This week has been very interesting. It has been highlighted by a sense of generosity that I have been trying to establish in my life. I’ve always tried to be generous, but gave out of the sense of wanting to be a good person instead of wanting to help or bring ease to another being. I always thought it would come back, but it never really did in any obvious way. I’m not sure why, perhaps recent shifts as a result of my meditation practice and studies, but I have stopped caring about being a good person. It’s just an idea anyways. However, I never really stopped my behavior and my intentions completely shifted.
This week a handful of circumstances arose in my life and I had the opportunity to help both friends and strangers. Whats funny is it’s felt like the universe has especially had my back too. I had some headphones that broke after the warranty, but the company gave me “a one time exception” and allowed me to replace them. I’ve been buying my lunch at school since I am not on a meal plan and asked if meal tickets are cheaper. The cashier said no and then said “You buy lunch here a lot, I’m going to give you some meal tickets.” She ended up giving me at least 20 free meals. I tried to pay her, but she wouldn’t take my money. I also got a random message from a friend I haven’t talked to in years that simply said “I hope the universe is as kind to you as you are to others.” There are other things too, but I want to keep this short. I don’t know what to think of it, perhaps it’s all just coincidences I am making meaning out of, but either way, I’ve grown because of it.
By Sam Harris
…Of course, the brain does filter an extraordinary amount of information from consciousness. And, like many who have taken these drugs, I can attest that psychedelics certainly throw open the gates. Needless to say, positing the existence of a “Mind at Large” is more tempting in some states of consciousness than in others. And the question of which view of reality we should privilege is, at times, worth considering. But these drugs can also produce mental states that are best viewed in clinical terms as forms of psychosis. As a general matter, I believe we should be very slow to make conclusions about the nature of the cosmos based upon inner experience — no matter how profound these experiences seem…
…These encounters take something out of you. Even if drugs like LSD are biologically safe, the potential for extremely unpleasant and destabilizing experiences presents its own risks. I believe I was positively affected for weeks and months by my good trips, and negatively affected by the bad ones. Given these roulette-like odds, one can only recommend these experiences with caution.
While meditation can open the mind to a similar range of conscious states, they are reached far less haphazardly. If LSD is like being strapped to rocket, learning to meditate is like gently raising a sail. Yes, it is possible, even with guidance, to wind up someplace terrifying—and there are people who probably shouldn’t spend long periods in intensive practice. But the general effect of meditation training is of settling ever more fully into one’s own skin, and suffering less, rather than more there.
As I discussed in The End of Faith, I view most psychedelic experiences as potentially misleading. Psychedelics do not guarantee wisdom. They merely guarantee more content. And visionary experiences, considered in their totality, appear to me to be ethically neutral. Therefore, it seems that psychedelic ecstasy must be steered toward our personal and collective well-being by some other principle. As Daniel Pinchbeck pointed out in his highly entertaining book, Breaking Open the Head, the fact that both the Mayans and the Aztecs used psychedelics, while being enthusiastic practitioners of human sacrifice, makes any idealistic link between plant-based shamanism and an enlightened society seem terribly naive.
As I will discuss in future essays, the form of transcendence that appears to link directly to ethical behavior and human well-being is the transcendence of egoity in the midst of ordinary waking consciousness. It is by ceasing to cling to the contents of consciousness—to our thoughts, moods, desires, etc.—that we make progress. Such a project does not, in principle, require that we experience more contents. The freedom from self that is both the goal and foundation of “spiritual” life is coincident with normal perception and cognition—though, admittedly, this can be difficult to realize.
The power of psychedelics, however, is that they often reveal, in the span of a few hours, depths of awe and understanding that can otherwise elude us for a lifetime.”
Full Article: Sam Harris - Drugs and the Meaning of Life
"For example, fire is believed to exist as a fundamental element. However, fire is dependent upon and inseparable from countless conditions such as fuel, oxygen, thermal friction and so forth. Every flame continuously changes because fire depends upon conditions with no existence of its own. Since fire is not self-maintained it is impermanent.
When conditions for fire are no longer present, we say the fire died. Yes, this is understandable, but it is important to see that each instant, the fire is a different fire, not the same fire. Furthermore, since an appearing fire depends upon conditions that are not considered to be fire, fire lacks its own self nature. After all, fire does not burn itself. So fire does not and cannot die as an entity that ever existed in and of itself.
Let’s try to find fire as an element existing in and of itself. Fuel is not considered fire. Oxygen is not fire. Heat is not fire. Friction is not fire. If these conditions are cleared away, or even one of them, such as oxygen, there will be no fire left burning. Therefore, apart from the conditions of fire, there is no fire. Fire is not an independent element, but an interdependent entity. It has no essence of its own. It is in this sense that fire is said to be empty. The same can be said for a self or subject, consciousness, death, and all phenomena.
Ultimately speaking, one cannot say what fire is or where it begins and ends. Its conditions too, are empty. This is not to say that fire as it appears, does not arise, endure or cease, or that it does not burn, but that the appearance and function of fire is not the product of its own independent movement, nature or being. There are relative differences between phenomena and processes to recognize. These differences however, are of appearance, not essence. All form and all characteristics are dependent and relational in every regard. In other words, form is an essenceless interrelationship.”
Full Article at Emptiness Cafe