Did Gautama Buddha use cannabis?
According to mystical sutra, Siddhartha, who came to be known as Buddha, used cannabis! But not in the traditional sense.
Did Buddha use cannabis?
It is said that prior to his spiritual awakening, Buddha lived on nothing but a single cannabis seed per day for SIX YEARS!
What’s interesting about this, is that cannabis only receives slight reference in Buddhist legends even though it is rather significant to the religion.
Prince Sidhartha, who became Gautama Buddha, lived in Lumbini in the Himalayan foothills of Nepal, a region that’s rich in cultivated and naturally occurring Cannabis Indica known as Nepali Indica. As the story continues, Siddhartha was so weakened because of his fasting, that he resumed eating, upon which he began his legendary meditation under the Bodhi tree. ♂️
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Alejandro Perez is the owner of CannaQuestions, an educational community for cannabis consumers. Find his page on Instagram @cannaquestions, or visit the official website cannaquestionsofficial.com!
A Gift From the Gods: The History of Cannabis and Religion
Does cannabis have any ties to religion? What we found may surprise you.
Cannabis has not only been used in religious ceremonies, it has a long-standing tradition in numerous world faiths. Let’s start with the area it’s been used the longest: China.
Cannabis in Chinese Religion
Taoist shamans used cannabis in combination with ginseng to reveal truths about the future, believing the plant had the ability to cast their spirit forward in time. In Taoism, cannabis consumption was reserved for religious officials and not shared with common people, which might explain its strange exclusion from ancient texts. By 200 C.E., the Han Dynasty of Imperial China had embraced Confucianism, abandoned Taoism and, with it, cannabis.
Cannabis in Indian Religion
While spiritual Chinese cannabis consumption may have ended by 200 C.E., it was just coming into its own in India. It is said that the gods sent hemp out of compassion for the human race so that they may attain delight, lose fear, and increase sexual desires. Other Hindu stories suggest cannabis originated from a spot of nectar dropped from Heaven. More popular is a theory that both gods and demons churned the milk ocean to obtain amrita, Sanskrit for immortality, and received cannabis as a result. Whichever story you believe, there’s no doubting that cannabis holds a sacred spot in the Hindu faith. In practice, the locally favored Hindu deity was given offerings of cannabis drinks during religious festivals; community members took part as well, sharing cannabis bowls amongst one another.
Cannabis in Tibetan Religion
India and Tibet share not only a border, but also a rich tradition of religious cannabis consumption. Tibet is a historically Buddhist nation. In Mahayana Buddhism, one of the two main branches of the religion, it is said that Guatama Buddha subsisted on one hemp seed a day for six years to aid in his path to enlightenment. Buddha is sometimes depicted holding a bowl of “soma” or cannabis leaves. Buddhist practitioners would often consume cannabis to facilitate meditation or heighten awareness during religious ceremonies.
Cannabis in Ancient Greek Religion
The ancient cultures of Scythia and Assyria were known to use cannabis incense for religious ceremonies. Herodotus, a Greek historian from the fifth century B.C.E. known as the “Father of History,” wrote that the Scythians held religious ceremonies in tent-like structures where they burned hemp plants in censers on wooden tripods (see image below). Participants communally inhaled smoke vapors for ritualistic and euphoric purposes. Assyrians are believed to have used cannabis incense as early as the 9th century B.C.E., though there is not yet archaeological evidence to support this claim. It is known, however, that Assyrians used cannabis incense to ward off evil spirits. It was commonly burned during funerary rituals and to cast out wicked spirits from children’s rooms.
Scythians placed hemp-filled censers, containers for burning incense, on makeshift tripods over an open flame to produce intoxicating vapors.
Cannabis in the Old Testament
Cannabis is clearly prominent in ancient eastern religions, but there are scholars who believe that Judaic and Christian traditions used the plant as well. In 1936, Polish etymologist Sula Benet proposed a radical new interpretation of Old Testament Hebrew text: according to her, a mistranslation that occurred in the original Greek version of the Old Testament mistook the Hebrew word for cannabis, kaneh bosm, as calamus, a plant traditionally used to make fragrances. If her translation is correct, this would fundamentally change our understanding of the Old Testament. References to kaneh bosm are made in Exodus, Song of Songs, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekial. In Exodus, God commanded Moses to make a holy oil consisting of myrrh, sweet cinnamon, kaneh bosm, and cassia.
Cannabis in Jamaican Religion
Our research concluded in the modern western world, focused primarily on the island nation of Jamaica. Made popular in the U.S. first by Bob Marley and reintroduced by Snoop Lion (the artist formerly known as Snoop Dogg), the Rastafarian movement focuses on Jah, or God, and involves the spiritual use of cannabis and rejection of materialism and oppression. Rastafarians’ use of marijuana was subject to scrutiny in the 20th century. Drawn-out legal proceedings culminated in the 1993 Religious Freedom and Restoration Act which stated that the consumption of cannabis and other substances is legal under U.S. law for spiritual and religious purposes. That’s right, mon!
So what have we learned? Cannabis has not only been around a very, very long time, it’s been an important part of world religious traditions for thousands of years. So this year when you’re taking part in your own holiday traditions, be sure to light one up for the religious cannabis consumers of times past. If you’re lucky, your spirit may just commune with the Taoists of old.
Did buddha consume weed seeds
Buddha: Siddhartha Gautama
The history of mankind does not exist in a vacuum. Our story is interwoven with the stories of countless other species, and as we make these wild plants and animals a part of our lives, both our course and theirs change forever. If we are to understand our future, then, we must look to many pasts.
No plant has as complex a relationship with humanity as has hemp. Hemp’s remarkable story does more than develop docilely beside our own; instead it weaves back and forth across our trail, disappearing entirely at times, only to reappear when least expected, often from an entirely new angle.
The following tracks the path of hemp in one of the world’s major spiritual traditions: Buddhism.
In the Mahayana Buddhist tradition, legend has it that the Buddha lived on one cannabis seed a day in the six years of ascetic discipline prior to his enlightenment. But the involvement of cannabis in some types of Buddhist practice is more than just mythical, and it is contemporary as well as historical. For example, the Tantric Buddhists in the Tibetan Himalayas use cannabis ritually to deepen their meditation and raise awareness, according to Harvard botanical professor Richard Evans Schultes and LSD discoverer Albert Hofmann, two leading experts on psychoactive plants.
Now, I am not a Buddhist scholar, nor a practitioner, so I can’t tell you about the religion’s views on cannabis; furthermore, reliable factual data on the life of Siddhartha Gautama is very scarce. His historical biography can be, to some extent, pieced together by comparing early Buddhist texts from different traditions. These accounts are filled with myth and legendary stories that slowly but surely changed the initial attributes of the biography of the Buddha. The final form of these texts were written down many centuries after the death of the Buddha. The true words and accounts of the Buddha were merged with legendary additions from oral traditions. Moreover, it seems obvious that the editors of the final versions of the many biographies of the Buddha made their own additions and shaped the contents of the texts according to their own interests in order to support their own philosophical and religious ideas.
(This is from Chris Bennett, a noted cannabis-historian.)
The 3rd century AD Indian text, the Lalita Vistara has been cited as a likely source:
The prince coming to the Ka-ye (Gaya) mountain, to the Ni-h’n (Nairanjana) river, reflected, considering that, as he intended to penetrate to the secret influences which actuate the conduct of men, he might, after six years, be in a position to save them. Thus he addressed himself to the practice of austerities (Dushkaracharya), each day eating one grain of hemp, one grain of rice; by this means reducing himself to a condition of overcoming all pleasure. Afterwards, perceiving that this was not the true way, he pursued the contrary method, using indulgencies, bathing, perfuming himself, and so on; by these means he subdued sorrow (as the text says).
Also, Christian Raetsch’s shares the same information in “Marijuana Medicine” – that according to Tibetan/’Lamaistic’ Buddhism, Buddha ate hemp seeds during those first 6 years.
Siddhartha practiced the yoga discipline under the direction of two of the leading masters of that time: Arada Kalama and Udraka Ramaputra. Siddhartha did not get the results he expected, so he left the masters, engaged in extreme asceticism, and he was joined by five followers. For a period of six years Siddhartha tried to attain his goal but was unsuccessful. After realizing that asceticism was not the way to attain the results he was looking for, he gave up this way of life. After eating a meal and taking a bath, Siddhartha sat down under a tree of the species ficus religiosa, where he finally attained Nirvana (perfect enlightenment) and became known as the Buddha.