My turn to apologise. I never check notifications so I didn't notice you replied, but I was thinking about psychedelics more and wanted to add to this thread.
Buddhism actually explicitly prohibits the use of any mind-altering substances - not because they are "immoral" or anything like that, but simply because we still don't fully understand the ways in which they affect us neurologically. They might take us closer to "true reality" (or enlightenment if you may), or they might be taking us further away in some unknown direction. Even if they do clear the fog from our eyes, we might still have some residual world view and ideas that might cause us to wrongly interpret what we are seeing during an acid trip. So that's why all religions are holistic systems.
Personally I'm quite sympathetic towards the use of psychelics as alleviation for mental or physical ailments. At least until we find a better alternative. You are right in that their effect is not permanent. It reminded me of Ram Dass (one of the Marsh Chapel researchers!), who got into spirituality after his psychedelics research led him to take higher and higher doses for longer and longer periods trying to maintain the effects. But then he realised that no matter how long and how high he got, eventually he still had to come back down.
I'm in agreement with the 1960s/70s researchers in that I think the drugs can be a gateway. A gateway into showing us what's possible. Thousands of years ago in ancient times people believed in Jesus who could walk on water, heal people, turn water into wine, etc. The point is not whether or not he actually did these things and whether there was proof. That's not the important part. What's important is that people's belief in these acts opened their minds to the possibility that maybe what they saw/understood of their everyday material world isn't the be-all end-all.
That's why most religions are so fantastical and logic-defying. It's not about the contents of what they teach, it's about what they're designed to accomplish.
In modern times we are all too self-satisfied that our scientific understanding of the world is The Truth. I'm over-generalising a bit here, but mental illness might be the unpleasant side-effect of this. New-agers have a lot
of wrong ideas and misunderstandings about the world, they are not good role models by any stretch, but they have this openness quality
that the ancients had, that we have now lost. We look at them and think they are so ignorant, so primitive, but we are only seeing half the story. There's another half, the more important half where the crux resides.
And by that I don't mean some distant magical land in the sky or whatever. That's all metaphor. This reality this world that we live in, the diamond like you said, there are different - transcendental - ways of viewing it. I think you are right about that ego stuff, but we have to approach it slowly I think, otherwise we might get ahead of ourselves.
AFAIK There are many different stages of Awakening. In the beginning of meditation training, from what I understand, you actually increase
your subjective distance from the world - in that sense you strengthen the ego a bit, until you hit a critical mass and it collapses into non-duality or no-observer. I think maybe as you try to get rid of the Ego, it will fight harder to try to stay alive. I mean this is all highly speculative
and I'm just throwing out possibilities. I might well be wrong, and in that case I will come back and update this and make corrections.
But my point is that this all resembles accounts you hear about people who have suffer from intense depression/anxiety until at some point their DMN overloads and "crashes" and they become so-called enlightened. I think that's what depression and other mental illnesses are trying to do to us. Only we are not aware of it, we think it's something bad and maybe we don't have the tools to take us to the destination. So we end up trapped in the illness and "falling into the Pit of the Void" as they call it.
Anyway, this is getting really off-topic wr/t your thread and I apologise. But I feel like we are really talking about (or at least looking at) the same thing. In modern society there is a stigma against substances, and there is stigma against religions and so-called superstitions. But I think they can both be useful, if we go about leveraging them wisely.