Drugs and the Spiritual Path: Possibility or Pitfall?
Sadhguru describes the possibilities and dangers of drug use for the spiritual seeker.
Sadhguru: When Patanjali finished with karma kanda and moved into what is known as kaivalya pada – “kaivalya” means ultimate liberation – he said that you could have a glimpse of the Divine in many ways, either by using drugs, incessantly chanting some mantra, practicing severe austerities, or by deep samadhis.
Coming to drugs, Patanjali was a scientist. He was not the usual religious kind of man. He was not afraid of anything. He looked at everything. A religious man would generally not talk about drugs. Patanjali said a drug is also a possibility to divinity, but the lowest possibility.
What happens with a drug? If you take a chemical like LSD or marijuana, the nature of the chemical is such that somewhere, it breaks the mind. Ultimately your mind and physical body is just chemistry. If you do yogic practices, that is also just to change the chemistry of the system. Drugs are usually described as mind-blowing. You put a drug into your system and suddenly the mind cracks up. So you are able to look at the existence through this crack – without the mind – just for a moment, and it is fantastic.
Then you get hooked on the drug. The next time the dosage will increase. There is no growth or transformation. It just becomes a trip. After a while, there are most probably no more trips. The drug becomes just a helpless dependence for you.
Can You Contain It?
You can’t deny that at least some people who are on the path of drugs have big experiences, but you will see that they don’t grow, there is no transformation in the way they are. In fact, such a person never attains to Grace, he sort of retards. He never attains to any kind of fragrance. He just has big experiences to talk about, otherwise he slowly retards. Only the dosage increases. Even before any recording of history happened, people have used drugs on the spiritual path. The puranas say Shiva himself was the first to use drugs. It starts from there. But please understand that Shiva can contain it, not you.
Once, Adi Shankara was traveling with his disciples. He stopped at a place and drank a lot of country liquor and then resumed walking. A few disciples thought that it meant they could also drink. At the very next place where liquor was available, they drank and began to wobble along behind Shankara because they were unable to hold it. When they entered the next village, Shankara walked directly toward the blacksmith’s and took a vessel full of molten iron and drank from it. Now, the disciples who imitated him in drinking the country liquor got the point.
So drugs are the lowest possibility, but still a possibility. On the yogic path drugs are a taboo, not because of moral correctness, but because of the limitation that they are. We have other ways to blow your mind.
I’ve never touched a substance but if you look at my eyes, I’m always stoned. I can be drunk twenty-four hours of the day – no hangover, it doesn’t cost anything, and it’s good for health! We look at alcohol, drugs and these things as kindergarten stuff because we can get intoxicated a thousand times over just with our aliveness. Why simply wine? You can get drunk with the di-vine!
Editor’s Note: For most people, the mind seems to be an unruly cacophony, attempting to grasp and shape everything which falls in its purview. In "Mind Is Your Business", Sadhguru explains that only if we make it “our business” to transform this uncoordinated mess into a well-coordinated symphony, will we be able to use the mind, rather than be used by it. Download now.
Karma Kanda: The section of the Yoga Sutras that focuses on preparing the human system
Kaivalya Pada: The section of the Yoga Sutras that focuses on ultimate realization