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Thread: ZAZEN ON DRUGS: Brad's Post

  1. #1

    ZAZEN ON DRUGS: Brad's Post

    Hi,

    I think Bro. Brad Warner has a pretty dandy post on Zazen and psychedelic drugs over at his blog today ...

    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.
    http://hardcorezen.blogspot.com/2011/07 ... drugs.html

    ... although beware of the comments section. I think ya have to be on 'shrooms or something to figure out parts of that! 8)

    Gassho, Jundo

  2. #2

    Re: ZAZEN ON DRUGS: Brad's Post

    Thanks for sharing. I think Brad hits it nicely.


    Gassho

    Seiryu

  3. #3

    Re: ZAZEN ON DRUGS: Brad's Post

    Quote Originally Posted by Seiryu
    Thanks for sharing. I think Brad hits it nicely.


    Gassho

    Seiryu
    Not bong hits though. 8)

  4. #4
    Friend of Treeleaf Myozan Kodo's Avatar
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    Re: ZAZEN ON DRUGS: Brad's Post

    Afghan? Moroccan? Dude, what is Brad on? I want some of that ... :shock:

  5. #5

    Re: ZAZEN ON DRUGS: Brad's Post

    Thanks Jundo,
    i not regularly read Brad's blog, and this one is definitely worth sharing,
    its good he picked this one up,
    _()_
    Peter

  6. #6

    Re: ZAZEN ON DRUGS: Brad's Post

    If it wasn't for experiences during and immediately after an LSD trip in '96, I may not be here today. That was the moment I decided to take this Zen thing more seriously. It seems to me that it was more a case of simply being in the right place at the right time rather than any benefit of the drug use. That morning always lurks in the back of my mind.

    I can see where Brad is coming from and think he's spot on. There is much to be said for actually climbing the mountain.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Re: ZAZEN ON DRUGS: Brad's Post

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Quote Originally Posted by Seiryu
    Thanks for sharing. I think Brad hits it nicely.


    Gassho

    Seiryu
    Not bong hits though. 8)
    :lol:

    Personally I think that when one takes drugs to get enlightenment all they receive is just another illusion to perpetuate their delusion.

    Gassho,
    John

  8. #8

    Re: ZAZEN ON DRUGS: Brad's Post

    ...or as Dogen says "Those who have great realization of delusion are buddhas; those who are greatly deluded about realization are sentient beings". If practice is enlightment, if climbing the mountain is the thing, either up or coming down, how could drugs be of any help there.
    _()_
    Peter

  9. #9
    Friends of Treeleaf Dokan's Avatar
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    Re: ZAZEN ON DRUGS: Brad's Post

    Thank you for sharing Jundo. A thought went through my mind while I read this and I was having a hard time hashing it out (pun intended). So I decided to put it in the form of a metaphor. :twisted:

    Let's say you meet a CFO of a multi-national corporation with a fascination for mountains and breathtaking vistas via helicopters. He has written books on business processes and routinely instructs other top level executives on the art of management, all the while using analogies and stories from his helio-mountain experiences. And let's imagine what would happen if you tried to convince this guy that people who climb mountains to get to the top, while more difficult, have a much more valid experience than those who take helicopters.

    The CFO would certainly tell you that the breathtaking view a guy who climbs to the top of the mountain gets is not in any way, shape or form the same view that a person who helicopters to the top of the mountain herself gets.

    To the CFO, the mountain climber is just a dedicated thrill seeker who has the time, energy and patience to experience a pretty view while putting a great deal of effort into it. The mountain climber thinks that the experience and effort put forth in climbing the mountain make the goal much more valuable.

    They both get it.

    Of course I in no way support clouding the mind with drugs to reach 'the top of the mountain'. I just felt that it's a slippery slope (pun intended) when we invalidate the experiences and practices of others based upon our own (possibly deluded) understandings.

    Gassho,

    Shawn

  10. #10
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    Re: ZAZEN ON DRUGS: Brad's Post

    From what I've heard from the people I know who do psychedelic (and some hard) drugs regularly, and in the brief times I have partaken myself-- there was never this expectation that there would be some kind of sped up process of spirituality, nor was that the intent. Any insights gained were simply noticed. Some wonderful things really did stick with me-- but these things were simply confirmed by meditation. So meditation is really the simplest road.

    Quote Originally Posted by JRBrisson
    Personally I think that when one takes drugs to get enlightenment all they receive is just another illusion to perpetuate their delusion.
    I don't know anyone who has ever said anything along the lines of doing drugs for the sake of gaining "enlightenment." They just do drugs to do drugs-- and for most now, it's a habit. So I always wonder why people always bring it up as an argument against drugs, because to drug users it's kind of like, yeah, duh, I know it's not really enlightening or spiritual, and I don't really care-- I just like to get high.

    Anyway, from what I hear these days, raves are the ultimate spiritual experience. :roll: Although of course this comes with many drugs...

    But everyone has the right, in my opinion, to choose their road and for me to keep my opinions to myself when I am "in their house", so to speak.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rev R
    If it wasn't for experiences during and immediately after an LSD trip in '96, I may not be here today. That was the moment I decided to take this Zen thing more seriously. It seems to me that it was more a case of simply being in the right place at the right time rather than any benefit of the drug use. That morning always lurks in the back of my mind.
    One thing I learned was the importance and fun of great, shaking, practically painful laughter! :lol: To be honest, being on LSD made me realize, though I was having the time of my life, that I don't need LSD to feel that happy. I have been that happy before in my life without drugs, and I could recognize that. It could very plainly feel how my ego really got in the way of me having a good time, a LOT of the time. So all it did was remove that veil a little bit between my compassion and my insecurities and anger. I usually do not socialize well in party situations, but here we were, some of us strangers but instantly and without judgement becoming best friends and trusting each other.

    Shrooms was pretty much horrible, but when I was coming down, I really felt a great joy at just being alive, and I felt so grateful to be here and moving and breathing-- the feeling I had then is most like what some of my best meditations feel like now. I got this sense that life was so wonderful in even this simplest ways, like breathing and having hands and touching things, and that it was sad how little this is noticed with all of our distraction. After going through a five hour hell of a bad trip, it kind of felt like being allowed to live again after feeling like I was going to die.

  11. #11

    Re: ZAZEN ON DRUGS: Brad's Post

    Quote Originally Posted by Amelia
    I don't know anyone who has ever said anything along the lines of doing drugs for the sake of gaining "enlightenment." They just do drugs to do drugs-- and for most now, it's a habit. So I always wonder why people always bring it up as an argument against drugs, because to drug users it's kind of like, yeah, duh, I know it's not really enlightening or spiritual, and I don't really care-- I just like to get high.
    Hello Amelia,

    Because of books like this.

    This is the "most helpful favorable review" on Amazon:
    Quote Originally Posted by Author Brian Wallace (Mind Transmission, Inc.)
    a beautifully designed and arranged collection of articles that expose the intelligent and creative uses of psychoactive chemicals.

    While the "spiritual purists" may balk at the contention that chemicals seriously open up levels of consciousness and awareness, one comes away with deeper appreciation of various traditional methods of enlightenment (with and without chemicals).

    This work effectively counteracts the anti-drug propaganda that has shamefully denigrated certainly respectable uses of treasured substances.

    Zig Zag Zen does the universe proud.
    I've not read the book, and as such have no opinion on it. But this sort of thing is, I think, what John is speaking about.

    Metta and Gassho,

    Saijun

  12. #12
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Re: ZAZEN ON DRUGS: Brad's Post

    Hi Jundo,

    Thanks for sharing Brad's post.

    He most definitely has some very wonderful insights like this one, but my feeling about Brad is that he is a person who wants to be right and revels in the praise others heap on him for these type of posts.

    And Brad's "Right Speech" skills could use some work since they often undercut his arguments. Here is the Facebook status update he posted immediately following his encounter with the "Helicopter Metaphor" fellow (please pardon the expletive) mentioned in his blog:

    "Drug users annoy the fuck out of me. Losers." - July 7, 2011 at 12:12am EST

    Gassho,
    Dosho

  13. #13

    Re: ZAZEN ON DRUGS: Brad's Post

    Quote Originally Posted by Amelia
    One thing I learned was the importance and fun of great, shaking, practically painful laughter! :lol: To be honest, being on LSD made me realize, though I was having the time of my life, that I don't need LSD to feel that happy. I have been that happy before in my life without drugs, and I could recognize that. It could very plainly feel how my ego really got in the way of me having a good time, a LOT of the time. So all it did was remove that veil a little bit between my compassion and my insecurities and anger. I usually do not socialize well in party situations, but here we were, some of us strangers but instantly and without judgement becoming best friends and trusting each other.

    Shrooms was pretty much horrible, but when I was coming down, I really felt a great joy at just being alive, and I felt so grateful to be here and moving and breathing-- the feeling I had then is most like what some of my best meditations feel like now. I got this sense that life was so wonderful in even this simplest ways, like breathing and having hands and touching things, and that it was sad how little this is noticed with all of our distraction. After going through a five hour hell of a bad trip, it kind of felt like being allowed to live again after feeling like I was going to die.
    Hey Amelia,
    In my case it was the psychedelic spirituality/ neo-shamanism deal rather than recreational use. It was an unusual framework to operate in- but it seemed to work at the time. I operated under the idea that the drug or the trip didn't cause or create enlightenment- it merely forced one to look at the world differently and presented an opportunity to gather personal power. It's like telling someone else's story.

    The dreaded bad trip. Talk about sitting in an uncomfortable place. It is for this reason that would not recommend the use of psychedelics as an aid to spiritual practice to anyone. Bad trips and drunken binges (not always my own) have put me in some scary spots.

    I hope you had someone with you during your mushroom experience, but at least you came out with a very valuable lesson.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Re: ZAZEN ON DRUGS: Brad's Post

    Amelia wrote:
    I don't know anyone who has ever said anything along the lines of doing drugs for the sake of gaining "enlightenment." They just do drugs to do drugs-- and for most now, it's a habit. So I always wonder why people always bring it up as an argument against drugs, because to drug users it's kind of like, yeah, duh, I know it's not really enlightening or spiritual, and I don't really care-- I just like to get high.
    Hi Amelia,
    But this is exactly the thing which Brad was talking about in his article!
    recently got into a fairly ridiculous debate on Facebook with some people who think that psychedelic drugs can get you to the same place as meditation
    Hence the whole mountain analogy in the first place.

    Perhaps you haven't had friends say they take drugs for enlightenment or any of the other benefits of meditation but that dosnt mean plenty people who do drugs don't think or say such things! Keep in mind that you are not someone who teaches spirituality. If you were, I'm sure you would hear this argument a lot from people. Brad even confirms it by saying in his article how often he hears people say such things.

    And don't forget that LSD was the choice of cults who would use it in spiritual contexts. Charles Manson was said to get everyone tripping out on it while he would reenact the crucifixion of Christ. Why did he choose to do this? Because it works! People are susceptible to confusing the effects of drugs with true spirituality.

    Drugs=delusion and if you do them and think they don't, consider why. I'll give you a hint.... It's in the equation :wink:

    Gassho,
    John

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    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Re: ZAZEN ON DRUGS: Brad's Post

    Quote Originally Posted by JRBrisson
    Drugs=delusion and if you do them and think they don't, consider why. I'll give you a hint.... It's in the equation :wink:
    John,

    I agree and know the type of drugs to which you are referring, but I would just qualify that statement with "unprescribed".

    Gassho,
    Dosho

  16. #16
    Senior Member Nenka's Avatar
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    Re: ZAZEN ON DRUGS: Brad's Post

    Quote Originally Posted by shards
    Of course I in no way support clouding the mind with drugs to reach 'the top of the mountain'. I just felt that it's a slippery slope (pun intended) when we invalidate the experiences and practices of others based upon our own (possibly deluded) understandings.

    Gassho,

    Shawn
    Thank you for that post. You hit it, exactly.

    Gassho,

    Jennifer

  17. #17
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Re: ZAZEN ON DRUGS: Brad's Post

    Quote Originally Posted by Dosho
    Quote Originally Posted by JRBrisson
    Drugs=delusion and if you do them and think they don't, consider why. I'll give you a hint.... It's in the equation :wink:
    John,

    I agree and know the type of drugs to which you are referring, but I would just qualify that statement with "unprescribed".

    Gassho,
    Dosho
    Yes yes yes! I would never mean people who need clinical medication! Thank you for highlighting this Dosho!

    Gassho,
    John

  18. #18

    Re: ZAZEN ON DRUGS: Brad's Post

    Quote Originally Posted by JRBrisson
    People are susceptible to confusing the effects of drugs with true spirituality.
    I agree. Any desire to change reality is a form of insanity. This sounds harsh but it's true. And we all do it everyday with our thinking. Drugs and alcohol drown out the noise of thoughts. So we think we are "breaking through" to something special. But how can anything good come from something that destroys lives and society? It hasn't yet and it never will.

    Thanks for sharing this post Jundo.

    gassho
    Greg

  19. #19
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Re: ZAZEN ON DRUGS: Brad's Post

    I'm sure that this topic will be as controversial with responses here as it seems to have been on Brad's blog.
    The thing is I've heard all the arguments, excuses, etc. Half the time they were coming from my own mouth as a former user! The Delusion I'm talking about is is not necessarily the experience itself but the thinking it comes from outside oneself through the drug. Here is a popular example: "Drugs make you more creative."
    When I was using them and writing great music I thought that was absolutely true. Once I sobered up I realize that drugs have about the same ability to make me creative as they do to make me Japanese. They can't! If you're not already a creative person all the drugs in the world won't help with that. But, if you are creative you can misinterpret its source. It's like having a kensho like experience while sitting Zazen and then mistakenly assuming it came from the Zafu. Why not?! You were, after all, on it when it happend!

    So I wrote a skit here about it.
    I can just see the Buddha's disciples gathering around after his enlightenment:

    Main Disciple:
    "Oh magnificent one, we see that you have now attanied enlightenment. Please share with us the secret. You were sitting here so it must have come from this tree that you were under!"
    Disciple announces: "lets all sit under this tree from now on!"
    crowd cheers

    Buddha: "No"

    silence

    Disciple: "Then it must be your wardrobe!"
    Disciple announces: "lets all wear this from now on!"
    crowd cheers

    Buddha: "No"

    silence

    Disciple: "Then it must be what you had for lunch!"
    Disciple announces: "Lets all eat this from now on!"
    crowd cheers

    Buddha: "uh...hey guys....you're kind of missing the mark here on this one."

    Gassho,
    John

  20. #20

    Re: ZAZEN ON DRUGS: Brad's Post

    Quote Originally Posted by JRBrisson
    I'm sure that this topic will be as controversial with responses here as it seems to have been on Brad's blog.
    How would it? Most of the posts have been pretty much in agreement.

    The thing is I've heard all the arguments, excuses, etc.
    So it's effectively useless to even attempt to offer a counter-idea? Are you aware of some great horde of psychonauts lurking at the gates?

    John, forgive me if it seems to be a mocking or abrupt tone, but it looks like you are circling the wagons and preparing for a fight. If so, why?

    Rod

  21. #21

    Re: ZAZEN ON DRUGS: Brad's Post

    I posted something similar on BW's comments, but to equate the experiences one has while taking certain types of drugs (I always assume people mean LSD, peyote, etc in these kinds of discussions) is to make a BIG erroneous assumption about zazen. The junk that may or may not happen during zazen is just the "scenery" as Uchiyama might say . . . just things to look at/drop/accept/sit with. Those experiences are certainly not the point/non-point I also think that these discussions are often raised by folks who haven't sat zazen and imagine a hyper-romanticized version of what happens when one practices shikantaza. There are meditative practices in other traditions that seek altered states through breathing techniques, but these traditions are only similar on the surface. They have their way, we have ours. Ask a soto guy about meditating and he'll speak of shikantaza; ask a shaman about meditation and you'll get a different story.
    Lastly, I unapologetically reject the idea that all religious traditions are equally beneficial, benevolent, and effective. Living smack-dab in the Bible-belt I have repeatedly seen religion used in divisive, destructive, and self-destructive ways (there are also a great number of wonderful people around here lest you think I'm painting with a broad brush). So the mountain top idea is convenient, but I think there are a number of traditions, beliefs, and practices that don't lead to that mountain-top. They go nowhere. I've always liked Jundo's litmus test of "helpful and healthful." Beliefs and actions that fail this test are probably not needed.

    Just my admittedly biased perspective on this. Being a jazz musician, I've seen SO many smart and talented guys end up spinning their wheels because they buy the myth that drugs are beneficial to musical development. So, I recognize my bias.

    Gassho,
    Eika

  22. #22
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Re: ZAZEN ON DRUGS: Brad's Post

    John, forgive me if it seems to be a mocking or abrupt tone, but it looks like you are circling the wagons and preparing for a fight. If so, why?
    :?: Not my intention. My apologies if what I said made you feel like I was though. I just wrote more at a later time, that I would have in the 1st place, had I the time. Maybe then it might not have come across the same way without a 2nd post on the same subject?

    Gassho,
    John

  23. #23
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Re: ZAZEN ON DRUGS: Brad's Post

    like you are circling the wagons
    p.s. I circle the clown cars not wagons! That's how I roll

    Gassho,
    John

  24. #24

    Re: ZAZEN ON DRUGS: Brad's Post

    The guy in the helicopter has seen the top, but he doesn't know a damned thing about the mountain.
    There's no such thing as a shortcut.

  25. #25

    Re: ZAZEN ON DRUGS: Brad's Post

    Quote Originally Posted by JRBrisson
    like you are circling the wagons
    p.s. I circle the clown cars not wagons! That's how I roll

    Gassho,
    John
    Fire the confetti cannons!

  26. #26
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Re: ZAZEN ON DRUGS: Brad's Post

    Fire the confetti cannons!
    :lol:
    _/_

  27. #27

    Re: ZAZEN ON DRUGS: Brad's Post

    oh if I had a confetti cannon when I was the skating rink birthday party clown.

  28. #28

    Re: ZAZEN ON DRUGS: Brad's Post

    For some of us with well-entrenched coping mechanisms, the only way to get on the path is to have the rug pulled out from under us – completely – one way to do this is with lsd – true, you can just avoid reocurrence of that “bad trip”, but for many of us, there's no going back to the old ways – such a graphic tasting of the truth is not easily forgotten, or covered over – like most of life's more valuable lessons, it is forced upon you when there is “no way out”

    and the psychedelic experience should not be confused with your garden-variety of chemicals, the ones we use to get us through the day:alcohol,tv, paxil, valium, posting on this forum, etc. -- these serve to reinforce the coping mechanisms, not break them down

    Not to deny the need for a practice, remembering that truth is not a static thing, but is to be discovered in each moment

  29. #29

    Re: ZAZEN ON DRUGS: Brad's Post

    Quote Originally Posted by Dosho

    And Brad's "Right Speech" skills could use some work since they often undercut his arguments. Here is the Facebook status update he posted immediately following his encounter with the "Helicopter Metaphor" fellow (please pardon the expletive) mentioned in his blog:

    "Drug users annoy the fuck out of me. Losers." - July 7, 2011 at 12:12am EST

    Gassho,
    Dosho
    I'll just loop in Brad's response:

    Quote Originally Posted by Brad Warner
    A number of people on my Facebook page took me to task for what they saw as a violation of "Right Speech." Listen. Right Speech isn't about being meek and mild and only telling people what they want to hear. Right Speech is saying what needs saying when it needs saying. Any speech that supports the use of drugs as a means to really get to know yourself is bullshit. Speech that softens the real hit some people need to get that message is useless

  30. #30
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Re: ZAZEN ON DRUGS: Brad's Post

    Quote Originally Posted by Matto

    I'll just loop in Brad's response:

    Quote Originally Posted by Brad Warner
    A number of people on my Facebook page took me to task for what they saw as a violation of "Right Speech." Listen. Right Speech isn't about being meek and mild and only telling people what they want to hear. Right Speech is saying what needs saying when it needs saying. Any speech that supports the use of drugs as a means to really get to know yourself is bullshit. Speech that softens the real hit some people need to get that message is useless
    Can you include where he said this?

  31. #31
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Re: ZAZEN ON DRUGS: Brad's Post

    Quote Originally Posted by Brad Warner
    A number of people on my Facebook page took me to task for what they saw as a violation of "Right Speech." Listen. Right Speech isn't about being meek and mild and only telling people what they want to hear. Right Speech is saying what needs saying when it needs saying. Any speech that supports the use of drugs as a means to really get to know yourself is bullshit. Speech that softens the real hit some people need to get that message is useless
    To be fair, I don't think Brad is using this section to defend the particular post I quoted, just the general line of counterargument he offered which was perfectly valid. However, posting about what annoys you, using an expletive, and calling anyone a loser is hardly "...saying what needs saying...". More like, "Some things are better left unsaid."

    But, it's his Facebook page and his right to express himself of course. I was just saying I thought his offering a counterpoint to someone's argument was weakened by referring to that person as a "loser". Kind of ranks up there with "I know you are but what am I?"

    Gassho,
    Dosho

  32. #32

    Re: ZAZEN ON DRUGS: Brad's Post

    Quote Originally Posted by roky
    For some of us with well-entrenched coping mechanisms, the only way to get on the path is to have the rug pulled out from under us – completely – one way to do this is with lsd – true, you can just avoid reocurrence of that “bad trip”, but for many of us, there's no going back to the old ways – such a graphic tasting of the truth is not easily forgotten, or covered over – like most of life's more valuable lessons, it is forced upon you when there is “no way out”

    and the psychedelic experience should not be confused with your garden-variety of chemicals, the ones we use to get us through the day:alcohol,tv, paxil, valium, posting on this forum, etc. -- these serve to reinforce the coping mechanisms, not break them down

    Not to deny the need for a practice, remembering that truth is not a static thing, but is to be discovered in each moment

    I've been thinking about this topic and I feel based on my experience what I have to share may be helpful. While it is true that LSD can alter your consciousness and maybe strip away what you identified as your self, I don't believe it has anything to do with the dharma and your true self. I would strongly discourage anyone from using any kind of drugs - they are just too dangerous and are poisonous. We have been given a path that requires effort to perceive what is. Depending on drugs for a 'spiritual' state of mind is the worst delusion.

    Roky, maybe LSD shocked you 'to get on the path' but maybe you would have gotten on the path anyway.

  33. #33
    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
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    Re: ZAZEN ON DRUGS: Brad's Post

    Quote Originally Posted by Rev R
    If it wasn't for experiences during and immediately after an LSD trip in '96, I may not be here today. That was the moment I decided to take this Zen thing more seriously. It seems to me that it was more a case of simply being in the right place at the right time rather than any benefit of the drug use. That morning always lurks in the back of my mind.
    I'm late to this thread, but the above comment certainly resonates with me. In my case, it was the 70s, and the glimpses I had of other states were part of what led me on this path.

    I think it should be noted, though, exactly which words Brad used:

    drug abuse as a way to gain spiritual insight
    "Drug abuse" is not the same as "drug use." Now, perhaps he is saying that any drug use is abuse, but I'm not sure if that's what he means. I've never known anyone to "abuse" drugs such as psychedelics in order to gain spiritual insight. In fact, back in the day, I never knew anyone who used psychedelics at all for that reason. There were people writing about it - Leary, even Castaneda, who is probably the worst example of inciting drug use for spiritual uses (also, he was a fraud) - but I don't know how widespread such usage was then, or is now.

  34. #34

    Re: ZAZEN ON DRUGS: Brad's Post

    How about this: the guy who takes the helicopter to the top of the mountain will always NEED the helicopter to get there. The person who climbs on his own doesn't even need the mountain any more, much less a quick means to the top.

  35. #35
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Re: ZAZEN ON DRUGS: Brad's Post

    Quote Originally Posted by KvonNJ
    How about this: the guy who takes the helicopter to the top of the mountain will always NEED the helicopter to get there. The person who climbs on his own doesn't even need the mountain any more, much less a quick means to the top.
    Ah, the transcendence attained through true practice; very well put Ankai!

    Gassho,
    John

  36. #36
    disastermouse
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    Re: ZAZEN ON DRUGS: Brad's Post

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Hi,

    I think Bro. Brad Warner has a pretty dandy post on Zazen and psychedelic drugs over at his blog today ...
    “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.
    .
    http://hardcorezen.blogspot.com/2011/07 ... drugs.html

    ... although beware of the comments section. I think ya have to be on 'shrooms or something to figure out parts of that! 8)

    Gassho, Jundo
    Being a guy who both experimented with psychedelics and also had what I feel to be an authentic experience of no-self, I would have to wholeheartedly agree with this. The two 'views' are most definitely not the same. They can't even be compared. Just my humble opinion - acknowledging that I may be the only one who views my experience as authentic.

    Psychedelics may provide a provisional experience of non-being, but it isn't the unmasking that a true experience of 'waking up' is. It's just a very deceptively muddled mask. To me, the drug experience is like jamming all sensory data into a very intense mush, into which the individual self disappears. The authentic 'waking up' experience is crisp, sharp as a razor, while also empty, vast, and completely un-confusing. There is no feeling of disembodiment or being removed from the situation. It is both empty, uncluttered and yet powerfully intimate. It is self-not-self. This is profoundly untrue of the drug experience.

    Chet

  37. #37
    disastermouse
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    Re: ZAZEN ON DRUGS: Brad's Post

    Quote Originally Posted by Dosho
    Quote Originally Posted by JRBrisson
    Drugs=delusion and if you do them and think they don't, consider why. I'll give you a hint.... It's in the equation :wink:
    John,

    I agree and know the type of drugs to which you are referring, but I would just qualify that statement with "unprescribed".

    Gassho,
    Dosho
    Clearly Brad wasn't talking about medicine, but it is helpful to make sure that rejecting drug use does not devolve into a demonization of prescription medications for particular illnesses. Let's not go into an "ADHD doesn't exist, ZOMG we're drugging our kidz into zombiez!!!11" conversation. Thanks for the reminder, Dosho.

    Chet

  38. #38
    disastermouse
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    Re: ZAZEN ON DRUGS: Brad's Post

    I would also like to point out a similarity in both these experiences - both can leave you with the very profound delusion that you are big 'E' enlightened. The drug user is unlikely to seek a teacher and receive correction to that delusion. From experience, I can say that although there may be resistance, he or she who has the authentic experience seems much more likely to place him or herself in a place where such delusion can be stripped away, painful though it may be. Why? The authentic experience leaves you feeling almost embarrassingly stupid for never having realized what was in front of you. However, truth needs no defense - and there lingers a remembrance of the fact that truth requires letting go, not hanging on. None of this is in the drug experience. IMHO.

    Chet

  39. #39

    Re: ZAZEN ON DRUGS: Brad's Post

    It appears that the argument against drugs as a tool of the spiritual seeker hinges on the validity of the experience and a perceived primacy of shikantaza. Let's leave drugs behind for a moment. What about other means: drumming, chanting, ritual prayer, koan penetration? What about spontaneous awakenings- those experiences brought on by a turning phrase or some seemingly mundane event.

    Hells, I'm hard pressed to recall a single Zen master of old awakened through ritualized seated meditation. Gautama is close, but he was also recovering from extreme mortification of the body at the time. While I agree that drugs as a shortcut is a bad idea, dogma can be just as damaging.

  40. #40
    Senior Member Sydney's Avatar
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    Re: ZAZEN ON DRUGS: Brad's Post

    I took moderate amounts of a few psychedelics upwards of two decades ago, and felt that I experienced some minor but important moments of realization. HOWEVER, the gist of it is that 1. all they did was help me look at how I was living my life with a slightly different point of view and 2. I had to sift through a lot of nonsense for those few instants of realization.

    Had I devoted an equal amount of time to thoughtful conversation about my life with professors, friends, or my girlfriend over tea, I believe I could have had as much or more of the realization I experienced while high.

    Just because moments of realization take place while one is high doesn't imply that being high led to the moments of realization.

    Charlie Parker crafted some amazing jazz music while doing astonishing amounts of drugs. But the jazz didn't come from the drugs. It came from Charlie Parker.

  41. #41

    Re: ZAZEN ON DRUGS: Brad's Post

    The whole point, though is to release our attachments, right? How to do that if such a release is dependent upon an attachment to a chemical? In other words, if it's a drug, a drum, whatever... that experience becomes dependent upon something external; something to be BOUGHT. Purchased. That alone shows it's NOT the same thing, and is no "shortcut" or substitute for shikantaza... which requires nothing, literally. One simply can't fill ones' self or one's mind with "something" to achieve "nothing."

  42. #42
    disastermouse
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    Re: ZAZEN ON DRUGS: Brad's Post

    Quote Originally Posted by Rev R
    It appears that the argument against drugs as a tool of the spiritual seeker hinges on the validity of the experience and a perceived primacy of shikantaza. Let's leave drugs behind for a moment. What about other means: drumming, chanting, ritual prayer, koan penetration? What about spontaneous awakenings- those experiences brought on by a turning phrase or some seemingly mundane event.

    Hells, I'm hard pressed to recall a single Zen master of old awakened through ritualized seated meditation. Gautama is close, but he was also recovering from extreme mortification of the body at the time. While I agree that drugs as a shortcut is a bad idea, dogma can be just as damaging.
    I would say that an awakening experience RARELY occurs during zazen (although my first experience of this kind did) - shikantaza or otherwise. I would not be surprised if many people reported that an 'awakening moment' came right after getting up from the cushion though. Surely koan penetration works. I would say that koans aren't even verboten in most Soto schools, simply that they aren't a focus of meditation. Soto just 'does koans' differently. Hearing a talk about a koan after shikantaza may very well spur a kensho experience, IMHO.

    Drugs can bring about feelings of no-self, but under the influence of psychedelics I have also been thoroughly convinced that I was possessed by a demon, the reincarnation of Jesus Christ, and that I was an alien from space (not all at the same time, LOL). Thoroughly convinced, that is, until I was coming down from the trip or my focus changed to something else.

    Chet

  43. #43
    disastermouse
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    Re: ZAZEN ON DRUGS: Brad's Post

    I just want to add something here, kensho is not a goal of shikantaza, IMHO. I've stepped very wrongly (and very publicly, LOL) about this topic due to my own attachment to kensho and have gratefully been corrected.

    So even if the drug experience could be considered 'authentic', so what? What about the other 99% of the time when you are not having that experience? It's just as much perfection as kensho. How can you realize that, live that, with the drug experience?

    Gassho.

    Chet

  44. #44

    Re: ZAZEN ON DRUGS: Brad's Post

    Hey Chet

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    What about the other 99% of the time when you are not having that experience? It's just as much perfection as kensho.
    I agree that kensho is as perfectly as it is as taking a shit (or whatever example you choose to replace that with) and I would raise that we don't have any real need to chase after the peak. If it happens it happens. If not, not.

    But what is the measure of a superior method? More directly with an analogy, is the argument "a Stanley hammer is not as good as a Craftsman" or are we arguing that a ball-peen is better than a maul for this job?

    (for the record, I'm playing Devil's Advocate since Al Pacino wasn't available)

  45. #45
    disastermouse
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    Re: ZAZEN ON DRUGS: Brad's Post

    Quote Originally Posted by Rev R
    Hey Chet

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    What about the other 99% of the time when you are not having that experience? It's just as much perfection as kensho.
    I agree that kensho is as perfectly as it is as taking a shit (or whatever example you choose to replace that with) and I would raise that we don't have any real need to chase after the peak. If it happens it happens. If not, not.

    But what is the measure of a superior method? More directly with an analogy, is the argument "a Stanley hammer is not as good as a Craftsman" or are we arguing that a ball-peen is better than a maul for this job?

    (for the record, I'm playing Devil's Advocate since Al Pacino wasn't available)
    I think that understanding shikantaza is very difficult at first. Shikantaza is not a method, and REALLY, there is no goal. Shikantaza is not a kensho-attainment method. I think that a lot of people have a hard time groking that. Ironically, dropping all ideas of attainment, IMHO, makes kensho much more likely, but it doesn't matter since if you are truly practicing shikantaza, you are basically practicing what kensho IS. Kensho is really just a dramatic validation of the principles of shikantaza, but shikantaza is itself the practice of enlightenment. It is radical non-attainment.

    IMHO.

    Chet

  46. #46

    Re: ZAZEN ON DRUGS: Brad's Post

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    Quote Originally Posted by Rev R
    Hey Chet

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    What about the other 99% of the time when you are not having that experience? It's just as much perfection as kensho.
    I agree that kensho is as perfectly as it is as taking a shit (or whatever example you choose to replace that with) and I would raise that we don't have any real need to chase after the peak. If it happens it happens. If not, not.

    But what is the measure of a superior method? More directly with an analogy, is the argument "a Stanley hammer is not as good as a Craftsman" or are we arguing that a ball-peen is better than a maul for this job?

    (for the record, I'm playing Devil's Advocate since Al Pacino wasn't available)
    I think that understanding shikantaza is very difficult at first. Shikantaza is not a method, and REALLY, there is no goal. Shikantaza is not a kensho-attainment method. I think that a lot of people have a hard time groking that. Ironically, dropping all ideas of attainment, IMHO, makes kensho much more likely, but it doesn't matter since if you are truly practicing shikantaza, you are basically practicing what kensho IS. Kensho is really just a dramatic validation of the principles of shikantaza, but shikantaza is itself the practice of enlightenment. It is radical non-attainment.

    IMHO.

    Chet
    Hi Chet,

    Yes, it is very good to make this clear, especially for folks newer to Zen practice who may be reading books from a variety of teachers ... some more focused on Koan Zazen and/or the "Kensho" experience than others. So, let me summarize in a nutshell the perspective offered in this little corner of Shikantaza grounded Soto Zen ...

    Kensho and such, much like the Grand Canyon ... eye opening, expansive place to visit, wouldn't want to/couldn't really live there. Buy a postcard, get back on the bus.

    The treasure of the Way is something that needs to sink deeply into one's bones, to the marrow (even most good teachers who emphasize attaining a Kensho emphasize that too). As Shikantaza, there's the whole bus trip as sacred, each mile by mile.

    And even if one has never been to the Grand Canyon, one can still have this Way sink in to the marrow, and have a glorious trip, mile by mile.

    Gassho, Jundo

  47. #47

    Re: ZAZEN ON DRUGS: Brad's Post

    It may also be a good time to point folks to the "One Born, Twice Born Zen" posts.

    Although a very imperfect description, painting with a too broad brush, I still find it useful in seeing the various flavors that "Zen books" come in ...

    Part 1
    viewtopic.php?f=23&t=1704

    Part 2
    viewtopic.php?f=23&t=1729

    This next may also be helpful in seeing the various flavors of Buddhism, although also painting with a much too broad brush ...

    viewtopic.php?f=23&t=1757

    Gassho, Jundo

  48. #48

    Re: ZAZEN ON DRUGS: Brad's Post

    But what is the measure of a superior method? More directly with an analogy, is the argument "a Stanley hammer is not as good as a Craftsman" or are we arguing that a ball-peen is better than a maul for this job?

    I think it's more pragmatic, really.
    You can use a sledge hammer to drive the same nail as a tap hammer. It'll be faster, too. But the sledge hammer will eventually destroy what you're building.

  49. #49
    disastermouse
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    Re: ZAZEN ON DRUGS: Brad's Post

    Quote Originally Posted by KvonNJ
    But what is the measure of a superior method? More directly with an analogy, is the argument "a Stanley hammer is not as good as a Craftsman" or are we arguing that a ball-peen is better than a maul for this job?

    I think it's more pragmatic, really.
    You can use a sledge hammer to drive the same nail as a tap hammer. It'll be faster, too. But the sledge hammer will eventually destroy what you're building.
    Shikantaza is such a radical practice that this particular tool analogy, no matter how we refine it, just plain doesn't work. Shikantaza is not a tool for attaining any goal. It is not practice for the big performance, it isn't hours put in learning scales so that you can play your instrument with aplomb (although it kind of is ALSO that), it is none other than the radical non-attainment of the Buddha in this moment - whether you realize it or not. I think this means that you can do shikantaza purely, expressing the 'self-not-self' way of the Buddha regardless of whether you see it directly or not. Chances are you will have kensho, near-kensho, satori, jhana-attainment, etc., at some point, but it oddly doesn't really matter.

    I didn't quite realize the power of this practice when I got into that fight with Jundo and Taigu awhile back. My delusion can be very dense - ferocious even. Sadly, I had no teacher around to break me out of my kensho attachment very early on when it may have been much easier (and far less public).

    Something I will say, though - it may be awhile before you are actually doing shikantaza even though you are doing shikantaza. It is an almost unexplainably radical practice. It may not work as well for you, but being as stupid as you really are, without putting up a 'Good Buddhist' front, will expose your errors to correction more quickly. It may not be your way, but the 'way of humiliation' has broken down some of my delusion fairly quickly (IMHO). Of course, it could also be that such a painful way is not entirely necessary. Either way, your 'secret practice', as Magid would put it, must fall by the wayside - and I don't know how that can be done without exposing it to a teacher after acknowledging it to yourself. Sitting zazen to attain kensho can be a version of this sort of secret practice.

    All this is just my opinion. Sorry to be pedantic.

    Chet

  50. #50
    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
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    Re: ZAZEN ON DRUGS: Brad's Post

    I want to play devil's advocate for a second. Why does Brad say what he does? How does he know it's wrong? I'm not asking whether he's done hallucinogens or not, I'm asking, how does he know that it's wrong? While Buddhism may not have a tradition of using hallucinogens, that doesn't mean that it's wrong. I think a better answer here would be that in the Zen tradition, this is not the way, but we cannot know if this is right or wrong. I think he's being overly dogmatic, and not considering the possibility that there may be other ways.

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