Is spirituality a drug?
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30-05-2013, 11:11 AM
Is spirituality a drug?
I was having a conversation with a friend last night and we were talking about a mix of things including both spirituality/religion and recreational drugs, in unrelated context. However, now that I think of it they can be for many people, in my opinion, tied together in an interesting way.

We discussed how recreational drugs are essentially a shortcut or a cheat at producing happy chemicals in the brain. I could go out and do more constructive things to produce these chemicals in my brain.; doing things that I enjoy, such as music, friendship, love, etc., or I can get that instant super high that comes from some recreational drugs. Now I'm not saying that an occasional cheat is a bad thing, but once you start cheating all the time the game just isn't as fun anymore, and in the case of some of these chemicals, your body will shut down or physical/psychological addiction can consume you.

In the same way I think that spiritualism can be a cheat for really finding out things. Such as: what gives consciousness, why we crave meaning in life, the deepest functions of the human brain, etc. Also, in the same way that recreational drugs could be used on occasion without dire consequence (I know that for some this may not be possible), spirituality can be the same.

I find it fun to have discussions about the possibilities that lie after the unknown of death, about multiple realities, whether this whole thing is just a computer simulation, and so on. However, I find that its nothing but a fruitless endeavor to make it a way of life, always thinking and spending majorities of time on these kinds of things. At this point in our knowledge of science, there is so much to go before we can reach some of these answers, or other related ones. Cutting out the content and wanting straight for the end results is just the same form of cheating. I want to learn in proper order, rather than skip ahead and run circles in the what ifs, with no evidence to make one philosophy of spirituality more valid than another.


As the great James Randi once said:

"Enjoy the fantasy, the fun, the stories, but make sure there's a clear sharp line drawn on the floor so that you can step back, behind that mark, and re-embrace reality. To do otherwise is to embrace madness."

There is much pleasure to be gained from useless knowledge.

-Bertrand Russell
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30-05-2013, 07:06 PM
RE: Is spirituality a drug?
That's how I've always thought of "religious experience."
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30-05-2013, 10:53 PM
RE: Is spirituality a drug?
(30-05-2013 11:11 AM)VulcanLogic42 Wrote:  I was having a conversation with a friend last night and we were talking about a mix of things including both spirituality/religion and recreational drugs, in unrelated context. However, now that I think of it they can be for many people, in my opinion, tied together in an interesting way.

We discussed how recreational drugs are essentially a shortcut or a cheat at producing happy chemicals in the brain. I could go out and do more constructive things to produce these chemicals in my brain.; doing things that I enjoy, such as music, friendship, love, etc., or I can get that instant super high that comes from some recreational drugs. Now I'm not saying that an occasional cheat is a bad thing, but once you start cheating all the time the game just isn't as fun anymore, and in the case of some of these chemicals, your body will shut down or physical/psychological addiction can consume you.

In the same way I think that spiritualism can be a cheat for really finding out things. Such as: what gives consciousness, why we crave meaning in life, the deepest functions of the human brain, etc. Also, in the same way that recreational drugs could be used on occasion without dire consequence (I know that for some this may not be possible), spirituality can be the same.

I find it fun to have discussions about the possibilities that lie after the unknown of death, about multiple realities, whether this whole thing is just a computer simulation, and so on. However, I find that its nothing but a fruitless endeavor to make it a way of life, always thinking and spending majorities of time on these kinds of things. At this point in our knowledge of science, there is so much to go before we can reach some of these answers, or other related ones. Cutting out the content and wanting straight for the end results is just the same form of cheating. I want to learn in proper order, rather than skip ahead and run circles in the what ifs, with no evidence to make one philosophy of spirituality more valid than another.


As the great James Randi once said:

"Enjoy the fantasy, the fun, the stories, but make sure there's a clear sharp line drawn on the floor so that you can step back, behind that mark, and re-embrace reality. To do otherwise is to embrace madness."

It's true that religion produces feelings, and becomes a place to dump emotions into. Because of this, it does have a high potential for abuse.

Even some theists I know say that one can become crazy for christ. Meaning that they are addicted to the feelings of religion to the point of being unhealthy.

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31-05-2013, 05:34 AM
RE: Is spirituality a drug?
(30-05-2013 10:53 PM)fstratzero Wrote:  
(30-05-2013 11:11 AM)VulcanLogic42 Wrote:  I was having a conversation with a friend last night and we were talking about a mix of things including both spirituality/religion and recreational drugs, in unrelated context. However, now that I think of it they can be for many people, in my opinion, tied together in an interesting way.

We discussed how recreational drugs are essentially a shortcut or a cheat at producing happy chemicals in the brain. I could go out and do more constructive things to produce these chemicals in my brain.; doing things that I enjoy, such as music, friendship, love, etc., or I can get that instant super high that comes from some recreational drugs. Now I'm not saying that an occasional cheat is a bad thing, but once you start cheating all the time the game just isn't as fun anymore, and in the case of some of these chemicals, your body will shut down or physical/psychological addiction can consume you.

In the same way I think that spiritualism can be a cheat for really finding out things. Such as: what gives consciousness, why we crave meaning in life, the deepest functions of the human brain, etc. Also, in the same way that recreational drugs could be used on occasion without dire consequence (I know that for some this may not be possible), spirituality can be the same.

I find it fun to have discussions about the possibilities that lie after the unknown of death, about multiple realities, whether this whole thing is just a computer simulation, and so on. However, I find that its nothing but a fruitless endeavor to make it a way of life, always thinking and spending majorities of time on these kinds of things. At this point in our knowledge of science, there is so much to go before we can reach some of these answers, or other related ones. Cutting out the content and wanting straight for the end results is just the same form of cheating. I want to learn in proper order, rather than skip ahead and run circles in the what ifs, with no evidence to make one philosophy of spirituality more valid than another.


As the great James Randi once said:

"Enjoy the fantasy, the fun, the stories, but make sure there's a clear sharp line drawn on the floor so that you can step back, behind that mark, and re-embrace reality. To do otherwise is to embrace madness."

It's true that religion produces feelings, and becomes a place to dump emotions into. Because of this, it does have a high potential for abuse.

Even some theists I know say that one can become crazy for christ. Meaning that they are addicted to the feelings of religion to the point of being unhealthy.

Anything beyond the casual passing consideration of Christ is unhealthy in my opinion. I was once one of the sheeple, bleating happily along, having emotional "experiences". Funny how I never correlated those felling with the similar ones I got from other achievements and experiences in life at the time. Atheist from religious hindsight is most definitely 20/20 Big Grin

There is much pleasure to be gained from useless knowledge.

-Bertrand Russell
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31-05-2013, 05:41 AM
RE: Is spirituality a drug?
For a lot of people it's not unhealthy per se, that's why it is the drug of the masses.

Chanting and praying produces the same hormones as jogging and eating spicy foods and chocolate etc. etc. etc.

It makes you feel physically better.

You can get addicted to all of these things, including religion.

However, religion is the only one that makes you delusional...

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31-05-2013, 11:55 AM
RE: Is spirituality a drug?
Chanting, praying, reading, singing, meditatiing, running, exercise, trauma etc etc release beta-endorphins, (very similar to Morphine Sulfate),
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beta-endorphin and dopamine in the brain. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dopamine

Yes the "religious" experience is an addiction to drugs.
Why do you think the "mystics" were in their trances ?
Why do you think people like to pray, and go to church ?

I'd rather run and listen to Beethoven. Tongue
Same diff.

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31-05-2013, 05:09 PM
RE: Is spirituality a drug?
I'm gonna mention my former evangelical xian roommate in college. If she attended her church fewer than 3 times per week, she'd get agitated, start crying, and moan and groan on the phone that she "needed to be in the presence of Christ." I'm not making this shit up, and it freaked me out a lot. She'd actually go through "Jesus withdrawals." But I think hers might be a more extreme case of what goes on in a lot of woo-believers. They get good feelings from it, a neurochemical high, and they want more of it. And worse, they attribute it not to neurochemicals, but to woo, which then leads them to accept whatever dogma is packaged with the type of woo.
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31-05-2013, 06:25 PM (This post was last modified: 31-05-2013 06:42 PM by Luminon.)
RE: Is spirituality a drug?
(30-05-2013 11:11 AM)VulcanLogic42 Wrote:  Now I'm not saying that an occasional cheat is a bad thing, but once you start cheating all the time the game just isn't as fun anymore, and in the case of some of these chemicals, your body will shut down or physical/psychological addiction can consume you.
You have a point. George W. Bush Jr. was an alcoholic. He got into trouble with driving and his marriage and changed himself into a Christian. A very devout and active Christian. All the time on emotional high. Apparently he lost the ability to produce endorphins in a normal way, yet got addicted to lots of endorphins and without them he would get depressed very quickly. So tons of exercise and Christianity became his drug.

(30-05-2013 11:11 AM)VulcanLogic42 Wrote:  In the same way I think that spiritualism can be a cheat for really finding out things. Such as: what gives consciousness, why we crave meaning in life, the deepest functions of the human brain, etc. Also, in the same way that recreational drugs could be used on occasion without dire consequence (I know that for some this may not be possible), spirituality can be the same.
You confuse finding out things with organized religion. Organized religion is a social and emotional phenomenon. It satisfies many needs but it is not spirituality.

Spirituality is a very individual pursuit of profound experience, that has to do with expanded and altered states of consciousness. It may involve greater awareness or a new way of looking at things, but it is not about specific knowledge. Neither it is primarily about emotions. It is about a profound, otherworldly experience that has no representation in usual the daily life, yet may give you a meaning of life.
The united states of awareness (pun intended) may be profound, but completely without emotions as we understand them. Very intense but very impersonal, as impersonal as pure intellect, yet very much engaged instead of separation. It gives feelings of (I'm not kidding) transcendency, perfection, omniscience, objective morality, and sometimes unconditional love.

The result is, the spiritual person gets to look at his life in a new, very impersonal way and sees it woefully inadequate compared to the apparent perfection that he feels. He may feel joy alternated with depression of realization, but these are merely side-effects. With luck, he'll get over that and achieve some kind of balance and integrate this experience into his daily life. It usually has a great and very positive effect on his life and profession.

Such kind of true spirituality has been known for all human history and even today it happens to people, even some who were never spiritual or religious to begin with. Some people use religious vocabulary to capture the experience, as they almost always did during all recorded history, but I think our age should research this properly.

(30-05-2013 11:11 AM)VulcanLogic42 Wrote:  I find it fun to have discussions about the possibilities that lie after the unknown of death, about multiple realities, whether this whole thing is just a computer simulation, and so on. However, I find that its nothing but a fruitless endeavor to make it a way of life, always thinking and spending majorities of time on these kinds of things. At this point in our knowledge of science, there is so much to go before we can reach some of these answers, or other related ones. Cutting out the content and wanting straight for the end results is just the same form of cheating. I want to learn in proper order, rather than skip ahead and run circles in the what ifs, with no evidence to make one philosophy of spirituality more valid than another.


As the great James Randi once said:

"Enjoy the fantasy, the fun, the stories, but make sure there's a clear sharp line drawn on the floor so that you can step back, behind that mark, and re-embrace reality. To do otherwise is to embrace madness."
Well, I have met a few impressive Christians and they would eventually tell me that what is important for them is not the book or faith, but the experience. And then they describe the experience that I described, only in religious words.

This is why it's called "the common experience". I actually got the book of this name by J. M. Cohen and gave it to a certain priest I know. Good man but nobody should think this experience is limited to certain religions or types of people or historical ages, it's a part of universal human condition, scientists just aren't sure what it is yet. I don't think it is a drug or has any endorphine-related effects, it is more like a direct electric stimulation of brain, it can cease in a moment and there are no noticeable withdrawal symptoms, But while it lasts, I may be... let's say I could withstand being locked in a isolation room for a week and not miss seeing another human being. A different state of consciousness, entirely. I am not surprised there are so many hermits and monks in history of religion.

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31-05-2013, 08:45 PM (This post was last modified: 31-05-2013 08:51 PM by Lienda Bella.)
RE: Is spirituality a drug?
By my experience, it can act like one. It's not as strong as self-injury, though. I was so good at getting myself going that the dog wasn't curious even when I went unconscious. *facepalm* I had forgotten to.. you know.. BREATH air once....
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31-05-2013, 10:58 PM
RE: Is spirituality a drug?
(30-05-2013 11:11 AM)VulcanLogic42 Wrote:  I was having a conversation with a friend last night and we were talking about a mix of things including both spirituality/religion and recreational drugs, in unrelated context. However, now that I think of it they can be for many people, in my opinion, tied together in an interesting way.

We discussed how recreational drugs are essentially a shortcut or a cheat at producing happy chemicals in the brain. I could go out and do more constructive things to produce these chemicals in my brain.; doing things that I enjoy, such as music, friendship, love, etc., or I can get that instant super high that comes from some recreational drugs. Now I'm not saying that an occasional cheat is a bad thing, but once you start cheating all the time the game just isn't as fun anymore, and in the case of some of these chemicals, your body will shut down or physical/psychological addiction can consume you.

In the same way I think that spiritualism can be a cheat for really finding out things. Such as: what gives consciousness, why we crave meaning in life, the deepest functions of the human brain, etc. Also, in the same way that recreational drugs could be used on occasion without dire consequence (I know that for some this may not be possible), spirituality can be the same.

I find it fun to have discussions about the possibilities that lie after the unknown of death, about multiple realities, whether this whole thing is just a computer simulation, and so on. However, I find that its nothing but a fruitless endeavor to make it a way of life, always thinking and spending majorities of time on these kinds of things. At this point in our knowledge of science, there is so much to go before we can reach some of these answers, or other related ones. Cutting out the content and wanting straight for the end results is just the same form of cheating. I want to learn in proper order, rather than skip ahead and run circles in the what ifs, with no evidence to make one philosophy of spirituality more valid than another.


As the great James Randi once said:

"Enjoy the fantasy, the fun, the stories, but make sure there's a clear sharp line drawn on the floor so that you can step back, behind that mark, and re-embrace reality. To do otherwise is to embrace madness."

It is indeed a drug. And from an economical perspective, it's a very cheap drug but the trade off is that it isn't very potent. Which is why so many mystics also abuse substances and/or engage in self injury.

As addictions go, the best metaphorical explanation I've heard for it is this:

Assume that natural, unmolested, human happiness is 100. Then take a person who for whatever reason, has a mean happiness level of 30 and another person who has a mean happiness level of 100. Then introduce a drug to both of them that raises their happiness level by seventy points. The person with a 30% happiness level will experience "normal" human happiness, while the person with 100% happiness level will experience a sense of euphoria.

When the two arrive at the end of their highs, the 30% guy will again be depressed and the 100% guy will have a so so happy memory and may even remember that he experienced too much euphoria.

In the end, the 30% guy is going to look for that 100% happiness level anywhere and everywhere he can, while the 100% guy is going to be a take it or leave it sort and may even turn down another opportunity to increase his happiness... because he doesn't need to.

Of course, as we know, the happiness boost from drugs is only a perceived happiness boost and whether the drugs are external chemicals (drugs) or internal chemicals (spirituality), we're going to build a tolerance to them over time. In reality, it isn't really a happiness boost at all. It's a depression mask.

And in the end, masking the problem only treats the symptoms, while the disease rages on.

The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their right names. - Chinese Proverb
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