There has been a lot of debate regarding this topic since the ancient Vedic times, when Soma drinking priests and mystics split into other fully meditative based religions. When I think of this concept, a very basic metaphor comes to mind. Think of your Self (with a capital S), or if you rather, your mind, soul, spirit or whatever it is you think the essence of a person is at their deepest core. Perhaps “energy” or some other metaphysical term fits better for you. Regardless, I will use the term Self to describe this concept.
Think of the Self as a building. This building can be as basic or complex as your minds’ eye desires. It makes no difference in the relevance of the metaphor. Now, imagine you’re in the woods and want to make this building. Of course, you could spend the rest of your life building this structure with no tools, machines, or external assistance (aside from the raw materials involved); just your bare hands and inherent sense of self-discipline. Theoretically, the project could be done, although unlikely in one lifetime. If it could, it would be of unmatched quality, craftsmanship and originality if actually completed.
I imagine drugs (hallucinogens we will focus on when using that term) can be visualized as tools in this regard. Now, this doesn’t mean that all of a sudden you’re a master of every tool or item you find or discover. Some tools, unfortunately for many, can dismember, maim, and kill you if used incorrectly or in an unsafe, uncontrolled manner. This isn’t far from a mirror image regarding the use of these psychedelic “tools” of the mind, being, and Self. I’ve personally seen people left psychologically “maimed” after a deeply traumatic trip that they were not prepared for or guided by someone with knowledge and experience.
If used correctly, however, these “mind tools” can be as a saw, hammer, nails, etc. for the spiritual home builder. These tools help us to achieve the construction of our building or Self more quickly. Some tools can be highly practical and useful, others specialty items, and some things one might even consider to be mental “power tools.” With this in mind, we can decide for ourselves what choice to make. Do we consider it important for us to build the house without external assistance, no matter how many lives it takes us? Or do we seek out, discover, and correctly use these available tools to potentially finish the building faster, stronger, and by use of an external force? The answer lies within you and your own experience. Make your choice without fear or expectation and you’ll find any answer you seek.