This is a four-part seminar meeting on Thursday evenings - 3/8, 3/15, 3/22, & 3/29.
When Zig, Zag, Zen: Psychedelics and Buddhism came out in April 2001, the first Internet bubble had burst but the world had not yet fallen to pieces. The book included essays by Buddhist luminaries such as Huston Smith, Jack Kornfield, Allan Badiner, Erik Davis, and John Perry Barlow and mined the tricky territory between Buddhism and psychedelics—which in America at least had long been at odds with one another.
To me the book was a relief and reconciliation.
An initiatory psychedelic trip in college had led me to Tibetan Buddhism, and, shortly after graduation, to a mountain monastery in Kathmandu. There I took Buddhist lay precepts as well as a vow that forbade me from ever again using psychedelic substances.
While my undergraduate psychedelic trip was my only conceptual point-of-reference for the mystical states Buddhism described, my teachers—American and Tibetan—rebuked this notion, insisting that psychedelics could never be spiritually efficacious on the “path” to Enlightenment. So like thousands of other American Buddhists, I refrained from using “intoxicants” and sought enlightenment through normative Buddhist theory and praxis for many years.
Zig, Zag Zen refuted this easy duality, that meditation was the good and true path and psychedelics a distraction. It opened up a conversation that had been simmering in the Buddhist community. Its able guides provided a vocabulary and a framework for talking about psychedelics and Buddhist practice, free of fear and judgement.
With meditation now a common board room practice and a full blown psychedelic renaissance upon us, it’s time to revisit Zig, Zag, Zen. Please join me (and guest lecturer Allan Badiner) in this four-part Think Olio seminar, we make a close reading of the essays contained in Zig, Zag, Zen. We’ll discuss. We’ll meditate. And we’ll celebrate the anniversary of the publication of this seminal text with a field trip at the end.