Dear List Members:
I am writing to inform you of a research project I am conducting on American Buddhism and to offer an invitation to any American citizen or permanent resident with an interest or involvement in Buddhism to take part in an online survey.
In recent decades some attention has been given to a connection between the contemporary practice of Buddhism and the use of psychedelic substances. In a survey conducted in 1996 by the popular Buddhist magazine, Tricycle, 89% of the 1454 respondents indicated that they were engaged in Buddhist practice and 83% admitted they had taken psychedelics. 40% claimed that their interest in Buddhism was sparked by psychedelics and 24% said they were currently taking psychedelics.
In a more recent monograph (J. W. Coleman, The New Buddhism, Oxford UP, 2002: 201), 62% of Western Buddhists surveyed confessed that they had used psychedelics (this number was 80% among practitioners of Tibetan Buddhism). These numbers are significantly higher than the 8% among the general public who admit to psychedelic use according to U.S. government surveys (Coleman 2002).
From the 1996 issue of Tricycle and a more recent collection of essays published in the book Zig Zag Zen: Buddhism and Psychedelics (2002), it is clear that there exists a subculture of American Buddhists that continue to use psychoactive substances possibly for religious reasons.
Following up on these studies, this project is an investigation into the current attitudes toward psychoactive substances among American Buddhists. Through anonymous questionnaires and confidential interviews, this project aims to better understand American Buddhist attitudes toward the use of psychoactive substances, the possible religious implications (positive or negative) of these substances, and the relationship of these substances to individuals’ self-understanding as Buddhists.
To fill out the survey questionnaire, go to:
To find out more information about the project, go to:
Dr Douglas Osto
Religious Studies and Philosophy Programmes
School of History, Philosophy and Classics
Private Bag 11 222