10 Jul
Posted in: Art, Practice, Travel
By    Comments Off on To Drink or Not to Drink

To Drink or Not to Drink

I seldom drink wine any more. It’s expensive, for one thing. Plus, I take the Buddhist precepts seriously….which, in their basic form, are trainings to avoid killing, stealing, lying, sexual misconduct, and “the use of intoxicants that cloud the mind.”

This is not a hardship for me…usually. But there I was in Italy. With ubiquitous and delicious — and inexpensive — wine…grown locally, developed over centuries to complement perfectly the local cuisine.

There was water, too, of course. Excellent Italian mineral water. (San Pelligrino, usually, but other brands as well.) Which I love. Especially the frizzante!

But water, alone, with all those great Italian meals!?!

I couldn’t do it.

Of course I could have. But I didn’t. At most meals, I drank the wine. (And the water.)

I told myself that I was still keeping the precept because I wasn’t drinking more than a glass or two, and always with food…surely that was not enough to cloud my mind…and besides, the precepts are not hard-and-fast rules, especially not the one about “avoiding intoxicants,”….and there are plenty of Dharma teachers (some of whom I’ve witnessed personally) who drink wine (and maybe indulge in other intoxicants, too, who knows!)…but the truth is, I could feel the difference, my mind was a little cloudy after a glass or two…it was nothing major, of course, not enough to cloud my judgment about not killing or stealing or lying or having unprotected sex with inappropriate partners!!!…but still.

I’m not saying that it was wrong for me to drink the wine. I’m not even saying that I won’t do it again. Because in certain situations, under certain circumstances, I will.

But I am aware of the risks of a mind that is clouded.

And I will take care.

(The above is one of the drawings I did while I was in Castiglion Fiornetino. I had intended to do one every day…but, as is clear, I do not always do the things that I intend.)

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