What do Psychedelics, Psychotherapy and Scientific Research Have in Common?

If you ask the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), you’ll find that these topics are much more closely related than the US government currently wants you to believe. And the people at MAPS are working to change those government policies through the power of scientific data.

MAPS has recently sponsored the first double-blind, placebo-controlled study of the therapeutic use of LSD in human beings that has been completed since the early 1970s.


Experimental LSD capsule from the completed MAPS pilot study in Switzerland

The pilot-study included twelve patients who had anxiety related to a life-threatening disease. They were treated with therapy sessions to discuss their anxiety without any drugs, as well as participating in two LSD-assisted therapy sessions, using a double-blind, randomized method to administer the LSD.

Once the study was completed, it was found that there were positive trends and lasting benefits in the reduction of anxiety after the two LSD-assisted psychotherapy sessions. The study results also indicate that LSD-assisted psychotherapy was safe to use and administer in these subjects. These results showing the safety and potential benefits of LSD justify conducting further research on its therapeutic potential.


St. Albert and the LSD Revelation Revolution by Alex Grey

LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) is a semi-synthetic compound first developed in 1938 by Dr. Albert Hofmann at the Sandoz pharmaceutical company in Basel, Switzerland. After Dr. Hofmann first discovered some of its interesting effects in 1943, LSD quickly became recognized for its possible therapeutic effects. LSD also played a significant role in the discovery of the serotonin neurotransmitter system.

LSD is known for its ability to catalyze spiritual or mystical experiences and to facilitate feelings of interconnection. MAPS helps people to explore the potential of these substances to treat a variety of conditions, focusing primarily on the treatment of anxiety associated with life-threatening illness, as well as for spiritual uses, creativity, and personal growth.

There is considerable previous experience using LSD in the context of psychotherapy. From the 1950s through the early 1970s, psychiatrists (such as Stanislav Grof), therapists (like Ralph Metzner), and other researchers administered LSD as a treatment for alcoholism, or for anxiety and depression in people with advanced stage cancer.

The research that MAPS has completed and their plans for future research conform to the  development standards for other modern drugs and will help guide the way for the development of additional research into the risks and benefits of LSD-assisted psychotherapy.

Rick Doblin PhD, the Founder and Executive Director of MAPS, was one of the coauthors of the groundbreaking pilot study, and is a contributor to Zig Zag Zen: Buddhism and Psychedelics. He was interviewed for the book by editor Allan Badiner and in that interview they discuss Rick’s personal history with working to legalize psychedelics, experience with trying meditation and ways of relating to skeptical relatives.

You can watch them talk about some of the ideas in Zig Zag Zen at Watkins Books in London in the video below:

And for more information from MAPS, you can check out their comprehensive Psychedelic Bibliography for scientific literature covering the risks and benefits of LSD and other psychedelics.

If you’re still hungry for more psychedelic information to feed your head, be sure to check out the Consciousness and Psychedelics section of our bookstore.

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A Synergetic Summer at the Movies

This summer, forget about Hollywood and explore these innovative, independent films covering the psychedelic, surreal and synchronistic

DyingToKnow_FINALDying to Know: Take the Trip of Your Life!

“A cosmic buddy film” in the words of director Gay Dillingham, Dying to Know is an intimate portrait celebrating Timothy Leary and Ram Dass, two very complex, controversial characters and their epic friendship that shaped a generation. It’s a tale of taboos revolving around sex, drugs and death featuring these countercultural companions as they explore the realms of consciousness. 

In addition to seeing the film, you can read more about those early years of psychedelic exploration in Birth of a Psychedelic Culture in which Ram Dass wrote with Ralph Metzner about their personal experiences and experiments.

And see what what Ram Dass has to say in a round table discussion of prominent Buddhist thinkers in Zig Zag Zen: Buddhism and Psychedelics.

darkstarcontentDark Star: H.R. Giger’s World

Both a mesmerizing introduction to Giger’s oeuvre and a must-see for Giger devotees, Belinda Sallin’s definitive documentary Dark Star: H.R. Giger’s World shares the intimate last years of the artist’s life and reveals how deeply he resided within his own artistic visions.

Where others flee, he makes his home. What others dread, he makes his habitat. What others fight to suppress, he drags back to the surface. Throughout his life, H.R. Giger inhabited the world of the uncanny: a dark universe on the brink of many an abyss.

Giger did not create this world because he held it dear, but rather because he had no choice. Art was the only way that this amiable, modest and humorous man was able to keep his fears in check. Giger was merely the bearer of dark messages, charting our nightmares, drafting maps of our subconscious and moulding our primal fears. 

And for an interpretation of Giger’s visionary world by consciousness research pioneer Stanislav Grof, pick up a copy of HR Giger and the Zeitgeist of the Twentieth Century.

TimeIsArtPosterArt_v1Time is Art: Synchronicity & The Collective Dream

Time is Art is ultimately the story of an artist’s search for inspiration in a money-driven society that shuns creativity, and of the human search for meaning in a seemingly meaningless world. Compelling conversations with fellow seekers and mystics like Alex Grey & Allyson Grey, Toko-Pa Turner, Richard Tarnas, Graham Hancock, Daniel Pinchbeck and biologist Rupert Sheldrake, guide us through the underlying premise of the film: perhaps we can tap into a way of being that is not ruled by a finite sense of time, but rather by the ability to live in harmony with the true creative nature of our existence.


Inspired by acclaimed & visionary author José Argüelles’ studies in ancient indigenous wisdom, this film explores the idea that modern humanity is immersed in an erroneous and artificial perception of time that deviates from the natural order of the universe. We have become disconnected from the natural rhythms of the earth by focusing only on money, consumerism and exploitation while deep down inside, we crave the return to a foundation of culture, community, and creation.


And for more from Alex & Allyson Grey, check out the new edition of Zig Zag Zen: Buddhism and Psychedelics—Alex is the art editor and contributed his and Allyson’s sacred images along with an essay that captures the essence of visionary art with profound clarity.





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Wastewater Gardener at Bookworks in Albuquerque

Mark2-300x199Join Mark Nelson, PhD, for a signing of his award-winning book, The Wastewater Gardener: Preserving the Planet One Flush at a Time. Mark your calendars to join Mark on August 9th at Bookworks, a locally-owned and operated independent bookstore in Albuquerque to get your signed copy of the book that was voted “Most Likely to Save the Planet” in the 2015 IPPY awards!


wwg_300dpiIn The Wastewater GardenerMark Nelson takes us on an award-winning global expedition to learn how we are wasting the world’s dwindling supplies of fresh water by flushing away a very valuable resource, our own human wastes! A founding director of the Institute of Ecotechnics, Dr. Nelson has worked for several decades in closed ecological system research. As one of eight brave souls enclosed in the pioneering Biosphere 2 experiment, he realized how essential the proper re-use of human waste is to the health of the planet. This led to what Dr. Nelson calls a life-long love affair with constructed wetlands, where he discovered an important solution to some of our trickiest global dilemmas: Wastewater Gardens. While the problems covered in this book are very serious, Dr. Nelson’s approach to the subject makes for a delightful, down-to-earth read.


Come to Bookworks, one of Albuquerque’s last remaining local, independent bookstores, which is dedicated to supporting the community and connecting books and readers.

Event date:
Sunday, August 9, 2015 – 3:00 pm


Event address:
4022 Rio Grande Blvd NW
Albuquerque, NM 87107
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Tony Juniper asks: “What If Winston Churchill Were Leading the Fight Against Climate Change?”

juniper_tight_cropTony Juniper originally wrote this article for the Winter 2014 issue of YES! Magazine.

Those who fail to learn from history are destined to repeat it, goes the saying. While there are few historical parallels to the existential threat posed by climate change, there is perhaps one: Nazi aggression during the Second World War.

In the years before he served as Britain’s wartime prime minister, Winston Churchill was an out-of-favor Conservative politician who raised a lone voice about the threat posed by the German Nazis—long before most of his colleagues in Parliament were prepared to recognize it. Churchill’s words, from a speech he delivered to the House of Commons in November 1936, give an example of how climate change might be described now.

Owing to past neglect, in the face of the plainest warnings, we have now entered upon a period of danger. . . The era of procrastination, of half-measures, of soothing and baffling expedients, of delays, is coming to its close. In its place we are entering a period of consequences. . . We cannot avoid this period; we are in it now.

Churchill’s warnings were well-founded. Hitler invaded Poland, then France and the Low Countries. By May 1940, the continental side of the English Channel was occupied.

image via Gizmodo

A deadly heat wave melts the streets in India.

As the Arctic sea ice shrinks, glaciers retreat, and devastating floods and heat waves signal profound changes taking place in our Earth system, we are truly once again in a period of consequences. And as was the case in 1936, most politicians are happy to sit on their hands and not even offer half-measures. Quite the opposite in fact, as demonstrated by widespread political backing for expanding the exploitation of coal, tar sands, and shale gas.

When the threat of aggression became very obvious to the British, with dozens of German army divisions and fleets of bombers stationed just a few miles from England, Churchill’s words galvanized the nation for the titanic struggle that lay ahead.

Therefore, in casting up this dread balance sheet and contemplating our dangers with a disillusioned eye, I see great reason for intense vigilance and exertion, but none whatever for panic or despair. . . What General Weygand called the Battle of France is over. I expect that the Battle of Britain is about to begin. Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilization. . . Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this Island or lose the war.

If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, “This was their finest hour.”

Britain became doggedly focused and swung behind a campaign virtually without parallel. President Roosevelt moved with similarly determined leadership after the attack on Pearl Harbor, with the United States shifting to a war economy in a matter of months. The mobilization between 1939 and 1945 perhaps teaches us that a successful response to broad, systemic peril requires a combination of factors: scaling up technology, broad public support and participation, and inspiring leadership.

image via http://www.bls.gov/green/wind_energy/

Wind energy provided Europe with 8% of its electricity in 2014.

Spitfires, Sherman tanks, and submarines were mass-produced. Technology was refined, leading to the emergence of innovations, including jet engines and computers.

When it comes to climate change, we have technology with the potential to meet the challenge. Wind turbines and solar photovoltaics are among a suite of low-carbon power technologies. Electric vehicles work. We know how to farm more sustainably and have the means to reduce deforestation. The fact that these solutions are not being deployed is down to absence of leadership, an apparent absence of public demand, and crucially, the lack of perception of an immediate threat.

The rapid reorientation of the Western economies during WWII was achieved with the backing of voters. Women went to work in factories, rationing schemes were accepted, and men queued up to join the fighting forces.

Arousing a similar degree of popular support for action on climate change is a greater challenge, not least because the gradual warming of the atmosphere is different from tangible dangers such as imminent invasion. The situation is made worse by the activities of a “Fifth Column” of climate change deniers. Their campaign has successfully confused debate to the point where, in the United States and United Kingdom, policy and technology are going into reverse. Instead of pandering to these dangerous interests, as many modern politicians do, the street fighter in Churchill would have taken them on. Despite his age and shape, Churchill was a deft political operator who routinely outmaneuvered his opponents before they struck.

nazis20n-1-webIn his own words, Churchill summed up his approach thus:

One ought never to turn one’s back on a threatened danger and try to run away from it. If you do that, you will double the danger. But if you meet it promptly and without flinching, you will reduce the danger by half. Never run away from anything. Never!

As well as being a gifted brawler, Churchill knew how to do deals, even with people he considered murderous despots. His pact with Stalin might be compared to modern leaders working with the financial markets that some regard as enemies of democracy, but which have the massive resources needed to win the climate war. Such climate change action could herald a new industrial revolution, one rich in jobs and business opportunities.

Compared to the Second World War, the economic reorientation needed to do this is modest. Great Britain devoted more than 40 percent of its GDP to fighting the Axis powers. Just 2 percent of annual global GDP is required to win the carbon war.

As humankind drifts toward its monumental showdown with Nature, one that might well leave the Second World War looking like a modest emergency, the biggest need of all is for leaders who articulate the threat and galvanize action.

Churchill wasn’t able to predict events any more than politicians today, but he looked squarely at the facts and made judgments that proved correct. On climate change, and in the face of the plainest warnings, we need similarly inspired leadership now.

Tony Juniper is a campaigner, sustainability adviser, well-known British environmentalist and author of What Has Nature Ever Done for Us? How Money Really Does Grow on Trees

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The Wastewater Gardener is Winning!

The Wastewater Gardener has been getting some attention. . . 

BFALabel-SilverWinner_168w2015 Benjamin Franklin Award—Silver Winner in the category of Home & Garden

The IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards, which include fifty-five categories recognizing excellence in book editorial and design, are regarded as one of the highest national honors for indie publishers and self-published authors.

The awards are administered by the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA), with help from over 150 book publishing professionals including librarians, bookstore owners, reviewers, designers, publicity managers, and editors.


2014 Living Now Book Award—Gold Winner in the category of Gardening / Farming / Landscaping LivingNowGold

We’ve all heard the expressions, “This book changed my life!” and “Changing the world, one book at a time.” The Living Now Book Awards are designed to honor those kinds of life-changing books, and to bring increased recognition to the year’s best lifestyle, homestyle, world-improvement and self-improvement books and their creators. We all seek healthier, more fulfilling lives for ourselves and for the planet, and books are very important tools for gaining knowledge about how to achieve these goals for ourselves, our loved ones, and for Planet Earth.

The purpose of the Living Now Book Awards is to celebrate the innovation and creativity of books that enhance the quality of life, from cooking and gardening to spirituality and wellness.

Gold2015 IPPY Award—Gold Winner for Outstanding Book of the Year: “Most Likely to Save the Planet”

The “IPPY” Awards, launched in 1996, are designed to bring increased recognition to the deserving but often unsung titles published by independent authors and publishers. Established as the first awards program open exclusively to independents, over 3,000 “IPPYs” have been awarded to authors and publishers around the world.

For 32 years the mission at Independent Publisher has been to recognize and encourage the work of publishers who exhibit the courage and creativity necessary to take chances, break new ground, and bring about change, not only to the world of publishing, but to our society.

These medalists were chosen from among the regular entries for exemplifying this daring spiritthe book projects that the judges found the most heartfelt, unique, outspoken and experimental among almost 6,000 entries.


Foreword Reviews’ 2014 INDIEFAB Book of the Year Award—Silver Winner in the category of Ecology & Environment

Foreword Reviews’ INDIEFAB Book of the Year Awards are judged by a select group of librarians and booksellers from around the country. Representing hundreds of independent and university presses of all sizes, INDIEFAB winners were selected after months of editorial deliberation with more than 1,500 entries in 63 categories.

From the review:

Nelson uses humor to bring attention to important environmental issues and to detail his unique methods of improving ecosystems.

In tracing the arc of his life in The Wastewater Gardener: Preserving the Planet One Flush at a Time, Mark Nelson provides an informative, entertaining look at his work designing treatment systems for human excrement and toxic waste in many of the world’s climates and regions.

The author has decades of experience as an environmental consultant and is a leading expert on constructed wetlands and other alternative sewage systems. His beautiful and functional wastewater gardens are found in some of the world’s toniest ecotourist centers and in some of its poorest communities.

—Foreword Review

SW-Book-Award-Badge1Winner of the 2015 Southwest Book Design and Production Award for Best Cover and Jacket Design

The playful and visually engaging cover of The Wastewater Gardener caught the attention of the New Mexico Book Association. In their Fifth Annual NMBA Southwest Book Design Awards Competition, The Wastewater Gardener was one of the winning recipients for its striking cover. The awards were announced and presented on June 17 at the NMBA Gala and Membership Meeting. This is the sixth year that these coveted recognitions have been awarded to the publishers and creators of a few outstanding books produced during the past several months. The New Mexico Book Association is a not-for-profit organization and is pleased to offer this award program for New Mexico’s authors and publishers as well as to those in surrounding states.



Finalist for the 2015 Next Generation Indie Book Awards in the category of Science/Nature/Environment

Next Generation Indie Book Awards is the largest Not-for-Profit book awards program for indie authors and independent publishers. In its eighth year of operation, the Next Generation Indie Book Awards was established to recognize and honor the most exceptional independently published books in over 70 different categories, for the year, and is presented by Independent Book Publishing Professionals Group

For more information about Wastewater Garden Projects around the world, click here.

To see what all the buzz is about, pick up your own copy of award-winning The Wastewater Gardener: Preserving the Planet One Flush at a Time


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Breaking Convention 2015: The 3rd International Conference on Psychedelic Consciousness

From July 10-12, Breaking Convention 2015, the 3rd International Conference on Psychedelic Consciousness is taking place.

rsz_zzz_breakingcon-page-001The programme for this year features more than 130 presenters from around the world. Several of the contributors to Zig Zag Zen: Buddhism and Psychedelics will be presenting at the conference, including Allan Badiner, Ralph Metzner, Rick Strassman, James Fadiman, Robert Forte, Rick Doblin and Luke Brown! You can check the programme for more details on specific locations and to see what other lectures, workshops, films, visionary art installations and performances will be happening during this consciousness-expanding conference.

Some of the other speakers include:

Prof. David Nichols, World’s most cited scientist on LSD pharmacology
Prof. David Nutt, Head of the Centre for Neuropsychopharmacology, Imperial College London
Prof. Roland Griffiths, Professor of Neuroscience and Psychiatry, Johns-Hopkins Medical School
Kat Harrison, Researcher, writer, campaigner & wife of Terrence McKenna
Prof. Lumír Hanuš, Professor of Medicinal Chemistry, discoverer of the first endocannabinoid anandamide.
Daniel Pinchbeck, Author of Breaking Open the Head
Dr. Jonathan Ott, Ethnobotanist & writer who coined the term entheogen.
Dale Pendell, Poet & Author of the Pharmako trilogy
Amanda Feilding, Countess of Wemyss & Founding Director of the Beckley Foundation
…and over 100 other leading thinkers in psychedelic consciousness

Breaking Convention also publishes collections of essays through based on the conferences that are bursting with the most cutting-edge ideas in multidisciplinary psychedelic research. These essays have retained their relevance since the first conferences, and continue to serve as fascinating reading on the forefront of consciousness culture.

 Psychedelic consciousness is a personally meaningful experience that can bring us into contact with the unknowable, help repair fragmented minds and increase our wellbeing. However, psychedelic plants and other substances have been globally prohibited for over half a century with little regard for their spiritual, therapeutic and recreational use throughout human history.

The prohibition of psychedelic ‘drugs’ has limited the exploration of consciousness and the healing potential of psychedelics. Yet, in the last two decades, a door has opened allowing legal medical and therapeutic research on psychedelics to resume. This opening has allowed other scholars to become increasingly bold in stating their interest in psychedelic substances.

Topics covered range from Neolithic worldviews, prehistoric rituals and Amerindian epistemology to weaponized hallucinogens, religious freedoms, trip lit and the death of the ’60s dream. This collection of 22 original essays transects a wide range of disciplines to offer empirical, mystical, imaginal, hermeneutic, queer, phenomenological and parapsychological perspectives on the exploration of psychedelics, taking in scientific debates on MDMA, manifestos, policy challenges, anaesthetic revelations and communications from the herbs along the way. —Breaking Convention: Essays on Psychedelic Consciousness

“From shamanic rituals to the 1960s cultural revolution, from psychopharmacology to ethnobotany, from phenomenology to parapsychology, from MDMA to ayahuasca, this collection of essays covers a vast range of contemporary studies of mind-expanding substances. Provocative and highly recommended.”
Ralph Metzner, PhD

The conference promises to be aa multidimensional trip into psychedelic consciousness, science and culture.” Be sure to attend if you’re in London this weekend, but even if you’re not able to be there in person you can learn more about psychedelic consciousness in your copy of Zig Zag Zen: Buddhism and Psychedelics and by reading past Breaking Convention essays.


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Zig Zag Zen Launches in London 9 July @ Watkins Bookstore

Join Allan Badiner, Rick Doblin, Robert Forte and Daniel Pinchbeck in a rare London gathering for a book signing to celebrate the UK launch of Zig Zag Zen: Buddhism and Psychedelics.

zig_zag_zen_front_coverThis new edition of Zig Zag Zen: Buddhism and Psychedelics  has evolved from the landmark anthology that launched the first inquiry into the ethical, doctrinal, and transcendental considerations at the intersection of Buddhism and psychedelics.

Featuring original essays by Ralph Metzner and Brad Warner; exciting interviews with James Fadiman, Kokyo Henkel, and Rick Doblin; and a discussion of ayahuasca’s unique influence on Zen Buddhism by David Coyote; all of which have been carefully curated to extend the original inquiry of authors Joan Halifax Roshi, Peter Matthiessen, Jack Kornfield, Ram Dass, Terence McKenna, Rick Fields and others.

Zig Zag Zen also features artwork contributions from Android Jones, Sukhi Barber, Ang Tsherin Sherpa, Amanda Sage, as well as Robert Venosa, Mark Rothko, Robert Beer, Francesco Clemente, and the pioneering visionary artist Alex Grey.

Zig Zag Zen is a must read for anyone who is concerned about the future of Buddhist practice.
Robert Thurman, Chair of Indo-Tibetan studies at Columbia University

19-21 Cecil Court
London WC2N 4EZ
Nearest Tube:
Covent Garden/Leicester Square
Thursday, 9 July
6:30 pm


Zig Zag Zen: Buddhism and Psychedelics
ISBN: 978 0907791 61 4

Hardcover $38.95 304 pages
7 x 9 inches
40 Color Plates (also available in eBook)
Available in the UK through Deep Books, Ltd.

Zig Zag Zen is a treasure trove: inspiring, frightening, powerful, funny, eye-opening, and a source of great wisdom on a subject that our society finds endlessly confusing.
Mark Epstein, MD, author of Thoughts Without a Thinker and Going on Being

 An extraordinary ride and guide down the corridors of the mystical psychedelic inward journey that will be of great interest and value to any serious explorer of spiritual insight. The zigzag is not for the straight and narrow.
Ganga White, author of Yoga Beyond Belief, founder of the White Lotus Foundation

Psychedelics opened my Doors of Perception, and Zen Buddhism has helped to keep them open.
John Densmore, author of New York Times bestseller Riders on the Storm and The Doors: Unhinged

 Zig Zag Zen challenges Buddhists to acknowledge their psychedelic legacies, while confronting
the duality undermining any chemically dependent spiritual path.

Douglas Rushkoff, author of Ecstasy Club, Exit Strategy, Playing the Future and Coercion

 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 Gratefulness: The Heart of Prayer

 About the Speakers

badinerAllan Badiner is the editor Zig Zag Zen: Buddhism and Psychedelics (Synergetic Press), as well as two other books of collected essays, Dharma Gaia: A Harvest in Buddhism and Ecology (Parallax Press, 1991) and Mindfulness in the Marketplace: Compassionate Responses to Consumerism (Parallax, 2002). Allan is a contributing editor of Tricycle magazine, and serves on the board of directors of Rainforest Action Network, Threshold Foundation and Project CBD. He has been a student of Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh for more than 25 years.


doblinRick Doblin, PhD, is founder and executive director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS). His undergraduate thesis at New College of Florida was a twenty-five-year follow-up to the classic Good Friday Experiment. He wrote his doctoral dissertation (in Public Policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government) on the regulation of the medical uses of psychedelics. His professional goal is to help develop legal contexts for the beneficial uses of psychedelics and marijuana and eventually to become a legally licensed psychedelic therapist.


Untitled-2Robert Forte, AMRS, is an independent scholar, writer, and editor, who studied the history and psychology of religion at the University of Chicago Divinity School. He is the editor of Entheogens and the Future of Religion; Timothy Leary: Outside Looking In, and the twentieth anniversary edition of The Road to Eleusis, by R. G. Wasson, Albert Hofmann, and Carl A. P. Ruck. He is currently a faculty member of the California Institute of Integral Studies, Transformative Studies. He served on the board of directors of the Albert Hofmann Foundation and has been president of the Church of the Awakening since 1985.


pinchbeckb&waDaniel Pinchbeck is author of Breaking Open the Head and 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl. In May 2007, Pinchbeck launched Reality Sandwich. He is the executive producer of Postmodern Times, a series of web videos presented on the iClips Network, and co-founder of Evolver.net, an online social network. His life and work are featured in the documentary 2012: Time for Change, featuring interviews with Sting, David Lynch, Barbara Marx Hubbard, and others.

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Buddhism Meets Psychedelics: The Course


Our affiliate Evolver Learning Lab produces live, online video courses about fascinating, often provocative topics. The next interactive educational opportunity they’re presenting is “Buddhism Meets Psychedelics,” hosted by Allan Badiner, editor of Zig Zag Zen: Buddhism and Psychedelics and with special guests and fellow contributors to Zig Zag Zen, visionary art editor Alex Grey, as well as Zen priests Kokyo Henkel and Brad Warner.

This 3 session course starts on Monday, July 6.

We want to offer a $15 discount on this course to our tribe—follow the link here to register: https://evolver.refersion.com/c/e0bc1/8334, and enter the code “SYNERGETIC” (all caps).

Here’s more information about the course from Evolver:

Hosted by Allan Badiner With Guests Alex Grey, Kokyo Henkel, and Brad Warner
3 Sessions  |  Starting July 6

Discover how the considered use of entheogens and Buddhist practice can enhance and deepen one another, or not.

How does the issue of psychedelics, currently undergoing a renaissance, find itself juxtaposed with the ancient wisdom tradition of Buddhism? It turns out that the same cast of characters (Alan Watts, Ram Dass, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, etc.) that introduced America to psychedelics, also brought us the first glimpse of the Buddha’s teachings. Most American born Buddhist teachers and many of their students were influenced by psychedelic substances, such as cannabis and LSD, in the 60’s and 70’s. Today, however, we find many Buddhist teachers advising against a path that they themselves once traveled. At the same time, a new generation of meditators and seekers are exploring psychedelics and benefiting from the thoughtful, informed use of mind expanding plants and chemicals. This webinar is about how best to navigate this complex, highly charged territory.

More people now than ever appreciate that Buddhism and psychedelic exploration share a common concern: the liberation of the mind.

Scientific research is demonstrating that meditation and psychedelics have related neurological effects, which can be complimentary.

The profound insights of entheogenic journeys can be deepened and integrated by Buddhist practice.

The anthropocene and its related threats to the life support systems of the Earth require us to look carefully at any tools that can safely promote radical and rapid change.

Amidst what is essentially a slow motion ecological collapse, people remain in pursuit of greater fulfillment in their lives, seeking deeper spiritual truth and leaning about strategies for liberating themselves from suffering. Bound to be encountered on any journey to wisdom are Buddhism and psychedelics.

It’s been almost 60 years since Life magazine published the article, “Seeking the Magic Mushroom,” by Gordon Wasson, which is considered to mark the very beginning of the psychedelic, or mind changing revolution. Psychedelics, considered a “phase” from the sixties, made illegal and held to be without medical usefulness, are now becoming studied as potentially valuable medicinal and therapeutic modalities.

Both in Buddhism and psychedelic experiences there is a great importance on coming to terms with one’s own mortality and impermanence, on comprehending reality directly rather than theoretically or abstractly, and on understanding the tenuous borders between self and others. We are witnessing a greater acknowledgement of psychedelic use in a spiritual context, and a flowering of books and magazine stories evidence a sharp rise in intellectual interest. All of this is tantamount to a revolution in our understanding of the mind itself, and in the ways that psychedelic interventions may result in evolutionary mental advancement.

Veneration for the induced visionary experience has roots in virtually every culture on earth, and one could argue that the use of visionary plants have been seminal to the development of civilization. Two of the most pervasive and influential cultures the planet has ever seen, that of Hellenistic Greece and Aryan India, contained at their very core inspirations derived from the ingestion of psychedelic substances.

Dr. Stanley Krippner, a leading parapsychologist points out that while psychedelic substances have been used very wisely in many primitive cultures for spiritual and healing purposes, “Our culture doesn’t have this framework. We don’t have the closeness to God, the closeness to nature, or the shamanistic outlook,” says Krippner, “We’ve lost all that.” This is perhaps where Buddhism comes in with an ethic of compassion and time-tested teachings that promotes awareness, kindness, and self-development.

It is in this context that writer Robert Thurman, the first American to be ordained a Tibetan Monk by the Dalai Lama, and who has never been a psychedelic enthusiast, told a crowd of 300 at Burning Man in 2014 that when one considers the magnitude of the challenges ahead, psychedelics that can rapidly develop our empathetic capacity and degree of gratefulness could be considered a skillful means provided they were used carefully. The fifth precept of Buddhism, Thurman added, was clearly referring to alcohol, which was seen— even in ancient times— as a huge social and health problem.

In their groundbreaking anthology, Zig Zag Zen, Allan Badiner and Alex Grey launched the first inquiry into the ethical, doctrinal, and transcendental considerations of the intersection of Buddhism and psychedelics. To mark the release of the expanded 2nd edition of the book, Allan is hosting this unique exploration of the topic, with three much admired spiritual teachers: the pioneering visionary artist Alex Grey, the Zen priest and head teacher at the Santa Cruz Zen Center, Kokyo Henkel, and the popular Zen writer Brad Warner.

Each has had a profound encounter with psychedelics that has influenced their practice, but they bring markedly different perspectives to this discussion.

For Alex Grey, entheogens continue to play an important role in his spiritual life, bringing him ever further into the mystery, and remain continuously rewarding. He regards the sacraments as building blocks to the emergence of a sacramental culture.  

Kokyo Henkel has long seen the potential for psychedelics to help introduce you to the benefits of Buddhist meditation as a door opener, but he is now questioning his long held idea that the use of sacraments and plant teachers are not advisable as one advances in Dharma practice. 

While he enjoys the artifacts of psychedelica, such as visionary art, or the psychedelic art of the 60’s, Brad Warner is skeptical that any chemical enhancement can be part of a dedicated Buddhist practice. 

 Allan will explore these perspectives in a lively, thoughtful, no holds barred one-on-one discussion with each of his guests.

You will be part of the discussion, able to ask your questions on camera, just like a Skype call. If you happen to miss a live session, you can view a video recording at any time. These sessions will be filled with provocative information, powerful personal stories, and practical advice.

In this unique, live interactive video course, you will: 

  • Learn about the resurgence of research into the therapeutic potential of controlled substances, and how meditative states can enhance that potential.
  • Learn how meditation and ritual practice can be a powerful adjunct to psychedelic states of mind, providing structure and sustained access to your highest spiritual intentions.
  • Explore the challenges that psychedelic use can introduce into a Buddhist practice, and how to best avoid these pitfalls.
  • Hear the experience of knowledgeable and thoughtful experts who have combined psychedelics and meditation to profound effect, or have chosen not to.
  • Discover how these parallel paths together can open the most creative avenues for an appreciation and practice of visionary art towards the building of a sacramental culture.




Monday, July 6
The Practice and A
ppreciation of Visionary Art toward Building a Sacramental Culture
With Guest Alex Grey
8:00pm EST – 5:00pm PST

Joining Allan in our first session is celebrated visionary artist Alex Grey, who will discuss the role of visionary art to sharpen your vision and glimpse the subtle energies of the light body. Alex will explain why manifesting our own unique vision of the light will allow us to feel connected, whole, and healthy. Alex and Allan will recount their initiation with psychedelics and Buddhism. Back in 1976 when Alex worked in the morgue at Harvard Medical School, a friend shared with him and his partner Allyson Grey, a Buddhist book describing a practice in which monks contemplated on corpses to gain awareness of impermanence. This book, the Visuddhimagga and The Tibetan Book of the Dead, launched Alex into a lifelong study of Tibetan Buddhism which became an important focus of his spiritual life. Aside from a single brief experience with MDMA, Allan immersed himself in the study of Buddhism for many years before becoming interested in learning more about psychedelics.

  • Alex will explain why visionary mystical experiences, the creative source of all sacred art and wisdom traditions, are humanity’s most direct contact with the divine spirit or “god energy.”
  • Learn about the best technology for sharing the mystic imaginal realms, and how seeing or creating artistic renderings of transcendental realms contribute to a body of evidence of Spirit itself.
  • Discover how Visionary Art allows us to see the cosmos, ourselves and others as a reflection of the divine.
  • Understand the role of ritual as a basic human instinct, a compelling urge to merge with the infinite and relate intimately with the sacred primordial force which informs and fuels all existence.

Alex Grey, artist, poet, author, minister, is best loved for his paintings portraying multiple dimensions of reality, interweaving biological anatomy with psychic and spiritual energies. His books, Sacred Mirrors, The Mission of Art,Transfigurations, Art Psalms and Net of Being, trace the visions and mystical experiences that shaped his spiritual creative life and address how art can evolve the cultural body through icons of interconnectedness. Alex also served as a contributor and art editor for the New Edition of Zig Zag Zen: Buddhism and PsychedelicsCo-founded with his wife, the artist Allyson Grey, Chapel of Sacred Mirrors, CoSM is an interfaith church celebrating creativity as a spiritual path. Alex has long been a practitioner of Buddhism and an advocate for cognitive liberty. Learn more at alexgrey.com


Monday, July 13
Considering Psychedelics as a P
art of the Practice of Buddhism
Kokyo Henkel
8:00pm EST – 5:00pm PST

 Joining Allan in the second session is Kokyo Henkel, head teacher at Santa Cruz Zen Center in Santa Cruz, California. Kokyo’s experience with psychedelics and Buddhism has co-evolved over time. Following an initial opening with psychedelics, Kokyo was drawn deeper into Buddhist practice and ultimately became ordained, and joined the order of Soto Zen Buddhism. Lately, Kokyo has felt it is contributive to the spiritual trajectories of others to acknowledge the role that psychedelics have played in his own life and practice, and is looking more deeply at his long held position that psychedelics mix with Buddhism only as an opening—and that there is no place for continued use within an advanced Buddhist practice.

  • Kokyo will discuss the attraction that psychedelics held for him, and why he stopped using.
  • Explore the similarities and differences of Zen practice and the use of sacraments with spiritual intention.
  • Learn about studies conducted with zen students using psilocybin in a kind of updated Buddhist version of the Good Friday Experiment.
  • Discover the attitudes and experiences of other Zen clergy with psychedelics, and how Kokyo’s contemporaries view psychedelics used in conjunction with Zen practice.

Kokyo Henkel has been practicing Zen Buddhism since 1990 at San Francisco Zen Center in the lineage of Shunryu Suzuki Roshi, and at Bukkokuji Monastery in Japan. He was ordained as a priest in 1994 by Tenshin Anderson Roshi and received Dharma Transmission from him in 2010. Kokyo is currently the head teacher at Santa Cruz Zen Center. Kokyo also contributed to the New Edition of Zig Zag Zen: Buddhism and Psychedelics.


Monday, July 20
Enjoying Psychedelic Culture Without Use while Practicing Buddha Dharma
With Guest Brad Warner
8:00pm PST – 5:00pm EST

 Joining Allan in the third and final session is Brad Warner, Buddhist author and ordained Soto Zen teacher. Brad confesses that while he is not a fan of consuming psychedelic substances (and particularly not for the attainment of heightened spirituality) he is a great fan of all things psychedelic.  He had a “psychedelic “ band in the 80’s and admits enjoying the psychedelic art in Zig Zag Zen were very enjoyable.  On one thing Brad agrees with the Buddhists who also use plant sacraments: It is important to be having the conversation about Buddhism and Psychedelics—mainly because there is so much confusion about it. There is, Brad says, “a whole new generation promoting hallucination as a substitute for meditation.” Allan will both challenge and underline some of Brad’s ideas, preferring to take a “middle path.”

  • Brad will explain why he compares a psychedelic journey to “wars” or a “car crash.”
  • Learn why Brad feels that the “view from the top of the mountain” cheats the psychedelic user of the experience of getting there, and how Buddhism is more about the process of self-cultivation rather than some final attainment.
  • Consider Brad’s take on the idea that chemical enlightenment may lead to robotic enlightenment with implanted neuro-devices.
  • Understand why Brad believes the very core of what Buddhist practice is all about is learning to wake up by ourselves.

Brad Warner is author of There Is No God and He Is Always With You, Hardcore Zen, Sit Down and Shut Up, Zen Wrapped in Karma Dipped in Chocolate and Sex Sin and Zen, as well as contributing to the New Edition of Zig Zag Zen: Buddhism and Psychedelics. He is an ordained Zen teacher in the Soto lineage. He has practiced Zen for over 30 years, and once worked for the company founded by the man who created Godzilla.



Allan Badiner served as the editor in the first edition, and the New Edition of Zig Zag Zen: Buddhism and Psychedelics (Synergetic Press, 2015), as well as two other books of collected essays, Dharma Gaia: A Harvest in Buddhism and Ecology (Parallax Press, 1990) and Mindfulness in the Marketplace: Compassionate Responses to Consumerism (Parallax, 2002). Allan is a contributing editor of Tricycle magazine, and serves on the board of directors of Rainforest Action Network, Threshold Foundation and Project CBD. He has been a student of Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh for more than 25 years.


By participating in this online course, you will receive:

  • Three 60-minute live video seminars with Allan Badiner and his guests on July 6, 13, and 20
  • 30 minutes of question and answer time following each seminar
  • Unlimited online access to recordings of all sessions


Be Sure to register by Monday, July 6 herehttps://evolver.refersion.com/c/e0bc1/8334, and enter the code SYNERGETIC (all caps) for $15 off! And make sure to pick up your copy Zig Zag Zen: Buddhism and Psychedelicsa classic reference on this provocative topic.

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Sweeping Entheogens Out From Under the Rug: Zig Zag Zen at the Rubin Museum


(left to right) Alex Grey and Allan Badiner and psychiatrist Julie Holland MD at the Rubin Museum, New York City, June 17th.


How did the leaders of the American Buddhist community find their way to spiritual practice? And why does sacred and tribal art look so, well. . . psychedelic

These were a few of the topics discussed at the Rubin Museum’s book launch event for the new, expanded edition of Zig Zag Zen: Buddhism and Psychedelics, from Synergetic Press. In a down to earth yet provocative exchange, editors Alex Grey and Allan Badiner, along with moderator Julie Holland M.D. spoke openly about the tie-died elephant standing in the lush downstairs theater space at the Rubin Museum on June 17th.

The Rubin, located in the Chelsea neighborhood of downtown Manhattan, is a cultural hub that brings the sacred art of the Himalayas, India and neighboring regions into the heart of the West, creating an opportunity to make cross-cultural connections through immersive exhibits, films and onstage programs.

But apart from air conditioning and lack of dust, a casual stroll through the museums exhibits is, in effect, not so different from an exploration of the visionary art galleries at Fractal Planet during Burning Man or many similar festival offerings. Patterned symmetries and asymmetries unfold like snapshots of fractal etheric processes- cultural evolution, psychodynamics, animistic identifications- all meet the viewer of both ancient sacred texts, as well as contemporary visionary offerings.

The trio on stage spoke before a packed house (at least 30 people had to be turned away from the event) on topics ranging from Buddhist practice to art and healing, but always centering around the theme of breaking the taboo on openly discussing psychedelics— substances that, although repressed in our culture, have been instrumental in the evolution of all three.
Julie Holland M.D., a frequent guest expert on an array of mainstream television programs, has written books about marijuana, ecstasy and psychiatry, as well as her latest title, Moody Bitches: The Truth About the Drugs You’re Taking, the Sleep You’re Missing, the Sex You’re Not Having, and What’s Really Making You Crazy.

Allan Badiner, who is responsible for originating the idea of “Zig Zag Zen” as well as editing the text of the anthology, began the discussion by explaining how the majority of leading Buddhist teachers in the west all have stories of a psychedelic experience that catalyzed their spiritual transformations, a fact he learned through numerous Buddhist retreats and formed the inspiration for putting together the anthology of writings contained in Zig Zag Zen. Allan was then keen to remind the audience that, historically speaking, the best known apostles of each included the same characters: Allan Watts, Allen Ginsberg, Richard Alpert (Ram Dass) and Jack Kerouac.

Badiner continued by sharing his own experience of an earth-shattering Ayahuasca session led by Terence McKenna in Hawaii over 25 years ago that confirmed to the young seeker that his studies in Buddhism were on the right track. He recounted some of the details of this shamanic death experience during that Ayahuasca journey, which prepared him more securely for the reality of his own death. Allan had identified the archetype of a dragon that chased him through the jungle and provided a visceral encounter with his shadow. Smelling the hair on his legs burning as he ran from the fire-breathing dragon, Badiner was suddenly able to turn around and slay the dragon, only to see the face of the collapsing beast morph into his own. When he returned to the home of his shaman, Terence McKenna, he was was asked if he would do ayahuasca again in the future. Badiner laughed and asked, “Why, that which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger?” Terence, with his characteristically sharp intonation, replied, “No, actually that which kills you makes you stronger!

Julie Holland then turned the floor over to the art editor of Zig Zag Zen, Alex Grey. Grey is perhaps best known as the father of the Visionary Art scene, a nascent but rapidly growing movement that is already dominant in underground festivals all around the world—think Burning Man—and along with his spiritual partner, wife and fellow artist Allyson Grey, runs COSM, the Chapel of Sacred Mirrors, a gallery and events center in upstate New York that is legally considered by the state to be a religious organization. In addition to hosting events and workshops at COSM, the Greys travel tirelessly along the festival circuit, participating in both intimate and massive events to lecture on sacred culture and visionary art, or simply to ‘live-paint’ with developing artists in an array of local scenes, sharing their experience and wisdom.


Allan Badiner, editor, Alex Grey, art editor and Julie Holland M.D. signing copies of Zig Zag Zen at the Rubin Museum event.

Alex began his portion of the discussion by expanding upon essential insights from “Vajravision,” his text essay contribution to the Zig Zag Zen edition, in which he states, “Vajravision helps us see beyond the opaque material world to the spiritual reality behind appearances,” and that, “A dependable way to introduce one’s self to the brightly colored and minutely articulated visionary inner worlds, to “see” with Vajravision, is through an entheogenic or psychedelic experience. Perhaps one of the primary benefits of psychedelics is their capacity to make the subtle realms explicit and inescapable to the percipient under their influence.”

Grey gave the audience a rough map of the essential realms of physicality and truth with art as a kind of medium and then initiated a visual slide-show tour of the images from Zig Zag Zen, which represent an overview of key psychedelic milestones throughout the history of art. Were cave paintings made by humans on mushrooms? Perhaps, as modern anthropologists begin accepting and exploring formerly radical points of view enunciated through poetic avatars like Terence McKenna. Grey’s exposition on the intersection of Buddhism, art and psychedelics suggests to the listener the notion that meditation, artistic practice, and psychedelics each manage to dissolve the material world of the self and build a bridge to the archetypal world of ordinarily invisible beings and formless manifestation, the products of art mapping out a trail of breadcrumbs along the way.

After more back and forth between the editors, Julie Holland’s talents as more than just a moderator were given a place to shine. Her years of experience in the psychiatric ward at Bellevue Hospital and as an earnest researcher on the topic, provide Holland—and thereby the audience—with a keen sense of the legal, practical and medical dangers of psychedelics. Holland relayed a synchronistic anecdote from Bellevue where she was able to identify a patient as ‘altered’ rather than manic due to the repeated mention of COSM. This became an fruitful touchstone for discussion amongst her colleagues, enabled her to more easily bridge the realms of the clinical and psychonautic. According to the psychiatrist, the single largest obstacle between the culture that we have today and a healthy orientation towards psychedelics, art and spiritual practice is the wholesale refusal of most people, both the anonymous as well as those in the spotlight, to discuss their views and experiences with psychedelics more openly. If this ice could melt, we might rapidly develop a creative, healthy and sensible way of living with the formerly repressed.

This led naturally into Holland questioning the editors about the use of MDMA, something only touched on between the covers of Zig Zag Zen. Is ecstasy a psychedelic, and how does it relate to the Buddhist path? While Allan pointed out that MDMA does not typically lead to hallucinations in the ordinary sense, he suggested that it appears to open a ‘heart center’ much in the way that LSD might open a cognitive one. Alex agreed, but seemed to consider the substance to be more explicitly psychedelic, retelling the narrative of his and Allyson’s first MDMA ceremony, through which the inspiration for the COSM temple and retreat center in upstate New York first entered their imaginations.

A lengthy Q & A followed and concluded with Badiner reading a striking passage from the text of a 2008 letter written by the 101 year-old Albert Hofmann, famed discoverer of LSD:

Alienation from nature and the loss of the experience of being part of the living creation is the greatest tragedy of our materialistic era. It is the causative reason for ecological devastation and climate change.

Therefore I attribute absolute highest importance to consciousness change. I regard psychedelics as catalyzers for this. They are tools which are guiding our perception toward other deeper areas of our human existence, so that we again become aware of our spiritual essence. Psychedelic experiences in a safe setting can help our consciousness open up to this sensation of connection and of being one with nature.

LSD and related substances are not drugs in the usual sense, but are part of the sacred substances, which have been used for thousand of years in ritual settings. The classic psychedelics like LSD, Psilocybin and Mescaline are characterized by the fact that they are neither toxic nor addictive. It is my great concern to separate psychedelics from the ongoing debates about drugs, and to highlight the tremendous potential inherent to these substances for self-awareness, as an adjunct in therapy, and for fundamental research into the human mind.

It is my wish that a modern Eleusis will emerge, in which seeking humans can learn to have transcendent experiences with sacred substances in a safe setting. I am convinced that these soul-opening, mind-revealing substances will find their appropriate place in our society and our culture.


Alex Grey and Allan Badiner and psychiatrist Julie Holland M.D signing books at the Rubin Museum.

And with the reading of this passage, the audience spontaneously rose to their feet with thunderous applause, the program concluded and guests trickled out to the gift shop to buy books, get autographs, and chat with the panelists, or else simply to relax and enjoy one another’s company discussing the topics presented on stage. Zig Zag Zen: Buddhism and Psychedelics provides a thought-provoking pathway into this important discussion, which will continue for many, many years to come.

Learn more about the presenting partners for the Zig Zag Zen/Rubin Museum book launch below:

Evolver is creating a platform for content, learning, and commerce serving a global community of conscious consumers seeking optimal states of well being in mind, body, and spirit. We intend to become a leading trust-agent for individuals and groups participating in our transformative culture, one of wisdom, beauty, and fun.

The Tricycle Foundation is dedicated to making Buddhist teachings and practices broadly available. In 1991 the Foundation launched Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, the first magazine intended to present Buddhist perspectives to a Western readership. Tricycle soon became the leading independent journal of Buddhism in the West, where it continues to be the most inclusive and widely read vehicle for the dissemination of Buddhist views and values. 

Psymposia hosts talks, conferences, mixers, and storytelling nights about plants and psychedelics. We create and design events that help people in the community meet and network with one another. Our most recent project, Psychedelic Stories Podcast (Fall 2015) is a traveling psychedelic storytelling night that explores the stories and diverse community surrounding the psychedelic community all around the world. 

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Anthropocene – On the Substance of a New Idea

Underwater Sculpture by Jason de Caires Taylor submerged off the coast of Cancun, Mexico Photo: Jason de Caires Taylor

Underwater Sculpture by Jason de Caires Taylor submerged off the coast of Cancun, Mexico Photo: Jason de Caires Taylor

The recent rise in the exploration of the concept of entering a different geologic age, the Anthropocene, is provoking interesting dialogue across the web—a dialogue that explores the multivalent conceptions that we have of our relationship with the natural world. This conversation is exciting, long overdue, and hopefully it’s just the beginning of a realignment of some of our deepest beliefs and assumptions about our entitlement as the dominant species on Earth.


Anthropocene (2011) Underwater sculpture by Jason de Caires Taylor submerged off the coast of Cancun, Mexico

Here is a link to an article in GDC Interiors Journal with a contribution by Synergetic Press author Christian Schwägerl that provides an accessible, yet in-depth analysis of the major concepts involved and their philosophical underpinnings.

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