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Buddha and Drugs

Posted by spritzophrenia on December 22, 2009

The Fifth Precept: ‘I undertake the rule of training to refrain from distillled and fermented intoxicants producing heedlessness’. (1)

… All the [first] four precepts depend for their purity, upon constant vigilance and if the mind is overcome by intoxicants, then what harm may not result?

(footnote 1) It is significant that all substances producing a distortion of normal human experience find a place under the Fifth Precept. In India, both ancient and modern, the use of drugs to stimulate ‘religious’ experiences including visual and auditory hallucinations, has been and is very well known and quite widely practised. The ‘insights’ claimed by some who in the present day take mescalin, etc, should be tested against the difference which these experiences make to the forces of greed, aversion and delusion in their hearts and conduct. Particulartly if it is claimed that these drugs offer a kind of shortcut to Enlightenment, whether called vipassana or satori, then it must be stressed that no real shortcut of this sort is possible and such experience cannot replace effort spread over years or even over lives.

From Buddhism Explained by Bhikkhu Khantipalo (Buddha Educational Foundation, Singapore, circa 1973) Old technology, a book that I cannot link to on the net! I must borrow this back from my friend David sometime.

In this post I return to the subject of spirituality and drugs. Also see my proposed list of topics for 2010. [Edit: Now woefully out of date]

What do you think? Do psychoactive drugs help bring us closer to g0d/enlightenment? According to this monk, Buddha says no, mmkay? Just say no.

listening to
Kate Bush | The man with the child in his eyes

7 Responses to “Buddha and Drugs”

  1. d said

    Notice the incredible bias the author Bhikkhu Khantipalo has. His negative language reveals little actual knowledge on the subject and possible political motivations underlay the text.

  2. http://dharmafolk.wordpress.com/2008/12/30/dharma-is-bs/ mentions discussions on the 5th precept.

    “Suramerayamajja pamadatthana veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami (BS1). This means, “I undertake the precept to refrain from intoxicating drinks and drugs which cause heedlessness” (BS2). In practice, this means that a little drink and some drugs like caffeine are okay, but only in moderate amounts, and also depending on the situation (BS3).”

  3. santamonicacj said

    Caffeine does not cause ‘heedlessness’ and is not part of the precept. Maybe you could think of it this way; if it impairs your driving it is part of the precept. (My own idea.)

    As for alcohol, I believe the definition of not drinking is “not so much as a dew-drop on a single blade of grass”, so moderate drinking is not allowed (if you take this particular precept).

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  5. AB said

    No substance. Period. That is the way of Buddhism. And you seem such an intelligent man, by the way. Let me ask you this: do you meditate? It’s easy to fob it off as a pseudo-religious activity, but less easy to deny it’s personal benefits once it becomes a practice. The big guy himself said “Don’t believe anything you hear, not even from me – discover it yourself”…. The way we can discover the only meaningful truth in the world, which is our own, is through meditation. So easy to avoid. So hard to give yourself the time to do it. It is the only real relaxation your mind can experience. Never mind the disciples – they always suck. Make the practice your own. If there’s nothing there, then leave it. But do it first. For you. Only for you.

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