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Sun Apr 30, 2017, 09:03 PM

Question about Buddhism and psychiatric medication.

I have bipolar disorder and I take psychiatric medication for it. The meds work wonderfully and I'm able to live a normal life because of them. I plan on taking them for the rest of my life.

My question is: what are the spiritual ramifications of taking this medicine? Since Buddhism is very concerned with the mind, does the fact that I have to take this medication hinder me in any way? I lived with this illness for ten years untreated and it was a living hell. I had delusions and hallucinations to go along with the terrible mood swings. It seems like it would be better for me at least with regards to karma to be taking this medication. I'm much less likely to do anything that would hurt me now.

However, it seems like liberation in this lifetime is not in the cards for me. You could make the argument that since my mind is medicated I'm not in my natural state. How could any liberation attained under such circumstances be real? The opposite might also be claimed. The medication actually makes my brain work the way it is supposed to work when it is healthy. Therefore, the reality the non-medicated state of my brain perceives is not the true one.

I've also thought of it in the following way and this may be getting away from Buddhism and into more mystical areas of belief. The brain is matter and the medication that I take to treat it is also material. When it comes to spirit we are talking about something that is supposed to be something other than a part of the physical, material world. Therefore, any liberation or spiritual insights gained in either a non-medicated or medicated state of mind are equally valid as they are derived from something other than the physical brain.

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Arrow 8 replies Author Time Post
Reply Question about Buddhism and psychiatric medication. (Original post)
Tobin S. Apr 2017 OP
CaliforniaPeggy Apr 2017 #1
Warpy Apr 2017 #2
Tobin S. Apr 2017 #4
KT2000 Apr 2017 #3
Tobin S. Apr 2017 #5
rug Apr 2017 #6
WheelWalker Apr 2017 #7
Tobin S. Apr 2017 #8

Response to Tobin S. (Original post)

Sun Apr 30, 2017, 09:34 PM

1. You pose some interesting and challenging questions, my dear Tobin.

Unfortunately, I have no answers.

I am very interested in what others have to say.

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Response to Tobin S. (Original post)

Sun Apr 30, 2017, 09:50 PM

2. Quite a few disciplines are pretty clear on this

If you're sick and need medication, take it. You can't meditate your way out of bipolar disorder and it will ruin your life if you try.

The medication is a lot less damaging to the practice than the illness is.

What a lot of people do find is that recreational substances get in the way of deep meditation, which is why they aren't recommended. However there is no absolute prohibition against them. Stuff that makes you as normal as any of us are likely to get isn't in the category of recreational drugs.

So do what you're meant to do in this life and don't let anybody "should" on you about not taking medication you need and they don't.

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Response to Warpy (Reply #2)

Sun Apr 30, 2017, 10:31 PM

4. No worries on the not taking medication part.

I've got religion when it comes to that. If someone were to come along and try to talk me out of that it would have no effect on me. The meds are there for a reason. I know I was not meant to suffer terribly for my entire life.

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Response to Tobin S. (Original post)

Sun Apr 30, 2017, 10:27 PM

3. you might find

interviews with the singer Beth Hart interesting. She too has BP and lived through some hard times until she was diagnosed and given medication. She said it has been a miracle and she is much more creative while being on the meds.

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Response to KT2000 (Reply #3)

Sun Apr 30, 2017, 10:32 PM

5. Thank you. I'll check it out. n/t

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Response to Tobin S. (Original post)

Sun Apr 30, 2017, 10:59 PM

6. If you had asthma you'd use an inhalant.

 

Breathing is an important part of meditation.

Illness is a distraction. Medicines remove that distraction.

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Response to rug (Reply #6)

Sun Apr 30, 2017, 11:33 PM

7. Yes

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Response to rug (Reply #6)

Sun Apr 30, 2017, 11:50 PM

8. That's a good way of looking at it.

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