Friday, November 16, 2012

Smoking weed in front of Buddhist monks

Ashley Wells, CC Liu, Yogi Seven, Wisdom Quarterly

Sanskrit, ganja (medicinal Cannabis sativa)
BODHGAYA, India - "Smoking weed in front of Tibetan monks"? It's not as bad as it sounds. The headline might more correctly read, "Intoxicated Hindu mendicant dancing, ganja in hand, in front of Tibetan lamas at Buddhism's enlightenment grove."
The precincts of the Bodhi tree are sacred ground visited by hundreds of thousands of Buddhist pilgrims every year. (It is the most Buddhist town in the world, with authentic temples from every Buddhist land, from stately Japanese zendos (dojos) to a mysterious and fascinating Bhutanese dzong).
Sadhus: India's Mystic Holy Men (DH)
But the grove is controlled by Hindu holy men and Indian government officials, not Buddhists. The Maha Bodhi Society has a presence, but the sannyasis and sadhus (Hindu spiritual wanderers) run rampant.
Devotional exiled Tibetans travel down from Himalayan Dharamsala, Himalchal Pradesh in the north of the country. Some do 108,000 (yes, one-hundred and eight thousand) prostrations around the Maha Bodhi temple next to the tree, a genetic ancestor of the original enlightenment tree Siddhartha sat under.

Why would a wanderer behave like a madman (pagal) in front of pilgrim monks? Why would a spiritual wanderer go about smoking marijuana or hash? It is the custom of some Hindu ascetic holymen. The lamas could not be too put off since Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhism has a long and storied history of spiritual madmen epitomized in the saintly-sinner figure Milarepa.
The Dharma in the West
Hookah pipe Buddha ashtray (Raezyx/flickr)
Sure these things happen in the chaotic East. But would anyone dream of firing up a peace pipe in front of Vajrayana lamas? We can't imagine. However, stranger things have happened. Many Tibetan monks (great rinpoches, lamas, even alleged tulkus) are falling. It's not self-immolation of the attention-grabbing sort that's bringing them down. They often explain that they want to "taste" the allure of the West. What was it about America in the 1960s that was so intriguing to the most powerful generation in the world? In "My Dinner With Andre" Andre explained the little Tibetan monk who went off kilter gorging himself on Western excesses. There is the real life story of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, who may have been the source of Andre's account. There are American lamas like Geshe Michael Roach and Lama Surya Das around which swirl rumors and controversies of sexual impropriety.
So what's a little ganja to those violating other precepts? Monastics are not using or abusing drugs. We are. And we think they would be okay with that. "Let's get Buddha'ed," we say as if that meant let's get high. Medical cannabis abuse is no mild vice -- and it is no way to any kind of enlightenment or transcendent wisdom. It's a circuitous route to here, so some call it an insidious trap. So which is it? It's not Buddhist. Smoke and you, too, can dance in front of Tibetan monks like an addict sadhu in the video above. But instead of owning up to it, one can use euphemisms and claim it's a spiritual endeavor, a Milarepa-like-madman "quest."
"Oh, Buddha, to be like you! (Moondoxy)
Were alcohol or intoxicants part of the path, the Buddha would have pointed to them as aids rather than obstacles. Or he would have remained silent on the matter. That he thought them such a serious obstacle that he listed alcohol as a path of doom in the Five Precepts is serious.

Could there be a difference between drugs? Do some serve only to blot out and obtund consciousness rather than to expand it? It is certainly our position at Wisdom Quarterly that some natural substances (DMT, alkaloids, iboga, Amazonian vines that make ayahuasca and natema, etc.) may have some benefits to the awakening of the pineal gland/third eye. But booze and high-THC (low-CBD) weed stocks and caustic synthetic chemicals? Wake up. Reality is better than this or we would advocate making the best of this illusion.

(LINK) The wyrd world far beyond dulled consciousness

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