Our first review will be of ” Secret Drugs of Buddhism” by Mike Crowley.
First, for the sake of clarity, I know Mike Crowley. Regardless of that, I have a policy for reviewing only that which I like or interesting, and noteworthy. Now, this may sound odd, but I know the efforts that go into creating a project, a book, a record album, anything really. Who am I to tear someone’s art or project down in what amounts to a forum? With that said, “Secret Drugs of Buddhism” is profoundly noteworthy, hence my review:
I first heard Mike Crowley lecture on The Secret Drugs of Buddhism in 2002 when I was putting on events for the local counter culture community at The Jaguar House in S.E. Portland. He stepped in as a speaker when Dale Pendell had to bow out. I didn’t know Mike, but he came highly recommended. The audience, and I were not disappointed. He gave an amazing talk off of the cuff, riffing for 2 or more hours. It truly was transporting.
We talked later, and he told me he was putting a book together on the subject. And, here we are with that volume, at last. It was well worth the wait, to finally have it in my hands, and to read it finally.
So, the volume starts out with the foundations of Mr. Crowley’s life and early explorations with Morning Glory Seeds, LSD, Mushrooms etc., and how this tied into and led him to Buddhism, and his initial Tibetan Buddhist Guru, Lama Yungdrung. It is a wonderful tale, woven beautifully.
The next section deals with Prehistory of Indian sub-continent, with Oxus complex, Harappa, the incursion of the Aryan-Iranians the effect this had on the civilization already present on the sub-continent. It also covers discoveries related to the various deities known to us from then, their aspects, relationships etc., as well as possible drugs used in the older civilizations, and the possible Aryan drugs.
There is a preliminary discussion next about the Soma complex,and what it might have been involved plant wise, and ceremonially. It catches one up on the various theories promulgated over the years, and notes Wasson esp. with his Amanita Muscaria Theory.
There is a tight section on Buddhism – a short history, going through The Axial Age, and the amazing different schools of thought that emerged through that fertile period. The Buddha section covers the recorded life of Gautama Siddhartha from Buddhist Scripture, and then proceeds to “Did It Really Happen”, in which the myth is investigated. There is a lot to absorb in these chapters, and Mr. Crowley does it succinctly and to the point.
Then he gets to the meat of the matter, “The Investigations”. This section delves into the heart of “Secret Drugs of Buddhism”. In it, he does indeed cover The Investigations into the ancient world from Amrita, the Churning of the Primordial Ocean etc. From myth, to sacred text, to illustration he lines up his argument for the evidence of early psychedelic use in Buddhism with various candidates for what was possibly used.
There is much to like, to ponder, and to query in “Secret (I just typed “Sacred”) Drugs of Buddhism”. Whether you accept or don’t accept Mike’s arguments and evidence that he has teased out from ancient text and illustrations, you will be taken on a great adventure, a search through little considered avenues of ancient discourse, and experimentation.
If you enjoy deep investigations, wonders and mysteries revealed along with copious footnotes backing up the theories put forth, this is your book.
A keeper, and you can purchase it here:
Thanks for reading! More reviews coming.