Some years ago I had to face that I was getting drunk every evening for the past 10 years, not that I was knocking myself out, just enough to be in a state of pleasant unconsciousness from 6pm to bedtime almost every day ( happy hour ! ) Getting drunk was nothing new I basically spent the years from 16 – 21 in a state of intoxication. My life as a teenager was void of any meaning (except looking to get laid) it seemed there was no good reason for being alive, so I hang with my good friends Beer and cigarette’s they kept me company, taking the edge of my misery. I was born 2 years after the war and my mother was 19 years old, no money, no job, a gigolo as a husband, of course I was not received with love and joy, I was a burden, a mistake. I got that very early and became invisible, didn’t want to make a fuss, who knows? But my mother was also a very responsible person and took care of me in spite of it all. When I was 5 years old I did experience unconditional Love from strangers that took me in to give my mother a break and they sweetly nourished my young soul until I was returned to my parents ( now with a new father ) 6 years later, which was confusing and strange to suddenly find myself physically taken care of but love was absent again, no embrace, no, we are so happy to see you. Anyway that is just a short introduction why alcohol was so easy to fall back on for me when I was lost, scared or lonely. There was a huge change in my life at the age of 22. I became aware of myself and I dropped out of my short hippy life experiment of sex, drugs and rock and roll to walk the spiritual path. Soon after my Master appeared mysteriously in my life in 1973 and initiated me. Living closely with my beloved Master, in Bombay, Pune 1, the Ranch and some of Pune 2 until 1990, there was no need for alcohol, his presence, his unconditional love and care was enough intoxication. After he left his body I was not ready yet to walk alone, even though I did believe for a while that I was. Something was missing and keeping me stuck, I did not know what.
I put my head at the feet of another Sat-guru and asked for truth, no matter what. Consequently my relationship ( marriage), which had provided me with a sense of security and mutual love by overriding my primal conditioning for 12 years, was falling apart and my early childhood wounds of feeling rejected and a burden where bleeding again, it was painful and I chose at first to escape by reviving my old drinking habit, sitting in front of the TV with a bottle of wine getting drunk and indulging in self-pity .
Finally after accepting and understanding that this love need I had will never be fulfilled from anyone outside, I surrendered and embraced my aloneness. I had passed through all the pain and confusion again in this separation process that I had experienced when I was a child. Only later on did I realize that I was free now of my conditioning of rejection and worthlessness, an individual, my own person and did not have to compromise anymore for love and safety. I was responsible now for myself.
I kept up the drinking habit somehow maybe as a reward for my freedom, a declaration to myself that I can do now what I like and it is no ones business. It was somehow tied up with being ME holding on to something, something I could control, that was mine, my choice.
I enjoyed being me, there was a freedom that I never had felt before, I traveled, lived like a gypsy for a while out of my van, found a gorgeous young woman to love with a different flavor, without dependence and the primal need for mother love and security. I was free to dive deep into my passion without guilt or pretense, no mother looking over my shoulder anymore, I could love now for the joy of it, for the passion of it, the play of it and I still held on to the the bottle of Vino.
This relationship went on for some years I slowly freed myself of my sexual conditioning by not compromising who I was. When the dance was complete with my beautiful partner I experimented some more with my new found sexual freedom but soon found that it was repetitive and draining, it naturally faded slowly out. I was tired and done chasing woman for love or sex. I was maybe 55 then and I wanted to relax with someone, have a friend, enjoy simple things like cooking, house making, fixing things, gardening, have a dog, Meditating??? When the time is right and the desire fits with the natural flow of life it will always happen, I met just the right beautiful woman to share the next stage of my life with, but still 2 bottles of wine every evening and maybe a shot or two of vodka to top it off. The old drinking habit was now becoming bigger and a problem. I felt not fully available to my beloved and to myself. I was watching the weakening of body and clarity of mind by getting intoxicated every evening, there was a subtle spiritual sarcasm arising too.
I tried to stop but could only do it for a few days, tried again, failed after a week, slowly I realized that I was addicted, this was new, I always thought, “Oh, I can stop whenever I want.” Well I could not! Finally I had enough; I have to get out of this now! But how??
I called for help and I heard Osho whisper in my inner ear “watch”, so I watched what happens when I drink, I watched, first glass of wine a little happiness, some satisfaction, then blurriness, scrambled thoughts, unfocused and at the end of the bottle numbness, finally sleep, every day the same. I also heard my Master say, “Do not judge, do not condemn, just watch.” Why did I still get drunk ? It seemed there was actually no more reason for it. It seemed the reason was already dissolved, the meaninglessness, the worthlessness, the need for love and safety and recognition already history.
Today I know that this was the attempt to hold on to the Me, me the person, the identity, this addiction had been with me since puberty it was a big part of my identity and now this was all that was left, this empty idea of Me. I was holding on to that by keeping up the drinking but now there was a painful conflict arising, my body would get sick I was sure, I could feel it, my mind was anxious about my future, I would spiral down into “fuck it all” and loose everything, I was certain of this and the love I wanted to share was crippled. I could feel it, plus my spiritual path was almost nonexistent. All these reasons stood against getting drunk and be oblivious for a few hours, I had to gather all my determination to watch, I had no other options.
In the morning I would wake up around 4 am and feel my body was poisoned and I promised myself, today I am done no more, but come noon next day I had to decide between Merlot and Cabernet, I watched! I watched the dance, when the desire to get drunk was conscious the desire to stop drinking was in the unconscious, totally absent. When the desire to stop was up the desire to get drunk was down in the basement nonexistent. They never met at first, like day and night, the game of the mind, hide and seek. To watch I had to accept to keep drinking, by and by it was obvious that to stop drinking, just to stop was just not possible anyway, I could control it for a while, maybe even years like some people can, but this would just keep the lid on for a while and I might be under the illusion that I had beat drinking but that would only be a deception and deep down the addiction would wait for it’s day to come.
After a while of watching looking deeply into my mind I became conscious of both together and the very interesting and important insight that I got was, that the addiction part was complete in itself it was 100 % and the anti -addiction part was also complete in itself just the opposite also 100% that could not be changed. So it seemed there where 2 in me, one that was 100% happy to get drunk and one that was 100% unhappy to get drunk and demanded to stop. Each wanted domination, each wanted to win this war! Impossible! They where both me and they had equal power, like my left hand and my right hand, which will win? They are both me! They are one, two half of the whole, they where causing each other. I don’t know who came first the addiction or the anti addiction but it was clear now that the anti addiction stands on the shoulders of addiction and vice versa. The hide and seek game was exposed slowly, both the opposing forces showed up as one dynamic, both where conscious now but what was the solution?? How to get out of this?? there was nothing I could do, because to do something I had to choose one or the other and there was no point choosing! Any choice was meaningless. There was no way out !! I would be stuck with this forever, now what??? I mean, can I decide to only breath in, or only to breath out, NO ! The mind was stuck. I just remember this gap. Now what??
The next day I sat down as usual in my easy chair, turned on the TV, opened my bottle of wine and filled my glass, I was a little confused what to do? Drink without drinking or not drink drinking? What am I gonna listen to? The image of my Master drifted past my mind or rather my heart and all the other awakened ones I had the good fortune to sit at their feet. I felt how blessed I was.
Still unsure what to do with the full glass of wine.…There was a gap.. suddenly the floodgates of my being broke wide open Love, Grace, flooded me, drowned me, tears of overwhelming Gratitude for everything, for being, for this blessed Life, knowing that I am loved, not by anyone but by existence itself, I could not contain the joy. I laughed, I cried, I prayed, I thanked the sky and the earth for their beauty and the sudden clarity struck me that now drinking and anti drinking are gone forever, anxiety and hope for my personal future left with the addiction, mind turned around facing itself, became one pointed. It wiped me out, the person the identity related to the outside world. I turned in! not by my doing, the mind can not do this, it must have been that the mind came to it’s wits end, crashing into itself, nowhere left to go. The gap! The goose was out! The drinker and the anti drinker fell into that gap never to be heard of again and it took with it the illusion that there is anything I would ever need from outside of me to make me whole, anything I would need to fulfill me or complete me. I am immensely grateful for the addiction because it was the catalyst for this transformation.
This was not enlightenment, this was not the end of the mind, this was the end of ME holding on and blindly cooperating with the unconscious movement of the mind. A small Satori maybe but it had an immense impact, it turned my life outside in.
About 10 years have passed since that event. The impact is permanent. The addict and the anti addict have never been seen again. I am still in awe of the mystery. The blessed journey continues !
Swami Dayanand Bharati
There is a follow-up to this posting, Being a Light Unto Myself.