Thursday, July 28, 2016

Alcohol and Spirituality

by John Boodhansingh of Zero Mindfulness

[Insert image, here, of jolly monks brewing beer.]

Over the next few minutes I’m going to provide you with some information regarding alcohol and the human form, spirituality and societal norms.

If you agree with the implication of the above [picture], I suspect by the end of this article you will have a different outlook.

Layers of the Human Form

In order to understand how alcohol affects spirituality, it’s useful to first get a sense for the layered makeup of the human form.

As you probably know, you have a physical body. It is a dense-matter vehicle that experiences—simultaneous to its physical experience—layers of thought and emotion. In sync with these three layers is a spiritual body. This body, or soul, is your innate, whole form. It is what provides consciousness and awareness to every bit of what you define as “me,” and it is what requires a clear path through the “lower” three layers in order to be known personally.

When you think, say, emote, or do anything, though it may seem your experience is primarily of one category (such as physical), you are simultaneously engaging all levels of your human totality. You cannot engage one without engaging them all.

The point being that no aspect of you is ever separate from any other—soul included. What clarifies one, clarifies all; what muddies one, muddies all.

Alcohol and the Body

Of the substance itself, alcohol is a depressant. Unless someone is unconsciously seeking to validate an already existing condition of depression, which itself may well be unconscious to them, why would they deliberately ingest a substance that forces them into sadness?

“Sadness? Depression? But I feel good when I drink. I get all giddy and free.”

When alcohol is consumed, regardless of what else the body is doing or food is being digested, the processing of it becomes top priority. Why? Because alcohol is perceived by the body as toxic. Every time.

Hence, why not only will your liver immediately go into high gear to clear it out, but also why you’ll vomit if you have too much and why the more you drink the further your consciousness is depleted, for some to the point of black out and even death.

The degree to which you lose your inhibitions is the degree to which you lose your conscious awareness and control of your body, mind, and emotions.

There’s something seriously wrong if you need to poison yourself while going sub-conscious in order to feel good, to experience giddiness and freedom. Nonetheless, your drunken experience does provide a profound insight:

Alcohol removes inhibition. Meaning: The giddiness and freedom you seek is already within you. Drinking appears to create it but, in fact, merely allows the veil to partially and temporarily lift. Meaning: Should you choose to be a whole, real human being, you can face and resolve the very issues you use alcohol to reaffirm that you are a helpless victim of, and then experience all the pleasure you want without needing to abuse yourself at the same time.

In terms of metabolism, alcohol is readily converted to fat by the liver. Although some of this fat is transported to varying areas of the body (think: “beer belly”), plenty remains in the liver and contributes to fatty liver disease. Alcohol consumption has also been shown to be a risk factor in multiple forms of cancer, especially of the digestive tract.

Macronutrient-wise, alcohol comes in at 7 calories/gram. (For reference, protein and carbohydrate are 4 and fat is 9.) Drinking alcohol is like drinking calories—empty calories nutritionally yet calories that load on body fat. And fat for what? “Cushion”/“Insulation” from a seemingly hostile life experience, perhaps?

As far as I’m aware, the number one quality of true spirituality is self-love. I’m very hard-pressed to find anything like that here.


So prevalent is alcoholism in our society and so acceptable is it by most “authorities”—even many so-called “spiritual” ones—that we imbibe more or less freely as if it’s of little consequence.

“In moderation,” you know? “It’s perfectly legal, and they drink wine in the Bible.”

But as I’ve now basically said without saying, alcohol is, 99.9% of the time, used as a crutch. For it is only when we’re running from inner discomfort that we take ill-justified, self-destructive actions, thus allowing us to avoid the discomfort further.

  • At a party with nothing in your hands? Better get a beer—you wouldn’t want to be a loser.
  • Have a hard day at the office? There is a bar on the way home…
  • Hot? You’re going to need something to cool you down.
  • Thirsty? Why not have a mixed drink (which, ironically, is also a diuretic)?
  • Bed time? How about a nightcap?
  • Visiting mother or father who have a drinker’s identity? Sure, you’ll have one. Or three.
  • Bored? Drink your way to excitement.
  • Wife a constant nag? Wash her away.
  • Still alive? Beer.

It’s an Acquired Taste

It’s disgusting is what it is.

The heavier a person’s internal discomforts (again, they’re usually unconscious), the further a person will go to escape them.

When we repress our discomforts (e.g.: shame, disconnect, unworthiness, etc.), we lose our ability to feel—particularly the positives like joy and gratitude. As this has been ongoing since childhood and because we’ve never been taught healthy processing procedures, we don’t even know that we can feel. We have no clear and present memories to remind us of what true feeling is like.

But in losing this ability to feel, we turn on a profound yearning to attain true feeling once again. We just don’t know how to do so. Alcoholic consumption thus becomes one of a multitude of ways in which we attempt to get it back.

At first it’s rough. We drink the first several beers or shots and it’s like, Whoa! And although we don’t like it, we keep going because the pungency of it, like the zip of extra spicy food or obsessive sexual habits, provides us with a sense of feeling, a sense of aliveness.

Problem is, these are false feelings dependent on conditions “out there” while the garbage inside continues to rot. No matter, some feeling seems to us better than no feeling at all. We keep it up, and the body creates a higher homeostatic set-point of numbness.

Not that we actually call it “numbness.” Of course not. That’s far too unsophisticated for us educated, civilized types. Better off using something more elegant, cultured, and classy:

“My taste for liquor is… acquired.”

Alcohol and Spirituality: A Summing Up

[Insert image, here, of monks gaping into the 4th wall,
now aware that they’ve been called out on their crap...]

...Because the consumption of alcohol, especially in large quantities, is not conducive to spirituality.

Spirituality is about becoming more conscious, not less.

Alcohol is a crutch and a depressant. Its consumption is self-destructive. It is a suppressant of discomfort, the very discomfort (fear, trauma, etc.) that needs to be seen and removed from body, mind, and emotion in order to clarify one’s self enough to experience the subtlety of soul connection.

If you drink and truly have an interest in spirituality (not some elaborate religious gobbledygook or God-only-knows-what-else of the same name), I recommend a tremendous minimization of alcohol consumption, if not a complete end to it.

Step-wise, I recommend that you step away—completely—for several months to a few years. Let your body detox, face and clear out whatever inner discomforts arise as a consequence of not drinking—and they will arise quite readily, I promise you that—and then listen to your body. Feel—truly feel—and then see how inclined you are to have another drink.

This may seem like a fairly hard-lined stance, but I offer it confidently knowing both sides. I've been the drunk, the self-abuser, the depressed, the self-imposed victim. I've also been without alcohol for about six years now and have had to face all the discomfort that comes up when choosing clarity and self-love. The benefits are profound.

Alcoholic beverages initially taste like shit for a good reason, just as their ingestion results in heavy consequences for a good reason. So long as you’re choosing to experience things of such a course nature, you will not (with rare exception) be graced with the finer and lighter. Your body, mind, and emotions will just be too bogged down, too numb.

Said Ralph Waldo Emerson: “God will not have his work made manifest by cowards.”

To lead a spiritual life is to do the work of God. To do the work of God implies clarity and self-love.

The path of alcoholism is no such path.

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