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To what extend do you view drugs as leading to productive spiritual evolution as opposed to more traditional practices of introspection, meditation, and other "eastern" methods?
I have been reading a lot of Terence McKenna lately and he claims that plant hallucinogens are key to a modern spiritual transformation. With respect to more traditional methods he has this to say:
"I spent time in India and I always visited the local sadhus of great reputation. I met many people who possessed what I call wise-old-man wisdom, but wise-old-man wisdom is a kind of Tao of how to live. It has nothing to say about the dimensions that the psychedelics reveal. For that you have to go places where hallucinogenic shamanism is practiced, specifically the Amazon Basin, and there you discover that beyond the wisdom of simply how to live in ordinary reality there is a gnosis of how to navigate extraordinary reality."
He makes a clear distinction between the worlds accessed through meditation and the worlds accessed through psychedelics. Do you see these worlds as the same, different, or complementary?
I tend to view psychedelics as a tool, a catalyst. There is nothing you can accomplish through drugs that you can't do without them, but if used properly drugs can certainly help along the process. Obviously a mind that is incapable or unready to experience enlightenment will get nothing more from tripping than a fun time with cool visuals. But a willing and able mind can get so much more out of a trip than an equivalent amount of time and effort sober. I think psychedelics have become a lot more popular in recent decades (as opposed to the complete lack of them in western culture for the last several thousand years) as a sort of preparation. Its like someone is saying "these people are moving too slowly, lets give them some drugs and see if that can make things go a little faster." I would argue that there are a lot more spiritually awakened people today than, say, in the 1940's or 50's. Probably all of them exist as they do in some way or another because of the psychedelic drug movement. Personally, I was never a particularly spiritual person until I started tripping, as it sort of awakened something in me so to speak. So I guess what I'm saying is that psychedelics can be used toward spiritual growth (and there is nothing wrong with doing so), but it is not, strictly speaking, necessary. Anyone agree/disagree? Related thoughts?
I think drug use in spiritual evolution is very similiar to a short cut when driving. The old and slow time tested methods of meditation will get you where you need to go every time as long as you don't give up. Drugs are like a shortcut. For some people they work great, and for others... well, they end up getting lost.
I think drugs get their bad reputation when people use them to escape rather than for spiritual enlightenment. It is also easy to start using drugs to explore the "spirit world", but to lose ones way and get hooked on the escape. Once lost, the user continues to justify their use for spiritual enlightenment.
Drugs are also persecuted by established churches for the most part. If you can use a drug to gain enlightenment, then why bother going to the church anymore.
Typing from personal experience, I used to be 100% agnostic/atheist. No heaven, no hell, no afterlife, no beforelife, no spirit, no ghosts, no god, no budda, no angels, no nadda. We are all bags of chemicals left over from the big bang just waiting for entropy to take its toll. If there was a God and he wanted me to accept his existance, then he needed to come down here and whack me over the head... until that happened I was going to remain a nonbeliever.
... and then one afternoon while tripping on a hallucinogenic plant when "" came down and whacked me over the head with a stick larger than reality. I now know what a cannon ball must feel like. All those Zen books that my flatmate owned, which up until this point had read like a bunch of mubojumbo, all the sudden started making sense... well, maybe about 60% of it started to make sense. I doubt that I would have ever opened my mind to see the world around me without the use of that plant.
I now tend to follow more eastern thoughts and practices. I don't know that plant hallucinogens are the key to modern spiritual transformation, but in my case they did the trick. In the old days people seeking truth were supported by the communities... a wondering monk would always be given a meal and a place to sleep for the night. These days you are more likely to be shot. Drugs surplanting the communitity... an interesting though...
-------------------- Just another spore in the wind.