Can drugs and psychedelic substances lead to non-dual realisation or enlightenment? (Jiddu Krishnamurti)

Question: A well-known author has written a great deal about the use of certain drugs which enable man to arrive at some visionary experience of union with the divine ground. Are those experiences helpful in finding that state of which you speak?

Jiddu Krishnamurti: You can learn tricks, or take drugs, or get drunk, and you will have intense experiences of one kind or another, depressing or exciting. Obviously the physiological condition does affect the psychological state of the mind; but drugs and practices of various kinds do not in any way bring about that state of which we are talking. All such things lead only to a variety, intensity and diversity of experience – which we all want and hunger after, because we are fed up with this world. We have had two world wars, with appalling misery and everlasting strife on every side; and our own minds are so petty, personal, limited. We want to escape from all this, either through psychology, philosophy, so-called religion, or through some exercise or drug – they are all on the same level.

The mind is seeking a sensation; you want to experience what you call reality, or God, something immense, great, vital. You want to have visions; and if you take some kind of drug, or are sufficiently conditioned in a certain religion, you will have visions. The man who is everlastingly thinking about Christ, or Buddha, or what not, will sooner or later have experiences, visions; but that is not truth, it has nothing whatever to do with reality. Those are all self-projections; they are the result of your demand for experience. Your own conditioning is projecting what you want to see.

To find out what is real, the mind must cease to demand any experience. So long as you are craving experience, you will have it, but it will not be real – real in the sense of the timeless, the immeasurable; it will not have the perfume of reality. It will all be an illusion, the product of a mind that is frustrated, that is seeking a thrill, an emotion, a feeling of vitality. That is why you follow leaders. They are always promising something new, a Utopia, always sacrificing the present for the future; and you foolishly follow them, because it is exciting. You have had that experience in this country, and you ought to know better than anyone else the miseries, the brutality of it all. Most of us demand the same kind of experience, the same kind of sensation, only at another level. That is why we take various drugs, or perform ceremonies, or practise some exercise that acts as a stimulant. These things all have significance in the sense that their use indicates that one is still craving experience; therefore the mind is everlastingly agitated. And the mind that is agitated, that is craving experience, can never find out what is true.

Truth is always new, totally unknown and unknowable. The mind must come to it without any demand, without any knowledge, without any wish; it must be empty, completely naked. Then only truth may happen. But you cannot invite it.

Hamburg, Germany 4th Public Talk 14th September 1956

Can psychoactive drugs and entheogens such as Ayahuasca be of use for spiritual awakening?

Questioner: Hi Tom: is “dealing with” a negative emotion the same as “letting go?”

Tom: It means to resolve the emotional issue, if there is one, at the root so that it does not resurface needlessly and cause suffering

Questioner: do you recommend taking Ayahuasca with a shaman to see where these suppressions may lie?

Tom: No, there are more reliable and less potentially adverse ways as far as I can tell.

Questioner: Is Atma Vichara (Self-Enquiry) the answer or just part of that discovery of suppressions?

Tom: Atma Vichara is the answer, but it must be correctly understood

Questioner: That makes sense to me. Thank you! I will continue my practice with fervor

Questioner 2: Tom, whats your experience with plant medicine and entheogens? If its none, then unfortunately there is nothing you can bring to the table regarding such.

Tom: I am open to psychoactive drugs playing a role in the awakening process for some people (they clearly have played a role for many people), but I am nowhere near convinced enough of their need in the awakening process to actually RECOMMEND them, which was the specific question that was put to me.

As far as I can see, there are many other simpler, cheaper, safer, more reliable and more natural methods available that may not be so dramatic in their effects – often the results are more subtle – but have more lasting effects in the long term and are more reliable in transmitting a realisation that actually ends suffering. Of course this may not be true for everyone.

And this is just my personal experience of these substances in the seekers I meet. I fully admit this view may be based on lack of knowledge and expertise on my part and also the selection bias from the group of people that come to my meetings (as these people are presumably resonating with what I share).

I have seen a few negative health effects of such drugs too, so they are not without some physical and mental health risk, and I have seen that they can also foster attachment to and seeking of experiences such as ‘spiritual highs’ and while this can lead to openings, it often also reinforces and perpetuates of a sense of egoic self. Of course, this is not always the case.

At the end of the day, we each have our own unique path, and my hope is to be able to encourage, support and guide those who come my way whether or not they chose to take psychoactive drugs. If asked, I never recommend these drugs for the above reasons, but luckily people are free to chose for themselves, relatively speaking.

Thank you for your comment and contribution to this discussion! Namaste!