Maybe you’ve tried it once at a party. Or maybe you’re more familiar. Whether you’re long-term buddies or just acquaintances, the stench of marijuana continues to gather on New Zealand’s shores, in back garden sheds and in university flats. It seems Kiwis are all too good at keeping things green down here in Aotearoa.
Former Prime Minister Bill English was asked recently why there was such high immigration to New Zealand while 140,000 Kiwis remained unemployed. He said, “You can’t blame us! Kiwi youth are just too stoned and out of it to pass the new drug tests required for lowwage jobs. We have no choice but to bring in foreign workers.” Whether you see it as a problem, a solution, or you think the Prime Minister is lying, our shores are hazy with weed smoke. No doubt, many young New Zealand men and women are left unemployed and unmotivated. From the land of the long white marijuana cloud, the horizon is looking dull for many Kiwi youth.
According to the latest New Zealand Health Survey published in 2015, nearly 50 percent of Kiwis over age 15 have tried marijuana. Nine percent of those in the youth bracket (aged 15-24) reported their use having harmful effects on their work, studies or employment, and 8 percent said marijuana had a harmful effect on their mental health at least once in the past year.
Any correlation involving youth and mental health should ring alarm bells for New Zealanders. With some of the highest youth suicide rates in the world, New Zealand shores are really proving a dead end for young people. Down at the bottom of the world, abundant in natural bush, coastlines and beaches, and lacking in thriving metropolises, it seems marijuana and other drugs are not the last but actually the first resort for many youth struggling to see a future for themselves. Whether due to cultural backgrounds, easy availability, social pressure, or music and media influence, the causes of drug use may vary from one person to the next. And the solution? Banning or legalising substances is proven to do very little in changing drug scenes. What young people need is a solution to the boredom, the anxiety and the stress that dominates their lives and influences them to escape into the world of intoxication.
The main problem, the yoga texts say, is a reality crisis. Helplessly relying on others’ evaluation of our bodies and minds to let us know who we are, we neglect our own best interests and instead pray for one hundred likes on our Facebook profile photo. We take seriously whatever thoughts come whistling into our minds and try to satisfy all the whimsical desires that come flooding in. Just as we know that Facebook is not real life, it’s explained in yoga texts that all we see, all we hear and all we perceive through our bodies and minds is actually not real life. According to yoga, it’s not normal to look in the mirror and see a material body staring back at us. But it is normal to consider the self as the soul, the driver of the body, and the conscious sense of “me”. We can find out about the activities, form and enjoyment of the soul by studying yoga wisdom and trialling it in our lives. Then we can get firsthand experience in perceiving true reality.
Waking from the dream, we begin to savour something very tasty. That’s because the spiritual reality is tasty! As explained in Bhagavad Gita, the manual for dreaming and waking state analysis, spiritual reality is full of knowledge and eternally blissful. The self, being part of the spiritual reality, also has those qualities. Tasting the ultimate reality, we begin to lose taste for other methods of escaping what we thought was real life. Marijuana may temporarily allow you to tolerate boredom and anxiety, but meditation and yoga wisdom enter the heart and lift the fog, so we can see things clearly again.