Mr.Burns wrote:Alpert Vs Leary??? You know they lived together at times, right? How about Owsley Vs The Planet Earth? Seriously, even Kesey and Babbs knew Alpert and Leary were both a couple of shameless hucksters.
I was referring specifically to their different views on the value of continued psychedelic use. The way I understand it, Leary felt that the value of psychedelics was productive throughout people's lifetimes, whereas Ram Dass' feeling was that psychedelics have a finite amount of value in coming to understand our minds, our bodies, our feelings, and the objects of our minds. They were indeed colleagues. I did not know that they lived together! The comparison was intentional; I wanted to illustrate how that view was the basis for their two sharply divergent paths through life. Ram Dass seemed to feel that what he sought lied not in further drug use, but rather in spiritual practice and cultivation of positivity without the use of intoxicants. Thank you for bringing my attention to the unskillful nature of my statement.
I remember reading in a book one of Jerry's friends saying that, without the Dead, he'd have been the homeless man panhandling on the sidewalk. Addiction isn't caused by heroin of any particular variety, nor is it caused by a specific type of drug, though there are certain drugs whose use results in physical dependency. There are people who attend Narcotics Anonymous meetings because smoking pot all day every day had become something that was inescapable for them. Something they couldn't stop that made their lives miserable; they're addicts just like the guy who was stealing cars to buy dope is an addict. Addiction can be caused by any type of drug use (I wrote rug use at first! lol).
Drug use of any kind causes neurological changes in the brain (I actually had a physician telling me about that a few weeks ago). Many of the changes are benign. But many are not. Acknowledging all the positives of drug use and none of the negatives or vice versa are both extremes to be avoided. The middle way, that of understanding and clear communication, brings us together.
In response to your commentary about the irrelevance of prescribed medications in this thread, my story about my good friend was simply to be used as an example of garden variety drug-induced psychosis. The medication was not prescribed to him; there were no doctors in his case to have made a mistake, and he was taking it at a normal recreational dose. He was not a habitual user; it was actually his first time taking it. He had intended to use it to study. He had no warning signs of what was to come, and no doctor could have foretold the tragic result of his decision. It's the same thing that can happen with LSD, mushrooms, and other entheogens. If you question the validity of my statement, you're well within your rights to do so. But, did you also read the part of my post about meeting another less-close friend in the psych ward after he'd taken somewhere in the neighborhood of 1500 mics and tried to scratch a third eye into his forehead? The chances that someone will go permanently insane from psychedelic use or other drug use are very slim, but there have been cases of temporary drug-induced psychosis or drug-induced psychosis that uncovers a severe mental illness that could possibly not have surfaced otherwise. They're profoundly sad.
This quote is beautiful! It also addresses several (perhaps most?) of the issues we're discussing here. I hope you'll read it; it's a quote worth reading. I experience it as being quite profound.
"Being able to see just once in a lifetime is no small accomplishment. If you've seen once, you can see forever. The question is whether you have the determination and diligence. Many young people today feel trapped in prisons of discouragement and self-hatred. They regard reality as meaningless, and they treat themselves as despicable beings. My heart opens to them. Caught in despair, they seek liberation through destructive means. It would be wonderful if we could identify and dissolve the sources of such a dark view of life.
"If you tarnish your perceptions by holding on to suffering that isn't really there, you create even greater misunderstanding. Reality is neither pleasant nor unpleasant in and of itself. It is only pleasant or unpleasant as experienced by us, through our perceptions. This is not to deny that earthquakes, plagues, wars, old age, sickness, and death exist. But their nature is not suffering. We can limit the impact of these tragedies but never do away with them completely. That would be like wanting to have light without darkness, tallness without shortness, birth without death, one without many. One-sided perceptions like these create our world of suffering. We are like an artist who is frightened by his own drawing of a ghost. Our creations become real to us and even haunt us." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh