Dhammawiki wrote:5. Suramerayamajja pamadatthana veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami
I undertake the precept to refrain from intoxicating drinks and drugs which lead to carelessness.
Hey everyone, this talk is about the fifth precept.
As of recently, the matter of the fifth precept has again come to my closer inspection.
Starting on a basic level, the fifth precept is most commonly referred to when talking about alcohol, too. We all have probably seen or been so drunk and mindless once in life - seen drunk people make very careless decisions, become aggressive and not watching the mind, acting in a way they often regret. From my point of view and experience, there is no debate whether alcohol leads to downfall or to wisdom.
Now, on a more subtle level there are a few things i still don't get about the 5th precept.
For example, i have heard of cases where monks who visit the dentist, don't take anaesthetics. It can be argued, whether anaestethetics that numb the feelin in one's teethnerves are regarded as drugs which lead to carelessness. The matter is not so clear as with drinking alcohol, however, if anaestethetics as a medication could break the fifth precepts, what about other forms of medication? In the US, marihuana is still used a medication for gravely ill persons. I have never taken any marihuana but i read people can get addicted to it, so that's problematic regarding the defilements.
Ketamine for example is a substance that is undergoing quite some research as a potential new antidepressant. And it's sold like a drug on the streets because of its effects to.
Another critical case i've come upon: Just a few decades ago, LSD and Psylocibin were used heavily in psychiatric research and there still is some research going on:
http://www.noetic.org/noetic/issue-fift ... d-of-life/
Apparently, Psylocibin used in the right setting and "the right way" helped people to cope with end-of-life stress, anxiety towards death and depression and suicidal thoughts. That's more then medication we regard as "real" medicine often achieve and those are meant to affect the mind and the mood, too.
Psylocibin also seems to have less physiological long-termin side effects (no physiological addictions or damage, just heightened blood pressure). I can't comment on how "true" the psychological changes are from own experience, but well - just like anasthetics can change perceptions of the body "for the better", it seems reasonable that other things can change the perceptions of the mind "for the better", too.
So. There are cases where the line between an intoxicating drug and medicine is really hard to see for me. From time to time, people with psychological disorders like Depression visit this forum and many people always advise them to undergo treatment and take medication. I advised people to do so, too.
And i feel this is quite a contradiction in its own way: Advising people to take medicine that alters the state of mind, but not advising them to take drugs that alters the state of mind. The concept is different, but the substance and the effect can be the same.
Another option would be to assume that some "drugsubstances" may not be leading to carelessness, but are just comparable to coffee. so where to draw the line really?
There were no Psilocybin, LSD or SSRIs during the time of the Buddha i guess, so how should we deal with it? Play the -just-to-be-safe card and avoid all of it? The anaestehtics at the dentist, the painkillers and narcotics in the hospital, the substances used in psychiatry and the LSD for "spiritual development" ?
I'm interested in your opinion!