In the ´70s, when we wandered up the hill to Kopan Monastery in Nepal in various states of drug- and alcohol-induced intoxication, we would ask Lama Yeshe, “What do you think about drugs, alcohol, and meditation? They make us more relaxed so it’s easier to watch our breath, and our visualizations are so much more vivid when we’re stoned.”
Lama, looking at us with an expression that was quizzically serious, would say, “You don’t need drugs, dear. You’re already hallucinating.”
Then, when we stopped laughing, he explained that intoxicants and meditation don’t go together. “Intoxicants take you away from reality; meditation takes you toward reality. Which do you want? You are already intoxicated by ignorance, anger, and attachment and suffer as a result. Why do you want to take more intoxicants?”
—Bhikshuni Thubten Chodron author, Tibetan Buddhist nun, and founder of Sravasti Avvey
To refrain from taking intoxicants is one of the primary vows that laypeople may take and that monastics have to uphold. One of the main reasons for not becoming intoxicated is that this can—and often does— lead to breaking other vows or straying from one’s integrity. Another reason for not becoming intoxicated is that for many, intoxication obscures the clarity of mind— the clarity to understand and rest in one’s true nature moment to moment. If one’s mind has stabilized in true nature to the extent that its clarity is never obscured, then it makes no difference whether one takes in substances or not.
This article is available to subscribers only. Subscribe now for immediate access to the magazine plus video teachings, films, e-books, and more.Subscribe Now
Already a subscriber? Log in.