Went to the big psychedelic conference called ‘Breaking Convention’ this month at Greenwich University – 800 people from 50 or so different countries for three days! Very exciting event – talks, videos, workshops, films, experiments – very wide range.
Since 2006 or so there has been a revival of interest in psychedelics, and a wide range of research is now being carried out. Using MDMA in the treatment of PTSD has been successful, as has the use of psilocybin for depression, and so on.
It becomes clear that many of the psychedelics are useful in the exploration of mystical states and spiritual experiences. Unfortunately, most of the research has been of what we might call the ‘vanilla’ variety, restricted to mystical experiences which are nice, and easily containable, and thoroughly positive! But really these substances can offer access to the whole wide range of experiences of what Wilber calls the Subtle level. And it turns out that all, yes all, spiritual experiences come from the Subtle, as do our dreams. At the higher levels, which Wilber calls the Causal and the Nondual, there are no experiences. There is doubtless a realisation, but it would be wrong in my view to call that an experience. And so all the shocking experiences that Jung had, and the spiritual emergencies listed by Grof, and the many weird experiences listed in the Masters and Houston book, all belong to the Subtle realm, and are readily accessed through the use of LSD, ayahuasca, DMT and so forth.
The authorities in the UK are not keen on psychedelics, and show no signs of making them more available or accessible. The Beckley Foundation is a highly respectable research organization which has extracted some concessions, but even they report a Home Secretary with a hard line on drugs of any description at all – except of course for those peddled by the big drug companies.
I found the conference very enlivening and positive. The next one is in two years time.

Books by John Rowan

Blog Posts


To get in touch with Dr John Rowan, please email

Dr John Rowan
70 Kings Head Hill
North Chingford
London E4 7LY

Tel: 020 8524 7381