The Bugs in Drugs
The word ’matter’ comes from Latin materia which, in turn, is derived from mater, ’mother’. After all, the matter of our bodies comes from our mother. People also thought matter is the mother of all phenomena. Well, the relationship between mind and matter has been hotly debated by philosophers, physicists, priests and alcoholics. Right now we are interested in the latter, in a somewhat extended sense. Whether mind and matter are the same or not, certain types of stuff can certainly affect your mind. (We'll talk about the reverse direction another time.)
Among the mind-altering drugs we have discussed so far are coffee, tobacco, marijuana, the poppy derivatives opium and heroin, with more to come. Why is this topic important? I don't know about you, but the vast majority of people that I personally know are regular users of some consciousness-altering drug. According to statistics more than twenty per cent of the adult population of Hungary (37% of men!) are alcoholics. While these categories are always open to question, the definition of being an alcoholic is probably too relaxed rather than too strict. There are also cigarettes, tranquilizers and sugar — these substances cause the bulk of the problems in our parts. You might protest that sugar isn't a consciousness-altering drug — well, it’s not as spectacular as cocaine, but the long-term effects also matter. When more than half of a population is overweight, it certainly influences the collective state of mind.
The difference between occasional and regular drug use is like the difference between a chirping cricket and a locust swarm. Mind-altering substances have been used in many cultures for healing and personal development. Usually with centuries of experience, established procedures and proper guidance. Ayahuasca, for example, was not originally consumed by the patient, but only the shaman, who could thus peer into the person's soul and determine what they needed. Some substances labeled 'hallucinogenic' can open up perceptual possibilities that, given the appropriate focus, the user can retain.
Young people trying drugs used to be a part of a subculture, but nowadays tend to belong to the mainstream consumeristic frenzy without any experienced guidance. They enter a world full of substances, and it is up to them and their dimwitted friends to make something of the stuff. A few of them manage to stumble on healthy procedures, proper ascetic limits, drugs that make the user more sensitive. Others reject every drug out of religious convictions or after a frightening experience. The latter is certainly a safe and uncomplicated method, too bad that it often doesn’t block poisons labeled as 'medicine'. The majority fall into the trap of consumption. The stuff is cheap, available, gives you a thrilling experience, and many people soon end up wondering what has become of them. Or they try to remedy the problems caused by one substance with another.
In the West today, drugs are most often used as crutches. Instead of employing them for learning and change, becoming capable of something you were not capable of before, they are being used to make up for people’s lack of abilities. „Oh, I’m so stressed – I’ll pop in a tranquilizer to calm down.” „I can't let go on the dance floor – let’s swallow some ecstasy pills and go flying.”
Clearly, there is a substantial difference between substances: Most are very destructive, and even the milder ones have different effects with regular use. Unfortunately, psychoactive prescription ’medicines’: tranquilizers, antidepressants are among the worst. At first this may seem surprising. When you really think about it, however, you can realize how little correlation there is between the destructive effects of a substance and its legal status.
Where, in fact, is the line between ’neutral’ substances and drugs? Is chocolate a consciousness-altering drug? Hibiscus tea opens the chest, is that mind-altering? Here we are getting into the approach of ayurveda: All substances entering your body affect your physical, and through the physical, your mental state in some way. By choosing carefully what to take into your body, you can boost your health, your consciousness, and, in the long run, even heal from illness. Gradually refining your taste to the point where you simply can't ingest terrible things, let them be short drinks or a slice of pizza reeking from artificially saturated oils.
As for the 'real', powerful mind-altering drugs, if we want to improve the health of society, we must radically reduce their use. There is simply no other way. People are pushing because they want to get into a better state of consciousness, which the substance achieves in the short term. The prevailing paradigm of our time supports this, with Western medicine relying heavily on substance use (at least since it was taken over by the pharmaceutical industry). If you have a problem, they throw some chemicals in your mouth and bingo! You are supposed to get well. No wonder people in everyday life try to get better the same way. Then they get into trouble but the ‘war on drugs’ just causes even more trouble. If we open up other ways for people to reach desired mental states, they won't need substances.
Drugs are somewhat like machines. They make things easier, so we get them to do things and after a while end up not being able to do them ourselves. Why climb a mountain when you can go up in a cable car? Why learn to read a map, God forbid, ask a stranger for directions, when your phone tells you where to go? Why should you meditate, connect to nature, do inner work, add challenging experiences to your life that will make you grow? You toss in a pill and Bob’s your uncle.
Sziámi: There’s No Machine. See rough translation in the footnotes.1
But I'm fine, I just want to party! Well, when your state of consciousness is really shining, you don't need to push anything to feel joyful or relaxed. Do you know people who are just naturally high? Steve and Connirae Andreas have long ago developed an NLP method that simulates a drug-induced state without the use of the drug. (Of course, you can only recall a state if you've already experienced it.) The method takes effort and concentration, but it's well worth experimenting with, given the consequences.
Individuals that do not use any drugs are as rare as white ravens. Looking around at the ones I know I find that not only are they in excellent health, their performance is also superior. What’s the situation in your family and circle of friends? Models, good examples, are a powerful attraction force.
At the end I have to admit that I’m also selling a substance. Well, not exactly selling, just telling people about. It gives you a kind of euphoria while making you very healthy. Your body produces it during prolonged physical exertion, such as long-distance swimming or running. Like all drugs, dopamine has many drawbacks. One is that it does not increase GDP. If you push a lot, you'll also have less time to watch videos with cute kittens. And, upon glancing at your body, people will often ask you to help with hauling some furniture.
THERE’S NO MACHINE
You can now buy a machine
That will prevent any mistakes.
They've got a machine in the shop
That makes you act in a way
As to be able to checkmate in one move
And also make pop corn.
And another machine can do a trick:
To glue everything back the way it was.
And there's a machine in the shop
That lays the egg
From which hatches a little machine
Which tells you when she’s about to lay an egg
From which a machine will be born
That just stands there and never falls apart
Because it's got such a guarantee
That all it's got to do is stay intact.
There is a machine that’s killing you
And there's one that'll do your killing,
Some are loud and some are silent
But they are not to blame for anything.
There are machines that can have sex
And there's one faster than your brain,
There's a flying machine that'll pass you
No matter how fast you sprint.
And you can buy a machine now
That loves you and serves you,
And there's one that's another world
You put it on your head and you can enter.
And there's a machine you can swallow
And The Power will instantly be with you,
And there's a machine that'll beat instead of your heart
And has inspiration instead of you.
But there’s no machine that goes faster
Than the thought that destroys machines
There is no machine that goes faster
Than the movement that destroys machines.