I know that the usage of drugs are a contradiction to the teachings the Buddha gave. But I wonder whether it could be helpful to use LSD or Psylocibin to gain profound insights. I read a lot about studies from the 50s to 70s, which starts again at the 90s, after a time of prohibition, that controlled usage of psychedelics have a profound meaningful impact on many participants of these studies who get an insight into egolesness which remains after the trip. Hmmm, does anyone have experiences with this combination or could recommend a paper / book related to this topic? The "idea": If it is possible due to Tantric practices to gain liberation in this life – maybe it could be even more achievable with the usage of LSD and Co. Thank you.

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    Searching on your preferred search engine for terms like "academic research psychedelics buddhism" will return many results. Psychiatric use of psychedelics has been proven useful, and some fringe communities like to mix drugs and meditation — but anything gained from taking a tab is not real insight or liberation, it's a brain-chemical experience with lingering effects. And any Shifu/Bhante/Guru from a real tradition would probably shut down that line of questioning pretty fast, both because it conflicts with the precepts and because a clear mind is essential for practice.
    – Zac Anger
    Apr 8, 2023 at 20:23
  • I completely disagree with the closure of this question. Whether these substances can benefit Buddhist practice is akin to asking whether any new modalities can be of benefit. Modern Mahasi style mindfulness, for instance, is an extremely effective and extremely recent invention. His practice protocols were quite novel. Had this forum been around in mid 20th century, would we have voted to close a question on his techniques? Likewise, would tantra have been dismissed when Buddhism took foothold in Tibet?
    – user24505
    Apr 9, 2023 at 17:38
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    @xxxx I reckoned that introducing the question with, "I know that the usage of drugs are a contradiction to the teachings the Buddha gave", is acknowledging that the question is off-topic on Buddhism.SE.
    – ChrisW
    Apr 9, 2023 at 19:14
  • Not to nitpick, but the precepts only ban three specific kinds of alcohol - suramerayamajjapamādatthā . You could even argue that whiskey isn’t covered in the original Pāli as corn derived fermented beverages didn’t exist in 500 BCE India.
    – user24505
    Apr 9, 2023 at 19:28
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    Plus LSD is illegal almost everywhere, i.e. a "controlled substance". Maybe it's been studied clinically or academically, but that doesn't make it on-topic here.
    – ChrisW
    Apr 9, 2023 at 19:36

2 Answers 2


There definitely is a relationship. Johns Hopkins University very recently conducted a study on the relationship between psychedelic and meditative states. It was quite interesting how they selected their participants. You had to be among one of those rare folk who had done intensive meditation practice for at least ten years while also never having taken psychedelics before. I don’t think they’ve published the results on that yet, but a slew of prepublication interviews have been done notably on the Buddhist Geeks podcast.

My personal two cents as psychonaut and someone who has been sitting two hours a day plus 4 weeks on retreat every year for the last 16 years - be careful. I wouldn’t even attempt this unless you’ve been practicing diligently for at least a decade. You really have to be able to set a clear intention to get anything out of a trip - be it with a koan or object of insight. Until about the ten year mark, you really don’t have a good handle on how the insight process works. Without that background, you’re just going willynilly into it. You'll bounce around from state to state and never really glean anything useful.

More importantly, meditation is gentle. While it can lead to some seriously negative shit, it’s usually fairly easy to snap out of. With psychedelics, you’re strapped in for the duration. This could be 8, 10, or 12 hours with a drug like LSD.

Less sexily, psychedelics can lead to some really profound, heavenly experiences. These are among their greatest dangerous. It can give you the impression that any kind of practice that falls short of such supreme bliss isn’t real practice. That’s bullshit. The best practice is where you sweat like a mule grinding its way up the side of a mountain with no hope of ever reaching the top. Only meditation offers the opportunity for that kind of practice.


Generally speaking the drug will have some somatic effect which in turn modifies perception. This kind of modification can aid in realizing the awareness or insight (dukkha-anicca-anatta). but like xxxx says you need to have a strong intention, or you might get carried away by paranoia, random ideas, and other desires. If the intention is not strong you will run away from the three marks (dukkha-anicca-anatta). this indicates you crave sensuality, being, and not-knowing, and prapanca (furthering) is your true intent, not realizing the dhamma.

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