Do you have a problem with the fifth precept—refraining from intoxicants? If so, Don Lattin, author of The Harvard Psychedelic Club, encourages you to ask yourself why that might be. In his piece “Recovery & The Fifth Precept” from the Fall 2010 issue of Tricycle, Lattin writes:

Many of us who came of age in the 1960s convinced ourselves that getting high was the quickest—if not the best—way to begin the long, strange trip toward higher consciousness. Aldous Huxley, the man who wrote The Doors of Perception and turned Timothy Leary on to the Tibetan Book of the Dead, seemed to be saying that we could access ancient wisdom through the wonders of modern chemistry. For a while at least, that theory seemed to hold true for me, and I suspect I’m not the only reader of this magazine who became interested in Buddhism following an acid trip back in the sixties.

Lattin goes on to point out that interpretations of the fifth precept vary a great deal among Buddhist teachers. The same is clearly true of Tricycle readers—as demonstrated by the many, many thoughtful comments, stories and opinions that we received from you all about the topic. Some questioned what qualified as an “intoxicant”—do television and the Internet count?—others held that it really depends on the individual taking the intoxicants, and some related that, like Lattin, drugs served as a gateway introducing them to the dharma. Most all agreed that it is a questioned to be explored seriously and honestly. Thank you for all of your wonderful thoughts. Read reader responses to the fifth precept here. Read the rest of Lattin’s piece here.

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