Meditation vs. “Happy” Drugs 1: the Inquiry
Lately I talked to a friend that considered herself a responsible drug user. Of course I pursued further since I was interested about her way of thinking.
She said that she started using drugs out of curiosity, that she first looked for some drug user from a good milieu that can inform her where to buy, how to use, what to expect and so on. From our conversation I know that she already used quite a variety of drugs, from soft drugs (according to Dutch law) like marijuana to some party drugs like XTC. For more information about Dutch drug policy, click here.
Surprisingnya she went on telling me that she had tried meditation, too. She even found herself to be almost in ‘trance’ during a meditation session. I was quite puzzled about the trance, cause I never had one and do not expect to experience it, either. At least in the meditation tradition that I practice, Vipassana, trance is definitely not a stage or experience we are striving for.
I found out that she defines trance as a mental condition wherein she does not worry about the future nor the past, but simply relax and enjoy the present moment. Well, I have to agree with her that when I have a good meditation, that is also what I feel (among other things). However we do not call it trance. Yet, that’s not an easy mental condition to get, e.g. I don’t have it everytime I meditate, nor can I maintain it during the whole session of each meditation. It is something that meditators have to struggle for.
Encouraged by my words, she went on saying that XTC is maybe better than meditation then, since one pill can work for a couple of days. Much easier than meditation, right?
By then, my mind was running wild with questions:
1) Are the effects of drugs comparable to meditation? (If they are, why bother to meditate at all?)
2) Is using drugs a safe method to reach those effects?
3) What are the differences in long term effects between meditation and drugs? (Can we compare Dalai Lama to the coffee shop customer?)
I will elaborate on the ideas, based partly on scientific publication, in the next post(s).
 ‘Coffee shop’ in The Netherlands sells cannabis instead of coffee. If you want some coffee, go to some café instead.