Advanced Yoga Practices
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Note: For the Original Internet Lessons with additions, see the AYP Easy Lessons Books. For the Expanded and Interactive Internet Lessons, AYP Online Books, Audiobooks and more, see AYP Plus.

Lesson 307 - Hallucinogens and Yoga  (Audio)

AYP Plus Additions:
307.1 - Dialog on Ayahuasca, Yoga, Dissociation and Fear  (Audio)
307.2 - Can Hallucinogens Help Health and Yoga?
307.3 - Getting Together with Old Friends Who Still Do Drugs  (Audio)

From: Yogani
Date: Feb 19, 2009

New Visitors: It is recommended you read from the beginning of the web archive, as previous lessons are prerequisite to this one. The first lesson is, "Why This Discussion?"

In the native cultures of the world (including in ancient India), spiritual experience has sometimes been associated (and ritualized) with the ingestion of hallucinogenic substances derived from plants. In modern times,
in addition to alcohol, the use of such substances for recreational purposes has become common, especially marijuana, certain types of mushrooms, and synthetic substances, particularly LSD, which rose to prominence in the youth counter culture of the 1960s and 1970s. Many from that era give some credit to their drug experiences in helping launch them on serious and drugless spiritual paths later on. It cannot be denied. This leaves us with two lingering questions.

First, are drug experiences necessary to embark on a spiritual path? The answer is obviously, no, for many pursue spiritual awakening without a drug experience being the initial stimulus. However, it can be said that in many cases, some sort of initial altered state of consciousness led to the inspiration and desire for a more permanent awakening. Such an initial experience can be caused by an accident, an illness, a spontaneous inner awakening, spiritual vision, or other life-altering event. Or maybe the aspirant just knows inside that there is something more to life than the conventional knowledge society is offering. The seed of spiritual desire can germinate from many causes. Ultimately, the call comes from within.

Drugs are only one of many ways people can be inspired to pursue a broader possibility within. In virtually all cases where an initial altered state is experienced, it will only be a preview, and not the onset of permanent spiritual transformation. It is important to recognize that any particular spiritual experience does not constitute a final outcome. For moving toward a final outcome in terms of spiritual progress, a different strategy is necessary, one which will systematically and gradually promote the purification and opening of the nervous system to its full capabilities.

This leads to the second question: Are drugs an aid in ongoing yoga practice? If there is any initial benefit found in the artificial experience produced by drugs, then the repetition of that experience is not likely to take us further. To assume so is a flight of fancy the magic bullet syndrome. In the case of continuing with hallucinogenic drugs to recreate a particular kind of experience, we will be producing the opposite effect underneath adding to the obstructions lodged deep within our nervous system.

Spiritual development is not primarily about having a temporary peak experience. Rather, it is a natural and permanent awakening, which can be achieved only through ongoing deep inner purification. This is why anyone engaged in daily deep meditation will find urges for substances that produce artificial experiences falling away. This applies to hallucinogenic drugs, alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, and eating habits that retard the natural expression of the divine light emerging from within us.

The guru is in you.

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Note: For detailed instructions on deep meditation, see the AYP Deep Meditation book. For detailed discussion on the implications of artificially induced states of consciousness, see the Diet, Shatkarmas and Amaroli book. Also see AYP Plus.

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