It’s no secret that our peers have a great influence on our behavior. We all want to fit in, be a part of what’s happening. It goes the other way to. People who have problems will tend to want to share their problem so that they feel normal, and not face the issues they’re burying deeper with substance abuse.
I may have made it through high school only having drunk alcohol a couple times, but there was something else I followed along with, and became very fond of; a fondness that lasted until I moved to Korea, where penalties and point of views are much harsher. I think after the problems East-Asia had with opium, in the past, they just don’t want to risk anything else similar. All drugs are considered the same.
I’ve heard reports of Korea pop stars and actors being arrested for admitting they smoked marijuana in America. I don’t know if it was distorted in translation or not, but I thought that was ridiculous.
So, living in East-Asia, and being a non-drinker, there’s not really much else to do, without risking ending up in jail. But that’s fine with me. I didn’t miss anything once I arrived here.
But the three-month trip to India was another story. Its presence isn’t glaring, but ganja has an intimate association with Brahmanism. The Dharma Realm had its eye on me though, not long after I arrived in India, I got an email from my work basically warning me that Korea was implementing drug tests so be aware of that when I come back. The focus of my trip was to visit the Buddhist caves, try to see the Dalai Lama at Dharamsala, and visit the four major Buddhist pilgrimage sites, not to get stoned, but that said, I was open to whatever adventure came my way. And adventure did come my way in the form of a camel driver who guided us into the desert for three days and two nights.
A couple of days before the trek, we visited one of the ancient fortresses in Rajasthan, and when I asked one of the security guards, sitting in the shade, dressed in period costume with a big turban, where the bathroom was, he asked me a few questions about how my trip was going, where I’d been, where I was heading. He said if I were to go on a camel trek into the desert, I’d have to get “some of this” as he hauled a big, rolled up clear plastic bag out of his pocket. “Marijuana?” I asked. “No. Opium,” he said. “This will make a very nice time in the desert.”
The word opium made me a little nervous but I learned a long time before that in its unprocessed form, it’s not very serious. When the camel driver suggested he could run over to the little village where the camels drank water and get some opium, at first I said no, but when it started to rain he told us it was going to get very cold that night and that opium would keep up warm. That ended up being enough of an excuse for me to give into my curiosity, so I handed over a bunch of rupees, and off he went. He came back with what looked like a molasses sugar cube wrapped in plastic. After eating, we made our beds on the side of a dune, and each munched on a small chunk of the opium. Even though it was mixed with sugar, it was about as sweet as sucking on a handful of fleshly cut lawn.
I waited for a feeling to come over me, but I guess it would be described as the opposite. Just calm. As the drizzle began to fall, I hauled my thick gray wool blanket over my head and fell asleep. I had a really vivid dream about going back to Korea and becoming a monk. I had my robes on, and I stayed in a small hermitage in the mountain. I woke up and pulled the blanket from my eyes and looked up at the clear sky. Even with the full moon the stars shone brightly, and the moon light lit the white clouds heading over the horizon. My dream seemed to continue, extending beyond sleep. It was a beautiful, peaceful moment but I knew it was tainted. I hoped that one day I could repeat it the right way.