Sunday, August 18, 2019

The History of the Psychedelic Movement :: Psychedelic Movement Buddhism Religion Essays

The History of the Psychedelic Movement In an attempt to synthesize my own personal academic area of interest, that is: the history of the psychedelic movement in twentieth century America, with the content of the Asian Religions course, I have elected to study the relationship between the influx of Buddhist philosophy and the psychedelic counter-culture movement of the 1960’s and 1970’s. The subject, although highly specific, has nonetheless generated intellectual interest substantial enough to warrant a sub-field of study, in terms of Buddhist/American History examination. This paper will focus on the thought of the main harbingers of this movement, specifically Aldous Huxley, Alan Watts, and Dr. Timothy Leary. This study will also examine the corruptions of classical Buddhist philosophy wrought by these intellectuals concerned with integrating the psychedelic experience in an Eastern context. The connection between Buddhism and psychedelics in the American experience is a subject of contention because of t he controversial associations of chemically altered perception as compared to traditional Bodhicitta, or the mind of enlightenment. The author Emma Layman, in her book Buddhism in America, asserts: â€Å"Of all the Buddhist groups in America, those focusing on meditation have been most attractive to young people from the drug scene, and it is these groups that have taken the strongest stand against drug use. The psychological literature as well as the literature on Zen abounds in descriptions of the altered states of consciousness experienced under the influence of LSD-25 and other hallucinogenic drugs. Descriptions of these drug-induced states often compare them with the experience of satori or enlightenment which may result from Buddhist meditation. Frequently the opinion is expressed that, under certain circumstances, the LSD experience is a satori experience. † The popularity of Buddhism in America became most pronounce in the period after World War II. It is interesting to note that the United States had just concluded the most devastating war in human history, with the first use of the atomic bomb on the Empire of Japan, yet the Japanese of style Buddhism took hold in America more than other school after the war. It could be said that the main figure head of Japanese, or more precisely, Zen Buddhism, in America was the author and intellectual Dr. D.T. Suzuki. In terms of the American expression of Buddhism, Suzuki had more influence over the interpretation of Zen philosophy than any other writer of the time.

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