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Thread: Buddhism the Peyote Man

  1. #1

    Buddhism the Peyote Man

    Hey,

    I am going to move this to a new thread, cause the other one is becoming as wild and varied as a peyote experience ...


    Edited Post by chicanobudista on 17 Mar 2008 01:58 pm

    Jundo wrote:I would think that meditation on a mantra would tend to carry one away from just being present in the place where we are, although it might be very effective in inducing various intense states. For the same reason, we don't drop acid or peyote to meditate. In "Just Sitting", we are just in this world, in this life, which is ours ... even as we come to see that life/world in radically new ways. So, we just sit openly aware with our eyes not closed, right in the room where we sit.

    ... I do think Jundo raises a valid point in regards to what differentiates shikantaza or Buddhist meditation in general as opposed to the usage of psychotropic substances to understand "our reality". If you are subbed to e-sangha, you will notice once in a while someone inquiring about the relation between meditation, psychotropic substances, and Buddhism. As if by coincidence, after reading your exchange, I opened my "Discover" magazine and came upon this interview:

    "The Discover Interview
    Wade Davis
    by Jessica Ruvinsky"

    [Discover Magazine - April 2008 - pg. 32]



    Did you try ayahuasca?
    Oh yes, many times.

    What is it like?
    You are flung into other levels of reality so visceral, so tangible, so all-enveloping, that they become your sense of the real world. And you suddenly realize that the relatively mundane realm of ordinary consciousness is a crude facsimile of what awaits in the psychotropic trance. This and other experiences in the presence of people taken by the spirit left me with visceral evidence that cultural beliefs can really make for different human beings, that there are other ways of knowing, other levels of intuition, that cannot necessarily be understood through the filter of Cartesian logic.



    So drugs do for the Seona people what sciences does for us?
    Not drugs. That's a pejorative notion in our society--cocaine, crack, crystal meth, whatever. These aren't drugs. These are sacred medicines. These are the facilitators. These are the avenues to the doorways of the gods.

    IMHO, it does raise a valid question. Why do zazen? Why do shikantaza? Are there "better" ways? What differentiates what we do from what someone else does through peyote or ayahuasca.

    Caveat: I do not condone nor advocate the usage of such substances. Just in case. :mrgreen:
    %paz y justicia%
    Hi Chicanobudista,

    As a child of the seventies, and rather open to try things in moderation [although as the future father of a teenager, I deny it all ... I never inhaled], I see the value of some experience with psychotropic drugs and hallucinogens. However, only in moderation for a short period, not as a lifestyle ... and hopefully under well guided conditions.

    It can teach quite a bit about perception, other ways of experiencing and knowing, other forms of "logic" than "Cartesian Logic, new ways of being, and how much our world is a creation of the brain. In other words, it is useful to unlock and open the "doors of perception" to new perspectives ... but I would not want to live there. I do not engage in such things now, and I do not feel the need.

    So, how is Shikantaza different?

    Well, first, we believe that this ordinary, day to day world is also mindblowing ... when we perceive it correctly. I do not need my cup of tea to float up into the air, turn into rainbow colors with fairy dust and leprecons dancing on the rim: Just this ordinary, warm cup of tea in my hands and on my lips is anything but ordinary ... and the only miracle I truly need. So, that is one reason that we keep our eyes open during Zazen ... we are always present and well grounded in this very place where we are (even as, of course, our mind expands to swallow the whole universe and our self too!!!).

    Second (but not really apart from the first), some folks think that "cosmic wisdom" is only "true" if it looks like this ...



    I believe that all drugs are doing is fooling the brain into stimulating and quieting certain regions that produce so-called psychedelic effects. The mentioned book "Zen and the Brain" talks about this. For example, certain visual and auditory centers are stimulated when taking Extasy, which thereby enhances the sound and experiece of music (and other things ... but it also fries part of the brain in the process). That's no more interesting to me than a short term visit to a movie or the circus ... don't want to live there. I tend to doubt that the experience of "seeing the face of god" is actually "seeing the face of god", and I tend to believe that it is just the brain being stimulated in certain regions that produce such a feeling ... Books like this discuss that process ...

    http://www.amazon.com/Why-God-Wont-Go-A ... im_b_img_1

    I mean, maybe we actually are seeing Don Juan and the Face of God ... I just tend to think it is more likely a wildly firing cascade of neurons.

    But that being said, I consider myself a complete "mystic" (does that sound strange after what I said?), if by that one means living in this very world and feeling like wonders never cease ... that life is a theatre where the show is always changing --- sometimes comedy sometimes tears --- but never less than mindblowing ... that the simple cup of tea in my hand is more miraculous even without the leprecons! Why take an acid trip when I am living inside a trip ... why want to get on a flying saucer and visit other planets when this world, right here, remains unexplored? That is why our "Just Sitting" Practice keeps us "just sitting" in this place and time ... even as we expand beyond all place and time! You want a "trip", read a bit of Shobogenzo or the Lotus Sutra!

    At that time the bodhisattva-mahasattvas who had come from other lands, numerous as the sands of the eight Ganges, arose in the great assembly, and with folded hands saluted and spoke to the Buddha, saying: "World-honored One! If the Buddha will allow us, after his extinction, diligently and zealously to protect and keep, read and recite, copy and worship this sutra in this saha-world, we would preach it abroad in this land." Thereupon the Buddha addressed all the host of those bodhisattva-mahasattas: "Enough! My good sons! There is no need for you to protect and keep this sutra. Wherefore? Because in my saha-world there are in fact bodhisattva-mahasattvas [numerous] as the sands of sixty thousand Ganges; each one of these bodhisattvas has a retinue [numerous] as the sands of sixty thousand Ganges; these persons are able, after my extinction, to protect and keep, read and recite, and preach abroad this sutra."

    When the Buddha had thus spoken, all the earth of the three-thousand-great-thousandfold land of the saha-world trembled and quaked, and from its midst there issued together innumerable thousand myriad kotis of bodhisattva-mahasattvas. All these bodhisattvas with their golden-hued bodies, thirty-two signs, and boundless radiance had all been dwelling in [infinite] space below this saha-world. All these bodhisattvas, hearing the voice of Shakyamuni Buddha preaching, sprang forth from below.
    In fact, I often feel like I may be seeing the face of god just by looking at my child's face.

    Gassho, Jundo

    PS- I do think that technology, including many of the brain studies being done, will possibly find ways to recreate some of the experience of Zazen through drugs or mechanical devises. In fact, some of that may exist even now. If you want to relax, just drop a valium!! However, the fact of the matter is that our Soto Practice is much more than just the brain states that derive from Zazen. Those are just learning aids. The reason is that it is the whole philosophy of Buddhism and Zen (everything from "Goallessness" to "Mindfulness" to "Timelessness" to to everything else) that must be gradually incorporated into, and made the foundation of our lives.

    In other words, anyone can drop a quick pill or find a little peace on a quiet beach ... but can you learn to find peace day by day, --anywhere-- in this crazy life? That takes real Practice!!

  2. #2

    Re: Buddhism the Peyote Man

    What a great post, Jundo... you are an excellent communicator. I expect more books from you in the future

    I agree 100% with what you've said already. The only thing I can add is that those "altered states" while having the potential to be illuminating, if repeated again and again, present the same problems as our normal reality (just with some knobs turned to different settings). I think when a person doesn't recognize that the altered state they're in is the same state they were running away from, that the addiction problems start up. They need more and more, or different combinations of drugs, to get that "new" feeling again. Some people take something from the experience and decide... or get a taste, or realize... that they can have that same fascination with the world no matter what the conditions.

    If we're going to rate different methods of gaining perception into reality, one has to evaluate the consequences of failure. If someone fails at shikantaza or koan study, it's not the end of the world - maybe try Pure Land If you get addicted to heroin, there's going to be a problem. Now of course not all drugs are the same, I haven't seen homeless LSD addicts with track marks and open sores behind my apartment building. But I have had friends that chased the LSD experience so far and took so much that they kind of snapped and became much different people literally overnight. I can't say whether they were better or worse, but definitely different. I don't think drugs in 99% of contexts provides enough opportunity to direct what kind of person you're going to become, its more of a roll of the dice, at least as a "path" in itself. However like any other tool it can be helpful or harmful depending on the hands it is in.

    Hunter S. Thompson wrote this in Fear and Loathing, and I've seen it many times in person. What I never got, and never will, is how some people believe that The Answer is inside the pill - that the power to find whatever is outside rather than inside.

    We are all wired into a survival trip now. No more of the speed that fueled that 60's. That was the fatal flaw in Tim Leary's trip. He crashed around America selling "consciousness expansion" without ever giving a thought to the grim meat-hook realities that were lying in wait for all the people who took him seriously... All those pathetically eager acid freaks who thought they could buy Peace and Understanding for three bucks a hit. But their loss and failure is ours too. What Leary took down with him was the central illusion of a whole life-style that he helped create... a generation of permanent cripples, failed seekers, who never understood the essential old-mystic fallacy of the Acid Culture: the desperate assumption that somebody... or at least some force - is tending the light at the end of the tunnel.
    Skye

  3. #3

    Re: Buddhism the Peyote Man

    Doesn't deep understanding come in there somewhere? If we're taking all these pills and gain instant enlightenment ie. ultimate Awareness, what do we really know about the manifestation of anger, greed and lust and how do we expect to understand or help anyone else who is caught up in it?

    btw I did my fair share of acid in my early twenties.

    G,W

  4. #4

    Re: Buddhism the Peyote Man

    Whats this? buddhists advocating drugs? 8)

    Wasn't there a book about that subject, saying that drugs where a good way to reach enlightment or something?

    May the force be with you
    Tb

  5. #5

    Re: Buddhism the Peyote Man

    Who's advocating anything? I think we're all in agreement that everything you need is right here, right now.

  6. #6

    Re: Buddhism the Peyote Man

    I sometimes wonder about the "natural highs" from certain sports.
    The extreme case for me would be rock climbing. The pleasure of reaching the top would be an achievement but the fact you got there in one piece would be exhilarating. Almost like soldiers dodging bullets or someone escaping from a disaster. During the risky move or the moment of the climb when you start to doubt the outcome (and Elvis leg kicks in), I was always aware of simple senses becoming far more "alive". Breath, touch, sight and time all become very "Real".

    I have been also starting to wonder about endurance activities too.
    I have been doing a lot of long distance trail running. It is wonderful again how simple and fitting together certain basic functions become. Breath, step, step breath almost becomes a mantra. While this happens other senses become more alive like, cool breeze, stones and rock under foot, the smell of pollen in the air, insects and animals or any radiant change in the landscape.
    Also with the endurance aspect come the almost (at times) simpleness of a sip of water or the wonderful taste of juice. Don't even mention a small nibble of food :shock: . If any food, water or energy drinks are over or under used to the bodies situation, you can become very attuned to it. More so than just normal day to day living.
    There becomes a bit of team effort with mind and body. The mind sometimes has to almost take a step out of itself and make sure everything is alright. The problems with dehydration, heat exhaustion or even hypothermia are they can effect the mind first or simultaneously with the body, so you might not know you are suffering the effect. With almost stepping out of itself the mind makes the decisions, do muscles and organs feel ok , how quick is thought to body response, is thought and reflex slowing, as a mind am I thinking ok. In extreme cases it can be thoughts like, "did I see that or was it an hallucination" to "OH MY GOD WHAT THE HELL IS THAT?...oh its a butterfly, nice".
    I wonder if there is a similarity to fasting or almost starving which has been done during mediation/religious reasons in the past?

    Anyway baby crying so must go.

    All the best

    Philip

  7. #7

    Re: Buddhism the Peyote Man

    GLOOOOOVVVVEEEEEYYYYYYYY.......

    Very interesting topic! Been there, done that, bought the tee-shirt, outgrew it, cut it up for rags. Zazen still rocks more than any of it ever did.

    When I was raised my family, being four generations in Hawai'i, had several extended family members who were Kahunas, or the Hawai'ian version of shaman. While there were the herbalist Kahunas who treat the physically ill, the shaman Kahunas (priests) never used a substance to invoke an altered state. I have no idea why, but there is no kava drink, no peyote, no 'shroom extract as a part of their practice. While they are a polynesian people and there are other polynesian shamans who do use certain enhancements, for whatever reason it just did not get into the Hawai'ian form of practice.

    However, I never understood why we had to offer Pele a bottle of high end Scotch when she blew her stack, but that practice *does continue to this very day (as we speak, even, as there is an active flow.) And our house never burned, so we'll say "that works."

    In Gassho~
    Lynn

  8. #8

    Re: Buddhism the Peyote Man

    Hi everybody.
    Have been slapped around a little for the advocating and book reply.
    The book i mentioned (i knew i had seen it somewhere) is mentioned in one of brad's books.
    actually apparently theres a lot of books out there saying that a "good way" to reach enlightment is using drugs, and (to connect to the thread) that people of different of cultures have been using these to reach an "enlightment experience".

    I never advocate using drúgs for "reaching enlightment" or for any other thing.
    That would go against "buddhist ideals".

    As to the "natural highs" discussed by plankton, there has been some scientific data saying something about the release of endorfins and that they are similar during exhilirating sports, endurance and fasting.

    May the force be with you
    Tb

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