Meditation and Drugs

It’s a not-so-dirty little secret that most of today’s leading meditation teachers were interested in drugs. By “drugs,” of course, I don’t mean alcohol or Oxycontin, but rather that subset of chemicals which our society has deemed unfit for human consumption, including cannabis, psilocybin, MDMA, and others. Many of today’s leading Buddhist teachers, for example, credit their first taste of altered mind states not to samadhi but to LSD or mushrooms, and almost every spiritual teacher I know (and I know a bunch) smoked pot. Some still do.

So what’s the connection? Why do people who like drugs (I’ll stop scarequoting the word, even though I shouldn’t) like meditation? And what’s the relationship between them?