Olio Seminar | Zig Zag Zen: Psychedelics & The Path to Enlightenment

None at Berg'n

Thu, Apr 12 at 7:30 p.m.   |   90 minutes

With meditation now a common board room practice and a full blown psychedelic renaissance upon us, it’s time to revisit Zig, Zag, Zen.


This is a three-part seminar taught by professor Doc Kelley, meeting on Thursday evenings – 4/12, 4/19 & 4/26 at Berg'n Beer hall.

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 mind-bending artwork by artists like Alex Grey and 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.

Zig Zag Zen refuted the 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 judgment.

With meditation now a common boardroom practice and a full-blown psychedelic renaissance upon us, it’s time to revisit Zig Zag Zen.

Please join us for this four-part Think Olio seminar, where we will make a close reading of the essays contained in Zig Zag Zen (Synergetic Press).

We’ll discuss. We’ll meditate. And we’ll celebrate the anniversary of the publication of this seminal text with a panel discussion with ZZZ editor Allan Badiner, writer Carolyn Gregoire, and Tricycle moderator Julia Hirsch.


Seminar Breakdown:

April 12 | Intersection

Many may denounce the coupling of Buddhism and psychedelics, but their intersection is an undeniable reality in the American Buddhist experience. In his preface to Zig Zag Zen, the religious scholar Huston Smith puts it this way, “. . . Entheogens [or psychedelics] have entered Buddhism to stay; there can be no turning back from the point that has been reached.”

In this class, we look at essays from Part One of Zig Zag Zen: “Intersection.” We consider the historical, cultural, and sociological elements that have led to the convergence of Buddhism and psychedelics in America. We probe the ideas of contributors such as Jack Kornfield, Peter Matthiessen, Rick Fields, Robert Jesse, and more.

April 19 | Compatibility?

Is there spiritual efficacy in the use of psychedelic substances? Can we find compatibility between Buddhism and psychedelics? Moving beyond the intersection, does integrating the two journeys have spiritual utility for the Buddhist practitioner?

In this class, we'll discuss Part Two: “Concrescence?” And dive into a close reading of essays by Dr. Rick Strassman, Erik Davis, Alex Grey, China Galland, and others.

April 26 | Lessons

What can we learn from the intersection of Buddhism and Psychedelics? How has this coupling benefited or hurt American Buddhist practitioners striving for enlightenment? What dangers or pitfalls might one face when mixing psychedelics with their religious or spiritual practice?

In our final class, we examine essays from Part Three: “Lessons.” We make a study of contributions by American Buddhists like John Perry Barlow, Lama Surya Das, Allan Badiner, and more.

Teacher: Christopher Kelley
Venue: Berg'n

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


A Dialogue: Buddhism and the Stoics

Location: at Online

Teacher: Bhante Kusala & Michael Prettyman

June 5, 2020, 8 p.m.

Seeing the Subconscious: Mindfulness, Psychology, and the Road to Healing Racism

Location: at Online

Teacher: Darryl Aiken-Afam & Robin Schlenger

June 7, 2020, 7 p.m.

Regulating Business in a Capitalist Society

Location: at Online

Teacher: Lawrence Cappello

June 9, 2020, 7:30 p.m.

Escape From The City

Location: at Online

Teacher: Ted Barrow

June 10, 2020, 8 p.m.

Progressives, Radicals & Well-Meaning Liberals

Location: at Online

Teacher: Angie Beeman

June 11, 2020, 8 p.m.

Press Start to Begin: A Survey & History of Video Game Music

Location: at Online

Teacher: Whitney George

June 12, 2020, 8 p.m.

Plato Goes East: The Republic and The Bhagavad Gita

Location: at Online

Teacher: Vishwa Adluri

June 14, 2020, noon

Socialism, A Day in the Life

Location: at Online

Teacher: Danny Katch

June 15, 2020, 8 p.m.

Government Action and Inaction in Response to Covid-19

Location: at Online

Teacher: Andres Bernal

June 19, 2020, 8 p.m.

Internet Omnipresence & Critical Thinking

Location: at Online

Teacher: Jeanne Proust

June 22, 2020, 8 p.m.

New Toys and New Tyrants: Capitalism and the Rise of Platform Economics

Location: at Online

Teacher: Rob Larson

June 30, 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.