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September 04, 2007

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Drinking Alcohol, Drinking Alcohol, Drinking Alcohol--> Why is it so important to some people? I know, Brian, your message had more to do with moral sensibility springing from within or without,and it is of great importance to so many... But you are right, the emphasis is on something that probably has nothing to do with morals, as much as it does progress in meditation or spirituality, according to Sant Mat theory... you once mentioned it was shunned by "mystics" because they felt people probably can't control themselves and have it once in a while... Perhaps its the nature of the drink that causes this to be a fact. And when a tiny amount becomes habitual or more frequent then what if progress is really hindered?! Thanks for the post, made me think as usual.

Don't do this. Don't do that. The Creator has it's famines, earthquakes, floods and disease. Millions suffer and die daily. Creatures are killing and eating creatures in the land, sea and air. And It really cares if we have a sip or even two bottles of wine, or if we eat some salmon for dinner? We restrict ourselves to advance some imagined ego, that's all.

When I dropped the burden of Sant Mat vows, the relief was intense, the biggest "spiritual" experience I had in many years. I was was once again just an average 'Joe' like everyone else, free of the burden and behavioral obligations of being this 'satsangi' who are the chosen few to return to God in the arms of the exalted perfect savior/master. I was no longer separate. I was one. I was free.

Tucson Bob, nicely put. AN, like I said in this post, I've heard your "a sip can lead to destruction" argument before, and I used to pay lip service to it.

But both logic and my personal experience argue against it. My mother was an alcoholic. It sort of runs in my family. Yet I have no tendency in that direction.

I think in my entire life I've never had more than two glasses of wine (or the beer equivalent), leaving aside my teenage years.

I find that coffee affects my psyche much more than a glass of wine does. I just had a strong cup of coffee, my habitual pre-meditation beverage of choice.

Some days I have two -- or even three. I like the "buzz." Yet caffeine is entirely acceptable to RSSB. It's even served at the Dera (Indian headquarters of RSSB).

Our brains are being affected by chemicals continually. Depression, anxiety, euphoria, sexual attraction -- all of these psychic states are modulated by chemical goings-on.

Yet religions typically say that certain states are "kosher," and others aren't. Catholics are fine with alcohol. Some Indian tribes are fine with peyote. Fasting is used by some faiths to kick the brain into another state of consciousness.

I used to be a lot more rigid about "rights" and "wrongs" than I am now. It took me a while to realize that what's right and wrong depends on where you're trying to go, or who to be.

Like Tucson Bob said, if you want to feel special, blessed, on the Right Path -- then you need to follow the One True Way (which of course will differ with different religions).

But if you're after simple connectedness with a reality that doesn't discriminate between this and that -- a unity that transcends moral codes, rituals, dogmas --then perhaps a relaxation of Right vs. Wrong is called for.

I have found that those people (RS satsangis, christians, etc) who are the most uptight, moralistic, repressed, and inhibited about drinking, diet, drugs, etc etc, are ususally the ones who are the folks who are the least spiritually enlightened, the most unhappy, the most unfriendly, and the most uptight... regardless of how spiritual they may pretend to be, or what spiritual teaching, group, or religion they may believe in and belong to.

Very unlike our kind host Brian, for about 30 years I used to drink, smoke, do all kinds of drugs, and have loads of sex outside marriage. And I never even gave it a second thought or paid any mind to whatever spiritual dogma or what other people had to say about it. And it never caused me any sort of detriment to my spiritual life in any way. Not in the least. In fact generally, the less inhibited I was, the more spiritual realization and wisdom I gained. Experience is a great teacher. It's all about the walk, not the talk.

Nowadays, I no longer smoke at all, I don't drink much, and I have no need or use for drugs. However I know people that still do, but I don't think that any of it has anything to do with so-called "spiritual" advancement. It's all just different flavors. As in different strokes for different folks. Inhibition and constraint is not necessarily any better than indulgence. Nothing is necessarily better than anything else. It's all just material energy and the play of the modes of material nature. Like different kinds of props on a stage. Even in the deepest darkness shines the brightest light. The real spirituality is Transcedental in nature... not the mundane duality of "this" as opposed to "that".

And it always seems to be the people who want to tell others about how to live, what to eat, not to drink, not to smoke, not to do drugs, etc. who are the very ones who are the least spiritually wise and liberated. They are just testifying to their own ignorance.

So as they say: Eat, drink, and be merry (and remember that it is all grace and mercy)... for Life is only in the LIVING of it. We are all part and parcel of the Supreme. God cares not what about what you eat, or drink, or smoke... but where your Heart is.


"They are just testifying to their own ignorance."

Tao glad to see you using the word ignorance. Where does that ignorance come from? Do we have a choice to be ignorant or not ignorant? If we do have a choice does this suggest we have free will? Why did the Buddha teach that the origin of our suffering was ignorance? What did he see that most of the world does not see?

So these are some questions I spent time on and to my amazement I found no one in the world even considered ignorance an important question.

But yet you point to the reality that those that are ignorant are the least spiritually wise and liberated. Which by the way I agree with you but yet you attack me when I talk about the root causes of ignorance. If those that are less spiritually wise and least liberated is due to their ignorance it appears to me that ignorance may be an important topic to discuss.

Ignorance (unawareness) is the one word that best defines what separates us from an all-knowing status. Does it not make sense to think about the relationship of ignorance and all the suffering in the world?

Why are people so averse to discussing the very "thing" that keeps us from knowing our true identity? Two things really fascinate me: one being when I discuss the fallacy of free will and how often I am attacked with language that suggests I am an evil person which by the way the root cause of evil is ignorance, and the other when I discuss the origin of our ignorance.

The responses I usually get can be compared to a dentist asking a patient to have their eyeteeth pulled without Novocain. If you want to bring out the worst aggression in people suggest that they don’t have free will and that they are ignorant. Be sure to duck after you make those remarks.

William,

You asked:
"Where does that ignorance come from?"

Ignorance is not something, it is an absence of something. Ignorance is an absence of knowledge, just as darkness is but an absence of light. Therfore it does no "come from" anywhere.


"Do we have a choice to be ignorant or not ignorant?"

Ignorance is simply a lack of knowledge. When knowledge is presented, we have a choice to receive it or not.


"If we do have a choice does this suggest we have free will?"

That all depends on what you mean by "free will".


"Why did the Buddha teach that the origin of our suffering was ignorance?"

Because the suffering and the notion that there is someone who suffers is due to ignorance - an absence of knowledge.


"What did he see that most of the world does not see?"

That ignorance is at the root of suffering. (note: suffering is not the same as physical pain)


"to my amazement I found no one in the world even considered ignorance an important question."

What is the question?


"I agree with you but yet you attack me when I talk about the root causes of ignorance."

Attack you? And how/where do you see that?


"If those that are less spiritually wise and least liberated is due to their ignorance..."

I said that those who try to tell other how to live, in doing so they reveal their own ignorance.


"...it appears to me that ignorance may be an important topic to discuss."

Perhaps. But ignorance, which is nothing but an absence of the light of knowledge (avidya), is instantly resolved or illuminated through unconditional surrender.


"Ignorance (unawareness) is the one word that best defines what separates us from an all-knowing status."

I don't know about "all-knowing status". I only know about Krsna-consciousness, God consciousness.


"Does it not make sense to think about the relationship of ignorance and all the suffering in the world?"

Suffering is fundamentally due to nescience. Suffering is a result of the play of the modes of material nature: sattva, rajas, and tamas.


"Why are people so averse to discussing the very "thing" that keeps us from knowing our true identity?"

I don't see that people are "averse to discussing".


"Two things really fascinate me: one being when I discuss the fallacy of free will..."


"...and how often I am attacked with language that suggests I am an evil person..."

I don't remember anyone here ever saying or inferring that you are "an evil person".


"...and the other when I discuss the origin of our ignorance."

There is no origin. What is the origin of darkness? Since darkness is not a thing in itself, but is only an absence of something (light), it has no "origin". Similarly, ignorance has no origin.


"you want to bring out the worst aggression in people suggest that they don’t have free will and that they are ignorant."

I have not seen that. As for having or not having "free will", that all depends on how you define free will. It seems to me that you are fabricating a supposed problem, where there really is none.


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