Using Buddhist concepts as a framework to prepare, navigate, and integrate psychedelic experiences

Monday, May 15, 2023, 18:15 - 19:45, University of Zurich, KOL-F-118

Stefan Lang
Social Anthropologist and Buddhist dharma teacher

The importance of set and setting for outcomes of psychedelic sessions has been shown extensively over decades of psychedelic research and therapy, and for a much longer time in traditional settings. Among the many aspects of set and setting are the participant’s concepts and values that are brought to bear in a psychedelic experience. While traditional settings are embedded in religious, cultural and social frameworks that provide concepts and values, psychedelic explorers in western societies without obvious frameworks of this sort may feel at a loss when it comes to navigating, but also preparing and integrating the psychedelic experience. Using traditional frameworks may not always be practical in such cases, as these frameworks can be laden with alien ideas and imagery that hinder their adoption. This presentation proposes the helpfulness of utilizing secular Buddhist concepts and practices for this purpose, because these bridge traditional spiritual thought and a more familiar psychological and scientific perspective. A number of Buddhist concepts will be shown to fit well with the character of a psychedelic experience, and also to support a positive psychological and personal outcome. This presentation will introduce a number of concepts and practices from the Buddhist world that can help prepare, navigate, and integrate psychedelic sessions.

Stefan Lang is a social anthropologist and Buddhist dharma teacher from Bern. He has been engaged in the establishment and running of the multi-traditional Buddhist city center “Zentrum für Buddhismus” since the year 2000. He is an authorized Buddhist dharma teacher leading secular vipassana meditation retreats, as well as giving introductory courses to Buddhism. In parallel, his interest in the modes of application of psychedelics has evolved. He seeks to bridge these fields of interest, being convinced of the great potential for cross-fertilization between them.