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Lions Roar : May 2015
I can say is that things have now come to the point when I know I should put it down and re-focus on my vows and the reasons I took them. To not retreat inwards but to take refuge in the people and the situations that make life what it is,andtobepartofitall.Tonotbeso self-indulgent. To be a bodhisattva. I can’t say that pot has ever been of much help to me in that regard. It can do lots of other things, of course: it makes listening to music with friends more fun, it makes a funny movie funnier, and to be honest, it even makes a sunny day sun- nier. Or at least seem to be. Those aren’t “bad” things, of course, so why the hell not? Because of practice. I’d long felt that I could sustain a mean- ingful practice along with some weed use. But regularly, willfully clouding the mind is eventually going to get in the way if you’re trying to undertake a project where authentic clarity and presence are key. I’ve always taken care not to mix being high with my Buddhist practice. So the more often I’m high, the less often I’m practicing. And the less I’m practicing, the less I’m developing compassion, patience, happiness, being helpful, being present. And the less I’m developing those things, the more I’m bullshitting myself. That doesn’t make me happy, and I’ll bet it isn’t so pleasant for the people around me, either. That doesn’t sound to me like the work of a bodhisattva. Yes, I’ll miss weed. It’s fun and it can make life’s stresses seem less daunting. But so does meditation and dharma study. And so does being more present when I’m walking in the park with my partner, meeting people, collaborating, talking, hearing, being open to a world of possibilities. Which is what I signed up for when I took my vows. Will quitting “take” this time? So far, so good. What I know for sure is that I’ve been feeling happier, and even a bit liber- ated, since I decided to empty my stash- box into the trash. And even better now that I’ve told the truth. ♦ SHARE YOUR WISDOM Do you use intoxicants? Why or why not? Yep, that’s me, totally sober. I decided to stop drinking alcohol altogether a few months ago and my life and practice have greatly benefited. Letting go of alcohol has allowed me to live more in the moment and to fully experience important moments—such as my wedding. — Marie Vantelas, Baltimore, Maryland Several months into AA a man said to me, “I see you’re having trouble with the Higher Power concept. Maybe I could tell you what works for me.” He talked about his tours of duty in Vietnam, about meeting Buddhist monks, learning how to meditate, having compassion. I wanted the calm my friend had. Fast-forward twenty-eight years. I’m still sober. My Higher Power is rooted in Kwan Yin, the Goddess of Compassion, and I‘m walking the Eightfold Path. — Maureen Ann Milligan, Getzville, New York I might sometimes go many weeks without a drink, but the answer is, yes, I do drink alcohol. I don’t profess to be anything more than a novice seeker who has struggled for years to shed light on life through meditation and the teachings. I know nothing other than this: I will continue, occa- sionally, to enjoy the sound of the cork... and then, as I sit examining my empty glass as the sun sets, I’ll be reminded, once again, that all things pass. —Dale Marie, Saint Germain-du-Pert, France I used to drink to fit in, to have fun, and to forget. Now I’m learning how to face my fears, insecurities, and anxiety. Instead of reaching for a bottle I reach for my boxing gloves, martial arts uniform, yoga mat, or walking shoes. — Heather Beaver, Toronto, Ontario Next issue: When someone asks you why you’re a Buddhist, what’s your 30-second answer? Send your answer and photo to firstname.lastname@example.org. I gave up alcohol and, recently, cigarettes, in addition to any other intoxi- cants I may or may not have inhaled in the past. I can’t judge others. There are good practitioners who smoke and drink. —Brent Werner, Glen Burnie, Maryland SHAMBHALA SUN MAY 2015 28 CULTURE • LIFE • PRACTICE