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Psychedelics and Meditation || NIT Trichy (2021)

Author Acharya Prashant

Acharya Prashant

5 min
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Questioner: I have a friend who said that he got some special experiences while meditating in a meditation chamber at some meditation camp. I think he might have been under the influence of some psychedelics or something. There are a lot of gurus who advocate these kinds of practices, meditation chambers and psychedelics and such things, and we see these things in movies also. So, is there any truth in these things?

Acharya Prashant: See, all my life I never went to a meditation camp. It sounds a bit like a concentration camp, so I thought better to avoid! I do not know what is going on in these camps, but what you suspect might be the reality; it is quite possible that intoxicants or psychedelics might be finding their way to these places. In fact, it has been pretty prevalent; it has been, in fact, a bit of a norm, and several very popular teachers have openly advocated the use of psychedelics to achieve so-called higher states of consciousness.

I need not clarify that all this is a sham. It is an absolutely disgusting thing to say that you can achieve higher consciousness by actually lowering your consciousness. Spirituality is all about being able to see life clearly, being able to understand your own mind better. It is not about bringing in intoxication even where there is none.

We anyway already lead very intoxicated lives. Don’t we live like drunkards? Look at the way we function; look at the way we desire something; look at the way we move about, stumble, fall, and then blame others. All that is anyway symptomatic of drunkenness, right? Now, we are already drunken, and then somebody says that you drink a little more liquor and you will regain your sobriety. That is obviously not going to happen, irrespective of what logic somebody tries to push into it.

You talked of movies. On one hand, yes, movies do reflect what is going on; on the other hand, also please understand that the movie industry, especially in India, thrives on titillating your senses, creating excitement and sensation to draw you in, to attract and captivate you. That is the way of the box office, no? So, it is in their financial interest to feast on controversy.

So, when you look at something being shown in movies, in web series, on YouTube or somewhere, be skeptical. It is not religious teachers versus moviemakers; the Truth probably lies on neither side. Both sides want to fleece the common lamb that is you. The religious teachers want to suck you in so that they can exploit you, make money, and gain followership, and the moviemakers are denigrating the religious teachers and the ashrams so that they can snatch you away from the fold of religion and bring you into the fold of excitement and consumption-driven capitalism. Both sides are ultimately catering to just their own financial and material interests.

So, be very, very careful. You know, the highest that is possible, the goal of spirituality, the pure Truth, is not something that someone can come and serve you on a platter. It is something that you have to awaken within yourself through ruthless negation of your inner falseness. I will highlight—through ruthless negation of your inner falseness.

So, never underestimate yourself. Be realistic. On one hand, you must know what you do not know, you must know that you have a propensity to be deluded and all such things; but you must also know that beyond a point nobody outside of you can help you. You have to pay the price for your own upliftment. You can understand, you can know, and that is all. Bodho'haṃ : the highest Truth is just understanding. Prajñānam Brahm : your nature is understanding. It is just that we are living in false, duplicate natures. That is called conditioning.

So, don’t fall prey to any side of the propaganda. The Truth lies at neither extreme; it does not lie in the middle; it lies inside of you. And you will have to very diligently uncover it. That is the very purpose of life: to bring yourself to a position where you have such deep insight that you see and detect falseness wherever it is. For that you must, first of all, cultivate a love for Truth. Though obviously love is not something to be cultivated, but you have to at least exercise that choice, you have to encourage that love. It has to become a bit of a habit, if I may use that word. “I want to really know. I don’t want to let anything pass or gain my sanction without me having known what the thing is.”

Don’t be one for casual gossip. If there is something in front of you, go into it. Even if that makes you a bit of an outcast, let them ostracize you. You have the company of Truth.

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