During a psychedelic session, it may be helpful to utter prayers or mantras as a form of meditation. These recitations can come from any spiritual or philosophical traditions, and are usually effective with or without religious conviction. Recitation is an effective method of centering one’s focus on a particular concept or feeling. Chanting can invoke a trance-like focus that may assist in reaching various states of consciousness, or deep one’s awareness of mental and bodily processes.
Prayers from the Abrahamic tradition are widely accessible due to the proliferation of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Although Buddhist and Hindu mantras are typically more popular among psychonauts, Dr. Rick Strassman suggests that it may be just as important to honor one’s own heritage of spiritual content.
Teach me to pray
Lord, I know not what I ought to ask of Thee; Thou only knowest what I need; Thou lovest me better than I know how to love myself. O Father! Give to Thy child that which he himself knows not how to ask. I dare not ask either for crosses or consolations; I simply present myself before Thee, I open my heart to Thee. Behold my needs which I know not myself; see and do according to Thy tender mercy. Smite, or heal; depress me, or raise me up; I adore all Thy purposes without knowing them; I am silent; I offer myself in sacrifice; I yield myself to Thee; I would have no other desire than to accomplish Thy will. Teach me to pray. Pray Thyself in me. AMEN.— François de Salignac Fenelon, Archbishop of Cambray, 1651–1715, AD. Recommended by Leo Zeff in “The Secret Chief Revealed”
God, give me grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, courage to change the things which should be changed, and the Wisdom to distinguish the one from the other. Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time, accepting hardship as a pathway to peace, taking, as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it, trusting that You will make all things right, if I surrender to Your will, so that I may be reasonably happy in this life, and supremely happy with You forever in the next. AMEN.— Reinhold Niebuhr, 1892 – 1971
In the course of psychedelic experimentation, a number of prayers have been invented specifically for the purpose of setting the tone of hallucinogenic experiences.
All Things Pass
All things pass, a sunrise does not last all morningTimothy Leary, “Psychedelic Prayers.” 1965.
All things pass, a cloudburst does not last all day
All things pass, nor a sunset all night
All things pass, what always changes?
Earth… sky… thunder… mountain…water… wind… fire… lake…
These change, and if these do not last
Do man’s vision’s last? Do man’s illusions?
During the session, take things as they come
All things pass
Sheathing the Self
The play of energy endures beyond striving,Timothy Leary, “Psychedelic Prayers.” 1965.
The play of energy endures beyond body,
The play of energy endures beyond life,
The Guide, in the greatest sessionsTimothy Leary, “Psychedelic Prayers.” 1965.
One does not know that there is a guide
In the next best sessions,
One praises the guide
It is worse when one fears the guide
The worst is that one pays him
If the guide lacks trust in the people
Then, the trust of the people will be lacking
The wise guide guards his words, the wise guide sits serenely
When the greatest session is over, the people will say−
“It all happened naturally” or “It was so simple, we did it all ourselves.”
Mantras & Chants
Position your lips as if you were to pronounce an “ooo” sound. With your mouth in this shape, start pronouncing the syllable “aum,” feeling the sound resonate throughout your body. End the “m” sound with a deep hum.
In Hinduism, Om (or the praṇava) is the sacred syllable symbol and mantra of Brahman, the Supreme Self and Creator of all existence. In the Upanishads Om is considered divine, representing all times, all states of consciousness, all states of being, all consciousnesses, and all knowledge in existence. It is not so much a word as the intonation and sound associated with that word, which can resonate one’s body and penetrate their atman, or soul. This brings one’s soul into juxtaposition with the universe’s unknowable and inexpressible infinity of possibilities.
Auṃ maṇi padme hūṃ
ohm mah-nee pahd-may hoom
Commonly transliterated as om mani padme hum, this is a ubiquitous Buddhist mantra associated with Shadakshari form of Avalokiteshvara, the bodhisattva of compassion. In the Mahayana text Kāraṇḍavyūhasūtra, it is referred to as Avalokiteshvara’s “innermost heart,” and described as a condensation of all Buddhist teachings.
associated with Shadakshari form of Avalokiteshvara, the bodhisattva of compassion. In the Mahayana text Kāraṇḍavyūhasūtra, it is referred to as Avalokiteshvara’s “innermost heart,” and described as a condensation of all Buddhist teachings.
In Buddhism, according to His Holiness Tenzin Gyatso the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, Om is comprised of the three pure Sanskrit letters “A”, “U”, and “M”. These three symbolize the practicioner’s impurities of body, speech, and mind; they also symbolize a Buddha’s pure and exhalted body, speech, and mind. The path to attaining purity is outlined in the next four syllables. The next letter maṇi symbolizes altruistic intention, compassion, and love; maṇi means jewel, and just as a jewel fulfill material desire, the altruistic intention to become enlightened also fulfills desire. Padme, which consists of two syllables, symbolizes the wisdom of recognizing emptiness and non-attachment. The final syllable hum represents the indivisibility of one’s method and wisdom, so that they are contained within each other.
Several other translations and interpretations of the mantra have been published; for more information, see the bibliography.
हरे कृष्ण हरे कृष्ण
कृष्ण कृष्ण हरे हरे
हरे राम हरे राम
राम राम हरे हरे
hare kṛṣhṇa hare kṛṣhṇa
kṛṣhṇa kṛṣhṇa hare hare
hare rāma hare rāma
rāma rāma hare hare
hah-RAY KRISH-nuh hah-RAY KRISH-nuh,
krish-NUH krish-NUH -hah-RAY hah-RAY
hah-RAY RAH-muh hah-RAY RAH-muh
RAH-muh RAH-muh hah-RAY hah-RAY.
The hare krishna mantra comes from the Kali-Santarana Upanishad, and became popular in the 15th century with the emergence of the Bhakti movement. It has been popular in Western counterculture ever since it was introduced during the 1960s by the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, which translated the mantra as “O Lord, O Energy of the Lord, please engage me in Your service.” Hare krishna consists of the names of two supreme beings, Krishna and Rama, and has multiple interpretations.
Pavamana (Soma ritual mantra)
ॐ असतो मा सद्गमय ।,
तमसो मा ज्योतिर्गमय ।,
मृत्योर्मा अमृतं गमय ।,
ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ॥
Om asato mā sad gamaya,
tamaso mā jyotir gamaya,
mṛtyor mā amṛtaṃ gamaya,
Om shanti shanti shanti!
Om, from falsehood lead me to truth,From the Vedas. Translation sourced from Green Message and transliteration from Wikipedia.
From darkness lead me to the light,
From death lead me to immortality,
Om peace peace peace!
Pavamana (Sanskrit for “being purified or strained”) is a Hindu mantra from the Brhadaranyaka Upanishads. In ancient times it was employed in preparation for the Soma sacrifice, which was an initiation rite that is speculated to have involved some kind of psychedelic compound or state. During the Soma sacrifice, The Pavamana mantra was recited by the participant.
The Shanti mantras, distinguished by their concluding line oṃ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ, are Hindu prayers for peace (Shanti). They originate from the Upanishads and are frequently adapted to group chant and music. These mantras end with shanti being repeated three times. This is to remove obstacles in the three realms: physical from the external world, divine from the world of ghosts and deities, and internal from one’s body and mind. Several popular Shanti mantras are reproduced below.
Oṃ Asato mā sadgamaya
ॐ असतो मा सद्गमय ।
तमसो मा ज्योतिर्गमय ।
मृत्योर्माऽमृतं गमय ॥
ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ॥
oṃ asato mā sadgamaya
tamaso mā jyotirgamaya
oṃ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ
Om, (O Lord) Keep me not in (the Phenomenal World of) Unreality, but make me go towards the Reality (of Eternal Self),From the Vedas. Translation sourced from Green Message and transliteration from Wikipedia.
Keep me not in (the Ignorant State of) Darkness, but make me go towards the Light (of Spiritual Knowledge),
Keep me not in (the World of) Mortality, but make me go towards the World of Immortality (of Self-Realization),
Om, Peace, Peace, Peace!
Oṃ saha nāv avatu
ॐ सह नाववतु |
सह नौ भुनक्तु |
सह वीर्यं करवावहै |
तेजस्विनावधीतमस्तु मा विद्विषावहै॥
ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः॥
Oṃ saha nāv avatu
saha nau bhunaktu
saha vīryaṃ karavāvahai
tejasvi nāv adhītam astu
mā vidviṣāvahai |
Om śāntiḥ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ |
Om, Together may we two Move (in our Studies, the Teacher and the Student),From the Vedas. Translation sourced from Green Message and transliteration from Wikipedia.
Together may we two Relish (our Studies, the Teacher and the Student),
Together may we perform (our Studies) with Vigour (with deep Concentration),
May what has been Studied by us be filled with the Brilliance (of Understanding, leading to Knowledge); May it Not give rise to Hostility (due to lack of Understanding),
Om Peace, Peace, Peace!
Strassman, Rick. (2017, October 19). Mainstreaming psychedelics: secularizing spirituality with the aid of Eastern religion. Rickstrassman.com. Retrieved from https://www.rickstrassman.com/mainstreaming-psychedelics-secularizing-spirituality-with-the-aid-of-eastern-religion/.
Leary, Timothy. (1965). Psychedelic prayers after the Tao Teh Ching. Almora, Indiana.
Zeff, L., & Stolaroff, M. (2004). The Secret Chief Revealed. MAPS. Sarasota, FL.