Meditation and drugs

Discussion of meditation in the Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions.

Meditation and drugs

Postby Jox » Thu Sep 19, 2013 7:04 pm

Hi all,

some of the most famous meditation masters in the West: Meazumi Roshi, Cogyam Trumpa, and others, became alcoholic and actually died from it.

On the other side a lots of Western teacher were suffering from alcohol, or other drug abuse, and that got them to practice.

Some had strong revelations on psychedelic journeys and that led to practice.

I see a lots of students who try to combat addiction with meditation.

Is anybody making any connections with substance abuse and meditation?

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Re: Meditation and drugs

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Thu Sep 19, 2013 8:26 pm

Well, i'd think that any kind of suffering, all kinds of suffering can drive people to practice, I know that's what motivated me initially.
"We're chained to the world and we all gotta pull" -Tom Waits
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Re: Meditation and drugs

Postby padma norbu » Thu Sep 19, 2013 9:25 pm

Jox wrote:Is anybody making any connections with substance abuse and meditation?
Jox


Hi Jox, I am not sure what this question means. I have never taken a vow to not drink alcohol, but I am aware of the fifth precept and the reason for it including the circumstances surrounding its original creation. If the Buddha's life was a display, then I suppose we can assume the circumstances surrounding the creation of the fifth precept was a display also. I mean, the Buddha had to know intoxicants were a bad idea before some monks got wasted and exhibited bad behavior, right? I suppose he let it happen and then used those circumstances as an example to demonstrate the need for the fifth precept.

Over the years, I have gone from probably a raging alcoholic unawares to a very mild and semi-rare casual drinker. I occasionally do mess up and get drunk when I don't mean to and every time I see just how easy it was to go over that edge. If I make sure to only drink 2 drinks that never happens. When I have found myself in a long-term setting of several hours where people are basically stuck together and expected to eat and drink and socialize for 6 hours or more, it becomes more difficult to not get drunk, especially if I am spending the night and it would look antisocial for me to go to bed at 9 when everyone else is whooping it up til 1am.

Anyway, what I have found is that the more I fall in love with buddhist practices, the less I desire alcohol and any mistaken drunknesses I ever make just send me sailing toward the dharma stronger than ever when I wake up the next day. If you're paying attention to your mind, it becomes very clear just how undesirable drunkenness really is. It's funny to think that I used to love drinking and now I practically hate it. I used to definitely need it to socialize and now I try not to drink too quickly if in a social situation because I know how easily it can turn me into an idiot. I definitely don't need booze to relax and talk to people anymore. Not sure if that's just part of getting older, part of paying attention to my own mind or part of just thinking about alcohol enough through direct, personal experience (karma?), but that's the situation I find myself in these days. Drinking is a waste of time with many negative consequences.
"Use what seems like poison as medicine. We can use our personal suffering as the path to compassion for all beings." Pema Chodron
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Re: Meditation and drugs

Postby shaunc » Fri Sep 20, 2013 11:09 am

Some people believe that alcoholism/ drug addiction is primarily a spiritual affliction. It's supposedly why strong liquor (eg: rum, whiskey, vodka) is referred to as spirits. Many years ago I drank too much (alcoholism) however with the help of AA & the triple jewel, I haven't had a drink since 1988 (25 years). The greatest asset yet also the greatest curse of this disease is that I got to understand the 1st noble truth real good.
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Re: Meditation and drugs

Postby padma norbu » Fri Sep 20, 2013 8:47 pm

shaunc wrote:Some people believe that alcoholism/ drug addiction is primarily a spiritual affliction. It's supposedly why strong liquor (eg: rum, whiskey, vodka) is referred to as spirits. Many years ago I drank too much (alcoholism) however with the help of AA & the triple jewel, I haven't had a drink since 1988 (25 years). The greatest asset yet also the greatest curse of this disease is that I got to understand the 1st noble truth real good.


I was reading something about intoxicants pertaining to the fifth precept the other day after posting to this thread and the article was pointing out that this really refers to anything that is distracting to the point of "intoxication" where one's obsession overrides clear thinking. I think the examples mentioned were video games, sex and sweets.

However, this morning I saw this being shared and Louis CK really explains that 1st Noble Truth really good while using the example of a cell phone as an intoxicant:

"Use what seems like poison as medicine. We can use our personal suffering as the path to compassion for all beings." Pema Chodron
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Re: Meditation and drugs

Postby avisitor » Sat Sep 21, 2013 1:16 am

Meditation is sometimes used as a cure all ... a panacea of ills.

The truth is that meditation and drugs don't mix.
If one was using drugs or drink alcohol then decides to use meditation .. (shrugs shoulders)
It really doesn't make meditation a gateway device for drug and alcohol abuse. (or vicesa versa).
There is no relationship other than the one people want to perceive.
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Re: Meditation and drugs

Postby Jox » Wed Sep 25, 2013 8:48 pm

Thank you for your responses,

especially shaunc, it is inspiring.

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Re: Meditation and drugs

Postby wisdom » Wed Sep 25, 2013 10:36 pm

avisitor wrote:Meditation is sometimes used as a cure all ... a panacea of ills.

The truth is that meditation and drugs don't mix.
If one was using drugs or drink alcohol then decides to use meditation .. (shrugs shoulders)
It really doesn't make meditation a gateway device for drug and alcohol abuse. (or vicesa versa).
There is no relationship other than the one people want to perceive.


The meditation which is a universal panacea can be done under any state of mind whatsoever because it has no limitations. However, the most skillful approach for most individuals is to not mix meditation with drugs, but it is not a universal truth of any kind.
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Re: Meditation and drugs

Postby avisitor » Thu Sep 26, 2013 1:17 am

wisdom wrote:
avisitor wrote:Meditation is sometimes used as a cure all ... a panacea of ills.

The truth is that meditation and drugs don't mix.
If one was using drugs or drink alcohol then decides to use meditation .. (shrugs shoulders)
It really doesn't make meditation a gateway device for drug and alcohol abuse. (or vicesa versa).
There is no relationship other than the one people want to perceive.


The meditation which is a universal panacea can be done under any state of mind whatsoever because it has no limitations. However, the most skillful approach for most individuals is to not mix meditation with drugs, but it is not a universal truth of any kind.


Meditation can only be done with a proper mind set. Not any state of mind will do.
For example, a psychotic state of mind will not focus and will engage all manner of thoughts as real whether it is or not.
No calming of mind, no concentration, no benefit.
An example of a drug not working well with meditation is heroin. The state of mind induced by the drug is one of stupor and mental weakness.
No benefit will come from practice under those conditions ... if practice is even possible.
Meditation does have limit because it is an expedient method given to those who have the chance to benefit from its practice.
It isn't a cure all. In the simplest of stages, it is a method of feedback to help produce a state of calm, equanimity, mindfulness, awareness.
One can't use the feedback system if the proper mind set is not there to start with.

Some may point out that a paranoid state of mind can be coaxed into meditation.
Well, the mind must be brought into a more calm and natural state become meditation practice can occur.
A person must be talked down and brought to a state of mind where it can begin the process.
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Re: Meditation and drugs

Postby disjointed » Sat Sep 28, 2013 1:42 am

People who have experienced intense states of deprivation are inclined to put an end to them.
There's something about having your prospects in worldly life torn to shreds by craving that makes you ready to turn against it.

I see you use the term meditation master loosely.
If there is a radical inconsistency between your statements and the position you claim to hold,
you are a sock puppet.
Make as many accounts as you want; people can identify your deception with this test.
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Re: Meditation and drugs

Postby avisitor » Sun Sep 29, 2013 12:32 pm

Some people actually have gone through deprivation .. asceticism.
It is their goal that make them go through deprivation therefore they do not seek the end but an answer.
As in anything, it is the mind set that determines whether something is good or bad (generally ... not always).

Not too sure what you are trying to say???
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Re: Meditation and drugs

Postby ClearblueSky » Thu Oct 03, 2013 8:50 am

I'm not sure what your exact question is, but I do see how meditation and substance abuse could connect on some levels. When looking at Buddhists as a whole, I would say the instance of substance abuse is probably smaller than the average population due to the teachings and precepts, but I do see how the same people who pursue spiritual practice could be more prone to addiction, or substance abuse at least at some point in their lives. Buddhists tend to be the more deep, introspective, sensitive people, who also have an eye for seeing suffering in the world, and there really does seem to be a correlation between that type of personality and substance abuse. It's why through history you tend to see so many artists and thinkers that also lean towards substance use and depression. It actually makes sense to me that teachers and practitioners could often fall into that struggle. I think it's for this reason that it's advised to stay away from getting too intoxicated. Not because it's such a sin in itself, but because we have enough difficulty as it is seeing the world for what it is, adding more confusion tends to make it tougher.
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Re: Meditation and drugs

Postby Ayu » Thu Oct 03, 2013 2:31 pm

On my way from being a drug adict (THC, LSD, Alcohol) on to being a sadhaka, i had a short intermediate state of abusing drugs while experimenting with meditation.
I freaked out and took my refuge in a mental hospital...
So i learned, the combination meditation & drugs is very dangerous. It is nothing for sensitive people. Maybe if someone mentally has an iron constitution, he can do so.
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Re: Meditation and drugs

Postby avisitor » Thu Oct 03, 2013 3:07 pm

Meditation is training the self to practice awareness.
Generally, drugs derail this training.
Some may feel they need a positive experience of something beyond themselves to find inspiration to ...
And therefore, they seek drugs.
But, for the most part, drugs don't help clear a person's awareness nor readies them for awakening.
It just becomes another trap.
So the general advice for any person on the eightfold path is to stay away from such indulgences.
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Re: Meditation and drugs

Postby smcj » Thu Oct 03, 2013 6:26 pm

You can use a 12 step interpretation to Ngon-Dro. Renunciation is the first step (4 thoughts that turn the mind). Prostrations the second. Refuge is the third step. Vajrasattva covers the equivalent as steps 4-9, etc. You can even call the rest of Buddhadharma your 11th step. It works!
:bow:
A human being has his limits. And thus, in every conceivable way, with every possible means, he tries to make the teaching enter into his own limits. ChNN
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Re: Meditation and drugs

Postby avisitor » Thu Oct 03, 2013 9:54 pm

smcj wrote:You can use a 12 step interpretation to Ngon-Dro. Renunciation is the first step (4 thoughts that turn the mind). Prostrations the second. Refuge is the third step. Vajrasattva covers the equivalent as steps 4-9, etc. You can even call the rest of Buddhadharma your 11th step. It works!
:bow:


I am assuming that you are giving advice on how to give up drugs??
Or is it advice on how to meditate??
Sorry, I get confused easy when I don't get enough sleep.
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Re: Meditation and drugs

Postby smcj » Thu Oct 03, 2013 11:27 pm

avisitor wrote:
smcj wrote:You can use a 12 step interpretation to Ngon-Dro. Renunciation is the first step (4 thoughts that turn the mind). Prostrations the second. Refuge is the third step. Vajrasattva covers the equivalent as steps 4-9, etc. You can even call the rest of Buddhadharma your 11th step. It works!
:bow:


I am assuming that you are giving advice on how to give up drugs??
Or is it advice on how to meditate??
Sorry, I get confused easy when I don't get enough sleep.

For me it was both at the same time. 12 step programs are generic spirituality, offered as a solution to a specific scenario of spiritual crisis. My karma was such that my lama allowed me to use it, more or less like a LamRim. Ymmv.
A human being has his limits. And thus, in every conceivable way, with every possible means, he tries to make the teaching enter into his own limits. ChNN
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