Tag Archives | Buddhism

Is LSD A Gateway Drug To Buddhism?

Dr. Rick Strassman, a psychiatric researcher with a specialization in psychotropic drugs, on the "enlightenment experience" and hallucinogens as a pathway for Westerners into Buddhism and Hinduism:
I went to a Zen temple in my early 20s, and, ever the scientist, every chance I got to speak to a monk one on one, I asked every one of them if they had tripped on psychedelics and how important their trips were in their decision to become a monk. And I'd say 99% of these junior monks in their 20s all got their start on LSD.
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Spiritual Bypassing: Using Spirituality To Avoid Pain

Author and psychotherapist Robert Augustus Masters outlines a pervasive phenomenon in contemporary New Age spirituality, spiritual bypassing:

Via Reality Sandwich:

Spiritual bypassing, a term first coined by psychologist John Welwood in 1984, is the use of spiritual practices and beliefs to avoid dealing with our painful feelings, unresolved wounds, and developmental needs. It is much more common than we might think and, in fact, is so pervasive as to go largely unnoticed, except in its more obvious extremes.

Part of the reason for this is that we tend not to have very much tolerance, either personally or collectively, for facing, entering, and working through our pain, strongly preferring pain-numbing “solutions,” regardless of how much suffering such “remedies” may catalyze. Because this preference has so deeply and thoroughly infiltrated our culture that it has become all but normalized, spiritual bypassing fits almost seamlessly into our collective habit of turning away from what is painful, as a kind of higher analgesic with seemingly minimal side effects.

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Using Technology To Reach Buddhist Enlightenment

Via the Institute for Ethics & Emerging Technologies, J. Hughes on the use of new technologies in genetics and neurology to suppress vice and accelerate spiritual progress:

The Buddhist tradition recognizes that we are not all born with equal propensities to wisdom or moral behavior, and that Enlightenment is only possible for the very few […] A fully virtuous life is biologically impossible for most people. But, given the rapid advance of neurotechnologies, “if these cognitive shortcomings could be compensated for, or balanced, through the use of safe and voluntary enhancement techniques, then it would be morally desirable to do so.” If specific, consistent moral behavioral orientations – truthfulness, compassion and so on – can be identified, and our likelihood of manifesting them is strongly influenced by inherited genetic predispositions or persistent neurochemistry, then it might be possible to use future neurotechnologies to systematically make ourselves more truthful or compassionate.

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Scientists Declare Buddhist Monk The World’s Happiest Person

Happiness is a gamma wave. Via Oddity Central:

Matthieu Ricard was declared the happiest man on Earth by a group of scientists after it was discovered his brain produces a level of gamma waves never before reported in the field of neuroscience.

A former molecular geneticist who left his life and career behind to discover the secrets of Buddhism, Ricard is now one of the most celebrated monks in the Himalayas and a trusted advisor of the Dalai Lama. In 2009, neuroscientist Richard Davidson wired up the French monk’s head with 256 sensors as part of a research project on hundreds of advanced practitioners of meditation.

The scans showed something remarkable: when meditating on compassion, Ricard’s brain produced a level of gamma waves linked to consciousness, attention, learning and memory that were never even reported before in neuroscience literature. Furthermore, the scans scans also showed excessive activity in his brain’s left prefrontal cortex, giving him an abnormally large capacity for happiness and a reduced propensity towards negativity.

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1,000 Year Old Stolen Buddha Statue is from Outerspace

Picture: E. Weiß: "Bilderatlas der Sternenwelt"

Via Rawstory

A thousand-year-old Buddhist statue taken from Tibet in 1938 by an SS team seeking the roots of Hitler’s Aryan doctrine was carved from a meteorite, scientists reported on Wednesday.

In a paper published in an academic journal, German and Austrian researchers recount an extraordinary tale where archaeology, the Third Reich and cosmic treasure are intertwined like an Indiana Jones movie.

Called the “Iron Man” because of the high content of iron in its rock, the 24-centimetre (10-inch) -high statue was brought to Germany by an expedition led by Ernst Schaefer, a zoologist and ethnologist.

Backed by SS chief Heinrich Himmler and heading a team whose members are all believed to have been SS, Schaefer roamed Tibet in 1938-9 to search for the origins of Aryanism, the notion of racial superiority that underpinned Nazism.

Weighing 10.6 kilos (23.3 pounds), the statue features the Buddhist god Vaisravana seated, with the palm of his right hand outstretched and pointing downwards.

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On Facebook, Dalai Lama Says That Religion Is Obsolete

If religion is no longer useful as a framework for morality, then what purpose does it retain — to provide a warm feeling of soothing comfort in a harsh world? Don’t we have spas for that? Via io9:

This past Monday, people who have the Dalai Lama as a Facebook friend found this little gem in their newsfeed.

The Dalai Lama’s advice sounds startling familiar — one that echos the sentiment put forth by outspoken atheist Sam Harris who argues that science can answer moral questions. The Dalai Lama is no stranger to scientific discourse, and has developed a great fascination with neuroscience in particular.

It’s important to remember that Tibetan Buddhists, while rejecting belief in God and the soul, still cling to various metaphysical beliefs, including karma, infinite rebirths, and reincarnation.

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Nets of Being: Interview with Visionary Artist Alex Grey

Among the many talented visionary artists of today, one name rises to the top of nearly every list: Alex Grey. He and his wife Allyson (who is also a painter) relentlessly travel the world, headlining large-scale festivals, consciousness parties and packed gallery shows. At their most recent appearance in Sao Paulo, Brazil, they painted before an audience of 25,000. Quite famously, the two of them (together for more than 37 years) are more adamant than Johnny Cash about wearing only black in public and private.

Watkins Review listed Alex as one of the top 20 “Most Spiritually Influential Living People” the last two years running, and the band Tool, “America’s #1 cult band,” featured Alex’s art on their most recent platinum album, winning a grammy for its unusual packaging. Grey’s work features a rare alchemy of science and spirituality, where anatomically precise human bodies interweave with profound kaleidoscopic mystical experiences.… Read the rest

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Open Source Buddhism with Al Jigong Billings

Picture courtesy Aaron Logan

Many Disinfo readers have probably seen Hermetic.com. Maybe you even got your first taste of Aleister Crowley, Austin Osman Spare or Hakim Bey there. What you might not know is that the site’s founder, Al Jigong Billings has given up the site to focus on what he calls “Open Source Buddhism.” In this interview Billings talks about what Open Source Buddhism is, how it differs from other contemporary Buddhist and mindfulness movements and how he gravitated from Neopaganism to Buddhism.

Via Technoccult:

Klint Finley: I know readers can check out your blog post explaining what you mean by “Open Source Buddhism,” but can you give us a quick “elevator pitch” for the idea?

Al Billings: Yes, I can do that. The basic idea is that if you are not part of a traditionally Buddhist culture or one in which Buddhism plays a role, you are not part of an inherited complex of ideas surrounding what is or is not “Buddhism” or the “Dharma.” This leaves those of us, in the “West,” for example, in a bit of a quandary.

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Grisly Death At A Mysterious Buddhist Desert Retreat

Southwestern chic and cults are both very hot right now. The New York Times on a strange Buddhist sect which blends years of silence, the pursuit of riches, and perhaps ritual stabbings:

Bowie, AZ— The rescuers had rappelled from a helicopter to a cave 7,000 feet up in a rugged desert mountain. Inside, they found a jug with about an inch of browned water. They found a woman, Christie McNally, thirsty and delirious. And they found her husband, Ian Thorson, dead, apparently from exposure and dehydration.

The puzzle only deepened when the authorities realized that the couple had been expelled from a nearby Buddhist retreat in which dozens of adherents, living in rustic conditions, had pledged to meditate silently for three years, three months and three days. Their spiritual leader was a charismatic Princeton-educated monk whom some have accused of running the retreat as a cult.

The monk who ran the retreat, Michael Roach, had previously run a diamond business worth tens of millions of dollars and was now promoting Buddhist principles as a path to financial prosperity, raising eyebrows from more traditional Buddhists.

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Dalai Lama Claims Chinese Agents Trained Tibetan Women To Kill Him

Dalai Lama

Photo: Lucag (CC)

Reports Dean Nelson in the Telegraph:

The 76-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner, revealed he had been passed reports from inside Tibet warning that Chinese agents had trained Tibetan women for a mission to poison him while posing as devotees seeking his blessings.

The Tibetan Buddhist leader said he lives within a high security cordon in his temple palace grounds in Dharamsala, in the Himalayan foothills, on the advice of Indian security officials.

Despite being one of the world’s most widely revered spiritual leaders he has enemies in China and among some Buddhist sects.

His aides had not been able to confirm the reports, but they had highlighted his need for high security.

“We received some sort of information from Tibet,” he said. “Some Chinese agents training some Tibetans, especially women, you see, using poison – the hair poisoned, and the scarf poisoned – they were supposed to seek blessing from me, and my hand touch.”

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