Did Shiva Smoke Weed? Can Marijuana Lead to Enlightenment?
Sadhguru explains what marijuana does to the brain, while answering a question on whether Shiva himself used weed.
Q: Is marijuana a way to enlightenment? After all, even Shiva was supposed to smoke.Sadhguru: If you look into my eyes closely, you will see I am always stoned. It has happened many times that people who were smoking in the Himalayas and other places would invite me to join them because they think I must be a smoker. I have never touched the substance. And if you can be with me in a certain way, I can have you stoned out because the substance is not outside, the substance is within. The question is, are you on self-start or push start?
Whatever chemicals we put into our system can only stimulate some sense of experience within us. If you know how to stimulate that from within, you can sit here in great pleasure; nothing needs to be taken from outside.
Of the many names with which Shiva is referred to, Soma is one of the important names. Soma literally means intoxication. Shiva was not such a cripple that he needed chemicals from outside. He was stoned, no question about that. But he is not using a substance, he is the substance.
If you are not inebriated, you will never be mad enough to jump into the ultimate void which is the only liberation. Only in a state of inebriation, the body and mind are no longer a limitation. So Soma or Somasundara is one of the prominent names of Shiva – always inebriated, but fully alert. He was not stoned on something as petty as a weed. His energies were at the peak. That means he is as much as life can ever be – life enhanced to the maximum extent. He is at the peak of intoxication and intensity and capability.
This happened once, Adi Shankara was walking. He must have been a brisk walker because by the age of thirty-two, he left his body. But from the age of twelve to thirty-two, in those twenty years, he crisscrossed India a few times, north to south, east to west, from Kerala right up to Badrinath and back, travelling everywhere in all directions. The man must have been a really brisk walker to do so much walking in a short span of life, and in between he produced thousands of pages of literature.
So, once while walking briskly with a bunch of his disciples trotting behind him, he came to a village. Outside the village, he saw a few people drinking, most likely the country homebrew liquor, which is arrack or toddy. In those days in India and even up to about twenty-five, thirty years ago, drink shops were only ever outside the village. They were never brought into the village. Nowadays, alcohol is sold in the village, next to your house and in front of your child’s school. Those days, it was always outside the town.
Adi Shankara looked at these few people in their inebriated condition. You know, drunkards always think they are having the best time of their life and everyone else is missing it. So they made some comments at him. Without a word, Adi Shankara walked into the shop, took a pitcher, drank it and walked on.
Behind him, his disciples were trotting and among themselves they started discussing, “When our guru can drink, why can't we?” Adi Shankara was aware of what was happening. When he came to the next village, there was a blacksmith working there. Adi Shankara went inside, picked up the pot of molten iron, drank it and walked on. Now you are not going to imitate him! So even if you think Shiva smoked, don’t try and imitate him.
For me, the biggest thing is this crystal clear way of living. Getting hazy on marijuana is not life. When you are sick and dying, life can be hazy. When you are alive, clarity is the most important thing. And clarity can be intoxicating. You would have seen all these people who jump off mountains, jump out of airplanes and do incredibly risky things. They are doing all this because in being super-alert, there is another kind of intoxication and aliveness.
They are pumping up their adrenalin by doing so many physical things with the outside. But if you sit here fully alive, alert and intoxicated without external stimuli, then I would say an element of Shiva has come to you. If you can simply sit here so super-alert that you are stoned, that is the way to get stoned, not by smoking weeds. Leave the weeds for the cows. Human beings can do better things.
With any kind of intoxicant – alcohol, drugs and whatever else – in some way, you are lowering your human capability. If they also enhanced your ability as a human being, I would advise everyone be drunk all the time. But the problem is it lowers you as a human being. Research is available which shows that if one smokes for more than sixty to ninety days continuously, there is an eight-point drop in one’s IQ. And, this drop in mental functioning will never be fully restored.
You do not have to go by any research. If you simply observe those who generally smoke, when you see them stoned they look peaceful. But if you do not give them their substance for two days, you will see how cranky they can become. You can be peaceful when you are hazy, but that peace is of no value. If you use any kind of external substance, something about you will shrink. But if you get intoxicated from within, something about you will enhance itself. That’s the big difference.
Today, marijuana has become legal in many states in America with many big corporations bringing a variety of marijuana products to the market. Marijuana was a $10.4 billion industry in the US in 2018.
Millions of years of evolution have brought the human being to this current level of cerebral functioning. But you do not know how to handle this capability and want to smoke yourself hazy. It is a backward step for sure. There is nothing spiritual about it.
Another drug that used to be touted as spiritual is ayahuasca from South America. What happens is, you take it and puke out everything! If you think this is spiritual – all the best! When we were growing up, there was a brand of laxative, a loose motion oil called Kunti Kumari Bedhi Ennai. This is castor oil mixed with what is called as japalam. If someone was acting funny and freaking all the time, they would say, “You must give him Kunti Kumari Bedhi Ennai” because shit has gotten into his head. It needs to be purged through and through, which is really the fact of the matter. Some nonsense has gotten into your head, you are trying to smoke it down – no, you need Kunti Kumari Bedhi Ennai!
Editor’s Note: Celebrate Mahashivratri at the Isha Yoga Center with explosive guided meditations accompanied by dance and music, nightlong satsang with Sadhguru, musical performances by eminent artists. Bask in the Grace of Shiva, The AdiYogi! Visit the Mahashivratri webpage for details on the many ways you can participate.