

Complimentary beer by our presenting partner Sixpoint Brewery.

Sixpoint’s motto is “Beer is Culture,” to highlight the human trajectory—the earliest human civilizations were founded upon the cultivation of cereal grains for making beer. Sixpoint aims to perpetually inspire the art, creativity, and collaboration generated through beer by acknowledging the history of the craft, while forging ahead to inspire culture in a modern setting.