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Intoxication and Religious Experience

 
 
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Wed 23 Sep, 2009 03:23 am
@Didymos Thomas,
Thank you and I am glad we have that in common. As for the 'h' word, I still can't think of many other synonymns for whatever that was, but the word doesn't seem either polluted or ironic to me. Maybe because that was my first experience of it, and so that became the basis of my definition. But I am a bit baffled by the end of what you wrote. I guess my understanding is, it is not 'existence' that is pure - this is something I have come to realise in the years subsequently. Existence is what we are entangled in. Actually, come to think of it, existence is a pretty good synonym for samsara, and reality for nirvana. Ultimately, these two are not different, but while we are still unconsciously bound to existence, they are worlds apart. "A split hair's difference, and heaven and earth are torn asunder" - that is a zen poem I remember.

But I don't want to over-complicate it - we both agree there was 'something' understood there which was rare and important.

---------- Post added 09-23-2009 at 09:15 PM ----------

Krumple;92922 wrote:
If life is so pure, if existence is so pure, why is conflict of existence so rampant? It seems rather absurd, like a piece of fruit that looks so appealing and has the sweetest and greatest taste, is nothing but poisonous.


Actually on further reflection, this is a very important question. I am interested in discussing that further.
Krumple
 
  1  
Reply Wed 23 Sep, 2009 05:16 am
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;92929 wrote:
But I am a bit baffled by the end of what you wrote. I guess my understanding is, it is not 'existence' that is pure - this is something I have come to realise in the years subsequently. Existence is what we are entangled in.


That is what I meant. Existence is beautiful and appealing like the pleasant appearance of a fruit. It becomes very easy to get entagled and attached to existence. But all the while this existence is what causes all our problems, all our suffering, all our ignorance and that is why I say the fruit is poison. It has the potential to be sweet and fulfilling and quench all hunger but it ultimately ends in suffering.
Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Wed 23 Sep, 2009 08:15 am
@Krumple,
jeeprs;92909 wrote:
But there is another stage appropriately called Clear Light.


Sounds like someone read Leary's manual....

jeeprs;92909 wrote:
And I realised then you couldn't stay in this state artificially. You always would come down and back into the normal mundane existence.


While the use of psychedelics certainly proves that there is to reality than one can tell in any normal mental state, I am skeptical that these intoxicated states are the same as the "Clear Light" of the Bardol Thodol.

jeeprs;92909 wrote:
But I still believe the entheogen experience is real. And maybe that is the reason for the stigma attached to them. It is normality protecting itself. They really did make me realise that the reality of many lives is basically habit and convention. Conventional existence really does have shallow roots, and I think there is a deep realisation of that which we are not allowed to acknowledge. A lot of what goes on in the world is built on that denial.


Quite real experiences - and for that reason, these drugs may be useful for those who reject out of hand the possibility of transcendent experience. I just do not see how an intoxicant of any kind can be the same as, let us say, true transcendent experience - one had through rigorous and devoted spiritual practice.

I'm familiar with the various stages of psychedelic experience, but even what you call "Clear Light" seems to be something apart from the sober experience thereof. With psychedelics, there remains an immense degree of mental instability, which does not seem to be normal for sober transcendence.

jeeprs;92909 wrote:
So I guess when it comes to 'sacred intoxicants', and subject to the above caveats, I have to vote 'Aye'.


Eh, even though I am a fan of these various drugs as recreational pleasures, I don't see the need for mescaline or LSD or anything like that to show someone that there is something more to reality - if the person has never tried marijuana, get them super stoned and they will understand that there is more. No need for the heavy stuff. Besides, the heavy stuff can be pretty dangerous.
0 Replies
 
salima
 
  1  
Reply Wed 23 Sep, 2009 08:51 am
@Didymos Thomas,
I also had this experience, though only once-but I did it without any drugs. and I do believe it is the same thing. the difference lies in the mental stability of the person who has them, not the way they got there. I also think that is why some people realize that the experience is only the key to the treasurehouse-once you are there, you dont need the key any more. the ones who keep going and ultimately self-destruct got a glimpse of the truth before they were able to assimilate it. that is why all the spiritual traditions have warnings not to go too fast too soon.

I also would say that the high state of ecstasy isnt meant to be maintained-if it did, no one would be able to function in the world at the same time-well, maybe there were rare cases of people who did, but barely. they wouldnt have thought to eat or wear clothes or look both ways, etc...so I think the point of enlightenment would be to know what is the actual reality, and that this world is not all there is. it leaves one freer to enjoy it and somehow wanting to choose to make it meaningful yet not mandatory...hard to explain.

because think about it-if the state of bliss was so great, why would anyone come back from it? surely some people never did, the ones we never hear about. but what about people who must surely have reached it, such as buddha, they must have seen something of value in this state of 'existence' as opposed to the non-existence of bliss. so as krumple said, yes it is poisonous-but only if you dont realize it is only a manifestation of something ... something else.

the other thing I remember about that little trip, is that for me, at the time 26 years old and having spent most of my life wishing I was dead (not because of any circumstances, just an aching, crippling hopelessness and despair) I knew then that I would go back to the beginning and live my whole life all over again and endure the same suffering just for the sake of having that experience. somehow nothing ever looked that bad to me again afterwards.

so that is why I would also not discourage anyone from trying anything to reach it. I know the traditional paths are the safest, but they take long and are hard work...some people need that instant gratification and a little money upfront before they are willing to put any into the game.
0 Replies
 
Pangloss
 
  1  
Reply Wed 23 Sep, 2009 10:06 am
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;92909 wrote:
At this point I was completely taken by the realisation that everything in life was holy, life itself was holy, there was nothing lacking, nothing to be gained, nothing the matter anywhere. This manifested as being spellbound by nature - saplings, moss-covered boulders and the like (doesn't sound much when you write it....) Particular objects would seem to be extremely beautiful - for the first time, I really saw how beautiful nature was, it was like an artwork, very much like what Huxley wrote in Doors of Perception. It was also realisation of what a uniquely amazing thing it is to be a human. In fact it was a taste of self-realisation, of that I have no doubt.


Yes. But Huxley also wrote, "Heaven and Hell", about the reality of the two different sides of the psychedelic experience. I agree that these can be useful to sort of 'open a door' in your mind, if you are brave enough to explore, but there is both good and bad to be found.

Certain psychedelics, such as LSD, seem to bring out this experience much more, where everything is roses and hunky dory. But things like mushrooms or peyote give a more 'balanced' outlook. I'm hesitant to call the psychedelic experience the 'clear light', because objectivity is often lost, and as one Buddhist monk wrote of the experience, 'you can mistake delusions for wisdom'.
Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Wed 23 Sep, 2009 10:21 am
@Pangloss,
Salima - if you "did it without drugs" and have never tried the drugs at least for comparison, how can you determine that they are the same? I have 'gone a lot further' on drugs than sober, but every step I take sober is markedly different from the corresponding intoxicated stumble. It's difficult to explain, and mental stability only approaches the truth of the matter.

This notion seems especially strange because you say the differences between intoxicated transcendence and sober experience have to do with how one "gets there". The intoxicated person gets there through ingesting a drug - the sober person gets there through dedicated and rigorous practice.

Despite these criticisms, I am very happy for your explanation of the "troublehouse" - the accuracy of which tempers my initial inclination to voice my initial two questions with a great vehemence. Seriously - I have seen it among drug users personally and this same condition may very well apply to many noted artists. And then I think of those Western mystics and pseudo-mystics who experienced early illumination as a painful process....

But despite this new found optimism, I am immediately worried again..."some people need that instant gratification and a little money upfront before they are willing to put any into the game" - the second and by far longest quote of your post thus far. What's worse is that you are right - people are so distracted today that they would rather spend time watching... eh, whatever it is that people watch on television... they'd rather fritter away than attempt something at least possibly productive. And so I worry that the drugs help facilitate this sad culture of seeking.

Thanks again for the deeply personal and resonant post. It is, in my book, an instant forum classic.
Krumple
 
  1  
Reply Wed 23 Sep, 2009 10:53 am
@Didymos Thomas,
I know this is off topic but I just HAD to mention this as well. I really like salima's quote too:

Quote:
some people need that instant gratification and a little money upfront before they are willing to put any into the game
0 Replies
 
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Wed 23 Sep, 2009 03:15 pm
@Krumple,
Krumple;92935 wrote:
That is what I meant. Existence is beautiful and appealing like the pleasant appearance of a fruit. It becomes very easy to get entagled and attached to existence. But all the while this existence is what causes all our problems, all our suffering, all our ignorance and that is why I say the fruit is poison. It has the potential to be sweet and fulfilling and quench all hunger but it ultimately ends in suffering.


But surely this is the point of the First Noble Truth: existence is dukkha, suffering. But the second shows that the cause of suffering is clinging, the third, that by ceasing from clinging, suffering can cease, and the fourth, the way to the cessation of suffering. So it is not existence that is the cause of suffering, it is craving.
Krumple
 
  1  
Reply Wed 23 Sep, 2009 03:18 pm
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;93098 wrote:
But surely this is the point of the First Noble Truth: existence is dukkha, suffering. But the second shows that the cause of suffering is clinging, the third, that by ceasing from clinging, suffering can cease, and the fourth, the way to the cessation of suffering. So it is not existence that is the cause of suffering, it is craving.


yes but even if you craved nothing, you would still find suffering, in some form or another.
0 Replies
 
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Wed 23 Sep, 2009 03:31 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
It is easy to say that, but it may not be so simple. I mean, one is rarely in a position to verify it. The term translated as 'craving' signifies something deeper than just hanging out for something. And the Buddha's teaching in many places is that he teaches only the cause of suffering, and the ending of suffering - from experience I am able to attest that there is truth in it.
Krumple
 
  1  
Reply Wed 23 Sep, 2009 03:33 pm
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;93103 wrote:
It is easy to say that, but it may not be so simple. I mean, one is rarely in a position to verify it. The term translated as 'craving' signifies something deeper than just hanging out for something. And the Buddha's teaching in many places is that he teaches only the cause of suffering, and the ending of suffering - from experience I am able to attest that there is truth in it.


You really think as the Buddha is laying down for the last time, he has absolutely no hang up about leaving behind his followers, knowing full well that many of them will have countless questions after he is gone. I'm sure that is even suffering for an awakened one. How can it not?
0 Replies
 
Pangloss
 
  1  
Reply Wed 23 Sep, 2009 03:38 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Dukkha does not simply mean 'suffering', but includes things like dissatisfaction, impermanence, etc. It also includes things like happiness, joy.

The Buddha said, "Whatever is impermanent is dukkha"
salima
 
  1  
Reply Wed 23 Sep, 2009 07:23 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas;93020 wrote:
Salima - if you "did it without drugs" and have never tried the drugs at least for comparison, how can you determine that they are the same? I have 'gone a lot further' on drugs than sober, but every step I take sober is markedly different from the corresponding intoxicated stumble. It's difficult to explain, and mental stability only approaches the truth of the matter.

This notion seems especially strange because you say the differences between intoxicated transcendence and sober experience have to do with how one "gets there". The intoxicated person gets there through ingesting a drug - the sober person gets there through dedicated and rigorous practice.

Despite these criticisms, I am very happy for your explanation of the "troublehouse" - the accuracy of which tempers my initial inclination to voice my initial two questions with a great vehemence. Seriously - I have seen it among drug users personally and this same condition may very well apply to many noted artists. And then I think of those Western mystics and pseudo-mystics who experienced early illumination as a painful process....

But despite this new found optimism, I am immediately worried again..."some people need that instant gratification and a little money upfront before they are willing to put any into the game" - the second and by far longest quote of your post thus far. What's worse is that you are right - people are so distracted today that they would rather spend time watching... eh, whatever it is that people watch on television... they'd rather fritter away than attempt something at least possibly productive. And so I worry that the drugs help facilitate this sad culture of seeking.

Thanks again for the deeply personal and resonant post. It is, in my book, an instant forum classic.


thanks for the comment!
I think I was not quite clear in my post.

what I meant was that the experience I had as a result of I dont know what (grace?) was the same as that many people have had through meditation or drugs or near death experiences. drugs and traditional spiritual paths are certainly not the same!!!

and again, in your second paragraph what I was trying to convey was that the difference in the quality of the experience between some people, if it is indeed a transcendent experience rather than a drug induced meaningless hallucination, is due to the mental state of the person at that stage of his evolution, and perhaps somewhat dependent on his emotional state at the time of the experience itself. so I was saying the way we actually reach that experience is less differentiating than many other factors.

but when I say that some people want the upfront money, I dont mean that is necessarily a bad thing. if that is what it takes, then why should they not take the chance and follow that route? at least they have hope of getting somewhere. there are so many people that nothing at all would convince.


good ole omar says it thusly in the rubaiyat:
And this I know: whether the one True Light
Kindle to Love, or Wrath-consume me quite,
One Flash of It within the Tavern caught
Better than in the Temple lost outright.
0 Replies
 
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Wed 23 Sep, 2009 09:47 pm
@Pangloss,
Pangloss;93107 wrote:
Dukkha does not simply mean 'suffering', but includes things like dissatisfaction, impermanence, etc. It also includes things like happiness, joy.

The Buddha said, "Whatever is impermanent is dukkha"


Quite true. But he also taught that there is an ending to dukkha. We are discussing why life or existence seems like a poisoned fruit, I am suggesting that the Buddhist understanding is because of clinging.

Beautiful verse, Salima :bigsmile:
salima
 
  1  
Reply Thu 24 Sep, 2009 01:57 am
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;93221 wrote:
Quite true. But he also taught that there is an ending to dukkha. We are discussing why life or existence seems like a poisoned fruit, I am suggesting that the Buddhist understanding is because of clinging.

Beautiful verse, Salima :bigsmile:


i think it was ramana maharshi whose followers convinced him to stay awhile longer-he was seriously ill, and they didnt want to let him go. he used to take on the illnesses of people he cured i believe, it was said.

spiritual leaders would have compassion for their followers, which i gather was the major impretus in their being in the world at all, rather than clinging to life for its own sake.

again, i have also read that no matter how enlightened a person becomes, they are still to a certain extent affected by the bodily processes, which include a sense of survival, and they will perceive a fear of death while knowing that it is temporal and of no importance.
0 Replies
 
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Thu 24 Sep, 2009 02:36 am
@Didymos Thomas,
Ramana did indeed die of a very painful carcinoma on the arm. He bore the suffering unflinchingly.

According to legend, the Buddha was injured by an attack by his jealous cousin, Devadatta who had attempted to injure or kill the Buddha by triggering a rockslide. It resulted an injury to the Buddha's foot.

I have always found the humanity of these stories rather affecting. Quite the polar opposite of many legends.
0 Replies
 
Pangloss
 
  1  
Reply Thu 24 Sep, 2009 09:27 am
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;93221 wrote:
We are discussing why life or existence seems like a poisoned fruit, I am suggesting that the Buddhist understanding is because of clinging.


Well, it's because life is dukkha. The cause of dukkha can be clinging, attachment, desire, ignorance. These things all arise together, as was taught in the idea of 'conditioned genesis'.
0 Replies
 
Khethil
 
  1  
Reply Fri 25 Sep, 2009 07:18 am
@Didymos Thomas,
... my two cents.

I'm not sure that chemically induced brain malfunctions ought to be called spiritual or religious. At least not as I understand the two - I've always been at a loss to understand how the two relate; so I've been reading along on the sidelines here.

The only connection I think I can see is that sensation of awe, emotional swell or mental frenzy which might be interpreted so. I am, admittedly, not experienced in this area.

Thanks
salima
 
  1  
Reply Fri 25 Sep, 2009 08:35 am
@Khethil,
Khethil;93494 wrote:
... my two cents.

I'm not sure that chemically induced brain malfunctions ought to be called spiritual or religious. At least not as I understand the two - I've always been at a loss to understand how the two relate; so I've been reading along on the sidelines here.

The only connection I think I can see is that sensation of awe, emotional swell or mental frenzy which might be interpreted so. I am, admittedly, not experienced in this area.

Thanks


so if a person is meditating and has a particular experience (one name for it being samadhi) and another person has taken drugs and has what when compared between the two people seems to be identical-havent they both had the same experience? that is all i am saying...i am not labeling the experience as being spiritual or religious. it is more of a change in perception i would say...

so to go on from there, why would i encourage someone to seek this experience (who is already seeking it)? because of the effect it had on me personally as far as my outlook on life and my ability to face it and understand it and relate to my social setting and environment. so far i am not aware of anyone having such an experience and after that finding it to have had detrimental effects of any kind on their mental state or physical and social well being.
Krumple
 
  1  
Reply Fri 25 Sep, 2009 12:15 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
What is a spiritual experience if not an intoxication of the soul?

ha ha, has anyone ever said that? If not, can I have the credit?
 

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