Drugs: A tool, useful for good and bad?

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

Re: Drugs: A tool, useful for good and bad?

Postby Alexei » Tue Dec 13, 2011 9:34 am

Jenna, thanks for your reply, it's really nice to read a clear and detailed thoughts.

I wouldn't use black & white vision for this complex issue.
It's easy to accept any frightening things in oneself when one is tripping well. In contrast to bad experiences.
How I see it. Our defence mechanisms had being formed for a long time to protect us form a stress. Now we don't need them if we have different conditions, but often it's not really good to just destroy them. Drugs can do it, and in this way sometimes lead to psychotic attacks.
If you read Grof's LSD Psychotherapy you know how mental state may worsen after LSD session. Just want you to know.
Any drug is a simple molecule, it can't solve complex problems by itself.

You said that you had talking therapies, are they were long enough? They are highly effective with anxieties you described. Though take some time and money.
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Re: Drugs: A tool, useful for good and bad?

Postby zavk » Wed Dec 14, 2011 5:08 pm

Hi all

It's been a loooong time since I last posted. But I think it is apt that I post a response here. It's 3am where I am and I can't sleep, because I took some drugs (i.e. highly caffeinated energy drink) late in the day to help me finish some work. Without going into details, like many people at some stage of their lives (late teens to twenties) I had my fair share of experimentation with various substances. Some of the experiences were life changing--not so much in a continuous way, but they did prompt important shifts in the way I relate to myself and the world. But there were also problems that arose, though thankfully nothing major that would require serious medical intervention.

Anyway, this issue of drugs is a complex one. Given the many complex ideological, political, and economical contestations over drugs today--struggles of power that shape and influence the way we think about drugs, the way they are produced and circulated, etc.--it is difficult to take a clear cut stance on drugs, once and for all. An absolutist moralising, holier-than-thou 'Drugs are bad!' attitude is not helpful in the long, as they gloss over these wider processes which need serious attention, involving informed, open dialogue from all quarters. Against this background, those choosing to use drugs have to also consider their own personal 'set and setting'--and this bring with it a whole host of other considerations, like whether the individual is adequately informed about drugs and their effects, whether they have the capacity to honestly evaluate their circumstances, whether they have pre-existing health or emotional issues, etc.

In other words, the question of whether drugs use is helpful or not is CONTEXT-DEPENDENT. But to give a Dhamma response. Somewhere in the book, A Still Forest Pool, Ajahn Chah makes this measured and wise comment about drugs which neither condemns nor approves of it. He said something to the effect of: 'What you experience on drugs is sometimes good but not true, or is it true but not good. With the Dhamma, it is always good and always true.

The only thing I would add is: care for yourself.

All the best

:anjali: :smile: :group:
With metta,
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Re: Drugs: A tool, useful for good and bad?

Postby Buckwheat » Thu Dec 15, 2011 12:02 am

Pain and suffering are opportunities to learn. Taking drugs to feel good for a few months still sounds like indulgence in pleasure, even if it's more subtle than craving the immediate high. There's probably worse things in the world, but meditating, exercising, and walking with friends are much more effective and might last a whole lifetime instead of a couple months. It sounds like you are doing all these other things, so I would just say be patient and give it time so that you can have that peace and clarity in a drug free manner. It will come around sooner or later because it sounds like you're headed in the right direction.

To reiterate: patience and tolerance for both yourself and your situation. I struggle with it myself, and that's why we have compassion for each other. Understanding our situations as suffering, struggling human beings, patiently working toward the Buddha's ideals. Whatever your path, I wish you the best.
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Re: Drugs: A tool, useful for good and bad?

Postby Skeptic » Fri Dec 16, 2011 11:10 pm

Drugs are bad :tongue:

However, sometimes I smoke some pot with my friends and drink some beer with my friends, just because they do it every weekend. I don't need it at all, and smoking pot and drinking beer occasionally do me no harm. It's bad when it becomes your addiction and you can't stop doing it, otherwise if you do it rarely it can do no harm.
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Re: Drugs: A tool, useful for good and bad?

Postby Ben » Fri Dec 16, 2011 11:16 pm

Skeptic wrote:smoking pot and drinking beer occasionally do me no harm.

How do you know?
These drugs are more harmful than you realize. Quite apart from the deliterious health effects, they will undermine any effort you make in living a virtuous life and developing concentration and wisdom which leads to liberation.
If you are serious about walking the Noble Eightfold Path I encourage you to live a life of total abstinance of intoxicants. And if you value your health then I recommend you do the same.
kind regards,

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Re: Drugs: A tool, useful for good and bad?

Postby Skeptic » Fri Dec 16, 2011 11:30 pm

Ben wrote:If you are serious about walking the Noble Eightfold Path I encourage you to live a life of total abstinance of intoxicants. And if you value your health then I recommend you do the same.


I agree with You, but if You have raised in the kind of neighborhood much worst than American ghetto with all Your friends being at least mild drug addicts, then it's really difficult to cut all your relations with them, or totally being abstinent from drugs and alcohol while hanging out with them. It can can lead you only to isolation, which is even more harmful to your spiritual development.
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Re: Drugs: A tool, useful for good and bad?

Postby Ben » Fri Dec 16, 2011 11:40 pm

I do understand where you are coming from, Skeptic.
And given your situation, isolation can be a tough call.
These sorts of decisions and dilemmas are things we have to work out for ourselves.
Wishing you the best,

Ben
"One cannot step twice into the same river, nor can one grasp any mortal substance in a stable condition, but it scatters and again gathers; it forms and dissolves, and approaches and departs."

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Re: Drugs: A tool, useful for good and bad?

Postby Khalil Bodhi » Fri Dec 16, 2011 11:48 pm

Skeptic wrote:
Ben wrote:If you are serious about walking the Noble Eightfold Path I encourage you to live a life of total abstinance of intoxicants. And if you value your health then I recommend you do the same.


I agree with You, but if You have raised in the kind of neighborhood much worst than American ghetto with all Your friends being at least mild drug addicts, then it's really difficult to cut all your relations with them, or totally being abstinent from drugs and alcohol while hanging out with them. It can can lead you only to isolation, which is even more harmful to your spiritual development.


I feel your pain and was at a similar point in my life many years ago. I was fortunate to have chosen my well being at the risk of solitude over continuing to indulge in self-destructive behaviors. I, too, would urge you to abstain from these intoxicants even if that means finding new friends. No one said the path to liberation was a smooth one but if you're willing to put in the effort I'm sure you will experience good results. Whatever you decide I wish you the best! Metta. :heart:

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Re: Drugs: A tool, useful for good and bad?

Postby Skeptic » Fri Dec 16, 2011 11:51 pm

Ben wrote:I do understand where you are coming from, Skeptic.
And given your situation, isolation can be a tough call.
These sorts of decisions and dilemmas are things we have to work out for ourselves.
Wishing you the best,

Ben


Thanks Ben,

Believe me, I have really tried to be totally abstinent from drugs and alcohol. In fact, unlike most of my friends I have the fortune to run away from city to the rural parts of country where I'm mostly abstinent from drugs and alcohol. But they come to visit me, and I have to go back in the city and trying to be abstinent among them it's really hard if not impossible. I'm aware it's harmful, but somehow drink or two with them seems better to me them spend my time all alone.
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Re: Drugs: A tool, useful for good and bad?

Postby Buckwheat » Sat Dec 17, 2011 5:32 am

Just to pick at both sides of the debate over Skeptic's situation... First, isn't solitude considered an important thing to pursue? Fear of isolation is not an adequate excuse for indulgance. Also, one must recognize that even moderate indulgence does hinder spiritual progress and accept those consequences. On the other side, I don't think there is anything wrong with trying to do the best that you can with what you have, even if that means moderate indulgence.

When you do indulge, use these experiences to remain mindful and focus on the consequences. Are you getting heedless and say/do thing that cause suffering? Are you lazy in the following days? What other opportunities were missed? If these people can't be around you without getting a buzz, are they really your friends?

Avoid heedlessness, and recognize the consequences of actions. Then acknowledge that total abstinence has it's wonderful rewards so that someday you may have the strength and confidence to say no. I also deal with this. In my area, most of the people that don't drink beer are hardcore Christians... and half of them are hypocrites. :rolleye: :toast:
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Re: Drugs: A tool, useful for good and bad?

Postby Aloka » Sat Dec 24, 2011 11:34 am

Skeptic wrote:
Believe me, I have really tried to be totally abstinent from drugs and alcohol. In fact, unlike most of my friends I have the fortune to run away from city to the rural parts of country where I'm mostly abstinent from drugs and alcohol. But they come to visit me, and I have to go back in the city and trying to be abstinent among them it's really hard if not impossible. I'm aware it's harmful, but somehow drink or two with them seems better to me them spend my time all alone.



You can just be strong and say 'No' to the drugs and alcohol. It's not as hard as you think it is - just do it ! If your friends are real friends they'll respect your decision and still want to see you. Maybe in time they'll even come to be inspired by your example.


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Re: Drugs: A tool, useful for good and bad?

Postby rowboat » Sat Dec 24, 2011 12:34 pm

No one would smoke to get a little high or drink some alcohol while away at a retreat...
Rain soddens what is covered up,
It does not sodden what is open.
Therefore uncover what is covered
That the rain will not sodden it.
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Re: Drugs: A tool, useful for good and bad?

Postby Moth » Sat Dec 24, 2011 5:46 pm

I used to use intoxicants. Since becoming a Buddhist, I first gave up alcohol and then overtime all drugs. My friends still use intoxicants but respect me for my decision. If your friends will not hang out with you unless you indulge with them then they are likely not good friends, and as the Buddha says, isolation would be preferable. I can tell you with full confidence that maintaining Sila is a bliss far beyond anything an intoxicant can provide. Why? The bliss of intoxicants is impermanent, unsatisfying, and riddled with shame. Sila is something no one can take away from you. Also, if you believe in karma and vipaka, I for one would be afraid of using intoxicants, especially alcohol, as the Buddha specifically warned against it and the results it would ensure.
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Re: Drugs: A tool, useful for good and bad?

Postby Buckwheat » Sat Dec 24, 2011 5:57 pm

rowboat wrote:No one would smoke to get a little high or drink some alcohol while away at a retreat...


Unfortunately, this is not true. Maybe you could alter your statement to, "No wise person would smoke or drink while away at a retreat."
Sotthī hontu nirantaraṃ - May you forever be well.
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Re: Drugs: A tool, useful for good and bad?

Postby Skeptic » Sat Dec 24, 2011 8:33 pm

Aloka wrote:You can just be strong and say 'No' to the drugs and alcohol. It's not as hard as you think it is - just do it ! If your friends are real friends they'll respect your decision and still want to see you. Maybe in time they'll even come to be inspired by your example.


Believe it or not, I have decided to be abstinent Yesterday. I was thinking about it for a long time and had many periods
in life when I was abstinent. I can't say 'No' only when hanging out with my old friends from the childhood,
but when alone or with other people I don't need it at all. So I decided that I'm going to hang out with them maybe only when
they are not using drugs or alcohol. In fact, somehow I don't feel the connection with them like before, we are now totally
different kind of persons, but anyway It's hard to break these long-lasting relationships.

Moth wrote:I used to use intoxicants. Since becoming a Buddhist, I first gave up alcohol and then overtime all drugs. My friends still use intoxicants but respect me for my decision. If your friends will not hang out with you unless you indulge with them then they are likely not good friends, and as the Buddha says, isolation would be preferable. I can tell you with full confidence that maintaining Sila is a bliss far beyond anything an intoxicant can provide. Why? The bliss of intoxicants is impermanent, unsatisfying, and riddled with shame. Sila is something no one can take away from you. Also, if you believe in karma and vipaka, I for one would be afraid of using intoxicants, especially alcohol, as the Buddha specifically warned against it and the results it would ensure.


They would always respect my decision with absolutely no problem, but the problem is that
I just can't say 'No' to myself when they are doing it in front of me. To be honest, they are good people and doing their best to
be faithful friends, which makes it even more difficult to break the relationship with them. But If I'm
going to have to much difficulties in being abstinent, then the isolation from them is going to be the best choice.

Thing that makes me confident that I'm going to remain abstinent is that now when I have the most
money and many places to go I just decided to stay home with my familly, not going out for the Christmas Eve and also
decided to go nowhere for the New Year's Eve. So if I can do it for the holidays,
when the most action is out in the city, then I can do it always.

Thanks to all for advice :anjali:
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Re: Drugs: A tool, useful for good and bad?

Postby nobody12345 » Sat Dec 24, 2011 11:34 pm

I think I can understand where you coming from.
I used drug for years for the purpose of spiritual exploration.
I nearly killed myself with drug and had a near death due to overdose as well.
Since I was 4 years old, I knew something was wrong with this world.
One day, I was looking at people from the hill in the town where I lived and something strange hit me about the scene that I was seeing.
I couldn't pin point it but later, I came to realize that what I experience was the glimpse into the nature of this world which is one big jail.
From teenagers till mid 30's, I did search all over the place looking for the map for the ultimate knowledge.
Not just drugs but I studied religions and magic(k) systems of various sorts.
And it is almost miracle that I found genuine map/activation code/master code/ DHAMMA since my Sila was very weak.
Some people found Dhamma by the strength of the accumulated Sila through many re-births and some peole found it from the strength of the accumulated Samadhi through many re-births.
In my case, the main factor was my sincere dedication to the ultimate knowledge that has been something extremely strong in me through many re-births.
But I can totally symphasize with the people who are willing to do drugs for the pursue of spiritual knowledge/advancement.
However, as a person who did pursue the path to the extreme, if I may add, in all honesty, it does not bring the true knowledge.
Mind you, there have been many people, who somewhat glimpsed into the fraction of the reality.
And sometimes drug can generate some penetration into certain fraction of it.
However, there have been no one, no system, no activation code that actually penetrated the entire axis of reality with or without drugs.
Many seekers went through terrible ordeals in pursue of the master knowledge and sometime they glimpsed into the fraction of the reality.
Speaking of fraction of the reality, it's like they witnessed a portion/slice of the onion and thinking they saw it all.
However, Samsara is not your average onion.
It's multi-layered (not in the physical sense, though) upon multi-layered.
Every single one of the seekers including Jesus, Percival, anonymous Gnostics and etc. only witnessed certain slice/portion of the super mega-onion that is impossible to fathom.
To sum it up, all the drug in the world cannot give you what you want.
(Along with all the religions/magic(k) systems as well)
But you do have the master code that was expounded well by the knowledge master, the Buddha.

And regarding isolation, unfortunately, it' almost impossible to avoid.
When one takes up the practice of Dhamma sincerely, it truly goes against the stream of the world.
If you live in the West, most likely, you won't find a sincere fellow Dhamma practicer.
I lost many friends when I gave up drinking, partying, meat eating, womanizing, and etc.
However, I came into complete isolation when I began the Dhamma practice seriously.
I am surrounded by the Christians / non-religious hedonists and nobody that I know accept a practicing Buddhist, let alone the strictest orthodox Buddhist like myself.
Should one be depressed with this situation?
No way.
What is going with the situation is, whenever a seeker take up the Dhamma practice with serious determination, all the problems and all the minions of Mara seem to be jumping onto the seeker to present endless challenges.
When a seeker overcame one problem/kilesa, the other will follow and sometimes multiple attacks will occur at once.
However, that means, from wider perspective, you do pose serious threat to Mara.
More gut wrenching battle means you are getting closer to 'BREAK OUT' point.
'Break out' that requires to pass through the each levels of awakening.
Mara does not enjoy somebody making serious efforts to break out from the jail/enter the stream/sailing towards to the other shore.
And of course it's going to be difficult and painful because we are the one who are attempting JAILBREAK from Samsara!
If you are isolated, if you feel pain due to the genuine & sincere practice of Dhamma, that is something to be celebrated.
The Awakened One recommended solitude/isolation if one cannot find a fellow spiritual friend.
Nobody crossed the flood (Samsara) by enjoying entertainments.
Nobody encountered the Deathless element by indulging in Samsara.
Every seekers' journey is a solitary battle.
The Buddha and Arahant disciples were fought the solitary battle and roared the lions roar in solitude.
We are no exception.
If one wants liberation, one must take up the battle.
No matter how you cut it, Dhamma practice is the battle that goes against the stream of the world, directly toward to the other shore.
The very good news is, at least now we have a system/activation code/genuine map/ that actually works.
Dhamma is THE only system that works.
I hope you be careful/stay away from drugs and save many years so you can get into the stream as soon as possible.
There's no security in any of Samaric existence.
This life might be your last chance to practice genuine Dhamma before it'd disappear for Aeon.
Again, nothing is more important than entering the stream.
It's worth enduring isolation and difficulties to enter the stream.

Metta.
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Re: Drugs: A tool, useful for good and bad?

Postby manas » Sun Dec 25, 2011 12:15 am

If you live in the West, most likely, you won't find a sincere fellow Dhamma practicer.
I lost many friends when I gave up drinking, partying, meat eating, womanizing, and etc.
However, I came into complete isolation when I began the Dhamma practice seriously.
I am surrounded by the Christians / non-religious hedonists and nobody that I know accept a practicing Buddhist, let alone the strictest orthodox Buddhist like myself.
Should one be depressed with this situation?
No way.


When I catch myself feeling sorry for myself, being so socially isolated as I am, I bring to mind how near-perfect my current situation is for the cultivation of mental calm, and stillness. The Buddha was always encouraging us to seek seclusion, so if we find ourselves alone, then rather than feeling sad or lonely, we should be glad. The only thing stopping us, then, is our own attachment and desire for companionship (yes, I still suffer from this, too, but I'm working on it).
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Re: Drugs: A tool, useful for good and bad?

Postby nobody12345 » Sun Dec 25, 2011 12:45 am

When I catch myself feeling sorry for myself, being so socially isolated as I am, I bring to mind how near-perfect my current situation is for the cultivation of mental calm, and stillness. The Buddha was always encouraging us to seek seclusion, so if we find ourselves alone, then rather than feeling sad or lonely, we should be glad. The only thing stopping us, then, is our own attachment and desire for companionship (yes, I still suffer from this, too, but I'm working on it).

Completely agree.
We should be glad because although isolation is not easy to bear, it is a great position to develop Panna/Discernment/Wisdom.
Liberation can be achieved from various approach.
However, strong emphasis on Panna development (i.e. dry path) is the fastest method and Panna is absolutely necessary to reach the point of ultimate breakout.
Not just isolation but also hardships/difficulties/challenges are great resource/objects/raw materials to work on Panna.
As Ajahn Chah used to say, the blind and the deaf cannot be enlightened because they don't have access to things to sitimulate wisdom/insight development.
So more challenges/troubles means that we are endowed/blessed with greater opportunities to develop Panna.
Challenge/hardship is like a nasty tasting medicine.
It tastes very disagreeable but it delivers result.
And the result is stronger Panna.

Metta.
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Re: Drugs: A tool, useful for good and bad?

Postby Skeptic » Mon Dec 26, 2011 3:42 pm

:goodpost:

Yes, we should be glad to have some kind of isolation. I see that isolated people with not so many friends are mostly saying that they would like to have more friends to hang out with. On the other side, I would like to have less friends and more isolation, I would like that I have never make friends with so many people. Few years before, it was really like a hell realm, always somebody calling you to go out or planning activities for the next days. So in very short time, you end up with your whole free-time being scheduled in advance. I'm not going trough this kind of stuff again, and breaking some relationships permanently might be necessity.

:anjali:
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Re: Drugs: A tool, useful for good and bad?

Postby manas » Mon Dec 26, 2011 10:06 pm

imaginos wrote:As Ajahn Chah used to say, the blind and the deaf cannot be enlightened because they don't have access to things to sitimulate wisdom/insight development.


Hi imaginos,

I'm a bit torn here, as although you have expressed appreciation of my post, I must take issue with the above, which is not true and therefore I can't believe that Ajahn Chah said it. In this modern day and age, there are plenty of resources for blind, deaf or even persons both blind AND deaf, to learn and master a language to the degree necessary to be able to access Dhamma teachings.

Furthermore, if a person was blind, they would still have four other senses (five if you count the intellect) as a working-ground for the cultivation of insight. Same for a person who was deaf.

I say this in goodwill, but please consider how the above statement you made might be perceived by a person with a physical impairment visiting this forum.

:anjali:
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