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1999 this article talked THE INFLUENCE OF THE PSYCHEDELIC MOVEMENT ON THE RISE OF BUDDHISM IN THE AMERICAN EXPERIENCE

THE INFLUENCE OF THE PSYCHEDELIC MOVEMENT ON THE RISE OF BUDDHISM IN THE AMERICAN EXPERIENCE
by
Jacob Curtis
A study submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Asian Religions course
Warren Wilson College

2003


     



In an attempt to synthesize my own personal academic area of interest, that is: the history of the psychedelic movement in twentieth century America, with the content of the Asian Religions course, I have elected to study the relationship between the influx of Buddhist philosophy and the psychedelic counter-culture movement of the 1960's and 1970's. The subject, although highly specific, has nonetheless generated intellectual interest substantial enough to warrant a sub-field of study, in terms of Buddhist/American History examination. This paper will focus on the thought of the main harbingers of this movement, specifically Aldous Huxley, Alan Watts, and Dr. Timothy Leary. This study will also examine the corruptions of classical Buddhist philosophy wrought by these intellectuals concerned with integrating the psychedelic experience in an Eastern context. The connection between Buddhism and psychedelics in the American experience is a subject of contention because of the controversial associations of chemically altered perception as compared to traditional Bodhicitta, or the mind of enlightenment. The author Emma Layman, in her book Buddhism in America, asserts:
"Of all the Buddhist groups in America, those focusing on meditation have been most attractive to young people from the drug scene, and it is these groups that have taken the strongest stand against drug use. The psychological literature as well as the literature on Zen abounds in descriptions of the altered states of consciousness experienced under the influence of LSD-25 and other hallucinogenic drugs. Descriptions of these drug-induced states often compare them with the experience of satori or enlightenment which may result from Buddhist meditation. Frequently the opinion is expressed that, under certain circumstances, the LSD experience is a satori experience. "
     The popularity of Buddhism in America became most pronounce in the period after World War II. It is interesting to note that the United States had just concluded the most devastating war in human history, with the first use of the atomic bomb on the Empire of Japan, yet the Japanese of style Buddhism took hold in America more than other school after the war. It could be said that the main figure head of Japanese, or more precisely, Zen Buddhism, in America was the author and intellectual Dr. D.T. Suzuki. In terms of the American expression of Buddhism, Suzuki had more influence over the interpretation of Zen philosophy than any other writer of the time. His reception by the lay student of Buddhism was warm and appreciated, however his stance with the academics of the country may not have been so strong.
"Although D.T. Suzuki's scholarly efforts have not always been praised, the overall estimate of his work and mission must be unequivocally favorable, especially because it offered Americans a "serious" Zen amidst the curious "Beat Zen" and "Square Zen" that developed in the 1950s. "

It must be mentioned, however, that this "Beat Zen", and other weternized forms of Buddhism had a significant impact on the experience of American Buddhism. The Beats, the counter-culture movement of the 1950's and 1960's, offered an attitude that indicted the current social systems in America. With their whole scale questioning of traditional values in America, they sought out new avenues for spiritual exploration. Hence Zen is where the Beats turned vent their frustrations with the American spiritual traditions.
"The "Zen boom" of the 1950s is considered a major watershed in this American Buddhist history and linage. Two individuals, D.T. Suzuki, a lay student of Shaku Soyen, and Alan Watts, an Episcopalian priest and popularizer of eastern religions, were instrumental in introducing Buddhism, and the Zen tradition in particular, to the United States. Together with the Beats, they helped thrust Buddhism into mainstream America. "
Not only were the Beats influential, in terms of popularizing Buddhism, but they also heralded the use of psychedelic chemicals as a means of altering consciousness. Consciousness, it seemed, was an untouched horizon in the mainstream history of American exploration. However, prior to the Beats, a pattern of consciousness alteration had already been ... more

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Adolf Hitler

Feeling that all was lost, Hitler shot himself on April 30, 1945. By orders formally given by him before his death, SS officers immersed Hitler's body in gasoline and burned it in the garden of the Chancellery. Soon after the suicide of Hitler, the German forces surrendered. The war was officially over; however, the world was only beginning to realize the extent of its horror. The rise and sudden fall of Hitler had a sensational effect on people and nations around the world. For Adolf might it have been society, rejection from his father, and failure as an artist or was he born to hate?
 Adolf Hitler was born in Braunau Am Inn, Austria on April 20,1889.  He was the son of a Customs official, Alois Hitler, and his third wife Klara.  He was the fourth child that Alois and Klara had. Hitler was a good student. He took singing lessons and sang in the church choir.  He went to grade school near Linz, Austria.  When he hit      adolescent age, he began to rebel. When Hitler's dad acquired a top-ranking job in the military, he wanted his son to work hard so that he might have a high-ranking job, too. Hitler wanted nothing of it. He wanted to become an artist like he always dreamed.
One of the teachers in his high school classified young Hitler as "notorious, cantankerous, willful, arrogant, and irascible. He has an obvious difficulty in fitting in at school"(http://www.historyplace.com).  He did well enough to get by in some of his courses but had no time for subjects that did not interest him.  Adolf would taunt his teachers and draw sketches of them in his school notebooks.  He never finished high school and because of his lack of effort.  When Hitler was in power he reflected on his days in school and said, "They had no sympathy with youth. Their one object was to stuff our brains and turn us into erudite apes themselves. If any pupil showed the slightest trace of originality, they persecuted him relentlessly"(http://www.historyplace.com).
 In September Adolf saw no real reason to stay in high school. He left school at age sixteen.  In 1907, Hitler left home, taking with him all the money left behind by his father, who had died a few years earlier. The money would be enough for tuition and board at the art school in Vienna. The Vienna School of Fine Arts had strict entrance requirements.  He made no effort to get a job.  Hitler tried again to apply to art school.  He was judged very poorly and wasn't allowed to take the formal exam.  Hitler's drawings were returned saying they were "too wooden and too lifeless."  He was rejected. He tried three months later and did not get past the preliminary exam. His career as an artist was over. His mother died two months later on December 21, 1907.
Hitler moved into an apartment with his friend in Vienna. He pretended to be a student living off his relatives' money. He read many books and sat in on the Austrian government sessions.   He loitered about the streets and was hungry. He painted water postcards and sold them on the streets. He drew several advertising posters for such things like soap, cigarettes, and deodorant. Hitler became interested in politics and read many articles about politics.  
In 1913, Hitler moved to Munich.  His life was not much better there until the World War I started in 1914.  On August 1, 1914, a huge, enthusiastic crowd including Hitler gathered in a big public plaza in Munich; the occasion was to celebrate the German proclamation of war.  While many people were frightened and sad at the thought of a world war, Hitler was delighted.  Hitler volunteered for the German Army, enlisting in a Bavarian regiment.  He held the rank of corporal, and in forty-seven battles he served on the Western Front as a dispatch runner, delivering messages back and forth between the front lines and the officers in the rear. His courage during one of these missions earned him the Iron Cross, a highly prized medal for bravery that was rarely awarded to a mere corporal. After all the years of poverty and uncertainty, he ... more

1999 this article talked

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