Altered States of Mind.

All states of mind are altered states of mind.

You eat food and there is a corresponding cascade of various neurotransmitters.
Someone says hi to you and, similarly, your mind is altered.
You breathe correctly, the mind is influenced.
All perceptions are clouded by something.

Various cultures approach various intoxicants in various ways– what is a drug to some is a medicine to others– but i’d say there is no ultimate standard that determines whether or not some substance is ‘good’ or ‘bad’.

I like what Buddha tells Sakka in the Sakkapanha sutta. (Pursue that which you have determined to be increasing the wholesome factors in your life– he doesn’t say “follow the rules”).

“Then Sakka asked another question: ‘Well, sir, what practice has that monk undertaken who has acquired control of his sense faculties?’

‘Ruler of the Gods, I declare that things perceived by the eye are of two kinds: the kind to be pursued, and the kind to be avoided. The same applied to the things perceived by the ear, the nose, the tongue, the body and the mind.’

At this, Sakka said, “Lord, I understand in full the true meaning of what the Blessed Lord has outlined in brief. Lord, whatever object perceived by the eye, if its pursuit leads to the increase of unwholesome factors and the decrease of wholesome ones, that is not to be sought after; if its pursuit leads to the decrease of unwholesome factors and the increase of wholesome ones, such an object is to be sought after. After the same applied to things perceived by the ear, the nose, the tongue, the body and the mind. Thus I understand in full the true meaning of what the Blessed Lord has outlined in brief, and thus through the Lord’s answer I have overcome my doubt and got rid of uncertainty.’
http://tipitaka.wikia.com/wiki/Sakkapanha_Sutta

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