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

22 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.

    • LSD is the most dangerous drug not in health but in mind.
      I did more than 30 times LSD it was amazing every time I had also some bad trips. But one time I took an LSD with the name 1p and I connected in other dimension or I can not explain what was this I trapped there for long time I couldn’t escape was like labyrinth the feeling and the sense was not from earth. after I escaped from all of this I am going to psychiatrist iam taking medical care to forget what I saw….

      • Could you go in-depth to me please? I’ve had a similiar experience and could really, REALLY use the help and wisdom of your experience.

      • you just need to understand what that experience “means” to you. Not to forget it. its like the dreams, sometimes is scary, but is part of the journey

  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.

    • I think the sixties had to happen but as John Lennon said ‘the sixties was just waking up in the morning’. To continue the metaphor and borrow from ‘ A day in the life’,you wake up and get out of bed,drag a comb across your head and then what do you do? You’ve seen God but you’ve got to go to work and earn ,money in a mean,loveless society. You’ve seen too much too soon. It’s a dilemma,no? As I said in my earlier post I was lucky to survive the treadmill and the resulting mental illness but my Holotropic breathwork was a trigger and I never lost the belief that there is a better way and I was rewarded in spades. I am humble and deeply grateful. And yes psychedelics can help with anxiety and fear of death and that’s wonderful,they are coming back into therapy.

  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.

  8. I have only dabbled with psychedelics in fairly small doses for fun. My ‘drug’ is Holotropic breathwork. I started it around age of 40 and after my first session I was high for about a week and did many more sessions. I really felt great but the problem was the need to earn money and deal with people who I now wouldn’t give the time of day. In short although I had glimpsed the truth I had not dealt with my ego and long story short I am now retired and after coming back to breathwork some years ago and going through a ‘dark night of the soul’ I’ve had a spiritual awakening and have greater peace and love than I have ever known. Breathwork was the trigger but I had to have my ego beaten down to size. Just wanted to share my story.

  9. Thank you all for your thoughts, I have really enjoyed reading them.

    I too believe psychedelics are an important tool, with limitations. However, I have also come to believe that they are only a helpful tool for some, while for others are dangerous both physically and spiritually or perhaps just neutral (meaning the doorways do not open for them). Much the same way that different medicines are more effective for some, but less so for others, and how some people experience strong side effects while others don’t. For some of us, when we use these tools it is as if the blinders have fallen away and the connection with all that is is right there. But that is not the same for everyone. The chemical/biological/psychic interactions vary significantly among people.

    One thing that is very important for people to understand is that RD’s journey and ‘awakenings’ did not develop though occasional use or happenstance. It appears to me that he undertook his path in psychedelics very purposefully and not alone. Those two aspects being critical for us to understand. If psychedelics are in fact a tool, then it is important to both understand the purpose of the tool and how to use it. You can give me a hammer and saw but I will not be a carpenter, but with time, learning and practice I may be.

    I tend to think that the 60’s and 70’s were a unique time of discovery when there was a window for introduction of these tools to western society. RD and others took up the call and played an immense role in moving the global consciousness forward and leading many to the doorway. Today we live in a different environment and there are other dynamics that present themselves that make psychedelics less relevant. For example, today I can read the writings or transcripts of RD’s thoughts or even listen on a podcast. We could not do that in the 60’s/70’s, we were all exploring and piecing it together as best we could. Today we have guidance and insights to help us. But those insights and guidance represent many years of hard work and courage to break free, and critically, much interaction with gurus. Perhaps somehow the collective wisdom and knowledge we see today provides the tools for the generations of people alive today that those of us decades ago had to rely on psychedelic tools to provide.

    One thing I would also note in discussing psychedelics is that we tend to lump them in a category and view them somewhat romantically these days. What does not get mentioned is all the bad trips and freakouts that occurred in ‘those days’. Many, many people have used psychedelics, but the vast majority of them did not find the connection we are discussing (in my opinion). This is what leads me to believe they are not for everyone and are certainly not the best to be used alone.

    I have found over the years that music, walking in the woods, and many other things now readily present to me a doorway much the same that psychedelics did years ago. I hope that all find their doorways.


Leave a Comment


Ram Dass Online Shop

Buy books, media, digital downloads, apparel, devotional, art & other great items!

Join Our Newsletter

Sign up for the Love Serve Remember newsletter to receive teachings, exclusive offers & more.

Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.

Donate to LSRF

Help ensure that the teachings of Ram Dass will be available to generations to come.

A Network of Mindfulness & Spirituality Podcasts
Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap