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Zig Zag Zen: Buddhism and Psychedelics Hardcover – April 1, 2002
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The use of psychedelic drugs is that dark little secret behind the popular origins of Eastern spirituality in America, but if they really open the mind in the same ways meditative experiences do, why shouldn't they be legitimated and brought out into the open? In Allan Hunt Badiner and Alex Grey's Zig Zag Zen authors, artists, priests, and scientists are brought together to discuss this question. Opinions fall on all sides. Ram Dass, for instance, discusses the benefits as well as the limitations. Rick Strassman outlines his work in the first federally funded psychedelic study in two-and-a-half decades. Rick Fields sets the historical scene. China Galland offers a wrenching personal experience. Robert Jesse introduces the varieties of entheogens, drugs that engender mystical states. Lama Surya Das tells of his early drug years. And a roundtable discussion with Ram Dass, Robert Aitken, Richard Baker, and Joan Halifax caps it all.
Interspersed throughout are stunning full-page, full-color images of spiritual art by the likes of Robert Beer, Bernard Maisner, and, of course, Alex Gray. A fascinating look at a complex topic, Zig Zag Zen is worth appreciating and pondering. --Brian Bruya
"Zig Zag Zen challenges Buddhists to acknowledge their psychedelic legacies, while confronting the duality undermining any chemically dependent spiritual path." -- Douglas Rushkoff, author, Ecstasy Club, Exit Strategy, Playing the Future, and Coercion
"Zig Zag Zen is a must read for anyone who is concerned about the future of Buddhist practice." -- Bob Thurman, Chair of Indo-Tibetan studies at Columbia Univ.
"Zig Zag Zen is a treasure trove... inspiring, frightening, powerful, funny, and eye-opening." -- Mark Epstein, M.D., author of Thoughts without a Thinker
"Zig Zag Zen shines by its fairness: it faces the Zig and the Zag. That's Zen at its best." -- David Steindl-Rast, OSB, author of
"Zig Zag Zen touches all the high points... it is an important book." -- Laura Huxley, Founder of Children Our Ultimate Investment
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Top customer reviews
and turned to meditation and Buddhism. Beautiful art work by various artists and Alex Grey was the art director.
Well worth reading and having in your library.
Allan Badiner wanted to know what happened to the research with psychedelics by bright, spiritually-minded people so he decided to ask a wide spectrum of seekers what their experiences exploring the relationship between Buddhism and psychedelics was.
Firstly, as all Buddhists will tell you, the Buddha was very specifically against intoxicants (although Robert Thurman says that in the original Pali language, the 5th precept clearly refers to alcohol). So most of the writers and interviewees in "Zig Zag Zen" have to weigh in on whether psychedelics constitute intoxicants or not. Some argue that they are intoxicants, some argue that they aren't intoxicants, some argue that they are intoxicants but get a pass, and some argue that they aren't intoxicants but still should be avoided.
What Mister Badiner has assembled is a captivating array of diverse perspectives and personal experiences wherein many gifted writers and thinkers try to use language to convey the ineffable. In addition, Alex Grey, who is widely regarded as the leading progenitor of the increasingly popular 'visionary art' movement, is the art editor of "Zig Zag Zen" and has compiled a lush and visually stunning assortment of artworks that bring the discussion to life in a visceral and concrete manner.
"Zig Zag Zen: Buddhism and Psychedelics" is a fun, historical exploration of the divergent viewpoints and experiences of many extremely bright people who - like the Buddha - carry the intention of exploring human consciousness with the goal of allaying suffering. As Robert Thurman observed, "Zig Zag Zen is a must read for anyone who is concerned about the future of Buddhist practice."
Following a foreword written by Stephen Batchelor, a preface written by religious studies scholar Huston Smith, and an introduction written by the book's editor Allan Badiner, Zig Zag Zen is broken into three main sections: "Intersection", which explores the points common to both topics, "Concrescence?", which discusses the coalescence or "growing together" of Buddhism and psychedelics, and "Lessons", which offers advice from the elders in both movements for a beginning psychonaut or Buddhist.
The "Intersection" section covers topics like the Tibetan Book of the Dead and a 1964 psychedelicized version of it called The Psychedelic Experience, the concept of suffering, America's relationship with Buddhism, shamanism, spiritually-influenced artwork, and other various spiritual practices. The authors featured in this section include psychedelic researcher Ralph Metzner, professor Roger Walsh, anthropologist/writer Christian Rätsch, and Allan Badiner, among others.
The "Concrescence?" section begins with a thorough explanation of Buddhist and psychedelic artwork by visionary artist Alex Grey, followed by an explanation by Rick Strassman concerning his groundbreaking DMT research, and then features several chapters on various topics such as "psychoactivism", "leaning into rawness", ayahuasca, cannabis as a harm reduction practice, and a fantastic analysis of psychedelics' potential role in Buddhist practice by writer Erik Davis.
The final section, "Lessons", includes several discussions concerning whether psychedelics are a help or a hindrance on the Buddhist path, features an interview with the well-known psychedelic bard Terence McKenna, the work of Rick Doblin with the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), Lama Surya Das' "zen commandments", and more.
The book is extremely well-written and edited, and offers an honest look at whether psychedelics can play a valid role in a Buddhist practice. The authors (and speakers) in the book do not all agree on a conclusion, and so it is up to the reader to decide whether psychedelics would truly assist them in their spiritual path or not. Featured throughout the book are a plethora of breathtaking art pieces in full color. I would advise this book to anyone who has an interest in either Buddhism or psychedelics.