anyone interested in growth (spiritual development) must be committed to a life of sobriety. this means not indulging in intoxicants of any kind; legal or illegal, medicinal or recreational. only when you engage reality can you ultimately transcend it. in the meantime, the work centers on embracing reality and working with it. engaging intoxicants is disengaging reality and this is akin to taking the offramp on the highway of growth. no progress can be made when you disengage. this does not mean an occasional drink or intoxicant is so destructive that it ruins your progress; the way is found in balance, but it does mean that regular intoxication will halt your progress. in fact, regular intoxication is indicative of some negativity that must be outgrown. this is because there is always a reason someone gets intoxicated. whether its to relieve stress or social anxiety, or some other reason, this is symptomatic of some other negativity that one must address. every negative situation is an opportunity to grow. if one suffers from some type of negativity and one choses to get intoxicated as a response, this robs one of the growth lesson implicit in the negativity. its not much different than a physical pain; these are indicative of some issue that warrants our attention, and non-physical pain is no different. there is some non-physical issue that needs attention. part of growth is mastering the challenges of life. if social situations give you anxiety for example, you must meet them head on (sober) in order to master them. only after they are mastered can they be transcended. this is because transcending things (realities) only occurs when the things lose meaning and significance. this means the thing is “no big deal” or a non-issue. and clearly its not a non-issue if it causes you pain. on the other side of the coin, it can’t bring you pleasure either, but that’s the subject of another post. so if enlightenment is the intention of all the awakened unenlightened or those that intend to grow, and enlightenment is transcendence of ego and the external world and realities (among other things), which it most assuredly is, and transcendence can only occur after you stop projecting meaning into realities and life itself, then you must go through everything and master it. the only way to do this is to be present and the only way to be present is to be sober. otherwise you are avoiding. and if you’re not avoiding, you’re idling; that is, not making progress, or not advancing.
so intoxicants cannot be a part of a person’s life if they intend to grow. again, its all in degrees…a little is ok. but it really must be strictly moderated to be ok. on the other hand, meeting reality and mastering it, has its own advantages. that is, growth has its own reward. i can absolutely attest to the wonderful peace and joy that can happen as a result of growth. a feeling that is barely based on the world or your situation. its completely independent of anything “outside your skin” and at advanced stages, is 100% unassailable. this mastering of reality does not necessarily mean one “wins the game of life” or “gets the American dream” rather, its something else. something subtle and difficult to describe. please check out my article “the tao of skate.” it was originally published in concrete wave magazine i believe in jan 09′ and can be found on their website, but the unabridged and recently edited version is posted on this blog after this post. pay attention to the analogy of Christmas towards the end and this might give you better idea of the payoff of growth.
thanks for reading- happy new year.