Many societies and religious groups try to ban alcohol and drinking. Just like they ban many other things like sex, meat etc. And the faithful make it into a code to live by. Slowly and gradually, but surely, it becomes almost equivalent to spirituality itself. One’s spiritual progress is soon judged by how much s/he abstains from such things. When one’s understanding of the truth is very superficial and outwardly then anything outwardly assumes great importance.
Let’s look at these issues – taking drinking alcohol as an example.
People want escape because they aren’t happy with what or who they are. That is because there is an unease with their being. Such “unease” with one’s own self manifests in different ways – some do intoxicants, some indulge in sex (with or without prostitues), some like to buy expensive gifts, some get depressed, and some get angry. Those are the negative ways. Others, use their unease by going to gym or going for a trek or trying to do good.
But the basic issue is that there is something in you that wants more in life. But unfortunately your mind and body can’t help you do that. So you fight. That something which wants to grow – will come out as greed, lust, ambition or anger. But its just that. Need to grow over and above what you are.
To pronounce anything as sin is a useless exercise. It does nothing. It never has. Instead of putting edicts and codes on people, if you instead make some extremely happy in life – would he ever go drinking? Or kill someone? Or cheat someone?
Remember the time when you were in utter joy.. how were you?
The need is not to put restrictions on people or create all sorts of principles of sin etc. but to provide people with ways to be happy. Not from intoxicants, or anything like that.. but just by being with themselves. Instead of running from themselves, just teach them to be with their ownselves HAPPILY. They won’t need any of those things.
Instead of thousand hackings at the branches, only one hack at the root is enough.
Someone once asked Swami Vivekananda, the first Hindu Monk to visit the West – “Should we abstain from sex, to be spiritual?”. To which he said – “if you become truly spiritual, sex would be left behind automatically”. The same goes for other habits and desires. By spiritual one doesn’t mean taking a rosary and reciting the name of God or bowing down to something.. but to be truly in sync with the Universe.
If one could see through how uselessly one is living his/her life – the deception, the sham, the lies, the anger, the injustice, the ego – and all that one is really doing… and then see what it takes for the Universe to keep such a life alive – the plants and animals one kills to feed, clothe, warm, or cool off himself/herself.. one would live differently. If I could see through my own life’s faults and how useless it is as I am living it, then I would live it very carefully. I wouldn’t FORCE myself on the “Existence”.. rather, I would BORROW my existence. If I could see through my worthlessness, would I even eat an extra pea than is required, forget about killing an animal and eating it? If I can’t give anything worthwhile to this existence, what right do I have to hurt so much of it just to keep this body and rotten mind alive??
If one had the humility of that sensitivity, would one need to be taught to be a vegetarian and eat only “just enough”? One would be automatically be in the mode of “borrowing his/her existence”. Isn’t it? But there are many schools where being vegetarian is mandatory for spiritual path. Yes, it helps and one is saved from the negative influence of the hormones that the animals secretes when he is dying.. which affect the eater; but is it an absolute necessity? I am not too sure about that. At most it can be recommended. (Disclaimer – I am a vegetarian since birth, although I don’t look like one LOL)
So, the need is not to force people to do anything, but to bring alive their humanity… and that will take care of everything.
Featured Image: XIR201510 The Romans of the Decadence, detail of the central group, 1847 (oil on canvas) (detail of 36568) by Couture, Thomas (1815-79); Musee d’Orsay, Paris, France; (add.info.: Les Romains de la Decadence;); Giraudon; French, out of copyright