Drugs and Spiritual Experience

December 5, 2016

Shambhavi riffs on the relationship of drugs to spiritual awakening and spiritual experience. Can drugs be a vehicle for waking up? A podcast from Satsang with Shambhavi.


Of course, taking substances and altering your normal way of approaching things can cause you to have some insight that you wouldn’t have had otherwise. However, waking up is not an experience. The state of being awake is not a series of special experiences. It’s not a never-ending series of insights, or something that you’re going to hold onto or cultivate.

This approach to spirituality–that we’re looking to have some particular kind of experience or be validated by some particular insight that we’ve had–is only at one level of spiritual practice. It’s not unimportant, but unfortunately when we hear about people having some kind of realization, or we read a lot of books about spiritual practice, oftentimes there are just like a hop and a skip and a hop and a skip from one extraordinary spiritual experience to another. That’s actually what the book is about or the story is about: this neverending series of extraordinary experiences. But then we get this idea that that’s the point of doing spiritual practice.

Furthermore, we get the even the more erroneous idea that this kind of excitation is desirable, this spiritual overexcitation. Then we cultivate that. The awake state isn’t an experience: it’s that from which all experiences arise. And the hallmark of awakening is not that we’re having these extraordinary experiences that we can then share with people. It’s that we realize all experiences have equality.



Satsang with Shambhavi is a weekly podcast about spirituality, love, death, devotion and waking up while living in a messy world.