"We have drunk Soma and become immortal; we have attained the light, the Gods discovered. Now what may foeman's malice, do to harm us? What, O Immortal, mortal man's deception?" - Rig Veda (8.48.3)
So, is usage of drugs divinely sanctioned?
This question has vexed even the best, at all times, in every time, since the beginning of time. Now, more than ever, many a people see no harm in "mild" form of drug usage in normal, everyday life. Banned or not, it cannot be denied that marijuana, hashish, or "soma" herbs such as of charas, ganja, opium find their way in every society, at any time, every time.
The voices of those who are not religious, yet religiously seeking governmental sanction in usage of marijuana and other such intoxicating and addictive substances, are becoming shriller day by day. Despite evidence to the contrary, of more harm than good coming from such usage of hallucinogenic drugs, people are increasingly taking a rather cavalier attitude towards it. Some countries and cultures have also allowed some sort of a usage of above-mentioned easily available "soft" and seemingly "harmless" drugs for one reason or another.
"There is always a need for intoxication," said Andre Malraux. However, the twain has met. Now, in both East and West -- for many, drugs are the best.
"A gramme is better than a damn.. I wish I had my soma!" Aldous Huxley, in The Brave New World. And, William S. Burroughs refers to "soma" (Greek word for "body") as a non-addictive, high-quality form of opium said to exist in ancient India. Soma was a Vedic ritual drink amongst early Indo-Iranians, subsequent Vedic and greater Persian cultures.
In nutshell, drugs, in mild or wild form, have been used in most regions and religions throughout history of mankind. Yet, do they induce mystical or hallucinogenic experiences?
There is no denying that drugs make us lose inhibitions and "make" the users see "things" that they do not usually witness in everyday living, without drugs. What happens? More importantly, why does this happen?
The metaphysical reality, as witnessed by yogis and free mystics of ancient India, is that Things That Be, quintessentially, are One. That is Consciousness, Life, and Existence are composed of and emanate from One, Single, Indivisible "Stuff". There are essentially no boundaries between The Conscious, Sub-Conscious, and The Unconscious - like lines drawn across the sky.
Seemingly, drugs make its users "lose" touch with the baser ego-consciousness; in the process, "crossing lines" as if unto The Unconscious. In this "nowhere land", drug users "see" hereto untapped potentialities. The yogi, on the other hand, consciously is "taken" to newer "realities"; which, continued over a longer period, "show" One Divine Reality as The Primordial Source of All That Is.
Hence, in the former case, using drugs one may "feel" bliss et al and "see" many a transcendental vision; yet, an unbalanced mind is not intellectually or spiritually endowed to "physically" get The Ultimate Reality as a verifiable fact. For, drugs diminish the incisive intellectual ability of the user; sometimes demonizing it so. That is, one hallucinates more than one understands What Is.
Self-Realization of The Divine Self - The Fundamental Root Reality of everything - requires the practitioner to be fully aware and lucid; to "get" That Which Is. It's an Experimentation upon The Self. The laboratory is one's own physical entity. Just as scientists looking for the "god-particle" would not dare do so in an inebriated state; similarly, any search unto The Alpha and The Omega cannot be seriously taken up in a drugged state. It's this simple.
Whether one believes in The Divine Order of Existence or not, or is an adherent of The Big Bang Theory; metaphysics or simple physics "experimentation" has to be conducted not in a stupor but in a serene way.
Metaphysically, "Soma" is "So"-That "Ma"-Am. Or, "That Am". So, when mystics or yogis of India spoke about taking "soma", it was meant that they "took" The "am" of "That" -- The Universal Self: The One Ultimate Reality. And, that "getting" The Self, the yogis were intoxicated with The Divine Knowledge that men, nay, gods seek.
Use of drugs is for "lower"-isms. Higher science or spirituality must have nothing to do with it. Drugs lead to delusion, not divinity. Period.
Let us understand this once and for all.