The 5th precept – abstaining from intoxicants- has always been a part of Vipassana that I have conveniently forgotten.
My job, the people in my life, where I live – key elements that make up who I am, tend to revolve around alcohol. Being able to choose from time to time to enjoy a good whiskey or a cold beer was one of life’s pleasures, why give it up? Drunkenness over sobriety is rare for me, but part of my life that I enjoy and saw no need to give up.
After my first course I did cut out alcohol and other intoxicants for the best part of six months. Looking back, I remember avoiding situations where others may be drinking alcohol. I became more of a recluse. Life lost its colour.
That was a long time ago, I like to to think that I have progressed along that path. Out of practicing Vipassana for several years changes naturally occur. Whereas when I first tried to cut out alcohol I did it almost because I was told to, without really understanding why. It did not come from my own volition. Since my last Vipassana experience I have returned to my normal life with the intention to change my association of alcohol with ‘good times’, I have begun to imagine how different my life could be if I was able to celebrate life without it. Rather than impose a total ban, to use not drinking alcohol as a tool to observe what happens.
Now almost a month back alcohol has passed my lips, but I did not enjoy its taste or effect as much as I thought I would. Rather than enjoying the blurring effect it has on my consciousness, what appears to be more important to me and my resolve is the clarity and sharpness of my mind, and my ability to be equanimous with my reality as it is.
But what I miss and have not been able to experience – is being silly. What I mean by ‘silly’ is being able to laugh at myself and life. With the knowledge of impermanence I know this will change in time. Some part of me believes I can only be ‘silly’ with the help of alcohol, without it I will forever have a large stick up my arse. For now all I can do is observe and examine this belief, maybe like a sensation that comes from meditation, it will pass. As I continue on the path I have to except change, in time I hope I will be able to experience again the lightness of being able to laugh at myself, but without the need for alcohol.
Is it possible?