SuttaCentral

It’s a hard job, but someone’s got to do it


#1

#2

Any Buddhist monk who participates in this sort of experiments should be forced to disrobe and ask to go back to lay life. This is a direct violation of the fifth precepts.


#3

@Sarath1, one perspective might be that the use of intoxicants leads to unskillful behaviors. There’s nothing per se about some intoxicants that are bad, but their use can lead to bad outcomes. Here, the use is in a controlled environment, and from a scientific viewpoint these tests might lead to treatments for various disorders, or insights into consciousness. I should think any good monk or nun that woudl participate is unlikely to then go and take another life, or commit any other breach of the precepts.

I like to think of the precepts as training rules and not ordinances. The precepts are to be kept because they keep us on the path of skillful and ethical behavior. In a sense, where the precepts are concerned, the “key is in our own pocket.” We further our training by maintaining these precepts; we harm our progress on the path by not being mindful of these precepts. We set a good example for others. They promote the maintenance of the Eightfold Path.

My one thought might from the article might be to compare the experiences of contemplatives using psychedelics with monastics that can cultivate jhanas. I’m guessing the experiences of the subjects might be similar in some ways, and very different in others. It also might be interesting to have someone like Leigh Brasington involved in an experiment using psychedelics, and on a different day, jhanas, and compare the experiences.

At the end of the day, samma samadhi seems good enough of a goal for me. I’ll go with the Buddha’s advice on this one. Yet, I wouldn’t rule out having, under controlled conditions, some experiments to see what psychedelics can cultivate in experienced meditators. And, already great breakthroughs are being made in helping, for example, combat veterans with severe PTSD using DMT with great benefit.


#4

Lighten up, dude. *(BTW, it was a layman who did this. And if a monk did it, it would be a pacittiya offence, clearable by a simple confession.)


#5

Wher does Buddha advise monks to do that sort of experiments?
Any monk involves with this sort of experiments not worth the respect.
This the Ariyapariyessana recommended by Buddha.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.026.than.html


#6

Probably in the same place he told laypeople to judge and condemn (imaginary) monks for minor offences.

But seriously, are you not able to tell the difference between getting drunk for fun—an offence that the Buddha thought deserved to be cleared via a confession—and participating in an experiment in the nature of religious experience?


#7

Well, how about I have a great Saturday night out and make a simple confession tomorrow morning to my wife? Vinaya is a rule for the fool to follow and wise to take decisions.


#8

Drugs wreak havoc on the mind and there would be no control over the arising of thoughts or intentions. Psychedelic mushrooms affect even dreams and using such narcotics can in no way make a person’s mind see ‘things for what they really are’. Are you really saying that monks in the Buddha’s discipline should be doing this ?


#9

#It wasn’t a monk


#10

Sure, the article doesn’t say clearly that the Zen Buddhist was a monk.

I live in a town where mushroom usage is practically an epidemic these days. And I don’t think it amounts to “religious experience” or anything. It’s just another hook, plain and simple.


#11

Of course, I am not saying this.

Unlike Freddie Mercury, I’ve never done anything in a “Belladonnic haze.” Had more than my share of pints while a student in Ireland, but that’s another story for another day. I’m unsure whether there are benefits to the use of psychedleics in a controlled setting to determine what altered states of consciousness might be achieved. The science of this is an interesting area, to me.

Even if a monk that I respected wanted to venture into the science of this, and cultivate an experience with a psychedelic in a controlled setting, and compare that with jhanas, I’d be interested in the perspective. I wouldn’t lose respect for that monk, in any case, so long as the monk did nothing deserving of disrespect. On a limited and controlled basis, I’d not be too troubled by this.

I enjoy seeing respected monks like Matthieu Ricard particpate in neuroscience experiments. I trust that he lives a very strict and ethical life, and welcome his forays into neuroscience. I am troubled with the way we view monastics sometimes; of course, we want them to keep Vinaya, and to be good and honorable people. Yet, we put such a burden on monastics when we place them up on pedestals , and expect them to be superhuman. As Bhante poined out in the Vinaya, there is room and grace in the Vinaya for error, and for confession. We needn’t be calling for disrobing, or tarring and feathering, when issues like the original post arise.


#12

There are no bhikkhus in Zen Buddhism.

Really? I never knew that it was so popular. I always thought mushrooms were somewhat rare, so it was more of an occasional thing. May I ask, where is this? And how did the usage become so popular—they must be cultivating them, I guess?


#13

Ok. :slight_smile:

Kodaikanal.

They grow naturally in the jungle, but apparently, organized cultivation is also being done now…


#14

Glad to see the experiment of using the Watercooler for its actual purpose (“informal, relaxed, light-hearted exchange”) is going so well! :laughing:

I might have to start handing out happy-pills at the front door to see if that will work, or y’know, folks could try lightening up.


#15

Well, it is a sad thing to hear.

In Australia, when I was young we knew of a couple of varieties of magic mushrooms. They were around, and you could find them in the fields, but there was never a big supply. I took a few once, but there was so little that I felt no effect.

I hope the people of your town can find some peace and solace free of such toxic chemicals.


#16

I have a hard time maintaining focus on ‘reality’ as it is, so things that make my mind even more foggy (despite psychedelic and trippy experiences) are just worsening things - in my opinion, anyway.

And Kokaikanal is part of the ‘Hummus trail’ :


#17

Well, how can a state of the mind attained using drugs be compared with jhana ? The tranquility and absorption of a person who has cleared away all the hindrances is not dependant on external factors. On the other hand, withdrawal from a drug-induced high will make the mind crash card, since deep-rooted pollutants are still present in the mind. I don’t see how this comparison can be done…


#18

Well, and I say this respectfully, you’ve just offered a comparison. I’d just be OK with reading of a comparison of deeper jhanas with the experience with a psychoactive drug that might operate along the same brain areas as the jhanas. Here’s an article I just found: http://www.nspb.net/index.php/nspb/article/viewFile/260/155 I haven’t read it because I am lazy tonight and these kinds of articles with big words and graphs make my head spin. I’m going to save this to read another day, but you get my point. I think there could be a neuroscience intersection between jhana absorption and the altered brain states from some psychedelics.

You might be right that there is no comparison. I certainly don’t endorse the use of nonprescribed drugs. I’m very mindful of the destruction to life and loss of property brought on by drug use. I value the practice of cultivating samadhi, and I don’t value the idea of people playing with psychedelics. I don’t mean to place jhanas, and the expereinces with psychedlics, on the same ethical or value plane.

From the article:

What patterns in the neurological substrate accompany the jhanas? Systematic alteration of conscious experience entails, after all, systematic alteration of the brain basis of consciousness. Although a 2500-year-old living tradition of Buddhist scholarship has produced highly sophisticated descriptive schemata of conscious experiences, and meditative practices for inducing them, cognitive neuroscientists have only recently begun investigating meditative absorption. The literature is, however, promising.

Suggested neural mechanism for generation of upacaara

How cool is that?


#19

I am not sure. Virtue and right view is the basis for the blissful absorption experienced in dhyana and they are absent in drug-induced mental states.

But, anyway, I see that I have fallen into the trap of posturing from a moral high-ground and I can’t say that I have any in my life, so I’ll bow out. :slight_smile:


#20

Well, @Sujith, we’ve had a good discussion among us kalyana mitta, and you’ve said much positive in the defense of the Dhamma, with obvious respect for the Buddha. That’s pretty solid moral ground in your life, I’d say. :slight_smile: With Metta.