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Smoking pot and meditative concentration

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Smoking pot and meditative concentration Max Raikes 12/2/09 8:53 PM
RE: Smoking pot and meditative concentration Ian And 10/19/09 7:08 PM
RE: Smoking pot and meditative concentration Max Raikes 10/19/09 10:16 PM
RE: Smoking pot and meditative concentration tarin greco 10/19/09 10:57 PM
RE: Smoking pot and meditative concentration Daniel M. Ingram 10/20/09 4:39 AM
RE: Smoking pot and meditative concentration Max Raikes 10/20/09 1:02 PM
Thread Split Tom O. 10/21/09 11:28 AM
RE: Smoking pot and meditative concentration Eric Alan Hansen 10/20/09 2:45 PM
RE: Smoking pot and meditative concentration Max Raikes 10/20/09 4:15 PM
RE: Smoking pot and meditative concentration Trent . 10/20/09 6:58 PM
RE: Smoking pot and meditative concentration J Adam G 10/20/09 10:42 PM
RE: Smoking pot and meditative concentration Eric Alan Hansen 10/21/09 5:35 AM
RE: Smoking pot and meditative concentration tarin greco 10/21/09 12:37 PM
RE: Smoking pot and meditative concentration Max Raikes 10/21/09 10:44 AM
RE: Smoking pot and meditative concentration Tom O. 10/21/09 11:11 AM
RE: Smoking pot and meditative concentration Max Raikes 10/21/09 11:20 AM
RE: Smoking pot and meditative concentration Eric Alan Hansen 10/21/09 4:28 PM
RE: Smoking pot and meditative concentration Max Raikes 10/21/09 7:31 PM
RE: Smoking pot and meditative concentration Yadid dee 10/23/09 10:10 AM
RE: Smoking pot and meditative concentration Max Raikes 10/23/09 12:30 PM
RE: Smoking pot and meditative concentration Nicola Joanne Dunn 10/23/09 7:54 PM
RE: Smoking pot and meditative concentration Eric Alan Hansen 10/21/09 5:11 AM
RE: Smoking pot and meditative concentration Trent . 10/21/09 8:51 AM
RE: Smoking pot and meditative concentration Eric B 10/26/09 2:23 PM
RE: Smoking pot and meditative concentration Jeremy P 12/6/09 10:33 AM
RE: Smoking pot and meditative concentration Pavel _ 2/18/10 9:10 AM
RE: Smoking pot and meditative concentration Tom Smith 2/17/10 9:15 PM
RE: Smoking pot and meditative concentration S. Pro 11/2/10 1:51 AM
RE: Smoking pot and meditative concentration Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem 11/4/10 1:57 PM
RE: Smoking pot and meditative concentration Simon T. 9/17/11 5:24 AM
RE: Smoking pot and meditative concentration Rashed Arafat 9/17/11 10:45 PM
RE: Smoking pot and meditative concentration Tommy M 9/18/11 3:46 PM
RE: Smoking pot and meditative concentration Simon T. 9/18/11 9:52 PM
RE: Smoking pot and meditative concentration Rashed Arafat 9/19/11 1:52 AM
RE: Smoking pot and meditative concentration Simon T. 9/19/11 4:59 AM
RE: Smoking pot and meditative concentration Cedric . 1/2/13 10:29 PM
RE: Smoking pot and meditative concentration Not Important 1/2/13 10:44 PM
Hey!

So simple question in my mind... does smoking pot occasionally (Say once a week) effect meditative concentration? I figure from personal experience doing it too much results in mental dullness (duuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuude...)

So far, I've found that there may be some kind of effect on my concentration the next day (I never smoke and try to meditate btw). So far I haven't found it to be a hindrance in a significant way... but I only started three months ago so I don't have too much experience to draw upon.

I used to smoke a lot more pot before and I have friends who smoke, so I only smoke once a week or so when my friends want to. I find it helps to maintain bonds and whatnot to share at least some lifestyle stuff. Seems middle wayish to me,


Thanks!

RE: Smoking pot and meditative concentration
Answer
10/19/09 7:08 PM as a reply to Max Raikes.

So simple question in my mind... does smoking pot occasionally (Say once a week) effect meditative concentration?. . .

So far I haven't found it to be a hindrance in a significant way... but I only started three months ago so I don't have too much experience to draw upon.

Well, the very fact that you are asking such a question admits to a recognition that this is a sensitive subject, if nothing else. You actually know the answer to the question, you're just looking for justification for what you want to be able to continue doing.

It's your life, and you are the one responsible for living it. So use your discretion if you're going to do it.

Three months sounds like enough experience, and that you've already made up your mind. You've already admitted that "so far I haven't found it to be a hindrance in a significant way." So, it puzzles us as to why you are even asking the question. It's your call. You're a big boy, aren't you? You can take your own decisions.

I have been in a similar situation and luckily was never really hurt by it. But I was young and didn't know any better. (There are some extenuating circumstances that if I tried to explain them to you, you probably wouldn't understand or believe, so I won't even go there.) However, you've got to know that as a responsible person, I would not really recommend that doing this is okay to anyone -- even though you may be able to get away with it.

As your practice matures, though, you should come to see that any kind of messing around with your mental perceptions -- no matter what the circumstance is -- through the use of such substances is something that you would rather not do. The deeper you get into the practice, the more this will become true.

RE: Smoking pot and meditative concentration
Answer
10/19/09 10:16 PM as a reply to Ian And.
Thank you for your response.

I think you're right that I do already know the answer. Hadn't really thought about it like that... (or I had?) ..haha.. okay well practically anyway, until I read your post.

In terms of extenuating circumstances (like your situation...mysterious!), I'm thinking at the moment the the situation is what it is and as one goes along I'll get better at reading the situation... whatever that means which I don't really know except that I did quit smoking and I notice other people and my environment a lot more than I used to (so i can project a little, but not concretely).

Anyway I get into a habit of following thoughts (that's a good one to quit!).

RE: Smoking pot and meditative concentration
Answer
10/19/09 10:57 PM as a reply to Max Raikes.
hi maxwell,

i have a friend who smoked pot regularly and managed to get path. something about him has been clearly different ever since, but guess what he still smokes.

i myself smoked pot occasionally after getting path and gained lasting insights from that (even if one of those insights was that it messes with my ability to remember and i shouldnt smoke it so much). i dont really smoke anymore.

i chalk up my expedience in getting first path partly to some things i learnt while tripping ... if you call 10 years of practising seriously and in the presence of a bunch of enlightened teachers expedient (i dont, im being ironic). however, i attribute to those psychedelic experiences some of the heavy insight first path gave me (which my teacher brought to my attention when he told me that first path doesnt usually show people what i understood from it), and however much those experiences may have slowed me down prior to that point, what they exposed me to probably accounted in part for my subsequently rapid progress.

my point is that mind-altering substances, more than most things, are a hit-or-miss mixed bag... eat from it at your own risk.

tarin

RE: Smoking pot and meditative concentration
Answer
10/20/09 4:39 AM as a reply to tarin greco.
I think this topic is a good one to explore.

First off: disclaimer: The DhO cannot endorse the use of illegal drugs or breaking the law in any way.

Beyond that, I think clearly people have mixed experiences with these things as Tarin says.

The apathy from pot is clearly real and frequently reported, as are the reductions in dreams and some other experiences. Schizophrenia and pot use continue to be linked in numerous studies, though correlation and causality are not the same thing.

I know a number of people who had very profound openings (mostly A&P) on various hallucinogens, including a few of my hippy and boomer teachers, but most decided that they needed to be able to get insights on their own power and tended to trend to less drug use, though there are exceptions.

One way or the other, I would advocate seeing what you can do on your own power and go for clarity and wisdom using standard methods, as if you can do it unaltered, you know it is yours and not just some side effect.

RE: Smoking pot and meditative concentration
Answer
10/20/09 1:02 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Hi!

I have come to think that my recreational drug use in a large part led me to the dharma in the first place (as a disclaimer this just happened to occur so not endorsing this at all). I have always thought that the experiences that I had were valid and true, but ultimately just temporary experiences that I didn't pin down or anything.

So for example, I came to the conclusion that the universe is infinite... if the universe is infinite then somehow I must also be part of that somehow.. hmm sounds obvious but at the time I could sort of feel the infinite nature of it rather than just being a word.

I have found that it alters my perception of living organisms. For instance, plants seem to be more *present.* For instance, a funny image is people taking psychedelics talking to trees etc. In my opinion this is because instead of being just a backdrop for our personal drama, plants are realized as beings in their own right, just as we are.

Another is just a general feeling of integratedness with the universe as a whole, making every colour, sight sound, living thing, person that much more fascinating and interesting. Also senses are confused, I remember once 'tasting' 6 o'clock, and tasting purple. I think this goes to show how much of a role the mind plays in shaping reality.

I have had others but too long a story for now! In any case that was then and this is now, and now I would probably not take them as they tend to unbalance the body and mind (same goes for pot I guess).

So, after experiencing all that I finally came across the Dharma and it made complete sense... so read into that what you will... however I think that the drug use was a product of my curiosity about the universe and my perceptions of it.

Oh funny story, once I started meditating I remembered this game my Dad had given my when I was 8 or so years old called the Journeyman Project. Anyway in the game they have this one section in 'Shangri-la' with lots of cool buddhist temples, statues etc. (I think Tibetan style). Anyway I remember that very clearly (considering my age) and I also remember having a kind of resonance with the images. Post-event mythologizing? Maybe! But in any case I have my Dad to thank for my first introduction to the Dharma emoticon

P.S anyone remember Timothy Leary?

RE: Smoking pot and meditative concentration
Answer
10/20/09 2:45 PM as a reply to Ian And.
"Well, the very fact that you are asking such a question admits to a recognition that this is a sensitive subject, if nothing else. You actually know the answer to the question, you're just looking for justification for what you want to be able to continue doing."

I'm going to quote Ian and second what he is suggesting. You are asking a question and in that you want others to either agree or disagree with you. If those who disagree cant persuade you they share the blame in letting you go astray. Those who agree with you, when you are met with failure, will share the blame for having agreed with you. So by asking the question in the way you have, it allows you to blame everyone else whether or not you succeed or fail in the direction you indicate that you have already chosen . I'm call this strategy the "Iron Turd" because simply by trolling and baiting the list you transfer your sense of self responsibility to someone else.

As for these "friends" you value so deeply maybe you could better bond with them by slashing their tires on their way to the dealer, or perhaps by mixing some of that "Iron Turd" in with their dope.

h a s t a l a v i s t a ,

h a n s e n

RE: Smoking pot and meditative concentration
Answer
10/20/09 4:15 PM as a reply to Eric Alan Hansen.
Eric:

Hey thanks for the reply!

So, In terms of 'taking a position,' I don't recall saying strongly one way or another whether or not it is correct.

Hmm I guess that my original post could be seen as trying to get others to take responsibility for my actions, but I really just wanted to open up this topic as an area of debate.

Also, please don't talk about my friends disrespectfully as they have helped me become a much better person over the years. Just because they smoke pot doesn't mean I should slash their tires emoticon

In general:

I think the point I was trying to make in my previous post was that entering the path seems to me to be a process and not a concrete idea of the Enlightened Mighty One that I will become. So, while now that I have discovered the path it is probably not good to take drugs so that my insight comes from within, in the past I took drugs.... So in a sense that has been part of my path too...

Hmm any other way ins? (Not necessarily about what I should do... I think I have a pretty good idea now but I would like to hear any other opinions!)

Cheers

RE: Smoking pot and meditative concentration
Answer
10/20/09 6:58 PM as a reply to Max Raikes.
Maxwell Stephen Probyn:
so that my insight comes from within, in the past I took drugs.... So in a sense that has been part of my path too...


I don't have anything major to add, but I do think that experimenting periodically is certainly not going to kill you. In fact, you may or may not find a way to use things such as this to help you figure out something in life (dharma related or not), as you have already stated. And so with that said, I suggest that you judge your approach based on the actual feedback you get from your experiences, and try not to throw things out permanently even if they do not seem appropriate for a certain period in your life.

In that same vein and in relation to the section I quoted, remember that there ultimately is not a "within." Either demonizing or making sacrosanct the "inside" will only lead to spinning one's wheels. Just look for the experiential results. It does not matter whether your perceptions shift due to having THC (derived from a plant) on the brain or whether it is due to meditating in such a way that your brain's native neurological chemicals (which are derived from caloric intake: plants and animals) are the ones that "do the damage." Change is change, and if it leads you toward being happy and kind, then that is great. Though, I suppose I've always been a bit of a Machiavellian type :].

Best,
Trent

RE: Smoking pot and meditative concentration
Answer
10/20/09 10:42 PM as a reply to Trent ..
I'll break with a few opinions here and opine, based on my own experience, that infrequent and judicious use of marijuana can be mostly non-disruptive to an insight practice. Though I would suggest that weekly use would be too often. The cognitive effects of marijuana compounds and their metabolites can continue to disrupt the delicate mental processes that form a part of meditation, whether vipassana or jhana. This is probably more of an issue for jhana, but still a significant issue for vipassana, and I would presume more significant if you're no longer a beginner at insight meditation. The mind's functions are messed up for about 48-72 hours after consuming marijuana, for a medium/large dose. If you only use a small dose, then there would probably be no beneficial effects for insight anyway, so then the only effects it would have would be negative effects for about 24-36 hours.

At large doses, marijuana can cause you to perceive the vibrations that are normally only accessible through vipassana. So, if someone were to experiment a few times with weed to get a feel for what those vibrations are like so they know what to "hook on to" during vipassana practice, that could be great for practice. But after you know how to see vibrations, there wouldn't really be much use otherwise. So to go to your actual question, what effects weekly-ish use of weed would have on an insight practice, they would probably be slightly to moderately negative if you can already perceive vibrations, simply due to the disruption of your concentration and clarity that lasts a significant time after the high and accompanying vibrations wear off. If you've never perceived vibrations, getting very high a few times (though it cannot be recommended because it is illegal) could help you know what to "aim" for in vipassana, but after you saw the vibrations a few times then it would be slightly to moderately detrimental, severely detrimental on a retreat or if you were on a critical stage of insight practice and needed a lot of clarity.

My experience with people suggest that telling someone who is asking a question, "You already know the answer inside yourself" creates a cognitive bias towards their accepting of the position that you're stating. That statement suggests, potentially incorrectly, that the person already believed your position more strongly than the other one they were considering. People are vulnerable to suggestion, and if they believe themselves to have already agreed with you previously, this induces a bias towards agreement with you. Since we want to help a question-asker find the truth, using psychological methods that can induce bias is neither necessary nor helpful. If we take a person's question at face value and answer by outlining the facts of the situation, this can be sufficient. To assume a manipulative intent ("you just want someone to justify your 'bad behavior'") behind a person's question can trigger hostility, which helps nothing. In fact, if you want to convince someone to agree with you, you would not really want to irritate them by making statements that call into question their integrity, right?

As someone who enjoys asking questions that are not supposed to be asked, for the sake of improving understanding of the truth, I thank you for asking what appears to be a genuine question here, and for responding as graciously to the testy answers you received as to the neutral and kind ones. Equanimity for the win!

RE: Smoking pot and meditative concentration
Answer
10/21/09 5:11 AM as a reply to Max Raikes.
Dear Max: Actually I find calling smoking dope "middle wayish" to be extremely strong language, but perhaps you haven't really plumbed the depths of what Middle Way means, especially to a Buddhist discussion group. If this is the case then I apologize. However, Buddha coined the expression "Middle Way" as a Noble Path that is neither asceticism nor hedonism. The Five Precepts does not forbid the use of intoxicants, but if you take the five precepts as vows and become an actual follower of the buddha then it actually does become an issue.

Strong drugs over power the mind for most users. That is why they use them. Like the Dharma battle strategy called "Iron Turd", it conveys an unwillingness to be assertive with positive values. All the time spent stoned on drugs could be spent in practice and the liberation of all sentient beings.

As far as slashing tires goes what I said was if you want to "bond" with your friends this may be a very effective way of doing it. Most stoners never remember other stoners in the long haul, trust me on that one. But they would most likely remember the peckerwood who slashed their tires. That is what I mean by bonding. I don't mean to disrespect your friends however. I think you should pull the Iron Turd stunt on them, it has proved quite successful here.

p e a c e

h a n s e n

RE: Smoking pot and meditative concentration
Answer
10/21/09 5:35 AM as a reply to J Adam G.
Adam: The bottom line is if you are getting quality jhana states which are like self-induced and natural mind-expanding and mind altering experiences, you don't want to lose that to getting loaded. If the question was posed "I have a pot smoking habit and how can I break that habit?" my immediate response would be get 4th jhana, it's better than pot. Further more, I have heard that getting the "Milk of Shiva" is better than sex, but I couldn't tell you myself. The point being there is a perfectly good reason and reward for being clean, straight and sober, but you wouldn't believe it if someone just popped up and told you. "How does smoking pot affect Insight" is a presumptive question because Insight is merely a practice of noting whatever happens to be there, straight, stoned or otherwise. It doesn't affect anything, when the practice is a clean slate without bias in the first place.

In the real world however, drug use is destroying economies, increasing poverty, increasing violence, destroying entire countries, and ultimately some of the karma is going to land right back on the source of the problem, which is the typical user in the wealthy post-industrial nations. I can't possibly live with a clear conscience knowing how these things are inter-connected. I still carry enough karma for several lifetimes and don't want to risk more.
p e a c e
h a n s e n

RE: Smoking pot and meditative concentration
Answer
10/21/09 8:51 AM as a reply to Eric Alan Hansen.
Dear Eric,

I appreciate your opinions on these matters, as I am sure the others do, and I feel it is important that the viewpoint is expressed.

With that said, many of the lines of thought you offer are simply not sensible at all. Statements such as "stoners rarely remember their friends" is about as ridiculous a line as I have ever heard. Similarly silly is that any meditative attainment is somehow "better" than any given substance (or sex), because the existence of one does not prevent the existence of the other (they aren't mutually exclusive, nor are they comparable).

Furthermore, substance usage (especially for first-time users) is typically an occurrence which stems from some other socio-economic problem endemic to a given populous and is rarely the actual cause of the underlying issue (exception being those persons negatively affected by drug trafficking, etc). This is just common sense. Happy people don't abuse drugs, and drugs don't somehow "take over the mind" or anything like that. Most of the "problems" or worries you site are not related to substances themselves but instead the simple, everyday choices a person makes. Generalizing a demographic in the way that you are only serves to add fuel to the fire, while ignoring the root issues that are part and parcel of the human condition.

Trent

RE: Smoking pot and meditative concentration
Answer
10/21/09 12:37 PM as a reply to Eric Alan Hansen.
Eric Alan Hansen:
Adam: The bottom line is if you are getting quality jhana states which are like self-induced and natural mind-expanding and mind altering experiences, you don't want to lose that to getting loaded. If the question was posed "I have a pot smoking habit and how can I break that habit?" my immediate response would be get 4th jhana, it's better than pot. Further more, I have heard that getting the "Milk of Shiva" is better than sex, but I couldn't tell you myself. The point being there is a perfectly good reason and reward for being clean, straight and sober, but you wouldn't believe it if someone just popped up and told you. "How does smoking pot affect Insight" is a presumptive question because Insight is merely a practice of noting whatever happens to be there, straight, stoned or otherwise. It doesn't affect anything, when the practice is a clean slate without bias in the first place.


personally speaking, i did not lose jhana ability when i got stoned. in fact, i first intentionally accessed (learnt) what dan ingram and kenneth folk termed pureland jhana 1 and 2, hard, *while* stoned, while i was 2nd path (sakadagami), and had no trouble getting into them later when i wasn't stoned. some may argue that this was because i had heightened concentration skills due to already being a path-winner (which makes jhana a sort of default mind state), and i might not have been able to do it earlier, prior to stream-entry, and they might be right, i dont know, as i abstained from pretty much all form of intoxication for the better part of a decade after i started the heavy duty meditation stuff (and was a good little buddhist, or good little non-buddhist doing demonstrably beneficial buddhist oops i mean universal practices, etc, whatever), and so don't have a basis for comparison.

on another note, here's a couple other things requiring concentration that i've learnt while stoned which i've retained for later (sober) use:

-how to stir-fry really well
-how to pronounce the danish 'soft d'
-a few nifty longboard tricks

Eric Alan Hansen:

In the real world however, drug use is destroying economies, increasing poverty, increasing violence, destroying entire countries, and ultimately some of the karma is going to land right back on the source of the problem, which is the typical user in the wealthy post-industrial nations. I can't possibly live with a clear conscience knowing how these things are inter-connected.


as the marijuana consumed (however legally or illegally) by the typical user in wealthy post-industrial nations is also grown (however legally or illegally) in wealthy post-industrial nations, your lumping it in with the drug use which (arguably) destroys economies, increases poverty, increases violence, and destroys entire countries makes no sense.

however, in the meantime, use of religions is destroying economies, increasing poverty, increasing violence, destroying entire countries, which use is perpetuated by people in both industrial and post-industrial nations. can you live with a clear conscience knowing how these things are interconnected? ^_^

tarin

RE: Smoking pot and meditative concentration
Answer
10/21/09 10:44 AM as a reply to Eric Alan Hansen.
Sorry! I know that the topic got moved and not trying to steer the conversation away! I had just written this before the thread got moved so these are just some thoughts from earlier:

J Adam G:

Thank you so much for taking the time to consider my question! I'm beginning to feel quite fortunate that I found this online community (through Buddhist Geeks) as I am not to sure I would have been able to talk about this with anyone else (I guess I could have done but I'm not sure how my (physical? Fleshy?) Sangha would have reacted...(as opposed to digital Sangha?).

Trenton:
Thank you again for your replies! I'm still not sure that tire slashing can be classified as bonding (in my experience the bonding that one seeks is mutually beneficial... although maybe in a specific context it could have that effect). Plus I'm not sure my fiance would appreciate it :-).
In terms of the Karma involved, well I have definitely thought of the links to drug related gangs and the negative sides of the industry. Ideally I'd like Canada to legalize it (although under 3 grams in not illegal... neither is it legal). Although, this also makes me think of food intake as well!

For instance, I am now a vegetarian (really can't imagine myself slaughtering an animal)... but there's also the argument that since one is not physically killing the cow, then the intention is not there which might be seen as the part which really harms the mind. I also still drink milk and eat cheese (found that hard to give up and not really sure that I should), I guess if I was being strict about it I would say that I shouldn't because the dairy industry is pretty horrible in it's own right. For instance, dairy cows life in buildings in tiny cramped quarters, are fed hormones, are hooked up to machines for most of their lives and aren't given any respect due to a living being. In addition! Their babies are taken away from them and raised to be slaughtered as veal (Again in tiny cramped quarters and with hormones etc.).

So! In relation to pot and karma, well I think you could take two stances. 1) I won't do it (partially, aside from whatever other effects or reasons one might have) because of the bad karma 2) I'm not going around hustling people for money and offing them in my back yard so I don't see how its so terrible!

I think it's good to keep in mind that one of the noble truths that the Buddha (much love) is that all beings suffer and we constantly live off of other being's suffering (can't quit killing and eating plants can we?). Given that, its hard to see any clear cut yes or no but I think what you are getting at Trenton is that we should mitigate that suffering as much as we can. And it seems to me that saying 'as much as we can' is really an individual choice... (which I think is why Daniel Ingram (and others) talk about testing it out and seeing if it works). So it's relative.

(Haha I always feel like I'm chasing my tail with this stuff but it's a fun diversion.)

So (Finally!), I didn't mean to be disrespectful to say 'middle wayish,' I think I was just articulating that my middle way is a target that I'm aiming for which I'll probably miss most of the time! In this case, going from a period (6 years) of smoking pot, taking magic mushrooms and smoking cigarettes, to not smoking cigarettes, not taking magic mushrooms (although I took them once every 6-8 months or so which is not that much) and not smoking pot (okay I think maybe once every 2 weeks emoticon (for now) seemed like in my situation to be the middle way!

By the way I don't want people to get the impression that I was a strung out 'druggy,' I completed my undergrad and am doing a masters in landscape architecture, have a pretty cool family and friends, got through the death of my father (cancer) which was pretty rough and I am with a loving fiance who I adore! (By the way not trying to say those things are really important as Bhodidharma lived in a cave for 9 years and he turned out alright, just trying to point out that I wasn't 'overcome' by the drug use).

Phew! Sorry about the complicated sentences and odd tangents (that's how my brain seems to work).

RE: Smoking pot and meditative concentration
Answer
10/21/09 11:11 AM as a reply to Max Raikes.
Max, I unilaterally decided to move the thread because of what you originally asked. If you prefer to keep this thread on its new moral slant, I can move it back and the peel off my related question into a new thread.

RE: Smoking pot and meditative concentration
Answer
10/21/09 11:20 AM as a reply to Tom O..
can we split in two emoticon Actually I'm definitely interested to hear about the effect on concentration as that was my question originally and I'm not as confused (that I know of) about the moral issues. Although Buddha's whole take on intoxicants is interesting as I think he says, "don't take intoxicants that make you heedless' or something... maybe I'm wrong... anyway wrong topic!

Thread Split
Answer
10/21/09 11:28 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Rather than move this thread, I have split off a related topic in the "Concentration" category.

RE: Smoking pot and meditative concentration
Answer
10/21/09 4:28 PM as a reply to Max Raikes.
Okay, here is the stance I am taking:

(1) sorry I have to be the asshole here, but everybody has to have one.

(2) substances aren't in and of themselves necessarily harmful. Usually they all start out a medicine for specific cures, but then what the hell, they cure a little something else too. Harm depends on how they are used. Heavy machinery or passing out when it is below freezing, etc., etc., other hazards.

(3) what is a hindrance is attachment, and addiction, mental, psychological, physical or otherwise, in other words habit-formed behavior

(4) that is how I define the difference between substances or substance abuse. We are a drug-using culture (and practice semi-polygamy) regardless of the propaganda. Using is the status quo. All I am trying to say is "kick the attachment".

(5) attachment/using has to have an effect on concentration as opposed to NOT doing so, but if you take one route it is impossible to know first hand what is on the other. That is the limitation of personal experimentation. You'll never know how you might have fared without it.

(6) I am not 100% clean and sober my own self, if I were I would fulfill the 5 Precepts and would be Upasaka, which is not too shabby of a title to have, no less significant than Bhikkhu, in my opinion. I just have to defend this, as hypocritical as it seems, for the sake of what? Answering the question as honestly as I feel I possibly can, thats all.

p e a c e

h a n s e n

RE: Smoking pot and meditative concentration
Answer
10/21/09 7:31 PM as a reply to Eric Alan Hansen.
Hey Hansen,

Thanks a lot for your honesty! I just re-read my earlier post and realized I addressed a section to Trenton which was actually for you! That's what I get for not editing my posts. oops

RE: Smoking pot and meditative concentration
Answer
10/23/09 10:10 AM as a reply to Max Raikes.
Personally I find pot highly addictive and I found that it considerably lowers my life quality when used regularly, and that it also makes my practice weaker.

Just my own experience.

RE: Smoking pot and meditative concentration
Answer
10/23/09 12:30 PM as a reply to Yadid dee.
Yeah it definitely depends from person to person! For instance, I used to be horribly attached to computer games when I was a teenager... even now I don't trust myself!
I've never had a problem being addicted to pot, I regularly stopped smoking for months without feeling any compulsion to smoke.

RE: Smoking pot and meditative concentration
Answer
10/23/09 7:54 PM as a reply to Max Raikes.
I'd like to give some of my experiences here.

I used to smoke pot, simply because I was in so much pain I needed something. The painkillers they gave me simply weren't strong enough.
I have a rare medical condition, and they hadn't diagnosed it back then; they couldn't work out what was wrong with me, so they didn't want to give me stronger medication simply because I had no label.

The big problem with pot is that (and I guess this depends on if you believe in this), it affects Chi negatively.
It blocks up chi points and really screws up chi lines and flow. So in the end I found I was much worse anyway, physically, because it totally messed up my chi flow. I've done years of t'ai chi and only just started getting my chi lines anywhere near normal as a result.

This affects more than just the physical side though, chi is the whole energy of the body. If it's out of whack, you can get ill in various ways, and it's a really bad idea.

The affect of pot on the mind is eventually a bad one as well.
I personally have Bipolar Disorder, so I already have a major mental health disorder, and it really, really messed my head up. But I've known people with no mental health disorder and it's messed them up as well.
Something that affects your mind in this kind of way usually isn't going to be helpful for meditation.
Also, the apathy that pot brings, even when you're not high pervades your life. You'll quit meditating because it's just too much effort anyway.
It is possible for people to do well on the path with drugs, but it takes a very strong mind and some good development already I think.

It's your life, and I'd never dream of telling anyone what to do, but I personally think pot is a bad idea full stop. I used to think it was fine, and then I found out the hard way that it wasn't really.
People seem to think it's fine because it's a low-classified drug, and it's used a fair bit, but bear in mind, you're still taking a mind-altering substance. Your mind is a wonderful thing, why change it externally when you can work on it and learn about it and change things you're not happy with specifically through meditation and the path?

Hope this helps.

Djon Ma

Nicola

RE: Smoking pot and meditative concentration
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10/26/09 2:23 PM as a reply to Max Raikes.
I can only address this from a samata perspective. Smoking dope defintely leaves one with a hazy, foggy sort of hangover that lingers for several days. I see in other posts in this thread some estimates of exactly how long this may be. I always found this "fog" to be detrimental to effectively employing applied (vitakka) and sustained (vicara), conducive to mental drift and discursiveness and not conducive to one-pointedness (ekaggata). It's a state akin to that warm fuzzy sloth and torpor state that some samatha practitioners can settle into and mistake it for going "deep".

In 2005 I started meditating again after 15 years of not meditating, and realized two things almost immediatley. The first was that I'd have to stop smoking pot if my sitting was every going to move beyond twenty minute sessions of picturing squirrels running around like Homer Simpson. So I stopped. (The second, not related directly to this topic, was the coarseness that the 15 years years of cigarette smoking had imparted to my breath.)

That said, I do like Eric H's comment
my immediate response would be get 4th jhana, it's better than pot
. I may not be there yet, but I'm working on it!

Eric

RE: Smoking pot and meditative concentration
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12/6/09 10:33 AM as a reply to Eric B.
This thread seems to have come to an end, but I feel like it will generally be interesting to people on this site and the more experiences the better. Here are mine:

background: haven't smoked in years, but was an occasional smoker before. In my early 20's Nietzsche uprooted my belief structure and I decided to clean house, get rid of unfounded beliefs, and figure out how my mind really worked. I found pot gave me some insights and would smoke to figure out how my body affected my thoughts. In retrospect, I was sitting and doing insight meditation, but wasn't aware of the tradition or the consequences of that kind of investigation.

positive results: I felt I learned a lot in the early days. I got a short coarse introduction to what I now call the first 4 jhanas, felt what I now call chi, and learned a lot of interesting things about my body and mind (e.g. how my mind filled in the information of my eye's blind spot: it was in constant flux.). Hooray!

negative results: I never was the type to just smoke and bliss out. I was there to learn whether I wanted to or not, it was habitual seeking of insights. A strong dose one day blasted me into the A&P... strong. I had been there before and come to enjoy these 2D cartoons dancing about, sometimes with my eyes open, but certainly strongly when they were closed. My body seemed to pulse and that was cool too. Unfortunately, I dropped precipitously into the worst dark knight imaginable. Those that read Daniel's book might recall grim tales of the dark night and these were those in full glory: hellish visions, confusion about my relationship, and well, amongst other things I was sure I had Downs' syndrome my whole life emoticon This pain and confusion stayed with me in the days and weeks that followed and my life was difficult to keep together.

aftermath: The drug seemed to be ruined for me emoticon Short highs followed by long, desolate, fearful times in the dark night. Nothing like that to get you to stop smoking. Maybe it would be different for me now, but I just don't see the point. Maybe it's residual fear. I will say, I had to muster up a bit of courage to go to my first weekend retreat! Didn't quite know what was waiting for me.

My point is: be a little careful of the allure of THC assisted insight meditation, you might get more than you bargained for and might not have the tranquility to handle it. I spoke with a more experienced smoker friend about these things and he seemed to be able to handle the bad times. Can't say why that was.

RE: Smoking pot and meditative concentration
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2/17/10 9:15 PM as a reply to Max Raikes.
I know a few people who smoke pot and meditate. They are not the people I am most impressed with. I know people who did it for a while and quit. They seem healthier.

If it was really helpful I think it would be more widely used. Why don't we hear of any advanced practitioners recommending it?

I spent some time in India in the 70's. There were lots of Sadhus who smoked it, but they weren't the serious yogis that I looked up to. They were kind of hanging out and smoking pot, just like stoned people in the USA. The serious swami's and teachers didn't use it.

Ram Dass made a good point about it in a book a long time ago. He said that even if it did help a little, still you are breaking the law and that puts you in a paranoid us versus them position which is not helpful.

I recommend you think about this and decide for yourself, but if you were to ask my advice I would suggest you stop using it.

RE: Smoking pot and meditative concentration
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2/18/10 9:10 AM as a reply to Jeremy P.
I never was the type to just smoke and bliss out. I was there to learn whether I wanted to or not, it was habitual seeking of insights. A strong dose one day blasted me into the A&P... strong. I had been there before and come to enjoy these 2D cartoons dancing about, sometimes with my eyes open, but certainly strongly when they were closed. My body seemed to pulse and that was cool too. Unfortunately, I dropped precipitously into the worst dark knight imaginable.


I had pretty much the same experience with MDMA, interesting to hear that pot can do the trick too. One thing that I am aware of retrospectively (not having dabbled with substances in a while and not wanting to do so again in the near future) is that the experience produced by most (if not all) psychoactive substances will be defined by the stage that you are in, I have taken a fairly large range of psychedelics in the Dark Night and was not able to cope with what came out very well. Pot is definitely among those - I have had great (ie. pleasant) experiences while in A&P and horrid, anxiety-ridden ones in the Dark Night. The only drug that gave me a temporary release from the Dark Night (for perhaps two months or so) was ayahuasca. Interestingly, even caffeine seems to be affected by the stages (would others agree?) - I have noticed quite strong negative reactions, anxiety, fear and general constriction after the effect of caffeine wore off (which, if I could do insight for a couple of hours was not necessarily a very bad thing).

Giving another quote (also from Ram Dass I believe), 'If you get the message, hang up the phone'. Most of the interesting effects of these drugs (at least the ones that are insight, concentration, or energy orientated) appear to be accessible through meditation (which also gives you the tools to work with the results), not forgetting the difference between having a one-off weird experience as opposed to having a reproducible skill, ability or understanding.

RE: Smoking pot and meditative concentration
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11/2/10 1:51 AM as a reply to Max Raikes.
I smoked weed about a week ago and tried to meditate.
My meditation was much worse than sober. Concentration was difficult.
One time only is not a very representative sample but I have the feeling that weed for me is not really helping.

RE: Smoking pot and meditative concentration
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11/4/10 1:57 PM as a reply to S. Pro.
Just to add my 2c.

I've smoked a good amount. If stuff is around, then a few times a week. Currently I'm in that state now, although I've been doing it less, recently. The doses are generally.. pretty high.

Mostly it takes away time from doing things. Without, it's 10PM, I do some stuff, some other stuff, maybe productive things, maybe even watch a show or something, then get to bed. With, it's 10PM, ah time to smoke. It's hard to even keep up with wasting time (by watching shows), which is kind of funny..

I haven't noticed after-effects of pot lingering for days afterwards... You might say, well I must always be feeling them if I smoke so often. Maybe. But I've quit for months in between frequent uses and didn't feel very different, both when meditating regularly and not. I do feel less sharp in the morning, and I say 'no more,' but it goes away pretty soon into the day, and by the end of the day I feel fully normal.

Most recently, I tried candle flame meditation, both stoned and not. It was more effective stoned. That's not a good thing, necessarily... It was good in that it worked and that made me happy. But it demoralized me when I wasn't able to reproduce as wonderful effects sober, although I did have good effects sober anyway.

The first time I tried it I was stoned, actually, so maybe that helped me 'get it' in the first place. Now I'll never know =P.

Hmm so what's the conclusion? Dnno. I definitely feel I should stop. I can't point at any glaringly obvious reason to, it's just a feeling. I actually was not into it the most recent bout of doing-it-often, but my friend was more into it than I, so I'd smoke with him, and after a while of that I finally got into it again too. Mmm mutually-perpetuating drug use with friends, always the best.

RE: Smoking pot and meditative concentration
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9/17/11 5:24 AM as a reply to Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem.
Here is my general experience with pot.

I have used pot on and off for a few years now. It's useful to quickly get out of depression and give you the desire to connect with people and socialize. It can be effective at remembering how much good life can be. Having ADHD, in many situation it's more effective than amphetamines. Piracetam helps to counter the memories issues but doesn't resolve it. That's still the main problem with pot.

I realized some important things thanks to cannabis. I like the way it play on anxiety. It doesn't really remove your anxiety away. Sometimes it does relieve anxiety in a similar way that benzos or lyrica do but many times (especially with the sativa strains) it will enhance your anxiety so you can see it in plain sights. You can be passively aware of it and I had some interesting short meditation session focused on that feeling.

I ended up at the hospital two times because of a neurosis while on pot. I learned to recognize the symptoms of the neurosis now and can navigate it if it arises.

Being in a social situation and in total control of one's own anxiety is a very interesting experience. You get to be able to scan other people and notice their own anxiety. You get to see own much people act in accordance to social norms and worry about their social status/image. I realize that one of my greatest source of anxiety come from the fact of having being raise and taught to conform to those social norms but my brain can't conform to this nonsense. I got to learn to to handle rejection (because i don't conform) and not make a big deal of it. Better, when my mind is sharp I can call people on their conformity bullshit and help them reflect about them.

Sex and cannabis mix well to experience deep focus. Sex is a form of samadhi. The enhanced feelings thanks to cannabis helps focusing on peculiar sensations. I had a teaser of unity with my girlfriend Yesterday. Basically, I got a strong sense of cause and effect and interdependence of our two bodies. I would let my body follow it's natural path without thinking evolved. In other words, I got my mind out of the way of the will of the universe. I just watched the show. The boundaries between my body and her were less obvious and irrelevant. Cannabis make it possible to experience the present moment in a very effective way.

RE: Smoking pot and meditative concentration
Answer
9/17/11 10:45 PM as a reply to Simon T..
Here's my 2 cents on pot:

I think it's possible to make a religion out of smoking, along the lines of Bob Marley and Willie Nelson -- there are plenty of people who seem to consider pot as a harmless recreational substance that has a significant edge over other substances, such as alcohol, primarily due to the way it enhances creativity/creative expression.

For me, the experience of playing guitar, singing, and songwriting (I do all in a rock band that I'm deeply committed to -- I actually want to have "a musical career") while on pot still has not found a rival, yet. However, it's the same drug that brought me the realization that I will never be fundamentally/existentially "free" and/or satisfied until I find out for myself, experientially, what this whole "Enlightenment" thing is. It brought me the understanding that Self-knowledge -- Truth-realization, in the purely mystical sense -- is the ONLY thing that can give life any valid meaning (I tend to think a lot along existential lines: I think people like Viktor Frankl and Albert Camus had some pretty profound insights into human nature -- philosophical insights that are not necessarily mutually exclusive with a spiritual path and in fact provide a very powerful foundation for Training in Morality). Heck, I wouldn't even have gotten on a spiritual path if it weren't for pot.

My first "spiritual experience" was an intuitive recognition of the unqualified truth behind the saying "Samsara is Nirvana," and it was such a profoundly beautiful and deeply-felt experience that ever since then I have not been able to forget that there IS an answer to the riddle of life, that the Buddha WAS speaking the truth -- in retrospect, I would also add that I believe I saw, first-hand, what is meant by "the dualistic split" (as Daniel talks about in his book), and how fundamental suffering is created through an illusion of duality. Prior to this experience, I actually was not even aware of there being a fundamental existential problem with my life -- a problem that can only be addressed and solved by committedly walking a spiritual path. This understanding arose within me due to pot.

However, for me there came a point when I also realized that the Final Experience that I'm seeking -- that I was pointed toward through those early spiritual openings -- most likely will not happen for me until my personal consciousness/"mind" naturally and stably transforms to a state of perception that does not see much of a duality between the drug-experience and "everyday reality." For me, meditation still has not begun to produce those altered mystical states that pot so easily brings on (and that CAN become addictive). Even though these states brought on by the drug in-and-of themselves aren't harmful, I have found that, in the end, there still remains a guy inside me -- the spiritual ego -- who asks: "Are we done yet?" And by that I mean to actually have the sense that "done is what needed to be done!" In a nutshell: smoking pot will never actually free you. Theoretically, it's possible to Awaken while in ANY state, but at least for me, I find that my mind has to feel that the conditions have been ripened for an authentic spiritual event to take place -- and this I believe can only happen through committed spiritual practice.

The biggest problem for me has been finding a way to be equally as creative while not on pot -- I put a high price-tag on creativity. As a musician who has recorded with bands, I simply did my best work while high.

I believe that with enough time and meditative practice, however, the mind can begin to slow down, and open up to the point where it's able to strike a healthy balance between the more mundane/practical aspects of life (that usually dull a creative spirit) and the very intimate experience of "being with your muse." Most musicians I know smoke pot to access that creative state -- however, these guys are not necessarily looking for the end of fundamental suffering like I am. They do not necessarily understand that pot consumes your chi (to me it seems/feels as though pot uses vital energy/chi/ki/prana as "fuel" to produce a spiritual/altered state that's beautiful -- a temporary felt-sense of the cessation of separation where the entire universe is seen as a creative act -- which produces the best "improv" for a musician). Or they might, but don't care. This would not be a problem if chi, when conserved and redirected (through Practice), did not lead to profounder, and stabler, mental states that make Enlightenment a more likely possibility.

So, I've got a pretty well-defined problem that's been cut out for me -- but the good news is that it's the attacking the problem that makes me creative, and brings me spiritual insights as well. Again, to me it seems it's all about finding a lifestyle that produces creativity/inspires me as opposed to a drug (which can be very good for the short-run, but which will probably ruin my capacity for deep creative expression well into my 40's and 50's -- I'm 31 now).

RE: Smoking pot and meditative concentration
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9/18/11 3:46 PM as a reply to Rashed Arafat.
I think it's worth making a distinction between pot, as in solid hashish in one it's various forms, and weed, as in the buds of the female plant after they've been harvested and dried out. In my experience they produce very different types of "stone", solid hash can focus the attention like a laser whereas weed does the complete opposite for me and can be used effectively for concentration and metta practices. Breaking it down further, the different strains of cannabis itself seem to be useful for different things, for example sativa, for me at least, is always a more euphoric and felicitous experience but indica is more heavy and emotionally neutral.

RE: Smoking pot and meditative concentration
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9/18/11 9:52 PM as a reply to Tommy M.
It's annoy me when I see a scientific study being published on pot without any mention about the strains. Indica and Sativa are so different in their effect that we shouldn't even consider them the same drug. When it comes to creating cognitives issues ans psychosis, it's Sativa that is to blame (THC). To help with pain and anxiety, Indica (CBD) is what do the trick. It is generally believed that the weed of the 1960s was lower in THC.

New strains containing almost only CBD are now emerging. the goal is to develop strains that don't impair mental processes but can be used to treat pain.

Regarding creativity, it's still also one of my great frustration, especially while being sober in social events. All the connections to make those insightful comments or jokes are there sitting idle waiting for the magic molecule to unleash their potential. I came to believe the creativity unlocked with pot as a connection with sub-conscious anxiety. Stimulants combined with anxiolytics provide a similar effects. Getting the mind to free-flow at a rapid rate seems the key.

RE: Smoking pot and meditative concentration
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9/19/11 1:52 AM as a reply to Simon T..
I think there's a lot of unnecessary taboo surrounding the drug (both in spiritual circles as well as in mainstream society). But at least for me, it almost always brings me to the point whence I see that the temporary relief from ego that I feel on pot will never ultimately satisfy. It's almost as if I'm getting a "preview" of the End-Goal, but to actually get there, I cannot avoid climbing the mountain.

Pot has given me many, many what I like to call 'faux-Enlightenment' experiences where the difference between subject and object had effectively dissolved -- this was especially true while playing electric guitar. It was as though the instrument were playing itself. But over time my mind recognized this as being a pattern, and began wanting something deeper.

Of course, this raises the question (in my mind) of what is Enlightenment if not the dissolution of the subject-object split? My only conclusion is that even though I felt as though the 'boundary' had disappeared, it truly had not. For if it truly had, then Reality would've recognized Itself, and this whole messy business of spiritual seeking would've come to an end.

I think different psychological make-ups have different reactions to pot-use (and I'm using the word "pot" liberally).

The way I look at it is that if you think it's a problem, then it probably is. However, I've also learnt through study and experience that a lot of what we consider as 'negative' or 'detrimental,' we consider to be so due to societal conditioning. What may be 'normal' for one person -- and actually necessary for his growth -- may be 'too much' for most. It's good to keep that in perspective and tend to one's own needs, especially if those needs are for deeper resolutions than what society, science, religion, and psychology have to offer to life's problems. Society encourages being on American Idol, or at least respecting such a feat. The individual who questions the status quo has to distance himself from such an attitude, and has to figure out for himself what has real value in his life. In that process suffering and alienation is created, but it's necessary suffering. Meaning cannot be spoon-fed, it has to be discovered by oneself, for oneself.

Meditation itself is a left-field approach to dealing with our traditionally Western problems.

Also, I think a lot of spiritual teachings/systems take an 'all-or-nothing' approach with regard to intoxicants. While I wholeheartedly concur that ultimately you're either Enlightened or you're not, and that there aren't really any short-cuts, most of our lives are too deeply intertwined with 'modern life' for such an approach to be effective at producing results (and that's all that matters). The problem/'hindrance' is as much in the intoxicant as it is in the mind of the user, and to try to address it by harshly attacking the former, or making a 'commandment' out of it disempowers the individual and does not give him the right to find out for himself why he needs to stop using, or if he actually does.

RE: Smoking pot and meditative concentration
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9/19/11 4:59 AM as a reply to Rashed Arafat.
Nice post Rashed. It feels like Pot give you a teaser of ultimate happiness without revealing the whole story. I keep pot in my toolbox because I want to have some fun on the ride to enlightenment which I'm not even guaranteed to achieve in this lifetime anyway. I think I have a better sense of the background of reality while on pot (well, not always). Someday I will write a post about my psychosis.

In the next year I plan to explore more on the matter of drugs and the experience of happiness, our relationship with time and the ego. My readings of Richard Feynman experience on ketamine in sensory deprivation tanks and Sam Harris take on the issue convinced me that there is something to learn about those experiences.

RE: Smoking pot and meditative concentration
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1/2/13 10:29 PM as a reply to Max Raikes.
I haven't used pot. But, two things come to mind when I think of it:
Even if the short term effects are harmless or mildly positive, the long term effects seem not to be, and habituation can result from use which seems problematic.
The Buddha recommended against mild-altering substances. Yeah, maybe a little dogmatic and doctrinal, but caution is often a safer route.

RE: Smoking pot and meditative concentration
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1/2/13 10:44 PM as a reply to Cedric ..
The Buddha cautioned against mind-altering substances, primarily because they bring nothing useful to the table, I did a shitload
of Datura once and ended up in the ER. No lasting positive effects have happened to me. It's not that it's morally bad to do drugs,
that's not the point. It's just that they're unrelated to the subject of Enlightenment, you're free to do what you want, so if you
don't want to engage this process, by all means, do whatever the hell you want. But if you're in this, pace yourself.