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DRUGS -USE and ABUSE-
"Bent out of Shape by Society's Pliers".
The problem of drug use and abuse is well documented and my
interest in this activity began when I was introduced to drugs
while I was at college in the the late sixties. I started using
drugs, mainly hashish, in 1969, and during the course of the next
7 years I partook of drugs regularly. In addition to hashish (cannabis
resin), I ingested amphetamines, opium, LSD, mescaline, psilocybin
I stopped all drug use soon after starting my macrobiotic
practice in 1975. The interesting aspect of my cessation of drug
use was that it was not something I wanted to do at all. I had
read George Ohsawa's essay on drug use and remember saying to
myself, after reading George Ohsawa recommending getting off drugs
as soon as possible, "Sorry, George, that is not something
I will do, no way"!
"Bent out of shape by society's pliers" - Bob Dylan
This commentary begins with the social aspect of drug use.
Of course, it is no secret that all forms of authority today are
widely regarded as being suspect, lacking any credibility or trust
with vast numbers of people of all ages. To wit, a poll came out
early in 2000 which asked the question - "Do you trust the
US Government?" 57% of the respondents said NO, and 12% were
undecided. One wonders what the remaining 31% have been doing
for the past 30 years.
It is probable that one of the main reasons for this lack
of respect for authority is the almost cretinous belief by government
authorities that people can be stopped from taking drugs by means
of the law.
The laws against the taking of drugs have obviously not only
been a complete failure, if indeed, the intent of these laws are
to stop people from taking drugs. The fact is that the laws against
the use of drugs (obviously I am referring to the illicit drugs,
not medications, which I will discuss later) actually have the
effect of promoting the use of drugs.
If we ask ourselves the question " Who stands to gain
from the present social constraint against the use of illicit
drugs?", the answer is obviously not so-called drug addicts
and users. The illegal standing of these substances means that
they can only be purchased via the 'black market'. This necessarily
means that they come at a premium, and it is clear that the price
of purchasing them has gradually increased over the years. Thus
taking drugs has become an expensive proposition.
Thus, knowing that most drug users are not deterred by the
law, the law has merely meant that the use of drugs has become
more expensive. Therefore illicit drug production and marketing
has become more profitable. It is this increasing profitability
which has ensured that drugs will always be available and plentiful.
The profitability of illicit drugs has been the main impetus
behind the drug cartels, and the street gangs with all their attendant
social ills. Of course, the government agencies that are allegedly
policing the drug laws also profit handsomely from the laws against
drugs and this is the most interesting aspect of the failure or
success of the "War against Drugs". It is a failure,
on the surface, because it has been singularly, glaringly impotent
in effecting any drop off in the use of drugs by the population
However, if among the intents of the drug laws are, as I think
they are, to make insane profits for the drug cartels and to keep
the Drug Enforcement Agency, and all the various federal agencies
set up to police and imprison drug offenders, swimming up to their
necks in public money, then one has to say the drug laws are a
For example, the annual budget of the Drug Enforcement Agency
is 20 Billion dollars. No wonder, then, that the head of the DEA
is so vociferously anti-drug, for he is only defending his turf.
Another example, this taken from the current issue of Rolling
"A Global Commodity - In eight years the Clinton Administration
spent more than $120 billion to fight the Drug War, and President
Bush has requested more than $18 Billion for 2002.
Has it stopped the flow of drugs? No. Retail cocaine and heroin
prices actually fell by a third during that time, and the average
purity level of street heroin increased by 20% between 1990 and
The United Nations estimates that illegal drugs generate $400
billion a year in revenue and comprise eight percent of ALL global
It is no wonder then that powerful forces in society wish
to keep these drugs illicit - no point in killing the goose that
lays the golden egg.
Thus, it is pointless and useless to expect the authorities
to have any say in any positive resolution to the use of drugs.
They have everything to lose by making drugs legal, and nothing
to gain by having people freely choose to use drugs or not as
legalising drugs means authorities lose their implicit legal control
over people who are found taking illicit drugs, and fined and
imprisoned for getting caught. From the same issue of Rolling
Stone (August 16, 2001): " Twenty-four percent of the 2 million
people incarcerated in the United States were convicted for non-violent
drug offenses. It costs more than $9 billion annually to keep
these 458,000 people in prison".
It is obvious to me that all drugs ought to be legal, and
legislated like pharmaceutical drugs, which, after all, are responsible
for killing 160,000 people in the US every year - and pharmaceutical
drugs are far more powerfully toxic than any of the illicit drugs,
as the mortality rate testifies.
These deaths from the use of pharmaceutical drugs are not
deaths by overdose, by the way. No, these are deaths caused by
people taking prescription medications prescribed by their physician(which,
of course, makes the modern medical profession the largest drug
cartel in the history of humanity), and taken according to the
manufacturer's direction of use.
So, the question is, why are we taking drugs at all? It is
obvious that government authorities have nothing constructive
and positive in answer to this question and would prefer to pretend
they are doing something about the "drug problem", which
the government has deliberately created for reasons of profit
Thus, as people living in the US, we are inundated in the
media daily with propaganda from "The Partnership for a Drug-Free
America" and pathetically obvious ploys to extract public
money for various authoritative bodies like the "DARE"
program. One wonders if these people are deeply cynical and hypocritical
or merely plainly stupid - perhaps they are the same thing in
So, given that taking drugs is not beneficial for our well-being
physically, mentally or spiritually, and in the case of pharmaceutical
medications, largely toxic and lethal, why on earth are we taking
drugs? In the case of illicit drugs, they, in the long run, are
not conducive to happiness and health. In the case of pharmaceutical
medications, they are totally useless, at best, in dealing with
the problem of illness.
We are faced with a deep mystery.
The Physical Level.
In order to begin to approach unfolding this mystery we will
need to take a multi-faceted approach. I will begin with the physical
level. The concept of yin and yang is of tremendous help here.
I ask you to pause, at this juncture in your reading of this commentary,
and go to the Introduction and study
the diagram of yin and yang there.
You will notice that in the "Spectrum of Human Food according
to Yin and Yang" that drugs are at the yin extreme of the
spectrum and meat and eggs and salt are at the extreme yang end
of the spectrum. Now go to the page on Yin
and Yang and refresh your memory of the "Principles of
Yin and Yang".
Here it states that "yin attracts yang and yang attracts
yin" and that "extreme yin attracts extreme yin, the
greater the degree of difference the greater the force of attraction".
Thus, it necessarily follows that anyone ingesting meat, eggs
and salt on a daily basis will find themselves attracted to extreme
yin foods and substances. This is simply unavoidable. Initially,
the strong attraction or craving for strong yin is satisfied with
refined sugar (which is often consumed in tea or coffee, both
However, since sugar is not extreme enough, we then start
becoming attracted to alcohol and in many cases, alcohol is sufficiently
more yin to balance the extreme yang of eating meat, salt and
eggs on a daily basis. Thus, many people consume alcohol on a
Now, although there is a social stigma attached to alcohol
consumption, it is not illegal. Alcohol is one substance that
government authority did actually act logically and realise that
making it an illicit substance is socially counter-productive.
However, regular alcohol consumption is definitely detrimental
to the person consuming it, causing serious liver and kidney damage.
Although alcohol consumption does satisfy the attraction for
strong yin with many people, it is not enough and people seek
out more extreme yin and this is where we find cannabis, marijuana,
and other hallucinogenic substances proving to satisfy the attraction
for strong yin.
In my experience, I found these substances to be much milder
and more satisfying and less detrimental to my feeling of well-being
than alcohol. I therefore stopped alcohol consumption soon after
I started taking these drugs. As I stated earlier, I began taking
cannabis resin in 1969 - June 24th to be precise, and I stopped
drinking alcohol in 1970. And I used these substances - cannabis
resin mainly, but also LSD, opium and mescaline frequently and
often on a daily basis, for the ensuing years through the remainder
of college. I continued using them while I was a veterinary surgeon
and clinician in large animal practice until the day I ceased
using all drug substances in July 1976.
As stated, I had no intention of giving up the use of these
drugs - I found them to be very enjoyable and they certainly did
not interfere with my daily work as a veterinary surgeon and,
in fact, I performed several successful operations while under
However, it is very instructive to learn how it came about
that I stopped taking them, instantaneously and decisively. My
drug habit was largely centered around music. I would come home
from work and make myself a pot of tea, roll a "joint"
as we called them, put on my favorite LP at the time, and drink
the tea and smoke the resin as I listened to the music.
On this particular occasion, I put on the record, inhaled
the cannabis resin smoke and then fell asleep, completely unconscious.
I woke up later, I have no idea how long it was, to the sound
of the record 'clicking' on the turntable. I had not heard one
note of music at all, and I said to myself - "I am not going
to take any more dope if it means I am going to be unconscious
and I do not experience the pleasure of listening to the music
while I am high", and that was the last time I used drugs.
Now, the instructive aspect of this experience is that I had
started my macrobiotic practice in November 1975. This necessarily
means I had stopped eating meat and eggs and my salt consumption
had not only been reduced drastically, I was using seasalt rather
than refined table salt in my cooking.
So, in terms of yin and yang, I had ceased ingesting the extreme
yang meat, eggs and salt. This means that there was nothing in
my daily intake to balance the extreme yin of the cannabis and
subsequently the extreme yin condition induced by inhaling the
cannabis meant I became comatose.
The reason that I could at that point cease taking drugs altogether
is that I was no longer attracted to them by reason of no longer
eating meat, eggs and salt.
Therefore we can make the statement that if we want to stop
taking in extreme yin in the form of alcohol, drugs and medication,
we need to cease eating meat, eggs and salt (and salty foods of
any kind) on a regular basis.
The Emotional Level.
Of course, one's feeling and the experience of one's feelings
when confronted with modern life as a young person play a deep
role in the attraction to drugs.
Any young person coming to realise what modern life is actually
like can only be deeply dissatisfied with what confronts them,
if they are being honest with themselves. We live in a culture
grown profoundly anti-human and sub-human.
From the time we enter modern schooling we enter a profoundly
disturbed and thoroughly comatose existence, where any humanness
about us is systematically obliterated, replaced with a programmed
caricature, a sort of granite-like robot cartoon existence living
in a flat-earth culture built purely for an arid mechanized existence,
where the architecture is square, one dimensional and dead. Into
this glass and concrete-scape people simply cannot live, so we
merely exist, going through life in a hurried, harried illness-filled
existence, where all the psychologists, physicians, priests and
educators are just as dead, sick and comatose as everyone else.
As a young person full of vitality, and looking for adventure
and excitement it is a healthy expression that one instinctively
rebels against all this, and one finds avenues to experience adventure
and excitement and rebellion extremely limited in the flat-earth
"cracked-shell"thinking of modern life.
Thus it is that drugs come to be used - they offer excitement,
the use of them is definitely a sign of rebellion toward the "grey
world" where there is all this hypocritical hysteria about
the use of drugs and they provide an altered state of experience,
completely otherworldly in comparison to the normal "day-to
day running around, everybody knows this is nowhere" existence.
They provide for adventure in a sterile, humorless environment.
So the question of habitual drug use and abuse comes finally
to one of existence. The fact is that unless we can find meaning
as human beings that is actually meaningful, that provides for
a deeply satisfying and enriching experience of our humanity,
we will find all kinds of diversions in seeking for the excitement,
danger and ecstatic thrill of living that is the normal reality
for any human being who actually knows what we are and where we
live and what we are involved in, why we are here in this world
And drug use is one - and only one - of the many avenues that
people use to escape the drudgery and sterility and sickness of
The central fact of human existence is that we are spiritual
beings inhabiting a physical body, and that only when we are awake.
And our physical body is NOT what we are, less WHO we are. In
actuality, our physical body is not even real, it is what I have
termed a "mineral ghost", an external sheath which is
a gesture by the mineral kingdom that we are in the presence of
a human being, as stated by Rudolf Steiner.
Therefore, drug use and abuse is fundamentally a futile means
of trying to experience ourselves as spiritual beings living is
a spiritual cosmos. As such, drugs cannot provide for this experience,
for they are merely a hollow substitute for the real experience.
No, the one and only way to experience ourselves as spiritual
beings is to "work" at it. This is not easy to do because
we have to begin with changing our diet and learning how to cook
macrobiotically, do the ginger compress regimen on our abdomen
and start the strenuous process of learning to be radically different
Of course, the whole of "The Alchemycal Pages" is
dedicated to this end, so please explore it in its wide ranging
diversity and keep coming back as I continue to add to its content.
"Heaven gave you a form, Earth lent you a body, and you
wear yourself out gibbering about 'hard' and 'white'." -
Copyright © Kaare Bursell, 1996-2001.