Pharmacological Aids to Enlightenment

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Buckwheat
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Re: Pharmacological Aids to Enlightenment

Postby Buckwheat » Mon Sep 10, 2012 1:47 am

Viscid wrote: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...

What about the side effect that non-ADHD minds that are "intoxicated" by these drugs achieve such abnormal levels of concentration that they cease to be able to think outside the box? (See next post) When I took my Professional Engineering exam, almost half the problems required the ability to see a shortcut that was not obvious, so Ritalin would have caused me to fail the exam. There is a difference between concentration and tunnel-vision.
Last edited by Buckwheat on Mon Sep 10, 2012 1:57 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Pharmacological Aids to Enlightenment

Postby Buckwheat » Mon Sep 10, 2012 1:56 am

Farah says some studies have actually shown the drugs hurt performance in certain people. And she worries that it may make others so overly focused they get tunnel vision and lose creativity.

"With math problems often you can find kind of a more elegant, easier way to find the solution, or you can have kind of a brute force, just trying to plug out all the numbers and get the answer that way," a student told Couric. "I felt like when I thought I was on the pill it was much harder for me to find those more elegant solutions to the problems."


She cautions that stimulants like Adderall and Ritalin can be addictive, so much so they're in the same class of drugs as cocaine. They can cause heart and blood pressure problems, and the long term effect on the developing brains of young people without an attention disorder is still unknown.... We all want to believe that we are under control to justify whatever we want to do. The reality is there are side effects of these drugs. One of them is addiction. But another one can be psychosis. So it's not worth the risk to be playing with a drug that has potentially very adverse effects.


http://www.cbsnews.com/2100-18560_162-6 ... ontentBody
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Re: Pharmacological Aids to Enlightenment

Postby ancientbuddhism » Mon Sep 10, 2012 4:48 pm

twelph wrote: Fair enough. Excluding the factors of addiction and withdrawal, do you believe that the most common side effects of caffeine would fit into the Buddha's definition of heedlessness in relation to the following sutta:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html ?

I do believe that strict moderation of certain substances would keep someone from breaking the 5th precept in some cases, but I hold firm in the belief that rather than aiding in the advancement of wholesome states, they do the opposite.


This discussion may have lapsed into a tangent on addictions and precepts, which in the dhammic context of craving could indicate many things. People have to weigh that one for themselves.
Anuvicca papañca nāmarūpaṃ
ajjhattaṃ bahiddhā ca rogamūlaṃ,
sabbarogamūlabandhanā pamutto
anuvidito tādi pavuccate tathattā
.

“Having known the naming of objects,
With its proliferation, its root in illness – within and without;
One is released from bondage to the root of all illness.
And thus is called the Knowing One – the Such.

– Sn. 3.6 (Sabhiyasuttaṃ)

Secure your own mask before assisting others. – NORTHWEST AIRLINES (Pre-Flight Instruction)

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Re: Pharmacological Aids to Enlightenment

Postby ancientbuddhism » Mon Sep 10, 2012 4:54 pm

Back to the topic and the question of whether “...qualities which these drugs promote, such as concentration and energy, also happen to be Factors to Enlightenment.”

And…

viscid wrote:The drugs I listed would keep you awake and make you attentive. If not being able to stay awake or an inability to pay attention is preventing someone from 'liberation,' then they'd help, but in normally healthy individuals this is not the case.


The context of the OP is with reference to a use of these medications outside of their design e.g. to increase alertness and cognitive functions for study, and considering whether meditators could also use these if they are still challenged to attain the classic qualities of Buddhist contemplative states. Where the comparison does not meet is a misunderstanding of how the dynamic of calm and insight are to be found, learned and reproduced by the practitioner. Intense endeavor (ātāpa) and the reflexive awareness of mindfulness (sati), oscillate to produce clear-knowing (sampajāna), where the dynamic of contemplative composure and investigation begin. Once these are developed, they can be reproduced whenever needed, and it will arise even when the body is physically tired. No synthetic can give this.
Anuvicca papañca nāmarūpaṃ
ajjhattaṃ bahiddhā ca rogamūlaṃ,
sabbarogamūlabandhanā pamutto
anuvidito tādi pavuccate tathattā
.

“Having known the naming of objects,
With its proliferation, its root in illness – within and without;
One is released from bondage to the root of all illness.
And thus is called the Knowing One – the Such.

– Sn. 3.6 (Sabhiyasuttaṃ)

Secure your own mask before assisting others. – NORTHWEST AIRLINES (Pre-Flight Instruction)

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Re: Pharmacological Aids to Enlightenment

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Oct 12, 2012 8:05 pm

A very to the point blog post:

Brad Warner
Do Magic Mushrooms Work Like Meditation?
http://hardcorezen.info/do-magic-mushro ... ation/1334
Let me try this again.

Every time I make yet another attempt to explain the difference between the experiences available through the use of hallucinogenic drugs and the realities of long-term meditation practice, I vow that it will be the last time. And then a few months later I find myself doing it again.

My last article got re-posted a few places on Facebook, where it received some colorful responses. One commenter eloquently labeled me an “ignorant ****” because I did not support his belief that drugs could get you enlightened quick and easy. On that same thread, a Facebook friend of mine posted this article that supposedly shows that magic mushrooms produce the same effects as meditation. Science has proven it. So it must be true.

To me, this is a bit like saying that if you do 150 push-ups, two hours on an eliptical machine, go on a treadmill for thirty minutes and then jack off, your pulse, your endorphin levels and the blood flow to the high-level association regions and connector hubs in the brain are exactly the same as they are if you have three and a half hours of vigorous sex with two Russian ballerinas, one of whom has dyed her hair chartreuse for the occasion because she knows you like anime characters. And then concluding that a combination of exercise and masturbation works like sex and is therefore the same thing, or at least an adequate substitute.

It doesn’t matter to me if science says it’s the same thing. It’s not. It’s not the same thing because the scientists doing this kind of research aren’t researching the right aspects of the question. They generally have little or no experience of meditation. The philosophers whose musings I have read on the subject have no idea what they’re talking about because they’ve only tried drugs, and have rarely (if ever) made the real effort needed for meditation.

Saying that the psilocybin in magic mushrooms produces the same effects as meditation is like saying that romance, marriage and family are an inefficient way to achieve an orgasm. Maybe they are if you put it like that. But this misses the point entirely. The physiological effects of an orgasm experienced with someone with whom you are deeply in love and those experienced after an hour on pornhub.com may be precisely the same. But those two orgasms are not the same thing at all.

That being said, a lot of people who do meditation make exactly the same mistake as these scientific researchers. These meditators think that the Big Moments that sometimes happen during the course of meditation are the point of meditation. If that’s what you think, it’s easy to conclude that drugs might be a more efficient way of producing the same results. There are entire schools of meditation, some quite old and respected, that have enshrined the view that the purpose of meditation is to have some great moment of awakening. So it’s no surprise to find people who have approached meditation in this mistaken way concluding that “either hallucinogenics or meditation can take you to very similar, if not the same, experiences,” as Gary Weber says at the end of his article referenced above.

The core of the mistaken belief that drugs and meditation are doing the same thing is this belief that meditation is about results. But in the real world there are no results. There is only this.

Let’s go back to my earlier example of exercise and masturbation vs. a night with two ballerinas. Exercise and masturbation are relatively cheap and easy. Join the YMCA and get an Internet connection and you’ve got all the equipment you need. There is no necessity for any kind of personal connection or commitment. But getting with those ballerinas is going to take some work. You have to meet them, which in itself is going to take a lot of sustained effort. You have to convince them you’re not a psycho. You have to form a relationship of trust and perhaps even love. This relationship will continue when the three of you wake up all disheveled and hungry in the Motel 6 the next day. Someone’s heart will probably get broken. Maybe yours. Maybe you’ll still be crying about it three years later. It’s a big investment. Can exercise and masturbation “take you to very similar, if not the same, experiences?” My feeling is that they cannot.

My decades of meditation have not been as cheap or easy as scoring a hit of E or a bag of ‘shrooms. They have taken me to some pretty crazy places, both in terms of location and in terms of interpersonal connection. I formed a strange bond with an elderly veteran of the Japanese Imperial Army. I sat for days on end in sweltering sweat boxes alongside people with whom the only common interest I thought I shared was an interest in figuring out what the f*** life was, and then I saw that there really was no difference at all between us. I have faced boredom so deep it felt like it might destroy me. And I’ve watched myself dissolve and come right back together again, then noticed that even that was not the point.

If you’re telling me I could’ve done the same thing in a couple of hours on a dose of some drug, I’m going to tell you that you’re completely mistaken. Over and over and over again apparently.

We live in a society that worships medicine. It’s a quick solution that allows you to sustain an otherwise unhealthy lifestyle with a degree of comfort. We get so stressed out that we get migraine headaches and instead of reducing our stress, we look for a pill that will get us through it. We’re seduced by offers of medicines that promise we can eat all the fast food and ice cream we want and still not gain weight. We want results and we want them now with the least amount of effort. We don’t like it when someone challenges our belief in quick solutions.

But what kind of results do we get when we don’t put in real effort, when we aren’t willing to change, when we aren’t willing to accept that maybe there’s something fundamentally wrong with the way we live our lives?

People get very angry when you tell them that quick solutions don’t work. People get very angry when you tell them that the cartoons they see in their heads while they’re on hallucinogenic drugs might not be signs of enlightenment. Just because you sometimes see cartoons in your head during meditation doesn’t mean that the point of meditation is seeing cartoons in your head.

***
Make a donation to Brad and maybe he’ll finally change the subject.

:anjali:
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Re: Pharmacological Aids to Enlightenment

Postby Ben » Fri Oct 12, 2012 8:41 pm

Thank you, Mike for posting Brad Warner's excellent article.
kind regards,

Ben
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in mountain clefts and chasms,
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Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

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Re: Pharmacological Aids to Enlightenment

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Oct 13, 2012 1:08 am

I particularly liked this, which goes well beyond the immediate topic:
Brad Warner wrote:... a lot of people who do meditation make exactly the same mistake as these scientific researchers. These meditators think that the Big Moments that sometimes happen during the course of meditation are the point of meditation. If that’s what you think, it’s easy to conclude that drugs might be a more efficient way of producing the same results. ...

:anjali:
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Re: Pharmacological Aids to Enlightenment

Postby Ben » Sat Oct 13, 2012 1:32 am

mikenz66 wrote:I particularly liked this, which goes well beyond the immediate topic:
Brad Warner wrote:... a lot of people who do meditation make exactly the same mistake as these scientific researchers. These meditators think that the Big Moments that sometimes happen during the course of meditation are the point of meditation. If that’s what you think, it’s easy to conclude that drugs might be a more efficient way of producing the same results. ...

:anjali:
Mike


Yes, I agree.
Its just craving for pleasurable experiences. One's just more rarified than the other.
with metta,

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

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725

Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR
Buddhist Life Stories of Australia
e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com

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Re: Pharmacological Aids to Enlightenment

Postby Buckwheat » Sat Oct 13, 2012 3:49 am

Ah, the Soto monk perspective with a punk rock vocabulary. Brilliant!!

Could spiritual exercises fall into this category? Some of the old ascetic practices that the Buddha rejected seem to fall into a similar category. I was talked into attending a Kundalini breathing class where we laid down and hyperventilated until we got drunk on oxygen. I was so overwhelmed the first time, that I decided to go back and try to figure out if there was something to this, or if it was just getting drunk on oxygen. I ended up just categorizing it as feel-goodism and intoxication.
Sotthī hontu nirantaraṃ - May you forever be well.

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Re: Pharmacological Aids to Enlightenment

Postby Kamran » Sat Oct 13, 2012 3:52 am

I think the problem is that you have to experience the process of insight before you are be able to understand what the higher goal of meditation is.
When this concentration is thus developed, thus well developed by you, then wherever you go, you will go in comfort. Wherever you stand, you will stand in comfort. Wherever you sit, you will sit in comfort. Wherever you lie down, you will lie down in comfort.

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Re: Pharmacological Aids to Enlightenment

Postby Alobha » Sat Oct 13, 2012 8:27 am

mikenz66 wrote:I particularly liked this, which goes well beyond the immediate topic:
Brad Warner wrote:... a lot of people who do meditation make exactly the same mistake as these scientific researchers. These meditators think that the Big Moments that sometimes happen during the course of meditation are the point of meditation. If that’s what you think, it’s easy to conclude that drugs might be a more efficient way of producing the same results. ...

:anjali:
Mike


What a beautiful reminder of the goal. It's all about unbinding, not about binding to pleasant feelings. And that is also another point: While the practice leads to unbinding and destroys the conditions for suffering, drugs just cause other conditions that promote craving.

Also: Many people who take drugs end up with bad company, not associating with the wise ones. They end up taking drugs more often with the time because drugs don't eliminate suffering and everyday-problems, they just delay them. So people take drugs to get away from the unpleasant, from their "normal" life and "normal" feelings with all these "problems" and need more and more of this "everything is so much better"-experience. We can see right in our mind what it leads to when we want to feel different, want to be different, want life to be different. It's this craving that leads to dissatisfation, unhappiness, suffering. So people take drugs to get a temporary experience of release from this, but they don't deal with the cause of suffering, don't put any effort in getting rid of the reasons for suffering - they just feed them in this state of heedlessness
The practice is a whole lot different. The practice is about making peace with the present, with any feeling, any perception and just peace with the world as it is. The practice offers a real change, not a delay, offers a lasting and trustworthy peace one can abide in without falling into suffering again.

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Re: Pharmacological Aids to Enlightenment

Postby danieLion » Sat Oct 13, 2012 8:51 am

Glad to see Brad Warner getting some respect here. Very classy. Many years ago before (and maybe a little ways into) becoming a serious yogi, I experimented with psychedelic drugs under the hopeful delusions Warner describes. I got some results I suppose, but nothing even close compared to long-term, consistent, sober practice. It's much more satisfying and productive to progress without chemical "aids" and conducive to learning self-reliance and indepence from sensuality, which psychedelics tend to obscure and in some encourage--much like pining for pretty nimitta lights and imputing meanings to them that aren't there.

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Re: Pharmacological Aids to Enlightenment

Postby Moth » Sun Oct 21, 2012 2:48 am

While the topic of using nootropics as an aid to concentration is surely debatable, the idea of using Amphetamine (Adderall) as a meditation aid is simply ridiculous. I use to take Adderall, as I was prescribed it for ADD. I also used to meditate on it, and while it did allow me to maintain focus on the breath quite well, the pleasant effects, the peacefulness, the calm, would not arise like does when I am sober. Adderall is highly potent, highly mind-altering. Nootropics are interesting as they are cognitive enhancers, but again I do not think that meditation is simply about being super-focused. How you approach meditation, and how you hold the meditation object, seems to be a fractal expression of how you handle all things in your life. Looking for shortcuts is not necessarily helpful. I may be wrong about this, but I'll take a guess that the search for a neurological understanding of Nibbana is a dead end.
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