I'm remembering why I usually try to bite my tongue in drug convos. But there is one thing I feel I should bring up.
Originally Posted by [bThe spiritual disciplines I mentioned look down on drugs not because they don't understand altered states, but because there are better ways to achieve them.Originally Posted by [b
I mentioned in a thread on depression which I think you posted in too that most medications are extremely imprecise. Side effects are common and expected because medicine is basically a carpet bomb. When working properly the body can send the right compounds exactly where they need to go in exactly the right dosages, whereas medicine usually just sends them everywhere in a flood. For example a medication meant to encourage healthy production of a neurotransmitter in one place might create a side effect by interfering with the production of that neurotransmitter somewhere else (which was being produced perfectly before the medication showed up). When the side effects typically make you much less ill than the original disease does, the medicine becomes a "success". This isn't meant to bash modern medicine, which has made amazing leaps... just to be realistic about how it currently measures up to the body's own systems.
I'm mentioning this because it's the same with drugs. They're a flood of foreign chemicals that impede the body's ability to give you the perspective you desire, not enhance it. One doesn't need psychedelics to reach useful states in spiritual work. With practice and training and discipline someone can learn to experience things that can't be achieved with drugs nearly as effectively. The difference between the two is like the difference between noise and music.
So those disciplines reject drugs because they see them as a sloppy, primitive, and inferior way to achieve a goal. They would tell you that you're missing out on genuine, natural, mind-blowing experiences of transcendence by taking the shortcut that drugs appear to offer. Taking the easy road and "following the crowd" are essentially synonymous... in this case I agree that it's something you should avoid doing.
Unfortunately drug culture has latched on to the stories of shamans using peyote and ayahuasca and such and spun them in their quests for justification. They fancy themselves to be keeping traditions alive, but your average tribal shaman would see these pop-shamans as oblivious tourists. Hallucinating regularly does not a shaman make, no matter how philosophical one gets about it. Shamanic journeys usually involve decades of training and include hardships that appear so masochistic they'd make us sick to our stomachs.
Incidentally there's no such thing as a modern shaman. "Shaman" is an anthropological label describing a person filling a certain role within a "primitive" tribal structure (which might be Native American, Australian Aborigine, whatever). Shamans don't call themselves that... they are called that. So there are shamans alive today, but they aren't "modern." Yeah, it's a nitpick... just another reason the pop-shamans need to find another name for themselves.