Why not to smoke pot from a Buddhist point of view.

Via on Jun 10, 2010

Why Buddhism views Pot as a no-no (hint: it’s not about morality)

I believe it should be legal, safe, and taxed like alcohol. But I personally don’t smoke, because I don’t find it helpful.
 

My buddy D and I have had the is-pot-a-good-thing-for-humans argument for years…well before pot became more or less legal in these here parts.

I’ve smoked pot, we’ve all smoked pot. But I was brought up Buddhist, and Buddhism is all about clearing and opening and waking up one’s mind. Pot isn’t always conducive to such, though in limited and mindful quantities it can be a lot of fun, and relaxing. So I don’t smoke, and haven’t done for many, many years. (In high school, in Vermont, however, I had my bogarting everyone’s spliffs phase).

Many folks still view marijuana as immoral. Buddhism doesn’t, and I don’t. It’s about the same as alcohol, to my mind, only far less harmful (alcohol causes so many accidents, and can lead more easily to fights…pot leads to eating brownies, watching TV, deep conversations about where fire goes when it burns out, and deep conversations about Sartre, and God, and Kant). That said, from a point of view of developing one’s path of meditation, pot might not be helpful for most of us.

Still, Buddhism more or less forbids the smoking of pot. I remember my Buddhist teacher, Chogyam Trungpa, invited all his Buddhist students to bring all their pot to “a party” in the early days—and, when they got there, they were ordered/asked to throw it upon a bonfire. Smoking dope is akin to “inviting clouds of ignorance into your mind,” Trungpa Rinpoche said, or something along those lines. I couldn’t remember the exact quote, or find it online, so I asked my momma:

From: Waylon Lewis <info at elephantjournal dot com>
Subject: Re: curious
Date: Wednesday, June 2, 2010, 1:13 PM

Dear Mom,

I looked all over…there’s lots of references to him talking about it as inviting clouds of ignorance in to your mindstream, that sort of thing, but I didn’t find an exact quote.

Dear Waylon,

All I know is what I’ve told you before—Rinpoche told us in the early “70′s, after trying most everything himself without it having much of an effect on him, that we shouldn’t do drugs or grass, “Try ordinary mind instead!”—not that we knew what that was then.

But the message was at least clear to me to give up my hippie pattern of trying whatever was offered; if I were going to have a teacher, I should follow his teachings.

Later in the mid- to late ’70′s he was asked about drinking and he seemed to think that was ok because if one lost one’s mindfulness, the hangover was the re-grounding message.

In the early 80′s he also said over and over again not to mimic his life-style, but to emulate him.

This made sense as all along he had pointed out that Gampopa was not like Mila who was not like Marpa who was not like Naro who was not like Tilopa.  (The monk was not like the yogi who was not like the merchant-farmer-translator who was not like the scholar of the Northern Gate of Nalanda who was not like the man along the banks of the river living off of fish heads and entrails!)

Cheers and love,
mom

About Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of elephant magazine, now elephantjournal.com & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat." Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword's Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by "Greatist", Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: "the mindful life" beyond the choir & to all those who didn't know they gave a care. elephantjournal.com | facebook.com/elephantjournal | twitter.com/elephantjournal | facebook.com/waylonhlewis | twitter.com/waylonlewis | Google+ For more: publisherelephantjournalcom

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84 Responses to “Why not to smoke pot from a Buddhist point of view.”

  1. ardha chandra says:

    Okay. So I am way out here on the fringes of hip, cool, insider insight. Can someone, anyone tell me why Chogyam Trungpa, who is acknowledged to have been an alcoholic, is so down on mind alteration.
    What kept him drinking to excess for years, while insisting that ganga be burned on the fires of illusion?

  2. Mike Smith says:

    Waylon, nice writing here and great addition from the letter from your Mom. Nice job Linda. I think, in short, from Padmasambhava's teachings down to Chogyam Trunpa Rinpoche the message was clear. Don't smoke pot if you want to be a Buddhist. CTR's comments were enough for me though.

  3. Chris says:

    Buddha Shakyamuni instated the precept of abstaining from the use of intoxicants to protect practitioners from being careless, breaking their vows, and causing disharmony. To refrain from the use of intoxicants is an act of compassion and can do nothing but benefit sentient beings.

  4. Chris says:

    The precepts were developed to support a practitioner in developing stability and should be followed if one wants to not waste time on the path. This human life is precious and time is limited. Based off of my own experience any substance that clouds the mind is not conclusive to the practice of Buddhadharma. If you don't want to waste time walking in circles I recommend letting go of extraneous hindrances like drugs and alcohol. We have enough trouble as human beings practicing Dharma sober.

  5. Joyce says:

    Isn't it true that we can become attached or dependent upon anything if there is an emotional void and a need to fill that void with something external that makes us feel better? So, if shopping, exercise, food, sex, alcohol or drugs be addictive, why can't pot? Regardless of if science declares the substance as addictive or not, anything can potentially be addictive if we are dependent upon it to meet our emotional needs. I think if people use pot to either make them feel happy, relaxed or aid in meditation, etc., they need to always be aware of the potential for a dependency. In my opinion, it's far more productive identifying our emotion needs and meeting them internally, rather than using external means.

  6. trin says:

    Marijuana is like any drug, alcohol included. If used regularly by people who have a predisposition it can provoke mental illness. I have experienced addictive behaviour with some of my friends who went from social smokers to chronic smokers. It changes a person's perception and lowers inhibitions. It didn't change them for the better and they have become addicts. If people can use this drug and not harm themselves or anyone else than that is there choice. It's the same as alcohol and I suspect other drugs that will be legalised in the future. I think the problem is not in what drug people use it's the intention with which they use it.

  7. Padma Kadag says:

    As in all religions you can find exception to the norm. If you decide to practice Buddhism as prescribed by Lamas who are of the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism…you have done just that…you decide to practice according to their teaching and maintain samaya. If we do not want to follow the Lama's instructions then we are not and should not practice. Marijuana has no place according to the school of the Nyingma. Neither do mushrooms, peyote, opium, and so on. Why would we use if this was just another ordinary state? If enlightenment were possible with these substances then why aren't there millions of enlightened users? If we are talking occassional use then the individual needs to have that discussion with their teacher. We in the West don't "take kind" to being told what we can and cannot do.

  8. Nathan Smith smithnd says:

    I'm not a practicing Buddhist. So what you say is not entirely relevant to me. If I were a Buddhist, this would present a dilemma and a potential source of engagement/confrontation with the tradition and what it means to me. If the religious/spiritual tradition you follow holds to a doctrine that you find unacceptable, you can choose to confront it from within the tradition or leave. I'm not a huge fan of leaving. But as I say, there is nothing here for me to leave.

    My point is simply that from what I understand of Buddhism, the prohibition of marijuana makes little sense. What's the difference between that and alcohol, tobacco, paan, or psychotherapeutic medicines. Of course, there *are* differences, but what are they and to what degree? And do these differences warrant a prohibition of one and not the other? As an outsider, this looks inconsistent. If I had to wager, I would guess that it has a lot more to do with long-standing social and cultural attitudes than any *real* or thoughtful differentiation. If that's the case, then this doctrine deserves to be challenged.

  9. Robert Bullock says:

    " If enlightenment were possible with these substances then why aren't there millions of enlightened users?"

    But there are! They just don't realize it you know.

  10. Padma Kadag says:

    good comments…there are all kinds of buddhisms and millions more types of buddhists. if you were a buddhist you would most definately find fellow buddhists that share your habits as i have found those that share mine. Actually tobacco is regarded much in the same way marijuana is in regard to effects on the subtle body. The source of this comes from the experience of many masters. It is also documented in the the teachings of Padmasambhava and commented on extensively by HH Dudjom Rinpoche. There are links to Dudjom Rinpoche's commentary on line. Alcohol is also not allowed for monastics but is allowed for lay practitioner ngakpas at very small quatity. It is also required for ganachakra offerings. paan is also not encouraged and I am not sure of the reasons why. Any habits we have that only serve to create more attachment and confusion are not encouraged of course.

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