Pharmacological Aids to Enlightenment

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths. What can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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DAWN
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Re: Pharmacological Aids to Enlightenment

Post by DAWN » Fri Sep 07, 2012 5:24 am

In France there is some exemples of overdose by this kind of "intelectual" medicaments. They was hospitalised etc.
Why there is overdose? Becose like all drugs, when you start, you have direct and fast results, but after, organism becomes accustomed, and so he need more and more to fill a result; but when you take 20 tablets, you dont go in college, but in hospital, with prying that you will not die today...

In France such medicaments are prohibited, so studets cross all country to go in Belgium or Amsterdam etc...

If it's not drug addiction, i dont know what is drug addiction.
Sabbe dhamma anatta
We are not concurents...
I'am sorry for my english

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Ben
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Re: Pharmacological Aids to Enlightenment

Post by Ben » Fri Sep 07, 2012 5:52 am

Viscid wrote:
Ben wrote: I think if you are seeking an exotic experience then perhaps the Dhamma isn't for you (or for you yet).
Wishing you all the best,
This seems sort of addressed to me so: I am not taking any drugs myself, nor advocating their use for spiritual gain.
Not to you or anyone specifically. But sometimes we do have people here who are seeking some sort of exotic sensory experience whether it be drug mediated or not.
kind regards,

Ben
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Alobha
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Re: Pharmacological Aids to Enlightenment

Post by Alobha » Fri Sep 07, 2012 9:22 am

Viscid wrote: The qualities which these drugs promote, such as concentration and energy, also happen to be Factors to Enlightenment. So my question is this: If a drug existed that was cheap, had no side effects, and it promoted wholesome factors to enlightenment you may not have otherwise been able to develop, would you take such a drug? If not, why not?
Just so that you know: Yes there is harm in these drugs.
Six percent of children who took Ritalin for 1 3/4 years in a study developed psychoses.
(Cherland E. & Fitzpatrick R. Psychotic side effects of psychostimulants: a 5-year review. Can. J. Psychiatry 1999 Oct; 44(8):811-3).
This drug is in good use for people who have ADHD because it's a dopamine reuptake inhibitor and people who suffer from ADHD produce too much dopamine.
Now the brain of a healthy person is usually already optimally calibrated in this sense. People who take Ritaline with a healthy brain commonly loose their affect and don't learn affect-control properly.

Of course other side effects are just unknown. Some of these drugs may help the braincells to deteriorate faster with you ending up getting Alzheimers 30 years earlier.

Apart from that, all the current drugs that promise to enhance cognitive abilities just increase wakefulness - much like coffee or an energy drink. Plus the psychological side is, that people don't actually show enhanced cognitive abilities, but they rate themselves as more convinced of their own abilities after taking those drugs. People don't get better, but they believe they do. And what do people want braindrugs for?
Some because they feel they can't hold up to modern burnout society anymore.
Some because they fail their own high expectations. Some because they want to have an advantage over others..

Maybe this obsession for gain, power and success is the thing we should treat instead of a healthy brain.

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Hanzze
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Re: Pharmacological Aids to Enlightenment

Post by Hanzze » Fri Sep 07, 2012 9:46 am

Image
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_

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Dan74
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Re: Pharmacological Aids to Enlightenment

Post by Dan74 » Fri Sep 07, 2012 10:34 am

Viscid wrote:
Ben wrote: I think if you are seeking an exotic experience then perhaps the Dhamma isn't for you (or for you yet).
Wishing you all the best,
This seems sort of addressed to me so: I am not taking any drugs myself, nor advocating their use for spiritual gain.
Dan74 wrote:I thought Buddhism was about liberation from delusion. Apart from anything else this involves formation of new neural pathways, pathways that are formed by life experience and insight. Drugs cannot do it, any more than they can give us maturity and wisdom.
But drugs may make us more capable at becoming mature and wise. What 'wisdom' and 'maturity' is is actually a very debatable thing, but it does require learning, and there are drugs available which make learning easier.
Discomfort, struggles, boredom, running into dead ends - this is life and learning to deal with all this and more is what practice is about. Bypassing the difficulties, we bypass the very essence of practice.
There's no reason why someone on such a drug I'm proposing would cease to have discomfort altogether-- if they were just drugged out on heroin constantly and in bliss happy land they'd probably have little incentive to practice. There's a degree to which a perception of suffering is necessary to encourage spiritual practice, but if we can remove unnecessary barriers to spiritual progress pharmacologically, we should.
This is a massive "if".

From what I've read, we have a very very sketchy idea of how psychoactive drugs affect our functioning and what side effects they may have in the short and in the long term.

This notion of a magic pill that will remove some nasty chemical floating around my brain and make everything better, is a unfortunate fantasy.

Sure, there are cases where drugs may indeed help, but these are typically a matter of necessity. Sometimes it may help to stabilize until the person is able to deal with the issues but drugs are not the solution, they are at best a stop-gap measure.

The only one who can resolve the difficulties are ourselves.

PS Great cartoon, Hanzze.
_/|\_

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ancientbuddhism
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Re: Pharmacological Aids to Enlightenment

Post by ancientbuddhism » Fri Sep 07, 2012 12:33 pm

There is a wide range of Nootropic ("smart drugs" including those mentioned in the OP) with specific cognitive affects. Some of these ‘drugs’ (some are simple herbal supplements and amino acids) have little or no toxicity or side effects. And in many places of the world where there is reasonable access to medications, these can be obtained without prescription from a clinician.

Caffeine was mentioned earlier and dismissed as an absurd comparison, but it actually does fit in the schedule of Nootorpic medicine as a cognitive enhancer, which is kind of obvious for our purposes considering that on uposatha all-nighters we are offered copious amounts of tea and coffee.
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Hanzze
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Re: Pharmacological Aids to Enlightenment

Post by Hanzze » Fri Sep 07, 2012 12:36 pm

However, do you think that it aids to Enlightenment?
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_

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ancientbuddhism
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Re: Pharmacological Aids to Enlightenment

Post by ancientbuddhism » Fri Sep 07, 2012 12:56 pm

Hanzze wrote:However, do you think that it aids to Enlightenment?
They enhance cognition, what one fills their time with within that enhanced state may affect their aims.

Like Ben, I also am ambivalent about their use. In the past I would use balm to stave off drowsiness during meditation, only later to find that when the practice matures, energy naturally arises, even when physically tired. Did the balm help, for the moment perhaps, but nothing like right-exertion, right-mindfulness and right-concentration.
I say, beware of all enterprises that require new clothes, and not rather a new wearer of clothes.” – Henry David Thoreau, Walden, 1854

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Caraka
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Re: Pharmacological Aids to Enlightenment

Post by Caraka » Fri Sep 07, 2012 12:59 pm

If such a drug existed, I think it's not a violation of the 5th precept, since the full phrase includes "which lead to carelessness".
If such a drug existed is idle speculations.

The fifth precept is for me a translation trying to make the Buddhas teaching about moral and ethic understandable in English. What if it really meant 'smacking your feet off the fundament that your virtue is buildt upon' ?

Anything that can lead one onto unwholesome thoughts or actions is not good, I hope all can agree about that. So for me the question is not what Pharmacological Aids might lead to, or not. It is all about what can lead me onto more wholesome thoughts and actions. Alcohol? Drugs? Pharmacological Aids? I don't think so.

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Re: Pharmacological Aids to Enlightenment

Post by ancientbuddhism » Fri Sep 07, 2012 2:08 pm

Caraka wrote:
If such a drug existed, I think it's not a violation of the 5th precept, since the full phrase includes "which lead to carelessness".
If such a drug existed is idle speculations.

The fifth precept is for me a translation trying to make the Buddhas teaching about moral and ethic understandable in English. What if it really meant 'smacking your feet off the fundament that your virtue is buildt upon' ?

Anything that can lead one onto unwholesome thoughts or actions is not good, I hope all can agree about that. So for me the question is not what Pharmacological Aids might lead to, or not. It is all about what can lead me onto more wholesome thoughts and actions. Alcohol? Drugs? Pharmacological Aids? I don't think so.
Except for some of the amphetamines listed as Nootropics (and even these can conceivably be used without risk of ‘heedlessness’), I don’t see how any of these fail the caution of sīla.
I say, beware of all enterprises that require new clothes, and not rather a new wearer of clothes.” – Henry David Thoreau, Walden, 1854

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Hanzze
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Re: Pharmacological Aids to Enlightenment

Post by Hanzze » Fri Sep 07, 2012 2:20 pm

ancientbuddhism wrote:
Hanzze wrote:However, do you think that it aids to Enlightenment?
They enhance cognition, what one fills their time with within that enhanced state may affect their aims.

Like Ben, I also am ambivalent about their use. In the past I would use balm to stave off drowsiness during meditation, only later to find that when the practice matures, energy naturally arises, even when physically tired. Did the balm help, for the moment perhaps, but nothing like right-exertion, right-mindfulness and right-concentration.
Do you have an idea of wether it would maybe have been faster (if something is reached already, which might be maybe the main objective base of argumentation) if that would not have been? To put it into an extreme, would Angulimara have attained the goals if not have killed so many? I guess to use such things as argumentation is a little risky even it brought somebody where he is, where he is.

We have done many things, and we might have always the change to try it maybe a little harder and even better. The path is still well pointed out. Sometimes it is time for wisdom, sometimes for faith.
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_

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Re: Pharmacological Aids to Enlightenment

Post by ancientbuddhism » Fri Sep 07, 2012 2:43 pm

Hanzze wrote:
ancientbuddhism wrote:
Hanzze wrote:However, do you think that it aids to Enlightenment?
They enhance cognition, what one fills their time with within that enhanced state may affect their aims.

Like Ben, I also am ambivalent about their use. In the past I would use balm to stave off drowsiness during meditation, only later to find that when the practice matures, energy naturally arises, even when physically tired. Did the balm help, for the moment perhaps, but nothing like right-exertion, right-mindfulness and right-concentration.
Do you have an idea of wether it would maybe have been faster (if something is reached already, which might be maybe the main objective base of argumentation) if that would not have been? To put it into an extreme, would Angulimara have attained the goals if not have killed so many? I guess to use such things as argumentation is a little risky even it brought somebody where he is, where he is.

We have done many things, and we might have always the change to try it maybe a little harder and even better. The path is still well pointed out. Sometimes it is time for wisdom, sometimes for faith.
Clever analogy; Would Angulimāla have met the Buddha if he wasn’t what he was? - May have to ask Schrödinger’s cat that one.

But if we are discussing whether it is ‘faster’ or even helpful to use a crutch such as these for practice, I would say no.

An amusing story I heard at WPN was of a monk who had difficulty with drowsiness during meditation, so he took to sitting at the edge of a bluff, only to lean backwards when he drifted off instead of forward. Amazing though it is that his consciousness was aware of extremes despite the drowsiness, he was still left with the same puzzle for establishing energy through the fatigue in his practice.
I say, beware of all enterprises that require new clothes, and not rather a new wearer of clothes.” – Henry David Thoreau, Walden, 1854

Secure your own mask before assisting others. – NORTHWEST AIRLINES (Pre-Flight Instruction)

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Alex123
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Re: Pharmacological Aids to Enlightenment

Post by Alex123 » Fri Sep 07, 2012 6:43 pm

Modus.Ponens wrote:If such a drug existed, I think it's not a violation of the 5th precept, since the full phrase includes "which lead to carelessness".
You are absolutely right. The key point in the precept is "...which lead to carelessness" .

As I understand it, the fault with drugs are the side effects that they bring and if they promote breaking of other precepts (ex: if one gets drunk one can do very bad things).

If coffee helps one to study Abhidhamma more, or to meditate with more alertness - then what is so sinful in that?
In that way they can indirectly speed up progress.
Hanzze wrote:However, do you think that it aids to Enlightenment?
It can if it helps one to study Abhidhamma and meditate more.
"Life is a struggle. Life will throw curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference..."

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DAWN
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Re: Pharmacological Aids to Enlightenment

Post by DAWN » Fri Sep 07, 2012 6:59 pm

We must develop that is unconditioned
All that have condition, must be rejected
Sabbe dhamma anatta
We are not concurents...
I'am sorry for my english

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daverupa
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Re: Pharmacological Aids to Enlightenment

Post by daverupa » Fri Sep 07, 2012 7:35 pm

DAWN wrote:We must develop that is unconditioned
All that have condition, must be rejected
The eightfold path is conditioned, so that's not quite right.

Caffeine, cannabis, cocaine, chocolate... it's interesting to see the unspoken assumption remain unspoken, to wit "this substance will make the Dhamma easier, because as-is it's not easy enough..."

I'm much more interested in getting an arahant under an fMRI...
  • "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.

- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

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