The Secret & Not So Secret Drugs in Buddhism

None at Strand Bookstore

Thu, Jun 13 at 7 p.m.   |   90 minutes

Join Chris "Doc" Kelley at the Strand for an Olio on the connection between Buddhism and certain psychedelics as religious sacrament.

​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 Vajrayāna Buddhism in medieval India. Crowley contends that these Buddhists actively made use of a psychoactive sacrament known as amṛita 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 amṛita (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 Kelley
Venue: Strand Bookstore
Add to Calendar June 13, 20197 p.m. June 13, 2019 America/New_York Think Olio | The Secret & Not So Secret Drugs in Buddhism Join Chris "Doc" Kelley at the Strand for an Olio on the connection between Buddhism and certain psychedelics as religious sacrament. None

What is Think Olio?


Think Olio is here to put the liberation back into the liberal arts.

Classically, the liberal arts, were the education considered essential for a free person to take an active part in civic life. To counter a humanities that has been institutionalized and dehumanized we infuse critical thinking, openness, playfulness, and compassion into our learning experience.

Read more about our mission, our story, and how we are doing this.

Scenius Membership

If Friday night lectures, museum field trips, and living room salons sound like your kind of thing, then you've found your people. We can't wait to welcome you to the Think Olio Scenius. More info


Other Upcoming Olios


The Good Life? An 8-week Journey

Location: at Online

Teacher: Jeanne Proust

Oct. 20, 2020, 7:30 p.m.

The Erotic As Power: Wild Nights with Women Poets

Location: at Online

Teacher: Christina Katopodis

Oct. 22, 2020, 8 p.m.

Communities Under Capitalism: Meeting our Needs During Crisis

Location: at Online

Teacher: Lauren Hudson

Oct. 26, 2020, 7:30 p.m.

Interspecies Design: Treating Plant and Animal as the Client

Location: at Online

Teacher: Lily Consuelo Saporta Tagiuri

Oct. 27, 2020, 8 p.m.


Stay in Touch


Instagram Mailing List Contact

Get Involved


Liaisons Host an Olio

Olio: A miscellaneous collection of art and literature.