Pharmacological Aids to Enlightenment

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths. What can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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Viscid
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Pharmacological Aids to Enlightenment

Postby Viscid » Thu Sep 06, 2012 7:19 pm

On college campuses today, 'Smart Drugs' such as Ritalin, Adderall and Modafinil are getting increasingly popular. These drugs are used by students to study for longer periods and/or to be able to recollect what they've studied more effectively. The ethics of their [ab]use is debatable: is there harm in using these drugs? Is it unfair? Do they offer enough of a benefit? I personally believe that if these drugs are allowing academics to work better, and the health risks in taking these drugs aren't great, that there remains little reason to discourage their use.. Suppose, for example, that because an academic used this drug, he was able to figure out how to cure a disease.

The qualities which these drugs promote, such as concentration and energy, also happen to be Factors to Enlightenment. So my question is this: If a drug existed that was cheap, had no side effects, and it promoted wholesome factors to enlightenment you may not have otherwise been able to develop, would you take such a drug? If not, why not?
"What holds attention determines action." - William James

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m0rl0ck
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Re: Pharmacological Aids to Enlightenment

Postby m0rl0ck » Thu Sep 06, 2012 7:42 pm

No i wouldnt. I was drug and alcohol dependent for about 20 years and there is a lot that goes into drug dependence. You have to worry about the right dosage, you have to worry about running out, you have to worry about tolerances, you have to worry about other drugs interactions. If you are dependent on a drug to maintain your "enlightenment" it isnt enlightenment its just a drug side effect. If you run out or have to stop taking the drug because of some other medical condition where are you?
The real problem tho is the view that this kind of question betrays. If your view is that enlightenment, or whatever you want to call it, is a simple matter of brain/body chemistry, that world view, that the self is just the brain/body, is called materialism and is one of the major stumbling blocks to any kind of spirituality or spiritual progress.
“The truth knocks on the door and you say, "Go away, I'm looking for the truth," and so it goes away. Puzzling.” ― Robert M. Pirsig

lament
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Re: Pharmacological Aids to Enlightenment

Postby lament » Thu Sep 06, 2012 7:49 pm


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m0rl0ck
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Re: Pharmacological Aids to Enlightenment

Postby m0rl0ck » Thu Sep 06, 2012 7:57 pm

“The truth knocks on the door and you say, "Go away, I'm looking for the truth," and so it goes away. Puzzling.” ― Robert M. Pirsig

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Viscid
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Re: Pharmacological Aids to Enlightenment

Postby Viscid » Thu Sep 06, 2012 8:06 pm

"What holds attention determines action." - William James

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m0rl0ck
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Re: Pharmacological Aids to Enlightenment

Postby m0rl0ck » Thu Sep 06, 2012 8:10 pm

Last edited by m0rl0ck on Thu Sep 06, 2012 8:29 pm, edited 2 times in total.
“The truth knocks on the door and you say, "Go away, I'm looking for the truth," and so it goes away. Puzzling.” ― Robert M. Pirsig

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manas
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Re: Pharmacological Aids to Enlightenment

Postby manas » Thu Sep 06, 2012 8:11 pm

Then the Blessed One, picking up a tiny bit of dust with the tip of his fingernail, said to the monk, "There isn't even this much form...feeling...
perception...fabrications...consciousness that is constant, lasting, eternal, not subject to change, that will stay just as it is as long as eternity."

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Bhikkhu Pesala
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Re: Pharmacological Aids to Enlightenment

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Thu Sep 06, 2012 8:27 pm

Spend the money you would have spent on drugs on doing wholesome deeds. Nothing acts faster than kusala kamma for creating natural hormones that are good for your sense of well-being. When the mind is happy it is easily concentrated. The concentrated mind can see things as they really are, which leads to insight and enlightenment.
• • • • (Upasampadā: 24th June, 1979)

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Modus.Ponens
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Re: Pharmacological Aids to Enlightenment

Postby Modus.Ponens » Thu Sep 06, 2012 8:35 pm

If such a drug existed, I think it's not a violation of the 5th precept, since the full phrase includes "which lead to carelessness".
He turns his mind away from those phenomena, and having done so, inclines his mind to the property of deathlessness: 'This is peace, this is exquisite — the resolution of all fabrications; the relinquishment of all acquisitions; the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; Unbinding.'
(Jhana Sutta - Thanissaro Bhikkhu translation)

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Sam Vara
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Re: Pharmacological Aids to Enlightenment

Postby Sam Vara » Thu Sep 06, 2012 9:33 pm

Just a quick thought on this one, prompted by m0rl0ck's points.

Consider all the uncertainty that we see on these pages and elsewhere about the nature of jhana, concentration, mindfulness, clear comprehension, Samatha, and so on. As soon as anyone says they have attained one of these states, there are several, usually contradictory, opinions expressed as to why they are wrong. People cite the suttas, their teachers, and their own experiences in support of a multitude of views as to what these states are actually like. For example, a frequent assertion is that there is "wrong concentration", or "That's sati, but not Samma Sati!"

Adding an ingested chemical component takes one further away from what the Buddha was talking about. I would be so bothered that I was experiencing a chemically-induced "near miss", so to speak, that I would not trust what I had actually experienced. A bit like someone who is convinced they are really witty while drunk, or really insightful when stoned. Later they realise that they had not been. The concern that I would have an analogous experience would be enough to stop me taking any substance which apparently induced a wholesome mental state. It might do exactly that, or there again it might not. Why add another variable, along with all the current difficulties of translation, culture, and personal kamma?

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Alex123
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Re: Pharmacological Aids to Enlightenment

Postby Alex123 » Fri Sep 07, 2012 1:24 am

"Life is a struggle. Life will throw curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference..."

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Dan74
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Re: Pharmacological Aids to Enlightenment

Postby Dan74 » Fri Sep 07, 2012 1:50 am

_/|\_

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Ben
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Re: Pharmacological Aids to Enlightenment

Postby Ben » Fri Sep 07, 2012 3:18 am

One of my children was diagnosed with ADHD and Sensory Integration Disorder. When the paediatrician prescribed ritalin it was a god-send. My son's performance at school and his interactions at home and with his peers improved beyond our expectations. I have no problem with the idea of ritalin or similar medications being used to treat conditions which limit a person's intellectual and/or social development.
If a person is using ritalin as a 'smart' drug to help them get through exams - I am more ambivalent about its use. I think its far more beneficial for one to develop study skills and habits - not just for the short-term goal of doing well in a particular exam but in life generally.
As for an aid for enlightenment - I am sceptical.
The idea of a pharmacalogical aid for enlightenment is not new. And to date its only result has been various forms of intoxication or poisoning misdiagnosed as spiritual experience.
I think if you are seeking an exotic experience then perhaps the Dhamma isn't for you (or for you yet).
Wishing you all the best,

Ben
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

(Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • •

e: [email protected]..

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Viscid
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Re: Pharmacological Aids to Enlightenment

Postby Viscid » Fri Sep 07, 2012 5:00 am

Last edited by Viscid on Fri Sep 07, 2012 6:03 am, edited 1 time in total.
"What holds attention determines action." - William James

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Kamran
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Re: Pharmacological Aids to Enlightenment

Postby Kamran » Fri Sep 07, 2012 5:23 am

"Silence gives answers"

Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi

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DAWN
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Re: Pharmacological Aids to Enlightenment

Postby DAWN » Fri Sep 07, 2012 5:24 am

In France there is some exemples of overdose by this kind of "intelectual" medicaments. They was hospitalised etc.
Why there is overdose? Becose like all drugs, when you start, you have direct and fast results, but after, organism becomes accustomed, and so he need more and more to fill a result; but when you take 20 tablets, you dont go in college, but in hospital, with prying that you will not die today...

In France such medicaments are prohibited, so studets cross all country to go in Belgium or Amsterdam etc...

If it's not drug addiction, i dont know what is drug addiction.
Sabbe dhamma anatta
We are not concurents...

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Ben
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Re: Pharmacological Aids to Enlightenment

Postby Ben » Fri Sep 07, 2012 5:52 am

“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

(Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • •

e: [email protected]..

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Alobha
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Re: Pharmacological Aids to Enlightenment

Postby Alobha » Fri Sep 07, 2012 9:22 am


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Hanzze
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Re: Pharmacological Aids to Enlightenment

Postby Hanzze » Fri Sep 07, 2012 9:46 am

Image
Just that! *smile*


BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Nate sante baram sokham _()_

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Dan74
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Re: Pharmacological Aids to Enlightenment

Postby Dan74 » Fri Sep 07, 2012 10:34 am

_/|\_


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