Supremes OK getting high at church

In the case of the Brazilian religious group wanting to import its hallucinogenic tea (prevous post on the topic), our nation’s top legal weenies have given the green light to tripping your brains out (opinion by Chief Justice John Roberts), as long as it’s sacramental and circumscribed . I doubt if the likes of Scalia or Thomas are really into the whole cleansing the doors of perception stuff, but hey, Congress has said people have the right to practice their religions (Religious Freedom Restoration Act), and that includes Indians using peyote.

Not an Indian? Not to worry. Courts have ruled that even white people can “join”.

The Dalai Lama has also come out in favor of bioenlightenment, even volunteering to go first if scientists come up with a happiness module they can implant in your brain. But most Buddhist teachers would emphasis the precept against taking things that lead to intoxication or heedlessness. To me, though, it seems that the “heedlessness” part indicates the whole precept is focused on alcohol.

It probably couldn’t have been a proscription against hallucinogenic plants, because, for whatever reasons of botanical fate, Asia, where Buddhism developed, has very few such plants. One exception is the powerful datura (Wikipedia) plant from the nightshade family, which has narcotic qualities and is known in India as “dutra” or “dhatura”. Some ancient Chinese writings are believed to refer to this drug, which apparently was held sacred in that country, where people believed that when Buddha preached, heaven sprinkled the plant with dew.

In addition, some theorize this may be the plant which when burned produced the intoxicating vapors of the Oracle of Delphi.

Actually, the latest theory about the Oracle of Delphi, set out by William J. Broad in his recent book “The Oracle: The Lost Secrets and Hidden Mesage of Ancient Delphi” (Amazon ), is that unique geological structures under the shrine produced a mist of potent, trance-inducing gases.

In an article in the NYT science section on 2006-02-28, entitled “The Oracle Suggests a Truce Between Science and Relgion’, Broad claims that the approach of scientists involved in the discovery represented an important paradigm for the coexistence of science and religion:

[The scientists] claimed no insights into how her utterances stood for ages as monuments of wisdom. They had no explanation for how the priestess inspired Socrates, or the seeming reliability of her visionary pronouncements. In short, the scientists, while solving a major riddle of antiquity, wisely left other mysteries untouched.

This seems very confused. The scientists did not “leave other mysteries untouched” out of some muddled belief in overlapping magisteria, but because they were archaeologists and geologists trying to find the famous chasm under the shrine. If they had been neurobiologists then they should and would have studied the physiological and behavioral effects of inhaling limestone fumes.

One Response to “Supremes OK getting high at church”

  1. daksya Says:

    Cannabis was a fixture in India, even in old times. The Vedas, also speak fondly of soma, a nectar, whose identity is unclear, but isn’t alcohol.

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