This is a four-part seminar taught by professor Doc Kelley, meeting on Thursday evenings – 3/29, 4/12/, 4/19, & 4/26 at Berg’n Beer hall.

When Zig Zag Zen: Psychedelics and Buddhism came out in April 2001, the first Internet bubble had burst but the world had not yet fallen to pieces. The book included mind-bending artwork by artists like Alex Grey and essays by Buddhist luminaries such as Huston Smith, Jack Kornfield, Allan Badiner, Erik Davis, and John Perry Barlow and mined the tricky territory between Buddhism and psychedelics—which in America at least had long been at odds with one another.

To me the book was a relief and reconciliation.

An initiatory psychedelic trip in college had led me to Tibetan Buddhism, and, shortly after graduation, to a mountain monastery in Kathmandu. There I took Buddhist lay precepts as well as a vow that forbade me from ever again using psychedelic substances.

While my undergraduate psychedelic trip was my only conceptual point-of-reference for the mystical states Buddhism described, my teachers—American and Tibetan—rebuked this notion, insisting that psychedelics could never be spiritually efficacious on the “path” to Enlightenment. So like thousands of other American Buddhists, I refrained from using “intoxicants” and sought enlightenment through normative Buddhist theory and praxis for many years.

Zig Zag Zen refuted this easy duality, that meditation was the good and true path and psychedelics a distraction. It opened up a conversation that had been simmering in the Buddhist community. Its able guides provided a vocabulary and a framework for talking about psychedelics and Buddhist practice, free of fear and judgement.

With meditation now a common board room practice and a full blown psychedelic renaissance upon us, it’s time to revisit Zig Zag Zen.

Please join me in this four-part Think Olio seminar, we make a close reading of the essays contained in Zig Zag Zen (Synergetic Press).

We’ll discuss. We’ll meditate. And we’ll celebrate the anniversary of the publication of this seminal text with a panel discussion with ZZZ editor Allan Badiner, writer Carolyn Gregoire, and Tricycle moderator Julia Hirsch.

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Christopher “Doc” Kelley is an adjunct professor, consciousness hacker, interdisciplinary artist (or Flux-Happener), and Buddhist psychonaut (among other things). He holds a doctorate in Buddhist Studies from Columbia University, where he studied under the guidance of Professor Robert A. F. Thurman, and he currently teaches classes at Eugene Lang College at the New School University.