Drug use and drug abuse

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Training of Sila, the Five Precepts (Pañcasikkhāpada), and Eightfold Ethical Conduct (Aṭṭhasīla).

Drug use and drug abuse

Postby Wizard in the Forest » Thu Nov 25, 2010 5:09 am

I have noticed that there's a particularly loose attitude people have been having lately toward refraining from taking intoxicants. Is it that people have forgotten that drugs are harmful or is the hedonistic self-destructive attitude to drugs becoming a greater problem in our society?

What would the Buddha have to say about both the attitudes and the drugs?
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Re: Drug use and drug abuse

Postby chownah » Fri Nov 26, 2010 1:47 pm

INtoxicants have been around ever since.......just about forever.....they are not something new....I'm not wanting to quash any discussion but to think that this is an emerging problem or in any way a new problem is not accurate in my view....its just the same old same o'.......
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Re: Drug use and drug abuse

Postby Grass_Hopper » Sat Nov 27, 2010 10:55 am

I've been interested in this for some time too. What areas of concern have you perceived on this topic?
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Re: Drug use and drug abuse

Postby Wizard in the Forest » Sun Nov 28, 2010 5:33 am

Many Westerners like them were first drawn to Zen, and Buddhism generally, through an inconvenient lie: that meditation would induce a state similar to a drug high. There seems to be a near-consensus now that this is not the case. Now even the teachers who once advocated their use have abandoned the misunderstanding that Buddhist practice as akin to psychedelic drug experience. Now that that has happened we're leaving behind the anti-intellectualism of sixties "Zen" and returning to actual Buddhism, and many turn to Theravada Buddhism for serious monastic life.

As Westerners learned more about actual Buddhist practice, drugs no longer were a way to enlightenment or insight because it turned out that practice was not really about getting high at all. Most teachers slotted drugs into the mind-intoxicant category of the precepts.

The fifth precept for lay Buddhists:

"I undertake the training-precept to abstain from alcoholic drink or drugs that are an opportunity for heedlessness."

When Buddhism was introduced this precept was not mentioned much, if at all, by early counterculture Buddhists like Alan Watts and Jack Kerouac, both of whom were alcoholics. Now that the ethical aspects of Buddhism, including the five lay precepts have become familiar to Western Buddhists, the only teachers who use drugs rationalize their use by declaring that they are not intoxicants and hence not contrary to the precepts. So for example Jack Kornfeld, in what is a generally balanced series of comments, notes that there is little mention of psychedelics in Buddhist tradition and, while conceding that they would be included in the category of intoxicants, goes on to say, “there is no traditional point of view about their use”. Which is a clever way of not dismissing the real problem. Psychedelics impair awareness, as do most other mind-altering substances, and are exactly the sort of substances specified by the term “intoxicant” talking about in the precepts.

But like religious rules generally, this precept is as often ignored as followed. Nor is this the only precept which modern Western Buddhists have set aside. I'm sure you all remember the embarrassment of the Tantric sex movement which was basically the same type of ignoring of the actual teachings to promote a wrong view to benefit the teachers who would use sex as a means to try and achieve enlightenment, which is also not part of the practices of Theravada. But it puts a very strange view in Buddhism.

Addiction and Debachery can be rationalized within any system of belief, including Buddhism, despite the primary goal of Buddhism being the abolition of "tanha", craving. Most teachers but a few who struggle with addiction abandoned their belief that psychedelics can be spiritually beneficial and those who haven't have come to see their value as insignificant. I think there's still a lot of problems however with how the early conceptions of Buddhism affect young Buddhist now. There's still too many kids who believe drugs lead to enlightenment. This is damaging to their practice.
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Re: Drug use and drug abuse

Postby Annapurna » Sun Nov 28, 2010 7:10 am

Hello, Wizard,

Youths encounter 'mindaltering' drugs early in puberty nowadays, when everything is still new, 'never it done before', and it's especially exciting when things are illegal.
.
"Woah, guess, I'm an outlaw now...!! :woohoo:

They're like kitten playing with a new paperball. That's part of the temptation.

So they usually encounter drugs way before they encounter Buddhism
, and then they have all sorts of trouble to get rid of the habit or addiction and tons of excuses and rationalisations are presented which seem to justify a further abuse.

I personally don't feel attracted to any 'mindaltering substances' anymore, since I started studying Buddhism 11 years ago.

My mind is happy, and drugs can only cause me "fog".

Of course 11 years ago my only substance was alcohol, very moderately so, but I enjoyed the way it made me laugh.

But it doesn't anymore. It causes me unpleasant body sensations and an unpleasant numbness in the mind, I lose my clarity and abilty to think,

My opinion about this however is, that all this is personal.

I don't need to care about the practice or abuse of others, -that is their thing.

It's only of tangential interest to me what others do, because there is so much to do for myself.

So if people are still stuck in drugs, I feel sorry for them, and here it also ends.

It's their thing. I can't change them, they have to feel an inner impulse to do so, and if they don't, all discussions about their abuse will cause resistance in them.

That said, I'm not going to make their problem mine.

Kind regards

:anjali:
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Re: Drug use and drug abuse

Postby Individual » Tue Nov 30, 2010 3:14 am

chownah wrote:INtoxicants have been around ever since.......just about forever.....they are not something new....I'm not wanting to quash any discussion but to think that this is an emerging problem or in any way a new problem is not accurate in my view....its just the same old same o'.......
chownah

I agree, although he could be talking about western culture or America. In America, there have definitely been shifting attitudes in drug-use: Stuff like heroin and tobacco is in decline, while societal attitudes towards marijuana are becoming more tolerant.
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Re: Drug use and drug abuse

Postby Wizard in the Forest » Tue Nov 30, 2010 3:40 am

I was talking about MDMA, Alcohol, Ketamine, Heroin, Opiates, and LSD.... And I'm a lady.
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Re: Drug use and drug abuse

Postby rowyourboat » Tue Nov 30, 2010 1:48 pm

Hi WiF,

When we tread our individual Path in the dhamma, it does not help to be concerned about 'what everyone else is doing'.

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Re: Drug use and drug abuse

Postby KonstantKarma » Tue Nov 30, 2010 4:56 pm

Annapurna wrote:
It's only of tangential interest to me what others do, because there is so much to do for myself.

So if people are still stuck in drugs, I feel sorry for them, and here it also ends.

It's their thing. I can't change them, they have to feel an inner impulse to do so, and if they don't, all discussions about their abuse will cause resistance in them.

That said, I'm not going to make their problem mine.


Kind regards

:anjali:


Is it okay to take notes? ;)
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Re: Drug use and drug abuse

Postby Wizard in the Forest » Tue Nov 30, 2010 5:34 pm

rowyourboat wrote:
When we tread our individual Path in the dhamma, it does not help to be concerned about 'what everyone else is doing'.


I both agree and disagree, because I agree it's good not to make other people's problems yours, but I think that to not speak out about an endemic problem which is harming and killing thousands of people is not compassionate merely out of fear of talking. Just be honest, and declare what is wholesome or unwholesome on what you know what is harmful or not harmful from drug use, and if you're afraid your view is false or afraid of conflict you'll be letting people get hurt. That's not what I do, which you might disagree with, but if someone's going to get hurt I will interfere where I can.
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Re: Drug use and drug abuse

Postby KonstantKarma » Tue Nov 30, 2010 6:08 pm

My experience, in 'helper' positions, is that generally speaking, people don't want your help.

That's not true of everyone, of course, and we should always be willing to offer help. When it's given unrequested though it's not appreciated.
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Re: Drug use and drug abuse

Postby Wizard in the Forest » Tue Nov 30, 2010 7:23 pm

KonstantKarma wrote:My experience, in 'helper' positions, is that generally speaking, people don't want your help.

That's not true of everyone, of course, and we should always be willing to offer help. When it's given unrequested though it's not appreciated.


If you're doing something merely to be appreciated for it you're doing it for selfish reasons.

I don't do what I do to be appreciated, I'm doing it to save lives.
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Re: Drug use and drug abuse

Postby KonstantKarma » Tue Nov 30, 2010 7:40 pm

Wizard in the Forest wrote:
KonstantKarma wrote:My experience, in 'helper' positions, is that generally speaking, people don't want your help.

That's not true of everyone, of course, and we should always be willing to offer help. When it's given unrequested though it's not appreciated.


If you're doing something merely to be appreciated for it you're doing it for selfish reasons.

I don't do what I do to be appreciated, I'm doing it to save lives.


I hope whatever it is that you do saves lives, Wizard. We were talking about preaching against the sins of drugs here, and I've never found a drug addict who was (at least immediately) interested in that sort of thing. My experience is that to break a habit, one has to want that experience for himself, not because somebody else wants it for him.
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Re: Drug use and drug abuse

Postby Wizard in the Forest » Tue Nov 30, 2010 9:58 pm

KonstantKarma wrote:I hope whatever it is that you do saves lives, Wizard. We were talking about preaching against the sins of drugs here, and I've never found a drug addict who was (at least immediately) interested in that sort of thing. My experience is that to break a habit, one has to want that experience for himself, not because somebody else wants it for him.


I've saved one using what I have learned from the Buddha,from science, from insight, and from experience as a guide, but of course the Kesi sutta also determines that like when " A tamable person doesn't submit either to a mild training or to a harsh training or to a mild & harsh training, then not even the Buddha regards him as being worth speaking to or admonishing." This means that the person undergoes death in both doctrine & discipline. It's just as bad as killing them.
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Re: Drug use and drug abuse

Postby rowyourboat » Wed Dec 01, 2010 3:14 pm

I agree we must help in supporting others come of drugs/alcohol, if they are in a place able and ready to receive that help. Having said that we must be clear where we stand.

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Re: Drug use and drug abuse

Postby Wizard in the Forest » Wed Dec 01, 2010 4:09 pm

That's the spirit! :thumbsup:
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Re: Drug use and drug abuse

Postby rowyourboat » Tue Dec 07, 2010 6:29 pm

So WITF what is your conclusion?? :smile:
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Re: Drug use and drug abuse

Postby altar » Tue Dec 07, 2010 9:30 pm

Drugs are hard because they give many genuinely interesting sensations and imaginations and thoughts and even the guise of realization. Even if there are genuine insights and realizations, they are always in the cloak of ignorance, a lack of knowledge, and most importantly, one step removed from reality.
They provide temporary insanity, fun, relief, and some craziness and interest. Then one wants to seek out more of this on their own. If the dhamma is like a raft, drugs are like a landslide or a broken bridge.
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