New Edition of “Zig Zag Zen” Just Published

zigzagzenI have a Chapter in the lavishly illustrated new edition of Zig Zag Zen: Buddhism and Psychedelics, which has just been published by Synergetic Press.

Zig Zag Zen contains an expanded display of stunning visionary artwork including new pieces from Alex Grey, Android Jones, Sukhi Barber, Ang Tsherin Sherpa, and Amanda Sage, as well as the work renowned modernists Robert Venosa, Mark Rothko, Robert Beer, Francesco Clemente, and others.

The book includes new essays on ayahuasca’s unique influence on Zen Buddhism, a recent interview with Rick Doblin, founder of MAPS, my essay  “New Look at the ‘Psychedelic Tibetan Book of the Dead,'” and a public dialogue on mixing dharma and psychedelics, with James Fadiman and Zen monk, Kokyo Henkel.

“Entheogens have entered Buddhism to stay; there can be no turning back from the point that has been reached. Nor can the issue any longer be swept under the rug. The facts that bear on the matter are contained in these pages, as are the leading theories that try to make sense of the facts. Compelling visionary art and vivid accounts of personal encounters lace the facts and theories together in ways that make for a gripping experience. This book will be a landmark for years to come.” – From the Preface by Huston Smith, author of The World’s Religions.

Foreword by Stephen Batchelor  |  Preface by Huston Smith
Allan Badiner, Editor  |  Alex Grey, Art Editor

From a Review of Zig Zag Zen by “Harvard Psychedelic Club” Author Don Lattin:

The psychotherapist Ralph Metzner pens another one of this edition’s original essays: “A New Look at the Psychedelic Tibetan Book of the Dead.” He is the author (along with Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert) of the influential 1964 book The Psychedelic Experience, a manual on how to take an LSD trip. Metzner, Leary, and Alpert based their tripping manual on the Tibetan Book of the Dead, a self-styled English translation of texts popularized by the American Theosophist W.Y. Evans-Wentz, first published in 1927. Whether or not The Tibetan Book of the Dead reflects ideas that are authentically Tibetan or Buddhist, Metzner and his coauthors helped establish the idea that a psychedelic drug trip was another route to the mystical insights one could achieve—with much more work—through the discipline of Buddhist meditation.



A Scholar of Religion Looks At California Psychedelic History

This is a most interesting paper/presentation on the “California Religion of Psychedelia, 1960-1972” by Professor Josef Chytry, who teaches at the University of California Berkeley and is a senior adjunct professor in critical studies at the California College of the Arts.

This paper was presented at the Religion in California Conference, UC Berkeley, April 2014:

From Castalia to Mowie Wowie

By Josef Chytry

One of the more provocative features of the decade of the 1960s (the so-called ‘”Sixties”) was the rise of the phenomenon of a “psychedelic culture,” often interconnected with the concept of a “counterculture” yet distinguishable from it.  An important aspect of such a psychedelic culture was its claims of helping to initiate a new religion or religiosity inseparable from the luminous experiences presumably granted by the effects of a host of psychedelic potions, including mescalin, psilosybin and particularly LSD…

This paper takes a look at such an ambition by focusing on some of the texts that played a key role in its development during the earlier stages.  The first set of texts covers the history of the idea of an alternative culture, (such as) … Johann Wolfgang Goethe’s account of a “pedagogical province” in Wilhelm Meister’s Journeyman Years, Hermann Hesse’s vision of a future community called Castalia in The Glass Bead Game…

The second set of texts includes contemporary writings by such intellectuals as Aldous Huxley and Alan Watts during the 1950s and early 1960s that developed such themes and sometimes even envisaged possible “psychedelic” utopias such as Huxley’s Island. The final set of texts covers traditional ”sacred” writings that were seen as invaluable guides of what might emerge as the facets of a psychedelic religion.  Such texts included the Chinese I Ching, The Tibetan Book of the Dead, Lao Tzu’s Tao Te King, the Hindu Bhagavat Gita, and the Christian New Testament.