During the discussion, one of the supporters of drug abuse as a way to gain spiritual insight started in with the time worn cliché that drugs are like taking a helicopter to the top of a mountain rather than climbing it. You get the same breathtaking view as someone who has climbed the mountain. But you get there much quicker and more easily. “You can’t deny it’s exactly the same view,” one guy said. But, in fact, I would unequivocally deny that it’s the same view. It’s not. Not at all.
Metaphors always fall apart if you press them too much. But I like this one because it shows exactly what the problem is when you start saying drugs will do for you the same thing as meditation but faster and without all the muss and fuss.
Let’s say you met a veteran mountaineer with over a quarter century of climbing experience, a person who has written books on mountain climbing and routinely personally instructs others in the art of climbing. And let’s imagine what would happen if you tried to convince this guy that people who take helicopters to the tops of mountains get everything that mountain climbers get and get it a whole lot easier.
The mountain climber would certainly tell you that the breathtaking view a guy who takes a helicopter to the top of a mountain gets is not in any way, shape or form the same view that a person who climbs the mountain herself gets.
To the mountain climber, the guy in the helicopter is just a hyperactive thrill seeker who wants nothing more than to experience a pretty view without putting any effort into it. The helicopter guy thinks the goal of mountain climbing is to be on top of the mountain and that climbing is an inefficient way to accomplish this goal. He just doesn’t get it. At all.
The helicopter guy misses out on the amazing sights there are to see on the way up. He doesn’t know the thrill of mastering the mountain through his own efforts. He doesn’t know the hardships and dangers involved in making the climb. And he’ll never know the awesome wonder of descending the mountain back into familiar territory. All he’s done is given some money to a person who owns a helicopter. He probably couldn’t even find the mountain himself, let alone make it to the top. When there are no helicopters around, the poor guy is helplessly grounded.
If the helicopter guy claims that he has reached the same place as the mountain climber, the mountain climber knows in ways the helicopter guy can’t even fathom that the helicopter guy is a fool.