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Secret Drugs of Buddhism

by · Oct 1, 2016 · 369 views ·

The Vajrayāna movement of Buddhism began in the 5th and 6th centuries AD. Among its many innovations was the use of a sacrament called amṛita (“immortality”) in Sanskrit. The word amṛita is much older than the Vajrayāna, however – the Ṛig Veda (composed c. 2000 BC) used it as a synonym for soma, the divine intoxicant. Although many scholars believe that soma was the Amanita muscaria mushroom, the White Yajur Veda describes two varieties, one red (A. muscaria?) and the other “blue-throated” (Psilocybe cubensis?). There is little mention of amṛita after this until it plays a central role in several Hindu myths (c.500 BC) and, later still, in Vajrayāna Buddhism (c.500 AD). Buddhist texts indicate that their amṛita was a truly potent psychedelic. There are even drawings from 9th century Japan which depict certain Buddhist deities as identifiable Psilocybe species. Indeed, it would seem that many Vajrayāna deities are, in fact, apotheoses of psychedelic plants. Thus, the fact that Panaeolus camboginiensis (a particularly potent mushroom) grows exclusively on water-buffalo dung could explain such buffalo-deities as Vajrabhairava and Yamāntaka as well as the legend of an enlightened buffalo-herder with magical excrement. Another group of deities (e.g. Khadiravaṇi-Tārā, Hayagriva, Vajrakila) relate to an Indian analog of ayahuasca which used Acacia catechu as a source of DMT.

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