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Alcohol and practise.

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Alcohol and practise. Nikolai Stephen Halay 1/20/09 10:21 PM
RE: Alcohol and practise. Wet Paint 1/21/09 3:05 AM
RE: Alcohol and practise. Vincent Horn 1/21/09 4:55 AM
RE: Alcohol and practise. Jackson Wilshire 1/21/09 7:26 AM
RE: Alcohol and practise. Jackson Wilshire 1/21/09 7:28 AM
RE: Alcohol and practise. Florian 1/21/09 7:39 AM
RE: Alcohol and practise. Florian 1/21/09 7:49 AM
RE: Alcohol and practise. Jackson Wilshire 1/21/09 8:15 AM
RE: Alcohol and practise. Wet Paint 1/21/09 8:39 AM
RE: Alcohol and practise. Nikolai Stephen Halay 1/21/09 10:36 AM
RE: Alcohol and practise. beta wave 1/21/09 12:02 PM
RE: Alcohol and practise. Nikolai Stephen Halay 1/21/09 12:41 PM
RE: Alcohol and practise. Chuck Kasmire 1/21/09 2:34 PM
RE: Alcohol and practise. Florian 1/21/09 6:55 PM
RE: Alcohol and practise. Florian 1/21/09 7:05 PM
RE: Alcohol and practise. Florian 1/21/09 7:22 PM
RE: Alcohol and practise. Hokai Sobol 1/22/09 2:24 AM
RE: Alcohol and practise. Travis Brett Eneix 1/22/09 8:11 AM
RE: Alcohol and practise. Daniel M. Ingram 2/4/09 7:12 PM
RE: Alcohol and practise. Nikolai Stephen Halay 2/4/09 9:13 PM
RE: Alcohol and practise. triple think 2/4/09 10:53 PM
RE: Alcohol and practise. Wet Paint 2/9/09 2:58 AM
RE: Alcohol and practise. Florian 2/9/09 8:52 AM
RE: Alcohol and practise. Wet Paint 2/9/09 10:06 AM
RE: Alcohol and practise. triple think 2/9/09 10:31 AM
RE: Alcohol and practise. Wet Paint 2/25/09 1:12 AM
RE: Alcohol and practise. Florian 2/25/09 2:48 AM
RE: Alcohol and practise. Wet Paint 2/25/09 3:10 AM
RE: Alcohol and practise. Florian 2/25/09 4:14 AM
RE: Alcohol and practise. beta wave 2/25/09 5:02 AM
RE: Alcohol and practise. Wet Paint 2/25/09 6:15 AM
Alcohol and practise.
Answer
1/20/09 10:21 PM
Forum: Dharma Overground Discussion Forum

I have been reading many old threads and realized that some continue to drink alcohol or do drugs. Since starting Vipassana in the Goenka tradition and immersing myself in Theravada, even becoming a monk in Burma for a very short time, I've had it burned into my mind that consuming alcohol or any intoxicating drugs is a huge obstacle to progress on the path. I was just curious as to the opinions of experienced meditators on the consumption of intoxicants and its relation to meditation practise. Does it depend on the person?

Sila is said to be the base for good practise. Sorry if I seem indictrinated but isn't it counterproductive to progress? Daniel, do you consume alcohol?

I have experimented in the past with intoxicants and found that my practise suffered greatly even with just one drink. But I think it may have been because I felt immense guilt and regret for breaking my sila. I will never drink again because its been years now but I'm curious about others experiences.

RE: Alcohol and practise.
Answer
1/21/09 3:05 AM as a reply to Nikolai Stephen Halay.
Author: josh0

I do drink alcohol and practice, but I've definitely found that the more alcohol and drink or the closer my drinking is in time to my practice the greater the detrimental effect. For example, if I have a beer immediately before attempting to meditate I essentially can't do it at all. However if I have a (single) beer and wait several hours before attempting to meditate there seems to be little to no effect. There's definitely a negative effect of alcohol on my practice, but there's also definitely a continuum of severity in the effect.

I've been exploring the question of whether or not it's necessary and/or desirable to stop drinking entirely. As long as the drinking is moderate and well insulated from the practice it seems to be ok, on the other hand I'm not particularly highly realized and my drinking may well be part of what's holding me back. For the time being I'm basically experimenting with the effects of low to moderate drinking on my meditation practice to see if I can determine if there's a level of drinking that doesn't cause problems or if in order to seriously commit myself to the path and move forward I'm going to have to give it up entirely.

RE: Alcohol and practise.
Answer
1/21/09 4:55 AM as a reply to Nikolai Stephen Halay.
Hi Nick,

I don't think that drinking in moderation poses a major obstacle at all. I drink on occasion and I've found it doesn't effect my practice or realization whatsoever. It's been a while since I've had more than a drink or two so I couldn't speak about the effects of heavy drinking... That being said there are plenty of examples, particularly in the Tibetan and Zen traditions, of teachers who were quite realized and yet were obviously alcoholics (Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche and Hakuyu Taizen Maezumi Roshi come to mind). I'm not suggesting that drinking heavily is a good idea, in fact I think that heavy drinking often is a problem. But drinking in moderation, for those that are interested, can be socially enjoyable, provide some health benefits, and really need not be a big deal.

My personal feeling, after having gone through both extremes (of drinking a lot and of giving up drinking completely and being a bit of a prick about it), is that we need to examine some of the often narrow notions of sila from the Theravada tradition (ex. you can't drink at all), because there can be a very real shadow side to that kind of thinking. I've found that it can become life denying, self-righteous, and can promote an avoidance of the real joys and sorrows of life. When you combine that with the dark night, as I did, you get some of the most annoying and self-righteous behavior possible. Of course, in a certain way we can't help it while we're in it, but we can do a lot to temper this kind of behavior.

RE: Alcohol and practise.
Answer
1/21/09 7:26 AM as a reply to Nikolai Stephen Halay.
From a strictly pragmatic point of view, drinking alcohol inhibits mindfulness if one is attempting to be mindful while still under the affects of intoxication. That said, it makes sense why drinking while ordained as a monk would be frowned upon to some degree. If I was attempting to remain completely mindful, practicing all day long for several days, weeks, months, or years, I would abandon alcohol consumption because it would work against the practice.

That said, as others have already stated, there's nothing wrong with moderate alcohol consumption for lay practitioners who spend the whole day practicing. I can imagine heavy drinking is probably a bad idea, because it would affect one's ability to be mindful for more of one's day (i.e. drunk in the evening, hung over in the morning, lethargic during the day), leaving very little time in which the conditions are ideal for meditation.

This all seems like common sense to me, but I can see how it would go against your conditioning in correlation to your more dogmatic background. Let's put it this way, your aversion to drinking is just one more thing to let go of emoticon

RE: Alcohol and practise.
Answer
1/21/09 7:28 AM as a reply to Nikolai Stephen Halay.
Correction... what I meant to say in the second paragraph is "there's nothing wrong with moderate alcohol consumption for lay practitioners who DO NOT spend the whole day practicing." Sorry about that.

RE: Alcohol and practise.
Answer
1/21/09 7:39 AM as a reply to Nikolai Stephen Halay.
(stands)

My name is Florian and I have a problem.

Not only do I sometimes drink intoxicating liquids, but I'm also not above nicking the odd ball-point pen at the office, talking idle nonsense or even outright slander now and then, I succumb to unskillful sexual behavior (even if mainly in thought or speech), and I'm apt to willfully swatting mosquitos and other animals endowed with nervous systems. Also, I perform such acts on a regular basis.

(sits down)

emoticon

The thing about the silas is, they are training rules. Keeping them in mind and practicing them - observing them in practice to see what happens - is what they are for (in my opinion). In a physical training setting, doing fifty push-ups a day will have results, and neglecting that practice will impair those results - that's all there is to doing push-ups. While the silas are rather more intricate training devices than push-ups, I really feel it doesn't help to obsess about having a perfect record, because a perfect record is not the result I'm aiming for: being more kind and compassionate is, and being in a fit state to meditate is.

I think one of the the reasons why the fifth precept is such an object of obsession and controversy may be that everybody realizes the other four simply can't realistically be kept around the clock by human beings living in society, but the fifth one can - it's definitely possible to live in society without drinking alcohol.

I hope my comments are taken as the hard-won food for thought they are, not as justification for breaking the precepts. emoticon

Cheers,
Florian

RE: Alcohol and practise.
Answer
1/21/09 7:49 AM as a reply to Nikolai Stephen Halay.
I firmly disagree on that one. The aim is not to be able to drink without remorse. The aim is to get more kind and compassionate, to be able to concentrate, and to gain liberating insight.

Cheers,
Florian

RE: Alcohol and practise.
Answer
1/21/09 8:15 AM as a reply to Nikolai Stephen Halay.
Hi Florian,

I did not intend for my comment to be taken that way. I apologize for not being more clear.

I agree with what you state as the aim of the practice. By "let go," I didn't mean "dismiss as unimportant." In my own fallible and often misguided way, I was suggesting that this question about alcohol consumption in relation to insight practice and its associated feelings/sensations are another opportunity for us to learn how to respond in a way that brings freedom. I have plenty of hang-ups about things that others are totally at ease with, and I am learning how to examine them in a way that brings freedom rather than more suffering.

Please let me know if I'm still off base with your opinion so I have an opportunity to see it from another point of view.

RE: Alcohol and practise.
Answer
1/21/09 8:39 AM as a reply to Nikolai Stephen Halay.
Author: josh0

I had never thought about it that way before, but that makes a lot of sense. On the other hand, does the fact that it's so difficult to keep the first four precepts absolutely justify not keeping the fifth absolutely? While I certainly do my best to avoid intentionally breaking the first four, I quite definitely don't try to do my best to avoid drinking.

It's not uncommon that I'll actively bring to mind the first precept as a reminder not to step on a bug on the sidewalk I otherwise would have, or choose to order a vegetarian dish at a restaurant because of it. It's also not uncommon that I'll think of the fifth precept when deciding whether or not to have a beer or glass of wine, but then choose to have that drink anyway.

RE: Alcohol and practise.
Answer
1/21/09 10:36 AM as a reply to Nikolai Stephen Halay.
So, it seems that quite a few of you drink the occasional drop of alcohol. Can you say that it has absoltuely no affect on your progress? I am curious about this becuase I DO feel a little affected by my dogmatic influences. At least in the Goenka tradition it is the big one to maintain observing...if you want to continue to sit long courses that is. I did feel remorse becuase of drinking when I did and there are some things about it that I miss. But isn´t it just indulging in craving? How much do you guys indulge in sensual pleasures and do maintain awareness of the characterisitcs as you experience all of this? Obviously we don´t all abstain from endulging in our desires like a hardcore monk would but does your practise include observing yourself endulging in pleasures and using that experience to progress?

I am not being selfrighteous here, I really am curious. I feel a little indoctrinated by being exposed to so much of the Goenka tradition. Mainly becuase Iived and worked in a couple of entres for 3 or so years, so observing the silas was a requisite. These days though, I dont drink becuause I fell it really is detrimental to my sits.

I really want to hear Daniels take on alcohol consumption.

RE: Alcohol and practise.
Answer
1/21/09 12:02 PM as a reply to Nikolai Stephen Halay.
So what are going to trust, other's opinions or your experience?

emoticon

RE: Alcohol and practise.
Answer
1/21/09 12:41 PM as a reply to Nikolai Stephen Halay.
Hehehe, yes, I know. But if there are meditators attaining stream entry AND having a beer now and then, I´d like to know about it.. I may be a bit too hardcore for my own good. I know I´m sounding quite dogamtic but I thought trying to observe the 5 precepts was at least the minimum to begin to meditate progessively. Aren´t we as serious meditators, not just once and awhile lay practicioners, in the business of being aware of sensations, of craving and aversion? Breaking any of the silas , at least the first four means you are not mindful and are reacting to sensations. Or is it enough to be aware of the 3 characterisitcs with whatever you are doing, killing mosquitos, downing a whisky, stealing pens or fibbing on your tax return?

. I am wondering if all the social life sacrifice in the past 8 years was in vain if I could still progress and have a beer once in a while. I am just realising how attached I am to the precepts and perhaps I am being too dogmatic. Sorry, this is my Goenka upbringing´s doing. Anyway, from my own experience I have found having a firm stong and pure base of sila has given me so much more energy to dedicate to sitting. Each to his own.

Daniel, are the 5 precepts not so important to meditative progress and attaining the paths?

RE: Alcohol and practise.
Answer
1/21/09 2:34 PM as a reply to Nikolai Stephen Halay.
This thread got me looking at the Suttas over at Access to Insight. From the Vipaka Sutta (AN 8.40):

"The drinking of fermented & distilled liquors — when indulged in, developed, & pursued — is something that leads to hell, leads to rebirth as a common animal, leads to the realm of the hungry shades. The slightest of all the results coming from drinking fermented & distilled liquors is that, when one becomes a human being, it leads to mental derangement."

I think the key language is 'when indulged in, developed, & pursued'. For some, an occasional drink is no problem while for others such dabbling could quickly lead to 'indulged in, developed, & pursued'. In my own experience occasional use of alcohol did not prevent realization. To what extent it may have slowed or hindered progress – I can't say. I don't see that occasional use of intoxicants blocks the awakening process so much as it may lead us into very unskillful actions which could result in us totally getting off track.

RE: Alcohol and practise.
Answer
1/21/09 6:55 PM as a reply to Nikolai Stephen Halay.
Hi Jackson,

I was specifically disagreeing with your tongue-in-cheek remark about letting go of aversion to drinking, because it implied that drinking alcohol was not the issue.

Like you, I think it's very skillful to question one's motives for not drinking - if it is indeed aversion (in the sense of the three roots of unskillful behavior) then that aversion should be thoroughly understood and analyzed to prevent it from turning into hypocrisy or worse, and that's what I was getting at with all the talk about the aim of the practice: If I use sila to rationalize my delusions, I'm doing it wrong.

Cheers,
Florian

RE: Alcohol and practise.
Answer
1/21/09 7:05 PM as a reply to Nikolai Stephen Halay.
Hi Josh,

That's where the active, doing, practicing aspect of keeping the silas really gets going.

Pay close attention to the two words "I" in that sentence. Is it the same voice in each case? Also, there's "my best". Me, mine, my self...

The kilesas are clever bastards like that. They'll co-opt the language of the Dhamma whenever they can.

Cheers,
Florian

RE: Alcohol and practise.
Answer
1/21/09 7:22 PM as a reply to Nikolai Stephen Halay.
Hi Nick,

One of the most hardcore monks I know has this unusual interpretation of the fetter of "rites and rituals", silabattaparamasa: according to him (or rather, his teacher, Ven. Ajahn Maha Boowa), it's that constant picking and scratching at the silas, that re-adjusting, worrying, looking for loop-holes or ways to improve. I'll paraphrase, "Keep the silas, they are your justification for being human. Just keep them and stop making a fuss about them" I.e. don't turn them into rites and rituals - the time wasted by obsessing about sila is better spent meditating or being kind and compassionate. This does not include discussions like this, of course, as long as they are helpful and don't themselves turn into "scratching the itch of the silas".

Another way to look at sila practice in relation to meditation is the threefold division of the noble eightfold path. Daniel does an excellent job summarizing them in his book, I think, with his "gold standard" analogy: the gold standard for sila is how kind and compassionate our actions are. The gold standard for samadhi is how quickly and solidly we reach the jhanas, the gold standard for panna is how quickly and consistently we can perceive the three characteristics. Mixing up the standards, such as measuring sila in terms of the three characteristics, or neglecting either of the three trainings, doesn't work very well.

In my opinion, sila is an activity, not a possession.

Cheers,
Florian

RE: Alcohol and practise.
Answer
1/22/09 2:24 AM as a reply to Nikolai Stephen Halay.
Alcohol (and meat), sex, and money... often we find some sort of controversy around these. In traditional Buddhism, there is vinaya, and there is shila, not to be confused. In Asia, vinaya is discipline, mostly for novices and celibate monks and nuns. For laypeople in some countries, the five precepts (skt. pancashila) mention alcohol or intoxicants. But not all schools hold this set of precepts. It's important to realize there is no one model of ethical behavior, or even of discipline in training. In some schools, the purpose is to avoid undue intoxication, and not mere drinking. In some tantric schools, at specific times, drinking alcohol - albeit a very small quantity - becomes a sacramental act, as it does in the Catholic mass (Japanese Catholics substitute with grape juice!). Outside of these formalisms, at right times, in right amount, in good spirits - pun intended - alcohol can uplift and connect people. In mature well integrated individuals, there should be no problem even when getting seriously drunk. Your relative meditation will suffer for a day or two, and so what?

We need to consider all these points. Does drinking a little alcohol contribute to reckless behavior? What is my physical reaction to alcohol? Do I drink to take away the edge? Do I drink to relax? Do I drink to conform? Do I drink in moderation, to complement fine food, and celebrate with family, friends and colleagues? Vice versa, do I abstain to make an issue of drinking? Do I abstain because I'm a monk, or do I abstain to generate some mindfulness related to my drinking problem? Do I abstain because my body can't take an insignificant amount of alcohol without affecting my capacity to stay alert and clear? Is abstaining or avoiding a part of the practice path I follow? If so, what purpose and meaning does it have? When being self-conscious about it, what is important to remember?

We may go on and on, but it seems crucial to make pragmatic judgments.

RE: Alcohol and practise.
Answer
1/22/09 8:11 AM as a reply to Nikolai Stephen Halay.
Just out of curiosity, would you believe such a claim? If someone said they had entered the stream, and they drank the occasional alcoholic beverage, would you believe them? What criteria is needed in order for you to accept that claim from someone? If one of the criteria is that they not ever drink alcohol, then I doubt you are likely to meet one. ;-)

RE: Alcohol and practise.
Answer
2/4/09 7:12 PM as a reply to Nikolai Stephen Halay.
Dear Nick,

Sorry I missed this thread and didn't respond earlier.

Direct answer: I do not drink alcohol and this has nothing to do with dharma practice, just that my few experiments in late college with it lead me to the direct conclusion that alcohol and I don't mix well, as I found that, for me, civilization was a very thin veneer that when dissolved with solvents lead to nothing good and much that was bad.

That said, the majority of the stream enterers, sakadagamis, anagamis and arahats I know drink at least on occasion. I actually just bought about about ten bottles of wine for a gathering of some of them so that they may enjoy themselves in the spirit of Hokai's post above, and if it causes them no major problems, why not?

One of my teachers, Bill Hamilton, used to talk about a pendular swing he called "clean up, trash out", in which he would go on retreats, get a path or deepen in some other way, and then go party down. He was quite a mighty meditator in his own right and I don't know if his ways slowed him down.

I know a reliable report of a stream enterer who did all sorts of things, LSD, MDMA, DMT, marijuana and alcohol included, up until just a few weeks before getting stream entry, and whether these sorts of "ways out" along the way slowed them down is unknown.

Many of my old hippy and boomer generation teachers initially got into this stuff while doing drugs such as LSD, mushrooms, peyote, etc. and then later decided to learn to see things like that on their own power, but some might argue that the initial tastes of something outside of their ordinary reality were important foundation experiences for what came later.

I personally don't do drugs, caffeine, chocolate, alcohol, etc., but that is just my personal choice, and nothing to do with dogma or anything like that. As MonkeyMind said, the gold standards are just that.

RE: Alcohol and practise.
Answer
2/4/09 9:13 PM as a reply to Nikolai Stephen Halay.
Thank you Daniel for the reply. I have felt myself relax on this topic over the past month. I too dont mix well with intoxicants so I dont take them. But knowing that it is not this huge problem and obstacle to progress has made me more accepting of others habits. Being less pedantic about such things is definitely helpful. Thanks to all the posters for their input.

Metta!

RE: Alcohol and practise.
Answer
2/4/09 10:53 PM as a reply to Nikolai Stephen Halay.
Hi Nick;
Now that you are relaxed about this, try this on for size. The baseline conditions in my body prevent me from having a positive experience of alcohol. I have tried drinking various types of alcohol in various amounts over various time periods and all of that experience has been unpleasant to one extent or another. So there is no conventional reason for me to drink. From time to time I 'have a beer with buddy' so that he can relax and try to do the same while observing the resulting discomforts unfold. This led to pondering why this would be the fifth precept instead of the fifty-first precept when it could be so seemingly irrelevant as in my case. I decided to broaden my interpretation of intoxication to "any condition of intoxication of any kind with anything" and that did the trick. It is useful now and it rates at least number five in importance for me in this sense. I should try to apologize if anyone is tensing up right now...sorry about that.

All very interesting everyone, thank you.

RE: Alcohol and practise.
Answer
2/9/09 2:58 AM as a reply to Nikolai Stephen Halay.
Author: josh0

Florian,

In the slightly over two weeks since you wrote this I have several times been on the verge of replying. But every time I started writing my response I realized that I wasn't sure I actually got it. So I've held back and been mulling it over. The other day I was walking to the grocery store. My local liquor store is on the way, so I thought that maybe I'd stop there on the way home and grab a six pack. I can't really explain my exact train of thought, but it led me to recall this particular comment of yours, and eventually to realize that I was identifying myself _as_ my drinking (or not drinking, as it were). Drinking, or the question of whether or not to drink, or the question of whether or not drinking is harmful or unwholesome or whatever had become an issue of identity. I realized that the reason for (some, if not all, of) my drinking as well as the difficulty I was having with figuring out the best way to proceed has been that the whole idea of drinking alcohol has become very bound up with the process of self-identification. I feel the urge to drink or not drink because it's part of the way my interaction with the world is defined. Whether or not I drink had become an issue of how I identify myself in regards to my relationships, my practice, &c.

I now think that whether or not drinking alcohol itself is harmful physically, spiritually, or in any other way, what is most damaging is the urge or tendency to identify with habits, good or bad, as well as with dogmas. In a way, this makes the precepts equally as dangerous as alcohol. Just as I was becoming trapped by identifying myself as a drinker, or a meditator, or whatever, I could just as easily become trapped by identifying myself as a follower of the precepts, or a Buddhist, or whatever. The choice to either follow the precepts or to drink or not should be determined by what leads to wholesome mental states. (Damned character limit!)

Josh

RE: Alcohol and practise.
Answer
2/9/09 8:52 AM as a reply to Nikolai Stephen Halay.
Hi Josh,

In those same two weeks since I wrote that post, I've squirmed over and over again at the presumptuous tone I struck, so I'm really glad and relieved that you've found something of value in it!

Cheers,
Florian

RE: Alcohol and practise.
Answer
2/9/09 10:06 AM as a reply to Nikolai Stephen Halay.
Author: josh0

To be completely honest, my initial reaction was also that it was a bit presumptuous. But then I realized that this was only because it was such an obvious truth, and yet one that I had completely avoided seeing.

RE: Alcohol and practise.
Answer
2/9/09 10:31 AM as a reply to Nikolai Stephen Halay.
It is that kind of feeling for me every time. Surprise, and maybe shame or whatever.
While I fear someone going to somehow point this out as a foolish conflation of issues, isn't indulging in sensory, perceptual or conceptual intoxication in the present moment a quality contrary to relese from the delusion that it promotes? Which is how I can see the quality of intoxication arise in me in many ways despite the particular forms of pleasure or gratification involved. Couldn't intoxication even arise as aversive such as in horrification?
I see that this is arising and that I have to bring a clear awareness to it, which is the whole idea right? There is a dynamic of psycho-physical diminishing return with alcohol use that is fairly gross and obvious, yet there is a similar dynamic no less observably present in many other and far subtler forms of intoxications. Perhaps leading to slipping from bare attention and into big issue land or unmindful forms of attention in general in all kinds of ways.

A couple sound bites:
"...seeing an object with the eye recognizes within himself the presence of lust, hatred or delusion, knowing 'Lust, hatred or delusion is present in me,' or he recognizes the absence of these things, knowing 'There is no lust, hatred or delusion present in me.'..."
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn35/sn35.152.wlsh.html
"As I maintained this attitude — knowing the Dhamma without paraphernalia — I overcame all intoxication with health, youth, & life as one who sees renunciation as rest."
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an05/an05.057.than.html

RE: Alcohol and practise.
Answer
2/25/09 1:12 AM as a reply to Nikolai Stephen Halay.
Author: josh0

Thought I'd come back to this discussion with some more recent experience. I've been a little lax in my practice lately, so this week I decided to just stop dithering and _do it_ (I made a resolution that from now on whenever I find myself thinking that I should take some time to meditate later, instead I'm going to just sit down and meditate right then). So to put myself back in the habit of regular daily meditation I've started going to CIMC again where I've had a lot of success in buliding my practice.

On Monday I went and sat for about 60 minutes. My concentration wasn't great, but it was pretty solid and I was able to make my way repeatedly up and down from the 2nd samatha jhana. Later that night I went to an event at a bar. Though I had planned on just going for the talk and not having a drink I ended up getting a beer . By the end of the night it had turned into 5 or so. This was over the course of several hours, and so at no point was I particularly drunk. I had no issues with a hangover or anything on Tuesday. However Tuesday night I again went to the CIMC and sat down to meditate. I got absolutely nowhere. I was completely unable to concentrate. No access concentration, nothing. For 45 minutes I just sat there and felt frustrated and annoyed, my back and knees hurt, and at times it was all I could do to not just get up and leave. All things considered, I'm left to assume that this was caused by the alcohol consumption. It would seem that while previous experience suggests that a small amount of alcohol isolated from practice by time isn't a problem, larger amounts of alcohol, even if the effects aren't ordinarily noticable, defiintely have a large negative effect on practice.

RE: Alcohol and practise.
Answer
2/25/09 2:48 AM as a reply to Nikolai Stephen Halay.
Hi Josh,
thanks for the update. I, for one, have first-hand experience with the way alcohol will wash out resolutions, and also with the effect it has on concentration.
BTW, Investigating frustration, annoyance, pain, and the urge to stop sitting has been useful to me in my practice. It took me some time to see these "miserable" sits for the opportunity they are.
This should not be read as a recommendation to drink alcoholic beverages in order to better investigate dukkha, of course. emoticon

Cheers,
Florian

RE: Alcohol and practise.
Answer
2/25/09 3:10 AM as a reply to Nikolai Stephen Halay.
Author: josh0

Florian,

Thanks for the advice on investigating dukkha. I've been trying to do just that as part of my resolution to _just sit_ and not put it off. It's tough to push through the natural aversion, but I think I'm getting there!

Josh

RE: Alcohol and practise.
Answer
2/25/09 4:14 AM as a reply to Nikolai Stephen Halay.
Josh,
With trying to "push through" aversion, what worked for me was to make it interesting, to keep moving. The huge monolith of "I want to walk away" had this tingling back pain in it, so I watched the "dots" of pain come and go for a few moments, but not long enough for them to drag me in. An idea for something I should get done before evening would appear, and I'd label it "avoiding?". My throat would knot up in frustration, and I'd see if there were any cracks in that smooth knot, asking "really?", and so on. After some time of this, the monolith would crack apart, and the individual components became more manageable, and could be investigated for longer periods of time without capturing my attention.

There are a few paragraphs describing this kind of investigation in Daniel's book, and also a thread here on DhO somewhere.

Cheers,
Florian

RE: Alcohol and practise.
Answer
2/25/09 5:02 AM as a reply to Nikolai Stephen Halay.
Good points Florian!

Josh you can also do a psych-job on aversion. Make yourself really want to see/experience it as aversion... then watch what happens.

RE: Alcohol and practise.
Answer
2/25/09 6:15 AM as a reply to Nikolai Stephen Halay.
Author: josh0

Thanks for the ideas, they should be helpful!