Monday, July 11, 2011

Drugs and the Meaning of Life

Sam Harris separates psychedelics, and the right to them, from the non-discriminate modern category of "drugs."
The “war on drugs” has been well lost, and should never have been waged. While it isn’t explicitly protected by the U.S. Constitution, I can think of no political right more fundamental than the right to peacefully steward the contents of one’s own consciousness. The fact that we pointlessly ruin the lives of nonviolent drug users by incarcerating them, at enormous expense, constitutes one of the great moral failures of our time. (And the fact that we make room for them in our prisons by paroling murderers and rapists makes one wonder whether civilization isn’t simply doomed.)
I have a daughter who will one day take drugs. Of course, I will do everything in my power to see that she chooses her drugs wisely, but a life without drugs is neither foreseeable, nor, I think, desirable. Someday, I hope she enjoys a morning cup of tea or coffee as much as I do. If my daughter drinks alcohol as an adult, as she probably will, I will encourage her to do it safely. If she chooses to smoke marijuana, I will urge moderation.[2]  Tobacco should be shunned, of course, and I will do everything within the bounds of decent parenting to steer her away from it. Needless to say, if I knew my daughter would eventually develop a fondness for methamphetamine or crack cocaine, I might never sleep again. But if she does not try a psychedelic like psilocybin or LSD at least once in her adult life, I will worry that she may have missed one of the most important rites of passage a human being can experience...
I have visited both extremes on the psychedelic continuum. The positive experiences were more sublime than I could have ever imagined or than I can now faithfully recall. These chemicals disclose layers of beauty that art is powerless to capture and for which the beauty of Nature herself is a mere simulacrum. It is one thing to be awestruck by the sight of a giant redwood and to be amazed at the details of its history and underlying biology. It is quite another to spend an apparent eternity in egoless communion with it. Positive psychedelic experiences often reveal how wondrously at ease in the universe a human being can be—and for most of us, normal waking consciousness does not offer so much as a glimmer of these deeper possibilities.
Image Credit: Alex Grey

1 comment:

  1. Love the title. Love it! Ya know, superstition comes from lack of knowledge. Even the priests can only know what their gods let them OR they learn on their own. Superstition, belief, faith... just fill the gap for lack of knowledge BUT as the atom was figured out millenia ago & called um, er, uh, "atom" it CAN be deduced. But life & afterlife are kept from our knowledge by the gods. WHY (try for some jawdropping truth & enjoy)?
    ...Drugs are fishooks. They are evil wrapped up in wonderful temptations. 2-8 hrs of wonderful (or not) incapacitation for the mere gamble of the totality of your worth...hmmm. What a great deal! No good beyond vainglorious song lyrics ever came from escaping reality so the rest of us can carry the imbibber however briefly (or as long as they live. Ever enjoy an addict of any kind's company long?). Not even when used for the purpose of learning at the behest of god or demon & not even from the tree of knowledge (of good & evil) itself: Adam & Eve. Teach those of & around to resist temptations for the inherent risks. They are omnipresent & escape is easily glorified. Fish-hooks only look beautiful to the uncaring fish, my fellow simian.