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Mysticism and Psychoactives

From: (nagasiva)
Newsgroups: alt.magick.tyagi,alt.magick.tantra,rec.drugs.psychedelic,alt.drugs.psychedelics,alt.psychoactives,alt.consciousness.mysticism,talk.religion.misc,talk.religion.newage,alt.religion.shamanism,alt.shamanism
Subject: Mysticism and Psychoactives
Date: 13 Jan 1999 03:36:12 -0800
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Mark Fenkner:
# > People who advocate the use of drugs (especially psychedelics), stating
# > that they are not harmful (or actually beneficial) are doing a grave
# > disservice to humanity.  I have personally known a few people that once
# > lived a normal life, and after only a few psychedelic experiences ended
# > up in a hospital talking about purple horses and blue diamonds for the
# > rest of their lives....

I would add that I have also known individuals who were disserved, 
it seemed, in but a single ingestion of LSD-25 (as well as those
who did not appear to be able to remain in a harmonious life while
regularly consuming alcohol or stronger intoxicants), though I am not
sure of the long-term effects (psychiatric assistance was absolutely
necessary and the experience may have had long-term benefits or
problems, I have not followed their case out -- in recent meetings
they were proceeding outside the short observation that they
received with apparently no ill-effects).

# > there are men who I greatly respect, because of their advocacy of 
# > drugs (Dr. Andrew Weil, for example), their intelligence and ethics 
# > are questionable.

I did not get the impression that Dr. Weil's text _The Natural Mind_,
which I recommended within this forum not too long ago was a clear 
advocation of psychoactives.  you can find the post archived in (I'd 
provide the filename but the host is unreachable and it may be a day 
or two before it is again accessible) at:

it appeared to be an apology for greater attention to the gray area 
between the "drug war" trenches (between the Squares and the 
Nonordinary or 'Straight' and 'Stoned' paradigm-worlds).
# any realizations or insights that may come through such changes in
# consciousness can be had in other ways.... 

I have heard this but I wonder how to assess it.

"Dr. Syed Rashid Ali" :
# ...NONE of the genuine sufis have indulged in such things or advice 
# using it for any purpose. This is also in keeping with the teachings 
# of Quran and Hadith. Allah says in Quran: Don't go near the prayers 
# when you are intoxicated (4:43)
# The Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) said, "All intoxicants are prohibited."

this implies that intoxication may be part of life outside of prayers.
not all sufis are Muslims, however.  perhaps all 'true sufis' are, but
I could not substantiate that claim.

# No true sufi would practice something against the preaching of 
# Quran and Hadith.

given that you have claimed this without any substantiation whatever,
we are better able to determine your criteria of observation about
whether any "genuine sufis" have indulged.  thank you for making this
very clear.  if you would care to describe how it was you discovered
what a "true" or "genuine" sufi is, this would also be helpful.

Ramo MiceHole :
# may be the psycho active substance acting upon a 
# significantly developed brain that lifted man above the animals. 

rather than opposable thumbs or the mere fact of imaging nervous
systems?  possible.  there are some interesting sources that
indicate that all mystical traditions developed in reflection of
some psychedelic experience.  I find this intriguing.

# can accomplish what may never be accomplished in a 
# lifetime by simply eating this or that. It defies people's 
# work ethic.

please be more explicit in what you think may be accomplished.
is there some internal 'accomplishment' which is supposed to
occur based on the practice of certain behaviors?  are we now
talking about the subjective differentiations of consciousness
(awareness) associated with most mystical traditions?  

if the psychoactives we are discussing do in fact approximate 
or in some manner complement the states developed through 
noningestive and noninhalant methods, how can this be verified?

there are those who claim that the entire 'enlightenment game'
is a crock of feces and it is merely propaganda and hypnosis
that leads the masses to think otherwise.  if there are valuable
tests these can be used before and after psychedelic experiences
to see if there is a *lasting* or receptive state of conscious-
ness that facilitates the development of insight, as well as 
whether there may be side-effects (such as addiction).

my impression is that psychedelics lead me away from repeated
ingestion and toward a greater harmony with noncultural 
processes (compassionate response to wilderness --> ecology,
insight into other people and species --> multiculturalism), 
but the difference of psychology and physiology may suffice to 
yield differing results with different people.  there is value
in studying these events before making generalizations, I think.
Weil described the most important problem of seeing substances
(or plant-allies if you prefer to understand them personally as
I do) as revelation-bearing: dependency upon a tool to achieve
an effect is self-limiting.  at least part of the barrier to
full emancipation would then include destroying the dependency.
some say this about gods and religions also.
# ...if evidence can be presented, then I am all ears.

as is usual in such steep divisions of thought, the criteria
that will be accepted as 'evidence' appears to be in dispute.

# > in a sort of symbiosis. In short, it may be the psycho
# > active substance acting upon a significantly developed
# > brain that lifted man above the animals.
# And therefore we should do what? 

we should not dismiss them as useless or merely hazardous, but
instead come to understand their effects and how these compare
to those produced by mystical disciplines (to which we may also 
become addicted, I'd say).

# ...use them in some way, to further our advancement. 

if that is possible.  if indeed 'advancement' now means the
same thing as it once did.  perhaps it is a one-time boon.
perhaps the first time through the process is a blessing and
after that it becomes a curse.  initiations sometimes are
better only experienced once.  perhaps generalizations are
futile.  perhaps some people may benefit while others are
insufficiently susceptible for some reason.  without clearly
considering it outside inherent bias all we reach is some
sort of dogmatic stand-off (not unusual where religion comes
into play).

# does not follow that we ought continue to use them 
# for any given purpose.

nor does it follow (from the supposition that Mr. McKenna's
ideas about developmental influences are correct) that we
should AVOID using them.  no advice is gained from the hypotheses.
insufficient information.

# ...that a chemical (or device, or anything, really) can be 
# used for something does not mean it ought to be used for that 
# purpose.

nor does it mean that it ought NOT be used.  more info needed.

# ...Our feet apparently evolved so that we can walk, run and 
# climb. This doesn't mean that we should use them to chase 
# people in order to murder them. 

the analogy is faulty because ingestion of psychoactives has not
been shown to have necessary and detrimental effects upon OTHERS.  
whether one ought affect oneself in some way is another argument 
and one I would suggest falls to the individual to decide.

# As Aristotle said, "one cannot derive an ought from an is."

or an ought not, yes.

# We dont need first-hand experience. We see the effects of 
# someone getting shot, and we make the correlation: getting 
# shot is bad. 

someone who wishes to die sees the effects of getting shot in the
head and says that the effects are "good".  it all depends on what
you want.  perhaps someone sees what comes of ingesting or inhaling
psychoactives and decides that this is "good" for them.  we shall
countermand their will in the matter?  this is the political order
of the current paternalist state, yes, but I feel it carries no
rationality and I oppose it strongly.

# I don't see how it is useful to make a distinction between those
# who injest it for spiritual reasons and those that injest it for
# recreational reasons. 
# is a matter of what it does to mind and how. 

not only this but what we are prepared to prevent others from doing
to their mind and how.  I find it reprehensible to prevent others
from doing what they like with their mind and bodies, especially if
they appear to be making a conscious choice in the matter.  let
them suffer any consequences and learn from these.

# ...rational thought is one of our most important connections to 
# the Divine. 

rational thought SEPARATES US from the divine.  it may also be used
to rejoin the divinity if we are crafty.  only those lost in the
world of the intellect believe that it forms a bridge to the Ultimate.

# ...drugs will break down the rational mind during the period of use....

mystical processes assault the same rationality during their practice.
# ...the idea that by shifting one's perspective one can gain an
# Awakenng. Psychoactives do nothing for illumination and no one 
# has ever claimed that they do, 

how can we accurately assess this?  do you have an 'illumination
meter'?  do you claim that all people react the same way to either
mystical disciplines or to medicines and foods?  

# I'd just like to consider the relationship between psycho-actives 
# and awakening.

very good.  we can see what is a psychoactive by virtue of their
influence on our minds.  can we see what is awakening?  biologically
and literally we find consciousness returns by watching the person
return from sleep and REM states.  spiritually?  what is the sign
or measure we shall use?  is it consistently valid?  who will 
operate it?  do the measuring?

# ...Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan [says about "Awakening"]: "We may 
# discern our ability to shift our perspective, in a first step, 
# from 'that which appears' to 'that which transpires through 
# that which appears,' 

vague, though interesting.  it is similar to 'seeing that which
truly is'.  people have been claiming (sometimes after having
ingested psychedelics) to have 'seen what is' for centuries.
how do we assess their accuracy?  is there an absolute measure?
if there were, why wouldn't the variety of religious who honor
mystics settle down and stop their factionated warring?

still quoting:
# ...In a second step we may try to decode the 'software' of the 
# universe that determines the 'hardware' of the cosmos. This
# gives us a sense of 'awakening' - actually there are several 
# awakenings"

again unclear, since this gives the SENSE of awakening.  if we
presume that this implies an intimation of the term's meaning
rather than a mere perception of the experience (however real),
then to accept PVIKhan's rhetoric as valid we'd have to 
accept his metaphysical presuppositions also (that there IS
some sort of 'software' determining the 'hardware' -- a very
backward analogy, since the 'software' is what is more ephemeral
in a computer model).  if we don't find these metaphysics to be
valid then does this mean that PVIKhan is mistaken? 

couldn't I just as easily paraphrase PVIKhan as offering a
dualistic and archaic cosmology of Orphic norms, describing
the material world as 'created by the spiritual'?  if so many
spiritualists accept the lingo, can they be wrong? :>

# is a two step process and the second step takes some pretty
# clear and unaltered thinking (insight). 

does it?  these steps seem to translate roughly to (1) 'see what 
is that transcends appearance' and (2) 'comprehend that which 
transcends appearance'.  it leaves unanswered the question of
whether there IS anything which transcends appearance beyond
more appearances, or even how to go about the task of comprehending
it once we've observed it.  do we do it using "clear and unaltered
thinking"?  is this really "insight"?  I don't claim to have the
Answers, but I don't think that the solutions are as easy as you
and others here make them out to be.

# One must hold both perspectives at once! 

appearance, reality.  you say we must 'hold both perspectives at
once'.  ok, the desert LOOKS like a lake but I am AWARE that there
is no water to be found there. is that it, or do I have to BELIEVE
that there is water at the same time I believe that there is none?
isn't a 'perspective' a position from which to view something else?
how do you suggest we 'fuse two perspectives' without becoming
psychotic?  are they in some measure unified at some level?  if
so, are you sure that there is only one way and one state of mind
from which to approach this?  from where does your certainty arise?

# ...the sufis have allways said that each person has an appointed
# time of awakening, like an alarm-clock. This thought would mean 
# that one cannot induce Awakening, at least not without causing 
# some damage ... either to one's self or to others, 

I think you are searching for reasons to reject the possible
revelation some may find in tools of consciousness.  one could
use the reasoning you have displayed above to negate ALL types
of mystical disciplines.  after all, if we cannot influence the
time of awakening then there is no use in doing anything at all.
on the other hand, the usual argument in response to such
'faith-based' claims is that these disciplines (or substances?)
PREPARE one for the awakening.  as has been said above, what is
does not tell us what should be.

# but by experiencing a sense of awakening one can, in effect, 
# learn to listen for the alarmclock to ring!

this seems merely convoluted.  if the awakening is an alarmclock
then we would not need the alarmclock to hear it ring.

# So what good does a psycho-active drug do for a person? Perhaps 
# it jolts that person to a kind of awakenness, but that method 
# bypasses the responsive mode, the feminine modality necessary 
# for a whole awakening for the tyranical demand for Awakening 
# .. so such an Awakening isn't, in the end, even very real. 

by the same reasoning no mystical discipline brings about these
awakenings either, since they are demands on the psyche for an
unusual and nonordinary state of consciousness.  by your claims
it should occur "naturally" (without effort of special kind) in
order to be "real".  I suspect that you will not like this, tho.

# ...would I take a pill to help me be more aware of my alarmclock 
# in the moring?  perhaps, but I wouldn't call taking a pill to 
# help me get up in the morning very preferable.

then don't take it.  it seems a matter of personal choice, yes.

# the difference between the term that refers to the spiritual 
# awakeing and the term that means what I do in the morning after 
# sleep is that one is a metaphor and the refers to reality - but 
# which one is which? the metaphor and the reality really do 
# parallel each other, 

I'd say that 'parallelling' is too strong.  the nightly sleep and
awakening is a special circumstance.  we enter into a TEMPORARY
unconsciousness.  we cannot see, by virtue of our perceptual
apparatus and filtration, what it is that we are simply not 
attending.  part of the maturation of consciousness is in the
DIRECTION of consciousness as much as its expanse.  merely to
perceive more would leave us disoriented and smacks of the 
worship of the ego or conscious mind (a trap of many mystics
who say that their enlightenment eliminates their need for
sleep (or food, or whatever) entirely by virtue of their
'perfection' -- I think they are either deluded or shysters).

# so even a simple person like me can discern how likely it is 
# that it would be advantageous to take drugs to wake up.

'drugs' is a political term indicative of bias.  you do not come
close to convincing those who have experience with the 'drug war'
that you are somehow knowledgeable when using the 'lingo' of the
Square, man.

as for how likely it is to ingest a substance to wake up in the
nightly sense, I can eat chocolate before bed and consistently
arise BEFORE my alarmclock.  I find that some psychoactives 
PROLONG the waking state.  plug that into your metaphor and see
where it gets you.  Asha, I have never found your explanations for
'why "drugs" won't assist you in your spirituality' to be very
persuasive, based on your own experiences, or based on evidence
from people who really looked at the subject without bias.

"Fenkner, Mark" :
# > ...I was on the same trip that Ramo seems to be, reading
# > all the available literature, taking any type of drug that I could
# > obtain, floating in sensory deprivation tanks, meditating, etc. 

that doesn't sound like a very concerted effort.  the more responsible
way of going about it would be to attempt to examine from all sides
what each substance was doing (requiring a good deal of attention and
time with each one as well as a 'control' base of sobriety from which
to compare results).  simply tossing in everything is a way of just
trying to ESCAPE the conscious experience (or its disintegration into
the unconscious experience -- ever notice that the interest in these
psychoactives is most intense just before sleeping?).

# > I thought I was some sort of spiritual/mental explorer, on the 
# > "LSD and the Search for God" trip, 95% of the time I took the 
# > drugs, it was in a social situation and no more spiritual than 
# > drinking a six pack with my buddies.  

Robert K. Moffett talks about this and the 'Cocktail Party'.  it
appears to proceed from Dionysian promise of ego-dissolution (an
attachment to a certain psychological process which these
substances bring).  why divide it into 'spiritual' and 'nonspiritual'?
examine what occurs and see why it was or was not valuable for you.

having said this I agree that most 'recreational' experiences of
psychoactives are of more harm than benefit, especially those like
alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, or stimulants of most types. I do not
divide intoxicants from psychoactives, personally, feeling that
the former is a type of the latter.

# > ...there were a few times I took psychedelics and sat lotus
# > in a closet for 12 hours (the value or usefulness of which is
# > questionable), but the illusion I held of spirituality really 
# > was just a cover-up for something wrong with me.

so you now think there was something 'wrong' with you at that time.

# > Did these experiences lead me to search for something more real?

it sounds like you were already searching for it.  sometimes it
sounds like you thought you may have found it, yet were dis-
appointed when (you woke up and? :>) discovered that it was
simply not the case.

# > is certainly not a path that I would suggest to anyone, 
# > and it is something that I wish I had never wasted so many
# > years of my life doing.

wasted years of your life?  then it does sound you gleaned no
benefits from it if this is how you feel about it.  not everyone
feels this way, however.  then again, sometimes we have to 'waste'
lots of time to learn important and life-changing lessons.

# > ...interest in drug use truly a thirst for spiritual knowledge,

knowledge (spiritual or no) IS a drug, and thirst for it is just
as much an attachment as thirst for anything else.

# > or is it just an intellecual game and a cover-up for the nafs?  

one might ask this question about ANY activity in which one
engages, and it is very valuable to do so.  how can we TELL when
we are doing something that is merely covering over the nafs?
are there symptoms (give practical advice here) we can watch out
for when we are deceiving ourselves like this?

Ramo MiceHole :
# ...I did not reach cosmic consciousness even after a few years. ;-) 

has anyone ever reached it?  what is it like?  how can we tell if
we have reached it?  can we do so and not know it?  aside from
ingesting substances are there behaviors that associated with it?
lifestyles?  feelings?  awarenesses?

# No vision came.
#           No name came. 
#                    Nothing happened.

maybe you weren't out there long enough.  :>

# ...I was looking for something "real". 

what does 'something "real"' look like?  is it part of the
'I'll know it when I feel/see it' kind of experience, or can
you describe with any succinctness what that includes?  are
you sure that this 'something "real"' exists for you to find?

# I was already curious about the Sufi's from 
# my encounters with remarkable men. 

what remarkable men?  why didn't you learn from them?
oh are you talking about Gurdjieff's book/film?  have
you ever met a 'remarkable man' (or woman)?  what were
they like?  did you consider studying their Way?  if
you did, why did you stop?  what did you expect to become 
or get or find in your studies?  what happened instead?

# ...I wanted something with "substance". Something steeped 
# in antiquity but not fossilized ritual....

that's something more, but not much.  it sounds like you
wanted to have a certain experience.  'steeped in antiquity'
sounds like a tradition of some kind, 'not a fossilized
ritual' indicates that it still has life.  old but alive.
did all the old things you found turn out to be dead?  some
masters (Rajneesh, for example) tend to indicate that most
religions are this way.

RE 'knowing the Prophet' (peace be upon him):
# there is so much that he did... that seems morally 
# questionable....

so you fall in with so many other religious in believing 'the
Prophet' to be an historical person rather than a metaphysical
entity (transcending history and external persons)?  have you
ever considered that the Prophet might be more than a fiesty
warrior whose actions may seem disreputable or distasteful to
our modern and (at least in my case) Western culturation?

# In the mean time I am remembering those deeply
# profound experiences I had with psycho active
# substances and only last week went to the
# well once again. 

what makes them profound?  when you say that they are
'of substance' do you look for life-changing effects?
if you had a pill that would change your life to be just
like you idealize yourself to be, how would it make you?

# No doubt even this small amount has taxed the 
# willingness of the most intrepid readers on this
# list to continue. 

false.  I have read it more than once.  I am not unused to
hearing of similar tales.  I feel that more self-analysis
and attention to what is (as Asha was mentioning) is of
importance in unravelling what may seem quite a tangle.

# I am open to any advice. Maybe thats my problem. ;-)

you appear to want it, so I offer it, as well as reflection on
many responses you have received thusfar.  it is not my way to
judge but instead to question judgement of others and their
actions as to what basis it has and from where it derives.  

may you find that which you seek.  perhaps you'll still want it.
-- (emailed replies may be posted); cc me replies;;

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