MAPS: Psychedelics and Self-Discovery

Artist: Michael Brown

The Controlled Substances Act of 1970 classifed LSD and other psychedelics as Schedule I (no medical use) and effectively prohibited psychedelic research by scientists and mental health professionals in the US. Now, more than 30 years later, it is still exceedingly difficult to get funding, support, or approval for this kind of research. The very few studies that are going on today are in some part sponsored or supported by MAPS – the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Drugs. “[Their] mission is to sponsor scientific research designed to develop psychedelics and marijuana into FDA-approved prescription medicines, and to educate the public honestly about the risks and benefits of these drugs.”

However, I want to talk about the research another time. This essay actually ties back to last week’s on Buddhism and Psychedelics. It seems fairly common that people who take psychedelics develop and maintain some form of spiritual practice. My own experience with LSD brought me to look into Buddhism and other practices to learn how the mind works. It changed my outlook on life as I became more conscious about the world. I was also fascinated by the stories people shared in the comments last week. So coincidentally, just a few days later the Autumn 2007 MAPS Bulletin showed up at my house. It is a Special Edition: Psychedelics and Self-Discovery. It has about a dozen short essays by people relating the impact of psilocybin, MDMA, LSD etc. on their personal development and spirituality. Of course, everyone’s experiences will differ, so learning about the potential effects will be very important. As well as researching about its properties, it may be worthwhile to have a look for an MDMA test kit that can help you to identify what types of drugs that you’re taking, as you may think that you’re taking one thing, when in fact it’s the complete opposite, and this can impact your personal development and spirituality. This could be very important in the long run. If you’re interested in testing a psychedelic substance for spiritual development, then try and find yourself a site that can sell small quantities of psychedelics for research purposes, such as this dispensary that can provide Psilocybin as edible Canada residents can consume and experiment with the effects of magic mushrooms. Please note you must be a Canadian resident with a prescription that states you consume psychedelics for medical purposes. I know I’m a little obsessed with the topic, but this was very validating for me. It makes me feel good to hear that I’m not the only one who is in favor of bringing psychedelics back to mainstream science and psychotherapy. These drugs can be used for good and this world certainly needs more good. Not forgetting that they can help people to feel better in themselves and if these drugs are bought back, then people may want to learn how to have the best mushroom trip so they are able to feel its full effects. As we all want to feel good in ourselves, right? Since they all put this in words better than I could, I’m just going to quote some of their experiences. For obvious reasons, I’m not going to use their real names.

First of all, from the Editor:

Autumn 2007

(Vol. XVII, No.2)
MAPS’ organizational strategy prioritizes clinical research because cold, hard science is required to lay the foundation for the broad changes that we are aiming to generate. Although clinical research may persuade the FDA that psychedelics and marijuana are safe and have legitimate therapeutic applications, the re-integration of legal contexts for the use of psychedelics in our society can only reach its full potential if there is an honest, human side to the story as well.

The human stories are already there, waiting to be told…. Yet, thanks to prohibition and the asssociated stigmas and misunderstandings surrounding psychedelics, many potentially valuable stories and lessons are never shared.

Here’s a man talking about his first LSD trip.

I took the tabs at 10 in the morning, and by noon my mind had been substantially remade….From what I gathered, I had been asleep for 47 years believing that the way I saw things was pretty much the way they actually were…. The trip led me to a small understanding of how the mind generates its own reality and how each of those realities was a product of the mind’s endless cultural programming.

Someone who followed the Buddhist path:

Psychedelics started me on a spiritual path that has become the foundation of my life. I began a lifelong meditation practice and became intensely interested in Buddhism, which provided a map of the territory I was exploring in my sessions. I am almost certain that my 30-year marriage would not have survived without this spiritual path. I cannot imagine living without the lessons and tools I have gained in expanded consciousness.

This from a physicist:

Before I tried acid I was entirely ignorant of the range of states of mind it is possible for humans to experience. One of these experiences is an immense gratitude for being allowed entry into this world of expanded awareness. I am glad that I have been given the opportunity to experience these states; it would have been a real shame to have died without ever having knows that such unusual experiences were possible….

The essence of science is unfettered inquiry. Especially in an area so full of ignorance as the nature of mind, it is folly to lock up scientists for their choice of tools. Any nation that imprisons its scientists for investigating psychedelic drugs belongs in the Middle Ages.

Ann Shulgin, (no secret who she is – one of the psychedelic elders), from an interview at the Women’s Visionary Congress: making the point that drugs have very unique effects from individual to individual.

Every single human body has a different chemistry. So, just because a particular drug or visionary plant is my favorite, or has taught me a great deal, doesn’t mean it’s going to be so for anyone else.

Psychedelics teach you about time. They teach you about the different levels of reality that aren’t available to your conscious mind most of the time. They teach you that you’re much saner than you thought, and that you probably are much stronger, mentally, than you suspected, and that you are capable of quite extraordinary things. I think that psychedelics are wonderful. But they are also not for everyone.

A woman who took part in an MDMA (Ecstasy) research study.

Soon I saw how the Buddhist and psychedelic paths share certain commonalities in the expansion of consciousness in both theory and practice. Both philosophies can serve to make one a more compassionate, sentient being. Practice in Buddhism’s mindfulness, like well-planned and intentioned sessions with psychedelics, give people the power to overcome habitual behaviors and attachments.

Without question, psychedelic usage, like crossing the street, can be dangerous. But I agree with Dr. Charles Tart – not using them can also be dangerous. Psychedelics alter the senses and can challenge notions of authoritative control. They promote a world view from a different vantage point than so-calld “normal” western society.

MAPS is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit research and educational organization.
Donate to support psychedelic research or volunteer for a study.


Skip to comment form

  1. Feels like a night for the Dead…

    • Robyn on October 3, 2007 at 06:25

    …but I haven’t written it up yet.

    • oculus on October 3, 2007 at 06:35

    Caifornia Dreaming, for her experiences in L.A.

    Reading this essay reminds me of hearing the minister of the Unitarian Church in Ann Arbor talk about his experiences as a guinea pig at UCLA.  Kind of shocking coming from a former Lutheran Church Missouri Synod minister.

    • KrisC on October 3, 2007 at 06:36

    we were meant to examine our mind, our life, our world on many different levels and I have always felt that these catylists were the way to do exactly that.  As well as ayuashca, peyote and other natural substances given to man for these purposes.  I love your writing OTB!
    It wasn’t coincidence your MAPS book appeared, just perfect timing…

  2. and a squeaking informed me that Bonnie is having her kittens. 2 are there already. I’m off to be supportive so will say my piece later .
    I wanted to listen to the Dead, but I love their little scrunched up faces….

  3. …your dull and dirty chakras and gets them spparkling again!

  4. experimental treatment for addiction using a psychedelic drug. This was a couple of years ago.  There had been good results–but I don’t remember ever hearing about it again.

    Has anyone ever heard of this?

    • KrisC on October 3, 2007 at 08:16

    have you ever read Dr. Rick Straussman’s Book about DMT?
    Some very interesting observations within, well worth the read.

  5. that’s because in the day-to-day world we force ourselves into the consensus reality. Since we’re all part of a spectrum, those further from the middle ground will seem crazier but of course it’s just where they are.

  6. and missed you OTB…

    will come back when i get a breat at work

    love the dead and the artwork

  7. as a New College alum I am closely aligned with MAPS.  Thanks for the diary!

  8. I think that losing my mom and three siblings when I was seven had a lot to do with that.  Suddenly none of the “rules” applied to me anymore.  I fit into no niche nice and tidy and sometimes I frightened other children because hey, if it happened to me it could happen to you too.  I have been interested though in MDMA research and uses pertaining to grief and loss in adults.  If we can ever get this war OVER WITH there will be lots of loss attacking the survivors.  I used to meditate when I was a kid and didn’t even know what I was doing, only knew I felt balanced, much healthier, and energized afterward I went on this quiet internal vacation.

    • on October 3, 2007 at 16:32

    did you ever read “Be Here Now,” by Baba Ram Das (ne Richard Alpert,) which I mentioned last week…? it begins with an account of how the psychedelic experience led directly to his perception of his true inner self, and thence to Buddhism, no drugs necessary.

    On a somewhat different note: when I was in collitch, we had the “High Hopes” drug counseling center, and I was a staffer. There, people could bring in samples of any and every drug, and we would provide them with an analysis from a local tox lab, free and anonymously.

    People came there with problems – the toughest were the ones who were scared, anxious and lost in a big, away-from-home university setting…but the most fun were the out-bummers…

    people on so-called “bad trips” would show up there, sometimes demanding to be brought to the hospital to be shot down with Thorazine…and I found that, while completely sober, I would absolutely be tripping right along with them, in short order, yet with my feet firmly on the ground; it was great fun – for me.  I’d hang with them as long as necessary, keeping them busy and entertained by pointing out the weird stuff they were experiencing, which I was experiencing, too, just by being with them – and reminding them about the transient nature of their present state of mind.

    I think it’d still be that way.

Comments have been disabled.