Sunday, November 1, 2009


One of the most equivocal of precepts is the one about wine. It comes in a variety of flavors ranging from "Don't drink wine" to "Don't sell wine" to "Do take intoxicants" to "Don't engage in the intoxicant of delusion." I have been, and still am, and still am not a drinker. I have gone years with a daily or thrice weekly glass of wine or beer or whiskey of varying sizes (some glasses are larger than others).

I have been trying these days to open up to the precept of avoiding intoxicants. This doesn't work (for me) if it is approached as a rule. I did not say "I will not drink." I said "I will not drink, and yet I will not not-drink." I opened the tight hand of thought as best I could each time I found "drink" on my mind. This has changed my drinking. And I don't miss it much at all*. But there have been two difficulties.

Difficulty one is experiencing more of me more clearly. It appears that drinking was, in part, a sort of self medication to deaden this or that thought. To drop inhibitions. To inhibit fears and worries. To avoid things. To focus on things. With less drinking there is more 'authentic' me I have to deal with. It ain't always fun. I am often hung up on some pretty petty stuff, or having quite devilish fantasies. Such a ball of greed anger and ignorance I can be at times.

The second difficulty has been social. Being in situations where not drinking is taken as negative commentary on others there who are drinking. That sucks, but I found a way. A really great tasting non-alcholic beer called Buckler. It's imported by Heineken. To be far to the purist, it says it is less than 0.5% alcohol. So it's not perfectly alcohol free. But it tastes good, it helps me mix socially when that is important, and its close enough to water for my precept comfort.

So if you're a Buddhist and would like a cold one.
Grab a Buckler.
The beer that made Mahākāśyapa smile.

*I don't miss it 'cause, sometimes, I drink...(it's so tempting to put down amounts and time spans, but that's not the point. Some arbitrary goal is never the point. Every moment taken as is, is the point).

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