I was thinking about how Buddhism is a naturalist philosophy. Everything that the Buddha taught is concerning our natural reality and the laws that govern it. That being so, I wonder if the other realms and devas the Buddha talked about are actually just higher dimensional beings or aliens. It’s funny, when we think about devas or realms, we often can’t help but picture something that is somehow not here, that is, not in this reality or universe or whatever. When you realize that these things are apart of this reality as much as we are, there are all sorts of interesting ideas you can come up with about how they might be.
From DN 14:
Even in the boundless desolation of interstellar space—so utterly dark that even the light of the moon and the sun, so mighty and powerful, makes no impression—an immeasurable, magnificent light appears, surpassing the glory of the gods. And the sentient beings reborn there recognize each other by that light: ‘So, it seems other sentient beings have been reborn here!’
I have only one thing to say: Boltzmann Brains.
Yes! Substrate Independence! With enough luck you could get consciousness in a bowl of oatmeal. I have only one thing to say in return: Infinite Monkey Theorem (just think particles and patterns instead of monkeys and typewriters)
I think its just ridiculous that consciousness can arise in a heap of flesh and blood! Or that then, one consciousness can somehow communicate with another consciousness!
Jokes aside, there aren’t many cultures wholly without a mention of sentient beings other than humans (disregarding animals of course- who are another type of rebirth, incidentally), which is quite strange if you think about it. I suppose if those other beings are on the same electromagnetic spectrum that we are designed to perceive, it is ok. We learn to live with them like we have learnt to enslave billions of animals on Earth. Yet what if they are not on the same wavelength?
DN27 Agganna sutta says spiritual beings were reborn as what could be said to be single cellular animals on earth at some point in history. It says they found the earth quite ‘tasty’- I take this to mean that there were carbon based substrates that it could feed on (me not knowing what its experience was like eating the earth it was living on). I suppose it all ultimately depends on what mental or material object consciousness takes its object as (and is attached to- as in the case of above devas who thought the earth was tasty).
It is hard to accept this without first hand experience. If you develop an intention and a determination to develop these faculties (some may not particularly need it to forge ahead) you might be able to do that. Such experiences need to be carefully handled, of course. The Buddha went to a great degree to ensure he wasn’t hallucinating (AN8.64). I would add to the list the factors of receiving information which could not be verified in any other way turning out to be repeatedly true, or resulting in an otherwise unexplained physical change to the immediate physical environment, would be essential, knowing what we know about mental health sciences.
Still keeping it in the ‘undecided’ box, to open for later, may be the best solution rather than trying to change world views too rapidly. There’s no urgent need for it.
Pyramids on the Moon - NASA’s Apollo lunar coverup
NASA’s Alien Anomalies caught on film - A compilation of stunning UFO footage from NASA’s archives
Aliens in the NASA Archives - More Stunning NASA UFO Anomalies Captured On Film
What comes after this nonsense? Flat earth?!
My Favourite clip from the UFO Disclosure Project
The Disclosure Project Completo - Traduzido/Legendado
To be clear, this was only meant to be purely speculative, I do not actually think aliens have come here to visit, at least not in the way the UFO people think. I mean, who knows I guess, but I’m not really about it.
The Book of the Gradual Sayings
The Book of the Eights
8.64. At Gaya
The Book of the Threes
I’ve read a lot about people smoking DMT and everyone having these very similar experiences of seeing the same type of strange higher dimensional beings, at least that’s how they’re described. They often have profound things to say, and as I said, when asked to describe them, all these people independently describe the exact same thing, and with details that are just too close to be a coincidence. I have even heard people who tripped together and the beings talk to one of them and say they know the other person, and when this message is relayed to the friend afterwards, they say that they have in fact met and spoke to those exact same beings. Now unfortunately I haven’t seen these things in the 2 times I have used DMT, but to be fair, I was so spiritually and psychologically immature back then, so who knows what my experience would be now. If you’re interested though, just google DMT beings and I’m sure a ton of experiences will come up. DMT is notorious for being very different from any other psychedelics, in a way that is difficult to explain, but basically you don’t really trip like with LSD or magic mushrooms; instead you’re just transported to an entirely different reality and mind state. You literally just do it in bed or sitting in a lounge chair because you don’t move or see for the 10-15 minutes that it’s active in your system. It really only last that long, and then just quickly wears off over the next few minutes. You’re not paralyzed or anything, you’re just literally not there, you’re somewhere else entirely. I’d like to try it again, especially with the knowledge and mind set I have now. Maybe I can talk to something that’s still alive from when the Buddha was around and make sure we have it all correct
I would stay away from any and all substances of that kind - devoting yourself to sobriety and meditation is a more worthwhile and noble pursuit - it is the safe way.
People may be seeing things, but their perceptions may be distorted - and does using that substance result in less greed, hate and delusion?
I really urge you to commit yourself to staying away from DMT and everything else like it!!
drugs like dmt cause delusive states. there is no wisdom and discernment in those states but there is an illusion of it thanks to being highly suggestible, like being hypnotized.
I think there is a common misconception regarding psychedelics. It’s really not like being hypnotized at all. And as far lessening greed, hatred, and delusion, I don’t know, I don’t use psychedelics often, but the times I have resulted in fairly profound experiences of anatta and sunyata, and this was before I was a buddhist. In fact, it was what led me to buddhism in the first place.
If you’ve actually used them before and you have the same opinion about them, I would certainly like to hear about it; but too often I see buddhist talking about them as if they know exactly what, and how, they are, and yet they have never even used them. Psychedelics are not intoxicants in the way most people think of them, and at least in my experience, they really don’t cause heedlessness. In fact it’s always been quite the opposite.
I don’t think I would ever recommend them outright, but I would say that the experience and wisdom (yes I am using that word) that comes from those experiences is something that you would be extremely hard pressed to get anywhere else.
Of course practicing the path will result in a far more pure, intense, and refined form of this wisdom, but you if you’re looking to get a tiny taste as motivation, or, in the beginning of your practice you’d like to catapult a bit, then they are definitely worth it.
The last time I used them, it was entirely devoted to my practice. I even made a list of all the buddhist concepts I wanted to contemplate and I would be totally lying if I said it didn’t help me to understand things in a completely new and deeper way. It would be absolutely foolish to try and take them all the time so I could just reach some higher state of being, but I also think it would be foolish to pass up an extremely unique and effective tool that can be used every once in a great while in the beginning of your practice.
The Buddha said intoxicants that cause heedlessness, he added the second part of that as a modifier for a reason. If you take a psychedelic once every 5 years and focus your trip entirely on your practice, I can’t imagine the Buddha would have looked down on that. And then to look down on others who do it as bad buddhists, I think that’s ridiculous. Not saying you’re doing that of course.
There is actually a highly advanced buddhist practitioner who is conducting a research project in which 20 people are going on a 5 day meditation retreat, and on that last 5th day, they are all given a pill to take before the day begins. It’s double blind so no one will know until it starts taking effect, but half of them will get placebo, and the thee half will get a decent dose of psilocybin, the active substance in magic mushrooms. They will then monitor everyone throughout the day, and interview them all after they’ve come down, and then again in 6 months and a few years after that. The purpose is to see if the benefits of meditation and the psychological benefits of psychedelics (of which very much exist and have been studied extensively) can work synergistically. They’ll see if, as they all continue practice, the ones who have taken it that day during the retreat will be in a better place and more advanced than those that took the placebo. And in my experience, and the experience of many others, this will almost certainly be the case.
Regarding the experiment - those who have taken the drugs on the retreat, what criteria will be used to judge whether they are “more advanced” than those who took the placebo? It sounds immediately suspect. I would be more interested in the long term effects - obviously, drugs of all kinds (psychedelic or otherwise) can certainly seem to provide short term benefits (pleasant/relaxed feelings, a sense of communion with something or someone, forgetting your worries etc…), although clearly this is not always the case (“bad trips”).
I remember reading over on another forum someone claimed to have reached enlightenment after taking some psychedelics - so I have no doubt that people think they are making spiritual progress with the help of controlled substances. I remember talking to a young heroin addict that lived on the street near my apartment - he told me that other people were controlling his mind and the heroin helped him regain control, or something like that. Obviously, that was not the case - the heroin was a BIG part of the problem, but at the same time, it was so distorting his mind that he genuinely believed it was the solution.
If you must know the truth, I did some experimentation with psychedelics back in the day - I had some weird experiences, to say the least. Initially, I did feel that I was gaining some “insights” about certain things - but looking back, I honestly can say it was mostly bullshit. I was fooling myself, and engaging in risky and frankly, irresponsible behavior.
I am very confident that were I to take any drugs now, my meditation would suffer and I wouldn’t be able to get back the same level of calm for a considerable period of time - I would feel a lot of remorse, I would feel anxiety and perhaps paranoia, it would be a whole lot of DUKKHA.
In my opinion, it is not worth it - of course, I’m a fallible human being. I’m not your dad, and I’m not trying to tell you how to live your life, so I hope its not coming across that way. I just genuinely don’t want you to needlessly suffer, and I think that by taking drugs you might be bringing unnecessary suffering upon yourself. The Buddha taught the clean and safe way to gain genuine insights into the nature of reality, and here you have discovered his teachings! Ingesting a substance is no shortcut to Nibbana, IMO.
yes i have. that is my opinion already. to add, they do change your perspective but that is not buddhist wisdom. if you have done them already and gotten something profound out of them, no need to do them again. very steep diminishing returns. they have no place in buddhist practice.
Well I totally see how it obviously isn’t worth it for you. But the way you describe it, that’s not how most people experience psychedelics when they specifically take them for a good reason, such as furthering their practice. Most people I know, and myself included, it doesn’t effect our meditative ability at all in the short or long term, in fact I’ve personally found it helps my concentration for a decent amount of time afterwards. I realize that for you it was just a “weird” experience that you didn’t like, but for many people it’s deeply profound and beneficial in the long term, as long as it’s being used very occasionally and for the right reasons, which is not recreationally, but for spiritual and practical purposes. Also, I definitely think this is only something worthwhile in the beginning to intermediate practitioners. I wouldn’t imagine someone highly advanced would bother with it because at that point I would agree it would only get in the way , although I have heard that some people still do it every once in a great while.
And as far as that study, “advanced” was the wrong word for sure, I more meant deep and beneficial experiences of anatta and the like, and then on the long term it’s just if those experiences stuck with them and improved the quality of their life in the long term. The name of the person doing the research is Vanja Palmers, and he is well respected, it’s some shady study or anything like that.
The response from many buddhists regarding psychedelics has always seemed so strange to me, it’s so often on one extreme or the other. There’s a lot of misinformation out there, and whether people like it or not, psychedelics have brought an extremely high number of people to buddhism, westerners especially. There is a reason for that, and that reason doesn’t change when you’re practice has become a major aspect of your life. Again, I’m not necessarily recommending this, I’m just saying that a lot of people do it, and it is worth it for them. I kind of feel that I’ve had my share and it’s been a while since I’ve actually taken psychedelics, but will I never again, I don’t know, maybe, maybe not. I will say though, that if someone has never tried any form of psychedelics at all, ever, then I think I would have to recommend they at least have the experience. I’ve known buddhist who had never tried them, only did it one time after they were already practicing and then never again, and it just doubled their commitment to the practice, their experiences were that profound. So whether people like it or not, there is certainly something there. This is far different than just people confused about drugs and what they do, or just wanting to take them. I’ve unfortunately had experience with that as well, and these substances are absolutely nothing like that. Those things I had problems with, those were intoxicants that cause heedlessness; but psychedelics, they’re something else entirely, that is one thing I am certain of.
Thanks for the response. My opinion is that you make a rather big gamble when you ingest any mind-altering drug, regardless whether you do it recreationally or for ‘spiritual’ reasons. My recommendation is that everyone stay away from these kinds of things, I think it is dangerous and not likely to bring about any liberating insights. Buddhism has nothing to do with taking drugs of any kind (other than for medical reasons).
I’d agree. As someone who stopped using substances years ago and used the justification/excuse that they can be mind-expanding, I can tell you this is false. Only to suffering, ignorance, and confusion. The results you are talking about are imaginary and untrustworthy.
If on the other hand you like using drugs, just say that, but there is no justification from the Buddhist path for the use of intoxicants. They are in opposite directions.
You’re generalizing. It may be that way for you, but it really isn’t for everyone. How can a true and profound experience of anatta, or the pervading nature of suffering as a result of craving and clinging, or of impermanence, be delusions? Is that not the truth? What makes those insights any less meaningful than the ones attained in meditation? The extreme views you’re taking on this is far less “buddhist” than taking a psychedelic. An insight regarding the true nature of things is an insight regarding the true nature of things, regardless how it’s obtained. If you reach a state of mind free from the hindrances and you make an effort to stay mindful throughout it, what does it matter that a substance was the catalyst for that? If used mindfully and in the right way, it’s just as “bad” as someone taking caffeine to stay alert. The Buddha explicitly said intoxicants that cause heedlessness. If these things cause you to be delusional and heedless, than of course you shouldn’t take it, but to try and claim they do that everyone, that’s just not true. And yes, they may make you hallucinate, but that’s not a delusion. You’re just perceiving reality in another way than you normally do. We are always perceiving things through the filter of our own perceptions, it’s impossible to see things exactly as they are. You can never see color as the wavelengths of light that they are, you are always seeing them the way your brain processes them. You’re always hallucinating in a way. When I take psychedelics, that fact actually becomes more apparent to me than ever, the empty nature of experience becomes so clear that it would absolutely foolish to try and say that isn’t a “real” insight. And this is not just me. Nothing has a place in buddhism, there’s just things that move you toward awakening, and that’s the Dhamma. So if this causes someone to practice more, and understand all of these concepts in a new way that helps, well then that’s the Dhamma too. Not the substance of course, but the insights, the experience itself. To say otherwise is holding a far too narrow view of things. There isn’t this specified thing and that is the Dhamma. Maybe I guess there is for what you call buddhism, so maybe it doesn’t have a place in buddhism; but to me at least, the Dhamma is everything that moves you toward awakening. As I said, psychedelics clearly move you personally away from it, and I have also seen people this is true for and yet they still claim otherwise, but I have also seen many people that this isn’t true for and it has helped them immensely, regarding their practice and having a deeper sense of peace about things.
How do you know which of these experiences are “real”? For example, the Jains, as I understand it, came to believe there are small souls everywhere, even in small clods of dirt, and so they came to believe one couldn’t perform any action at all without causing suffering - which of course led to extreme practices that the Buddha rejected.
How did they come to have these beliefs? I don’t know. Maybe they were tripping and imagined “little people” going in and out of dirt clods.
Anyway, I always understood the Buddha’s path to be based on purifying the mind, in a gradually deeper and deeper way, and emptying it of every kind of defilement, asava or possible object of attachment. It’s not about filling in up with trippy imagery, voices, mental sensations.
Underlying this craving for path-enhancing substances seems to be an underlying fear that one’s own mind and body are not good enough, so the hole needs to be filled up with something extraneous.