William Zialcita Vickery
Track: Psychedelics – Science, Spirituality and Therapeutic Potential
A Tantric Buddhist View of Integrating Entheogenic Expereinces from Shamanic Rituals
When people from modern societies undergo entheogenic experiences, particularly in shamanic ritual contexts, there is a major challenge known as “integration”. During the entheogenic session many people have what appears to be life-changing insights, yet they have trouble productively sustaining and applying such insights after the session in the long-term. Many experience negative consequences such as depression or ego inflation due to problems with integration. A major reason this is so is because the participant has no spiritual framework in place to: 1) provide a cosmology or container from which one can make sense and apply the experience, 2) encourage extensive preparation and suitable intentions to more clearly discern the experience and establish the mindset and motivation necessary to maintain the insights gained in a productive manner, and 3) prescribe a regular spiritual practice that utilizes facets related to the visual, auditory, somatic and psychological phenomena encountered during the ceremony. A possible spiritual framework that addresses these points is Tantric Buddhism. Buddhism has historically played a significant role in assisting people with the integration of psychedelic experience in the modern West, yet this has not yet been properly investigated. By examining some important points for integration through the lens of Tantric Buddhism, using ayahuasca shamanism as the main example, we may better understand how effective integration can take place.
William Z. Vickery, MA, MBS, is a Ph.D. student in East-West Psychology at CIIS with an MA in Social Policy and Social Research from Middlesex University and a Master in Buddhist Studies from the University of Hong Kong. William’s main research interests are in Buddhist Studies and he has been studying and practicing Buddhism for 16 years, has lived in Asian Buddhist cultures for 9 years, has participated in numerous work-studies and retreats in a number of Buddhist traditions, and has received initiations in several Tibetan Buddhist lineages. William’s other major research interests are in psychedelic studies, entheogenic shamanism, alchemy and alchemical psychology, comparative mysticism, transpersonal psychology, and participatory theory.