A High History of Buddhism

Rick Fields

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Part of Tricycle's Fall 1996 Special Section on Buddhism & Psychedelics.
Click here to return to the Buddhism & Psychedelics table of contents.


The war on at least one drug—the psychedelic variety—has been won. In place of the alchemicals that reigned supreme for a momentarily eternal moment, young would-be mind explorers now toke their way through a fractled marketplace of pot, coke, weak acid, heroin, cocaine, ludes, Ecstasy, speed, crack. Set and setting? The set is the fresh curious wary jumpy insecure brain of a bright young kid—fourteen, twelve, ten, the age keeps dropping—and the setting is the schoolyard, the street corner, the stall in the boys’ or girls’ room before homeroom. Or maybe (at best?) it’s a tribal merge at a thumping, flashing rave or a Grateful Dead concert. Always a buzzing swarm. But still hardly the contemplative gardens or paisley candlelit retreats of the first psychedelic illuminati. The heady halcyon days and nights of psychedelia, which once led so many to Buddhist practice, have been efficiently eliminated, reduced to retrofashion.

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