I want a new drug .
In the 1960s and 70s, young people all over America experimented with various drugs – LSD, psilocybin mushrooms, Marijuana, and others – hoping to taste something sublime.
Many of the popular songs of that era reflect the culture’s fascination with drugs and the possibilities they seemed to present. For instance, in 1967, the band, Jefferson Airplane, released the song, White Rabbit , and songwriter, Jimi Hendrix, sang, Purple Haze . These thematic songs, and many others of the time, inspired the young generation to experiment with psychosomatic drugs in search of a transcendent experience.
This trend rolled on into the 1980’s with cocaine and heroine also becoming increasingly popular.
But, as with all things material, the promise of happiness or enlightenment from drugs, fell short.
Indicative of this, in 1984, American rock musician Huey Lewis wrote what became a hit song, called: I want a new drug .
Although tongue-in-cheek, the following excerpt taken from the lyrics of his song says much about the retrograde effects of intoxication:
I want a new drug
One that won’t make me sick
One that won’t make me crash my car
Or make me feel three feet thick
I want a new drug
One that won’t hurt my head
One that won’t make my mouth too dry
Or make my eyes too red
I want a new drug
One that won’t go away
One that won’t keep me up all night
One that won’t make me sleep all day
According to Srimad-Bhagavatam, every conditioned soul is attracted by intoxication of one kind or another: loke vyavayamisa-madya-seva
nitya hi jantor: “In this material world the conditioned soul is always inclined to sex, meat-eating and intoxication.” (SB 11.5.11)
Without the trouble of self-discipline, people look for euphoria, self-confidence, and increased sociability by taking intoxication.
But the effects of inebriation never permanently satisfy one or bring one to an exalted position. Rather, they degrade one, the body develops tolerance and one then needs stronger doses to get the same experience, and there are inevitable side effects, and unsavory physical and psychological addictions. (What to speak of those who just suddenly drop dead.)
In the early 1980s, many people, including famous American actor-comedian, John Belushi, lost their lives by injecting a combination of two hard drugs, heroin and cocaine. (Apparently one kind of drug wasn’t enough!) Because intoxication – or any kind of material sense gratification – leaves one unsatisfied, an intoxicator often innovates to find newer kinds of stimulation, mixing drugs to get a unique kind of high.
Srila Prabhupada: “One who drinks wine will become intoxicated and may think that he is flying in the sky or that he has gone to heaven. These are effects of intoxication. But an intoxicated person does not know that all these dreams are within the limits of time and will therefore come to an end.”
One who seriously practices bhakti yoga, however, gradually develops the strength to set aside substandard forms of material happiness, including intoxication.
Shunning all kinds of intoxication a bhakti yogi instead ingests spiritual knowledge, and gains insight into the source of real happiness within.
Clearing one’s life of apparent happiness from intoxication gives one a legitimate chance to see for oneself how factual happiness flows from within one’s own heart.
Lord Caitanya never advised anyone to take drugs. However, he did suggest that one take regular doses of humility. One drop of true humility allows one to see the entire world as an opportunity for service. And service to God is happiness for the soul. The saint, Prabhodananda Sarasvati, because he saw the world as an opportunity to serve Krishna, described the entire universe as “an abode of joy.”
The ultimate high that everyone is searching for through self-medication is truly available only to one who follows the regulative principles of the scriptures, controls his or her senses, and cultivates a higher taste by practicing bhakti yoga – beginning with chanting the Hare Krishna mantra.
“But a person free from all attachment and aversion and able to control his senses through regulative principles of freedom can obtain the complete mercy of the Lord.” (Bg. 2.64)
“In the stage of perfection called trance, or samadhi, one’s mind is completely restrained from material mental activities by practice of yoga. This perfection is characterized by one’s ability to see the self by the pure mind and to relish and rejoice in the self. In that joyous state, one is situated in boundless transcendental happiness, realized through transcendental senses. Established thus, one never departs from the truth, and upon gaining this he thinks there is no greater gain. Being situated in such a position, one is never shaken, even in the midst of greatest difficulty. This indeed is actual freedom from all miseries arising from material contact.” (Bg. 6.20-23)