Mountain of Drugs

I recently got into a fairly ridiculous debate on Facebook with some people who think that psychedelic drugs can get you to the same place as meditation. I don’t really know why I bothered. Except that people who advocate this position are so passionate about it and it’s really easy to pull their chains. It makes them crazy when someone with meditation experience disagrees. It’s like when you bother a fire ant mound.

During the discussion, one of the supporters of drug abuse as a way to gain spiritual insight started in with the time worn cliché that drugs are like taking a helicopter to the top of a mountain rather than climbing it. You get the same breathtaking view as someone who has climbed the mountain. But you get there much quicker and more easily. “You can’t deny it’s exactly the same view,” one guy said. But, in fact, I would unequivocally deny that it’s the same view. It’s not. Not at all.

Metaphors always fall apart if you press them too much. But I like this one because it shows exactly what the problem is when you start saying drugs will do for you the same thing as meditation but faster and without all the muss and fuss.

Let’s say you met a veteran mountaineer with over a quarter century of climbing experience, a person who has written books on mountain climbing and routinely personally instructs others in the art of climbing. And let’s imagine what would happen if you tried to convince this guy that people who take helicopters to the tops of mountains get everything that mountain climbers get and get it a whole lot easier.

The mountain climber would certainly tell you that the breathtaking view a guy who takes a helicopter to the top of a mountain gets is not in any way, shape or form the same view that a person who climbs the mountain herself gets.

To the mountain climber, the guy in the helicopter is just a hyperactive thrill seeker who wants nothing more than to experience a pretty view without putting any effort into it. The helicopter guy thinks the goal of mountain climbing is to be on top of the mountain and that climbing is an inefficient way to accomplish this goal. He just doesn’t get it. At all.

The helicopter guy misses out on the amazing sights there are to see on the way up. He doesn’t know the thrill of mastering the mountain through his own efforts. He doesn’t know the hardships and dangers involved in making the climb. And he’ll never know the awesome wonder of descending the mountain back into familiar territory. All he’s done is given some money to a person who owns a helicopter. He probably couldn’t even find the mountain himself, let alone make it to the top. When there are no helicopters around, the poor guy is helplessly grounded.

If the helicopter guy claims that he has reached the same place as the mountain climber, the mountain climber knows in ways the helicopter guy can’t even fathom that the helicopter guy is a fool.

To a mountain climber, the goal of mountain climbing is not the moment of sitting on top enjoying the view. That’s just one small part of the experience. It may not even be the best part. To a mountain climber, every view, from every point on the mountain is significant and wonderful.

People who think that the pinnacle of the experience is that moment of being right on the tippy-top, don’t understand the experience at all. The poor attention addled things probably never will.

What I am working on in meditation involves every single moment of life. So-called “peak experiences” can be fun. But they no more define what life is about that so-called “mundane experiences.” When you start making such separations, you have already lost the most precious thing in life, the ability to fully immerse yourself in every experience.

No. Taking a helicopter to the top of a mountain is not at all the same thing as climbing it for yourself. To insist that it is proves that you don’t understand the first thing about mountains.

My attitude about drug use and its relationship to spiritual experience has been characterized as intolerant and fundamentalist. One clever-trousers on Twitter said, “Brad Warner’s shadows are bigger than Genpo Roshi’s. The guy is so blind he probably shouldn’t even have a driver’s license.” Whatever that’s supposed to mean. But my attitude has no more to do with fundamentalism or conservativism than our fictional mountain climber’s attitude about rich, hasty pleasure junkies who take joy rides in helicopters. It is unambiguously clear that drugs and meditation cannot take you to the same place simply by the very nature of the experiences. They are not even in the same league of things. The comparison between the two is entirely spurious and unworthy of examination.

People who say these things about drugs and meditation may have tried drugs but most have never really attempted much meditation. Oh maybe they’ve gone to a handful of yoga classes and done shavasana. Or maybe they’ve been to a Vipassana retreat or even rented a cabin at Tassajara one summer. But they don’t have any real depth of experience with meditation to compare to their drug experiences.

I’ve run the mountain metaphor into the ground. So I’ll stop here. I’ll leave it to the people in the comments section to come up with unnecessary and wrong-headed further variations on the metaphor (like talking about the views you can get from helicopters that mountain climbers can’t see or some such dumb ass thing — metaphors can only be stretched so far before they become absurd).

But here is a brilliant song (probably) about drugs by Gene Clark:

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392 Responses

Page 8 of 8
  1. Brian
    Brian July 18, 2011 at 4:48 pm |

    Is everyone too high to speak English anymore?

    Seems like most people who go to such great lengths to find meaning or truth or whatever the hell miss what's right in front of their faces.

    I dunno, my two cents.

  2. Anonymous
    Anonymous July 18, 2011 at 4:48 pm |


  3. Anonymous
    Anonymous July 18, 2011 at 4:49 pm |


  4. Anonymous
    Anonymous July 18, 2011 at 4:54 pm |


  5. 1000 Names of Vishnu
    1000 Names of Vishnu July 18, 2011 at 5:01 pm |

    Right speech, harmlessness, Restraint in speaking ill of others, Moderation in food, at peace in remoteness and solitude, Devotion to higher meditation. This is the teaching of the Buddhas. Dhpd.

    guess yr f*cked, Yeti (right speech one of the requirements on 8-fold path IIRC, as well–)—though maybe yll make it to like rodent-status next spin of the wheel.

    Zen has some ..language precepts as well doesn't it…"think three times before..speaking" (writing/scrawling,e tc). Now…I'm no puritan (as say Hoss-Ron the hypocrite sunday schooler izz) but would say obscene street speak is verboten per….trad. bdh.

  6. Shodo
    Shodo July 18, 2011 at 5:14 pm |

    Hey guys – word of advice.

    Don't feed the Trolls.

  7. Anonymous
    Anonymous July 18, 2011 at 5:23 pm |

  8. Awakened Yeti
    Awakened Yeti July 18, 2011 at 5:23 pm |

    and so, Pissterion, (the wannabe therion, the wannabe beta dog for bradley McZen) now that your knot is getting wrapped up nice and tight.. do you wish for us to drop a bow on it as well?

    btw – merry christmas, gramps

  9. 10101001
    10101001 July 18, 2011 at 6:09 pm |

    Tell me where you, a Yiddy, and we'll jus have ya __________'ed. How's that mystic man? Along with most of the yid-mormon jagoffs here.

    Stick to the Jerry Springer show, or log cabin for Romney, preta-phonies (and …be sure that's Hoss-Ron the Sac sunday schooler belching his usual right-win, trite "troll" belch)

  10. Anonymous
    Anonymous July 18, 2011 at 6:11 pm |

    i ? plot!

  11. 1000 Names of Vishnu
    1000 Names of Vishnu July 18, 2011 at 6:12 pm |

    Comprendes, Yeti-puerca? Your teeth kicked the fuck in, byatch. I don't know Warner, and already said I don't always agree with him, dumbass.

    Yr the occultic druggie-pervert here, Yiddy, and don't know squat about eastern religions.

  12. Anonymous
    Anonymous July 18, 2011 at 6:28 pm |

    How does one not make a comment?

  13. Mysterion Revealed
    Mysterion Revealed July 18, 2011 at 7:21 pm |

    Now Mysterion is using "fuck" to show he's not Mysterion.


  14. anonymous anonymous
    anonymous anonymous July 18, 2011 at 7:26 pm |

    yes unveiled. I was beginning to think I was the only one rude enough to point out the obvious.. that literally hundreds of the 'mountain of drugs' comments were made by mysterion alone. He always seemed a little odd but he has ramped it up to the point where he now seems crazy. His language and delivery change but his message always stays on course and is of paramount IMPORTANCE. The more he comments as whoever, the easier it is to recognize him, but he seems completely unable to rein himself in. I wonder what his reasons are for all of this and how he justifies the gross dishonesty.

  15. Mysterion Unveiled
    Mysterion Unveiled July 18, 2011 at 7:26 pm |

    Mysterion at 2:50 PM: "IMHE's a bit too complex for you, trash, eh."

    Point is, Nobody uses this type of abbreviation anymore but you, because you're about 9 months (I'm being charitable) behind the trends you think you're on top of.

  16. Anonymous
    Anonymous July 18, 2011 at 8:18 pm |

    Stopped the muthafucka in his tracks.

    What's a'matta Mysterion, cat gotcha tongue?

    Hate to bait the mentally ill, but.






  17. Anonymous
    Anonymous July 18, 2011 at 8:28 pm |

    Stealing from Mark Twain,
    the difference between
    talking about psychedelics
    and doing psychedelics
    is like the
    a lighting bug
    and lightning…

    or maybe the difference
    between flying a paper
    airplane and flying
    an F-16.

    FWIW, I started sitting in
    hopes of understanding
    WTF those amazing drugs
    were all about.

    I've had a few trippy
    experiences during sesshins,
    but I still don't understand
    psychedelics and I still
    don't understand zen.

    Perhaps they're not related
    at all, but they are both
    part of what's available as
    human experience, and thus,
    both merit some exploration.

    BTW, each psychedelic encompasses
    many different types of experiences,
    depending on set, setting, dosage,
    the arc of drug metabolism, luck,
    serendipity, synchronicity,
    synesthesia, et cetera, et cetera.

    When psychedelic research once again
    becomes fully legal, it would
    be interesting to compare MRIs
    (or whatever) of
    your brain on drugs
    your brain while sitting.

    Curiosity may have killed the cat,
    but satisfaction brought it back.

    Let the insults begin…

  18. Alfred Hitchcock
    Alfred Hitchcock July 18, 2011 at 8:40 pm |

    mysterion and awakened yeti insulting each other.. awesome.

  19. yakuza-zen
    yakuza-zen July 18, 2011 at 8:53 pm |

    Mysterion's not on here, Mansonite-wicca trash. But it's interesting that the druggie- occultists use him as a strawman–maybe because he's not druggie-occultist, and at times refers to …sanskrit terms which really bother the wicca-swine.

    Go oink somewhere else, schwein

  20. Anonymous
    Anonymous July 18, 2011 at 9:31 pm |

    fascinating breakdown

  21. Anonymous
    Anonymous July 18, 2011 at 9:58 pm |

    "But it's interesting that the druggie- occultists use him as a strawman–maybe because he's not druggie-occultist"

    there are no druggie occultists here mysterion. What there is, is underwhelmingly only you.

  22. Anonymous
    Anonymous July 18, 2011 at 10:11 pm |

    "Mysterion's not on here, Mansonite-wicca trash."

    Do tell loser. Only mysterion could know that. Anyone can tell when he is here.

  23. Anonymous
    Anonymous July 19, 2011 at 12:03 am |

    the same way you can tell when someone has farted
    even if no sound has announced the fact

  24. btw
    btw July 19, 2011 at 1:28 am |

    Going out for a swim isn’t like becoming able to levitate.

    Though a person who has never seen water before and has been thrown into the water might very stubbornly insist he knows the real thing.

  25. r
    r July 19, 2011 at 1:33 am |

    Just btw, – ei?

  26. SEO
    SEO July 19, 2011 at 4:09 am |

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  27. mysti-leaks
    mysti-leaks July 19, 2011 at 6:01 am |

    mysterion, too bad you can't go back and delete all this crap like you have so often in the past. It all must look very stupid even to you in the light of day. What the fuck were you thinking about? Did Brad's topic set you off? Triggered some 60's flashbacks that just had to come out while maintaining your self-imposed SILENCE. It really worked out well for you.

  28. Abdul
    Abdul July 19, 2011 at 6:45 am |

    Ah Hoss Ron, white-trash queer wicca from Sac doing whatever he can to turn this into another of his pro-LDS, pro Romney brainfart sessions.

    How shaytan works

  29. Anonymous
    Anonymous July 19, 2011 at 7:23 am |

    Stroke out, old bloke, stroke out.

    Take the little white doggie down to the coffee shop and hassle the help.

    Pity Mysterion's imaginary wife. And the dog.

  30. Anonymous
    Anonymous July 19, 2011 at 8:00 am |

    dude.. that is beyond the pale. mysterion has already hung himself out to dry. No need to put a voodoo curse on him.

  31. Ted Bundy's Bodhi-treeee
    Ted Bundy's Bodhi-treeee July 19, 2011 at 8:02 am |

    Whats that B-ron Bundius, the wicca queer, flunkie? Like…yr theatre 101 palsies in Sac know, yoo bag of white trash chandala. Yd do well to stop harrassing "Mysterion" as well, perp

    (Students, when you want to say something, think about it three times before you say it. Speak only if your words will benefit yourselves and others. Do not speak if it brings no benefit.–Dogen. not for……. the chandala)

  32. Anonymous
    Anonymous July 19, 2011 at 8:46 am |

    Loser: Apparently the irony of that quote coming in your mouth is lost on you.

  33. 1000 Names of Vishnu
    1000 Names of Vishnu July 19, 2011 at 9:38 am |

    HossRon the Baptist Tee-shirt vendor–the loser's you, you bag of whoreson chandala. Yr pure shit, like yr corpse mammy's garbage yid-mormon hole. Corpsemammy zen!

    Heh (scuzi, o spirit of Dogen–there are exceptions when dealing with..chandala)

  34. Anonymous
    Anonymous July 19, 2011 at 7:51 pm |


  35. klgg
    klgg July 20, 2011 at 12:16 pm |

    I have done both and they are NOT the same.

    Someone claiming that a brain on drugs is equivalent to a brain on no-thing is not only foolish, but probably delusional.

  36. Anonymous
    Anonymous July 21, 2011 at 8:09 pm |


    just fuckin kiddn.

  37. Stinks of Zen
    Stinks of Zen August 20, 2011 at 9:45 pm |

    Pot plays on my anxiety.

  38. pretaville
    pretaville April 23, 2012 at 10:25 am |


    Apolectic parapatetic bullshit detective PSYCHO asshole takes over …again.

    How Boring. LOL

    Go home mentally ill white trash romneypinko.

  39. Andriy
    Andriy May 14, 2012 at 5:32 pm |

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  40. Andriy
    Andriy May 14, 2012 at 5:33 pm |

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  41. Andriy
    Andriy May 14, 2012 at 5:35 pm |

    You fail to make a distinction between hallucinogenic substances and those that largely produce sense of reward that leads to addiction and are often associated with individuals who have inadequate self-control.

    While it is true that hallucinogens and meditation produce two different experiences, there is still a large overlap between them.

    As someone who started using hallucinogens first which led me to meditate I would have to rephrase the metaphor used. While drugs can be seen a helicopter to the top of the mountain even though we already established the experience to be quite different. You still need to make the decent to the bottom learning your way down. Seeing the beautiful view on top and all the views on your way down function as a motivator and a map back to top.

    Of course you quickly come to discover that going down the mountain is quite effortless while going up takes effort and training. But I want to be able to reach the top because I know how it is up there and I do have a general guide of how to get there. And this is where the meditation comes in.

    Also meditation and drugs mix well together. 🙂

  42. comrademittenz
    comrademittenz May 17, 2012 at 2:17 pm |

    The fact that you're obsessed with the duality between psychoactive tools and meditation shows me that you do not realize the multiplicity of paths to enlightenment. There is no quick fix, and there is no one answer.

Comments are closed.