This course considers how, if at all, psychedelics are compatible with Buddhist practice. One of the five main precepts in Buddhism is to avoid intoxicants and it is clear that the use of substances can lead to spiritual bypassing. Yet many renowned practitioners in the West have talked openly about psychedelics as a catalyst to spiritual awakening that led them to the Dharma. Some feel that meditation alone is a more reliable means to encounter the mind and choose to leave the psychedelic experience as a relic of decades past. Today, what has been called the “Psychedelic Renaissance” focuses largely on the use of psychedelics in medicine and psychotherapy. Some of these medicines are on the brink of FDA approval for clinical use, while state ballot measures across the country also seek legalization. This talk will introduce and explore important advances in psychedelic-assisted therapy, but will largely focus on the ways that psychedelics may occasion spiritual growth on the Buddhist path. This course is open to all, but is also helpful for therapists, medical providers, and coaches who may be interested in leading psychedelic sessions with their patients and are seeking to learn more.
Dr. Sara Lewis is an Associate Professor of Contemplative Psychotherapy and Buddhist Psychology at Naropa University where she also serves as Director of Training and Research for the Center for Psychedelic Studies. Sara is author of Spacious Minds: Trauma and Resilience in Tibetan Buddhism, an ethnographic study of mind, memory and recovery from collective trauma in the Tibetan exile community. She is also a psychotherapist in private practice offering psychedelic-assisted therapy with her husband, Brett in their practice Sky Medicine located in Boulder, CO. Sara teaches in Shambhala on the topic of Buddhism and psychedelics, and she has also served in a number of leadership roles including a term on the Interim Board.