How do we get trapped within psychedelic experiences?

Ram Dass explores the potential trap of high experiences.

“Paradise is the prison of the sage as the world is the prisoner of the believer.”
Yahja b. Mu’adh al-Razi

For many of us who have come into meditation through psychedelics, the model we had for changing consciousness has been of “getting high”. We pushed away our normal waking state in order to embrace a state of euphoria, harmony, bliss, peace, or ecstasy. Many of us spent long periods of time getting high and coming down. My guru, in speaking about psychedelics, said:

“These medicines will allow you to come and visit Christ, but you can only stay two hours. Then you have to leave again. This is not the true samadhi. It’s better to become Christ than to visit him – but even the visit of a saint for a moment is useful.” Then he added, “But love is the most powerful medicine.” 

For love slowly transforms you into what the psychedelics only let you glimpse.

In view of his words, when I reflected on my trips with LSD and other psychedelics, I saw that after a glimpse of the possibility of transcendence, I continued tripping only to reassure myself that the possibility was still there. Seeing the possibility is indeed different from being the possibility. Sooner or later you must purify and alter your mind, heart, and body so that the things which bring you down from your experiences lose their power over you. Psychedelics could chemically override the thought patterns in your brain so that you are open to the moment, but once the chemical loses its power the old habit patterns take over again. With them comes a subtle despair that without chemicals you are a prisoner of your thoughts.

The trap of high experiences, however they occur, is that you become attached to their memory and so you try to recreate them. These memories compel you to try to reproduce the high.

Ultimately they trap you, because they interfere with your experience of the present moment. In meditation you must be in the moment, letting go of comparisons and memories. If the high was too powerful in comparison to the rest of your life, it overrides the present and keeps you focused on the past. The paradox, of course, is that were you to let go of the past, you would find in the present moment the same quality that you once had. But because you’re trying to repeat the past, you lose the moment.

How many times have you felt a moment of perfection – only to have it torn away the next moment by the awareness that it will pass?

How many times will you try to get high hoping that this time you won’t come down – until you already know as you start to go up that you will come down? The down is part of the high. When in meditation you are tempted by another taste of honey, your memory of the finiteness of those moments tempers your desire. More bliss, more rapture, more ecstasy – just part of the passing show. The moment in its fullness includes both high and low and yet it is beyond both.

– Ram Dass

12 thoughts on “How do we get trapped within psychedelic experiences?”

  1. I loved psychedelics, but for long Trips, I would get tired and welcomed coming down.

    However, I always learned something spiritually important during the trip that I incorporated into my life. Of course, I loved the laughter and realization that there is no such thing as static reality. New realities are infinite along with imagination. We create our reality.
    The only constant is love.

  2. I have been to spiritual pursuit for now around 8 years, but nothings coming out. Only just the mind has become more impatience and pessimestic about everything. Sometimes I think of trying drugs like LSD but not sure if it is useful .

    • Do it. I can recommand it if it feels right for you. Psychedelics definitely have the potential to push you forward on your spiritual path. They can offer deep insights, but the work is still up to you. It often needs more trips then one for a spiritual breakthrough. And of course, Set & Setting, and your preparation is very important.
      Imo, the healing (and opening) of the heart ist (the most) important and often overlooked aspekt of healing and connection with the source. For this, MDMA can be a really powerful thing, if you use it for healing and not for party.
      Wish you the best on your path!

    • Guru Seva is most important. Nothing else. Guru has seen the light. The Guru is the Guide. For He has walked the path Himself. No prescriptions of LSD or anything. Only Guru Bhakti.
      The Guru can take you ahead in 8 seconds. Why wait 8 years?

  3. I’ve tried triping. It was wonderful. But I’m worried that I just visited a realm of Bliss and oneness. A place where a feeling of orgasm and love were not separate from you, but a constant. I was god and everything. Even though Bliss is in ultimate reality. I had a sense of self, weaken but ego remained. It didn’t lead to an ego death. If anything they are an escape. They can help a few times, no more than that. Without a prior practice you won’t appreciate it or be able to incorporate it. You realize that you still have your untransformed lower primal nature. You can’t run from it. It is better to get than here. A firm grounding in all the yogas is what will lead you to this. A firm grounding in bhakti is very necessary.

  4. I don’t believe that psychedelics are the answer, but they can be extremely helpful, and as long as they aren’t being abused to the point of delusion or poor health then I don’t see any issue with using them, even just for fun. We are here to play are we not?

  5. Used to experiment with highs but at some point gave up these annoying attachments. Now I walk among those that are artificial high and mentally push them even higher even though they are not aware of that. Its silly but this work works for me.

  6. Ram Dass and Timothy Leary helped lead the psychedelic revolution in the 1960’s. If not for the introduction to entheogens by Leary, Ram Dass would potentially never have had the desire to search for permanent enlightenment in India. He once locked himself in a building with 5 others and took LSD every 4 hours for 3 weeks to not lose the feeling. Understanding this, it may be in ones best interest to explore the option of trying one of these medicines to help to see the same glimpse enlightenment Ram Dass experienced while experimenting.

    In my own experience, the use of psilocybin containing mushrooms has helped me to continually experience the realization of the interdependence of all life and universal compassion, thus helping to shake loose the once ever present feeling of an inherent existence. So much so, that while studying and practicing Mahayana Buddhism for the first time at a retreat center amongst seasoned practitioners, I discovered that I had a deeper understanding and experience of Metta than those who had been practicing for some time – with them often pointing out the uniqueness of this quality and insisting that I must be from past accumulation of merit.

    It was of course a uniqueness derived from my own experience with entheogens, but results can and will vary. My point is that, while the bliss I’ve experienced when reaching into the primordia of existence while being under the influence of these tools may not be permanent, the unshakeable belief that there is a universal self/bliss/god that resides just below the objective reality we believe is true reality. The belief that loving everyone is as easy and important as taking my next breath is equally unshakeable.

    With that being said, the headlines are currently a buzz with new research of psychedelic medicines flooding the Western world showing just how they can be helpful. Ram Dass himself stated they can be a useful tool, but ultimately they will not alone help you achieve permanent liberation. Use them as a tool to help you see the path, but know that as a tool they have limitations.

    With love to all you seekers out there. May you first discover the that the seer is the seen, and then may you experience it.

  7. My experience shows that we must clean our inner energy from all of dirt, pain trough transformations. Its the hardest part, because we must live and feel all emotions from childhood when we couldnt experience them. And in those harsh moments and pain psychedelics can really help out. I feel that also this ancient
    medicine when using in long term reduces self belief – you start to think that you do not have power to be in those states without them. My way is to do all transformations in long period and after some hard times heart does not close so easily, because you made new synapse linksr and networks. Also in meantime becoming more powerful. Its slow, but it this way we can avoid ups and downs in short time. Anyway paychedelics helped me a lot, so I can auggest them.


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