Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The comfort of the Dharma

From Drop Box

Above is a photo of a friend watching and listening to Robert Thurman on DVD.

On the issues of beer, as seen in the above photo, I have found that I can remain mindful while drinking a few beers, but I'm more impulsive, and it drains me of energy after the initial lift in energy.

Alcohol is an disinhibitor, so what you lose is inhibitions and that's why we drink in social settings, because we're a bit inhibited. When I was a teacher and I had to chaperon the prom, I ended up dancing for the first time without alcohol, and it wasn't that hard actually, I had hitherto used alcohol to disinhibit myself. (There's a silly picture in my high school yearbook of me dancing.) I my desire for a beer isn't always matched with what I get from it. Spiritual progress is about growing up, not so much depriving yourself.

I've never been to an AA meeting but I've had a lot of patients talk about it and I've read a few books. I've read the book below with a patient.

I think my biggest regret in life is substance abuse, before I found the Dharma. I value mindfulness, and sitting in meditation, I have learned to tolerate my emotions and face them. That has erased my need to drink. (I met Paul on his travels through the USA, who is one of the cofounders of a recovery and Buddhism site.)

But like vegetarianism, you swim against the grain of society if you don't have a beer, if you don't eat meat. Not drinking is easier than not eating meat in our society, I think.

Speaking of vegetarianism, Bodhipaksa (Guided Meditations: For Relaxation, Acceptance, and Insight) has a good post in response to Dayamati.

And since I'm linking it up, check out this link on the value of relationships, that mentions psychotherapy and Buddhism.

I spend a fair amount of time listening to talks on Free Buddhist Audio. That was why I put that picture up, but I had to explain the beer first. I listened to The Sound of Reality yesterday, it's a wonderful talk that debunks the idea that followers of the Dharma have to close off their senses. There's also an essay by Sagaramati that talks about Tanha, which is craving.

I've run straight into confrontation in my early journey with the Dharma, but I'm OK with consolation these days, I think it's OK to get the support you need, you don't have to be macho and grin and bear it all the time.

I also wonder if effort is just like a rubber band that snaps back. Somehow I want to break through. There is a danger that I use the Dharma to just reinforce my rigid self, so I think confrontation has to be in the mix, even if comfort is also necessary at times.

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