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AUGUST 2001.


"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 and cocaine.

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 at large.

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 resounding success.

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 Stone:
"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 1998.
The United Nations estimates that illegal drugs generate $400 billion a year in revenue and comprise eight percent of ALL global trade".

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 and control.

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 this context.

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 more yin).

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 daily basis.

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 their influence.

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.

Spiritual Life.

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 cosmos.

And drug use is one - and only one - of the many avenues that people use to escape the drudgery and sterility and sickness of modern culture.

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 human beings.

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'." - Chuang Tze.

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Kaare Bursell

Copyright © Kaare Bursell, 1996-2001.