Saturday, August 9, 2014


Usama Saeed
May 18

Dear friends ,
what do you think about the effect of Alcohol on meditation , honestly i like to drink alcoholic drinks from time to time and I also practice meditation almost daily , although I do not think that alcohol may affect me and my performance in meditation ,but I what every time I drink alcoholic drink I can't meditate in ease and sometimes I give up the session

so what is the effect of Alcohol on spiritual activities
Thanking yo in advance
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    Philip Servedio Well, I can't say that I'd recommend as a practice (except for few advanced tantrikas), but alcohol was in part a reason for an early, seemingly profound, spiritual revelation. I was on a business trip, met up with some old friends, and went on a tequila pub run for hours. Something I hadn't done in decades. When I got back to my hotel room, my body was drunk, my mind was drunk, my senses were extremely altered, BUT "I" was not drunk - I was abiding in the midst of perfect clarity, *as* perfect clarity. It was a peak moment that lasted for hours and was the beginning of a process of recognition that went on for several years. It also left me with an understanding that unusual means and events may occur in anyone's spiritual evolution. This is not an excuse nor an endorsement of alcohol as a practice, just a report of a wonderful revelation via alcohol. (and I learned that there's a whole lot better tequila out there than Jose Cuervo!)
    May 18 at 4:22pm · Like · 3
    Soh Daniel Ingram recently wrote on this:

    It's really hard to answer that question without knowing more about the person and what you mean by "casual drinking".

    I have alcoholic patients who come in all the time and say they just drink two drinks per night, but they put a cup of alcohol in each of those drinks. I see people constantly who say they can't be alcoholics as they just drink beer, even though they drink 12/day. I have people who are astounded that I think their 6 shots of whiskey each night when they get home from work is alcoholism, as they say they don't drink while at work. So, I have, through long years of getting to know the hyper-rationalizing capacities of people who have some truly unfortunate relationship to alcohol, become wary of its power to warp the perceptions of people who otherwise might be smart and capable.

    The fact that you are asking the question could just be that you are a hyper-cautious drinker who worries that two beers on a weekend might somehow magically derail meditation practice, which it won't, but then you could be in the much more common category of people who are trying to figure out a way to rationalize addictive behavior. Care to disclose enough about how much you actually drink and what it is and when to get a handle on what you are really asking?

    Then there is the problem with recommending casual drinking to someone, given that about 10% of people who attempt casual drinking will progress to some degree of alcoholism. Then there is family history. For example, if you are Native American, probably shouldn't ever touch alcohol in any quantity. Parent an alcoholic? Probably shouldn't touch the stuff, as it definitely runs in families. Have a history of addiction to other substances? Probably should be wary of alcohol.

    On the other hand: have a 20 year history of perfectly responsible mild and occasional drinking with no wiff of addiction issues? You're most likely ok, but no promises can be given, as plenty of people like that can have some adverse life event that somehow pushes them over the edge. I see them all the time in the ER.

    The facts of describing yourself as a "user" and one who is not in a time and place to go "sober" raise red flags in my sensitive ears.

    RE: casual drinking - Discussion -
    RE: casual drinking
    May 18 at 5:27pm · Like · 3 · Remove Preview
    Soh The best course for Buddhists is to avoid intoxicants altogether (as per stated in the fifth precept), and if you cannot, then be very careful of any addictive behaviors and avoid getting into a state of intoxication.
    May 18 at 5:33pm · Like · 5
    Soh Yes Philip, I too have experienced being as perfect clarity while body is drunk and remarked about it... I used to drink quite a lot even after that 'I AM' realization (hey after all, I was young, like 19 years old?). I also had peak experiences even while drunk. But later on I grew a distaste with intoxication. After that I make sure I never get intoxicated. I don't think it is helpful for spiritual practice to be in a state of intoxication. Spiritual practice is not just about abiding as dissociated formless clarity but mind-body-speech total exertion and liberation... one is being in touch with one's conditions. If mind body speech is confused, uncontrolled and acting clumsily how can it be conducive to mindfulness?
    May 18 at 5:41pm · Edited · Like · 9
    Sigurður Jónas Eysteinsson Philip, what you describe has been my experience with alcohol all my life. I never understood how people could make excuses or claim not to remember anything if drunk because my experience was always that it didn't matter how drunk I was there was always profound clarity behind the drunk experience. It's only now in retrospect I understand that that is not the normal experience.
    At the same time I've never really enjoyed alcohol in large amounts and am largely tee total.
    May 18 at 5:41pm · Like · 3
    Usama Saeed thank you all my friends for participating in discussion , dear Philip Servedio , I also had experienced such feeling after drinking many times , but actually when I began serious and dedicated meditation practice , I really discovered after drinking heavy drinks like whisky or Gin the next morning either I give up practice or I do it and I feel like my body is broken so that I cannot continue the session . as I told you I never put this in my mind but I found my self experiencing the same thing every time I drink heavy drinks .My friend Soh I agree with you about not to be in intoxication state .
    May 18 at 6:09pm · Unlike · 7
    Soh The more one goes into total exertion*... the more one directly realizes the total exertion of mind-body-speech. Sensing the breathe, you sense the whole universe, the environment, the space, the wind, but not only that, one senses the whole bodily formation - the sensations, the in-breathe and out-breathe in chest, nose as one seamless movement, and furthermore not only that, one senses the whole mental formation, they are one total exertion. One sees that with the calming of bodily fabrication, the bodily bliss and mental tranquilization comes. Without the proper conditions, ease of body-mind does not come. This is why the Buddha gave many skillful methods, including anapanasati.
    May 18 at 6:18pm · Edited · Like · 3
    Soh *Total exertion: (

    "After maturing the insight of anatta, the natural and immediate experience is total exertion. It is an intuitive experience. In hearing, there is only sound. But it is not just the non-dual experience of sound, it also has this flavor of the entire movement, a total activity, and that becomes natural. One starts to see whole universe involved in the activity. Then one begins to feel net of indra in real time."
    Awakening to Reality: Dharma Body
    May 18 at 6:18pm · Edited · Like · 5 · Remove Preview
    Soh Healthy body, healthy mind. Intoxicated body, intoxicated mind... etc. Seeing dependent origination is seeing dharma.
    May 18 at 6:26pm · Edited · Like · 4
    Lisa Mackenzie Thank you for this discussion; I really needed to read this right now, I'm struggling myself!
    May 18 at 6:19pm · Unlike · 4
    Usama Saeed wonderful Soh
    May 18 at 6:21pm · Like · 2
    Stephen Metcalf One of the many dangers of some intoxicants is that they can at times give you deep experiences. However, while they may give you a taste, they will NEVER keep you there and in fact, actually prevent PREVENT the development that is necessary for spiritual development. This then becomes very problematic as one gets addicted to the "taste" thinking that they are making progress. I know. I did this for years......
    May 19 at 12:12am · Edited · Unlike · 6
    Usama Saeed Absolutely right Stephen
    May 19 at 2:17am · Like
    David Vardy
    Yoga for Wine Lovers 1
    May 19 at 4:09am · Like · Remove Preview
    Kyle Dixon The Bönpo master Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen (who attained rainbow body in 1935) wrote of 26 drawbacks associated with the drinking of alcohol, and then another series of 36 examples of ethics and morality which are compromised by drinking alcohol.

    He essentially said if one is serious about practice they should avoid alcohol altogether.
    May 19 at 4:47am · Like · 4
    Kyle Dixon Yet at the same time my teacher Chögyal Namkhai Norbu drinks alcohol, though he warns his students to avoid drinking to the point of losing the ability to retain mindfulness. His teacher Changchub Dorje received teachings from Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen (mentioned in the above post) and Shardza Rinpoche's deprecation of alcohol was not passed to Norbu Rinpoche, so it's really up to the individual.
    May 19 at 5:07am · Like · 4
    Usama Saeed Wonderful Kyle , many thanks
    May 19 at 5:28am · Like
    Goose Saver The Buddha advised that everything is impermanent. Today, water is heavily polluted as opposed to what it was in the Buddha’s time. I prefer to brush my teeth with white wine when overseas, and in some countries alcohol can be used to purify wounds when other substances are not available. If one is headed for heedlessness (pamada), it will most likely develop into recklessness and disharmony of mind and body. When we are mindful, we are open and not inflexible.
    May 19 at 12:49pm · Like · 2
    Soh Alcohol used for medicine is allowable even in the monastic sangha of Theravada buddhism (and hence allowable for all others as generally the early tradition is strictest)
    May 19 at 1:03pm · Like · 3
    David Vardy I owned a restaurant for 23 years and was involved in the business another 15 years on top of that. Drinking was a way of life, to the tune of 2.5 bottles of wine a day (good stuff, however). One day, what had become food for me, seemed to make me sick. I never felt foggy from it, never hung over. In fact I felt very nourished by it. My teacher in Taiwan was also a heavy drinker. Practicing Taoist yoga seemed to do the job. But when that day came I just dropped it. It felt almost like it dropped me. Didn't have a thought about it from that moment on, not a craving, no thirst, nothing. Sure enough, I felt ten times better not drinking from that moment on, but had I tried to force the issue, I'm not so sure it would have been easy at all. The body knows what it needs and sends plenty of signals if only we just listen to it.
    May 19 at 4:42pm · Like · 2
    Lone Buddist Enlightenment comes without attachment. Any " clarity " obtained from drink , sound ,chants , etc are only special effects , they are not real . Enlightenment comes when we see the world as it really is , not as we wish , hope or distort it to be.
    May 19 at 5:19pm · Like · 4
    Carroll Izard With age, it became clear that the remaining moments of conscious mind are so precious that the (long appreciated mellowness) has a price at 63 it (apparently) did not have at 53. Should you sense this, you will know in your Zen bones what to do next. You will know!
    May 20 at 2:50am · Like · 3
    Matt James Philip, I have had the same experience as you with alcohol, but only after years of meditation. My wife says she always feels that way.
    May 20 at 8:54am · Like · 1
    Gool Desai Alcoholic drinks are a no no. They blur the mind and prevent the mind from seeing things as they are. Gool Desai
    June 2 at 3:28pm · Like

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