Why alcohol and drugs hold back spiritual growth?

We have heard of one or more faiths or religions banning alcohol or drugs or smoking in one way or the other. Of course, there are many of us who contravene these guidelines, as we do not adhere rigidly to any specific rules that are thrust upon us. That is perfectly normal – spirituality without ‘modern thinking’ cannot be true spirituality.

And there we arrive at the crux – do we drink and do drugs because they are modern pleasures? Sure. Do they actually help solve our problems in any way? Not really.

Drugs (alcohol, nicotine, heroin, cocaine, etc.) are merely the carpet under which you sweep your dirt. True spirituality is about cleaning your ‘room’ so that you live a clean life inside. By clean, I do not mean blessing every animal and creature on the street- cleanliness simply means being honest with yourself and living your truest purpose.

To realize your truest feelings, to analyze your deepest self, you need to introspect. You need to fight your egoistic impulses – I say ‘fight’, but what actually happens is that you realize you have egoistic impulses and CHOOSE not to follow them. Choosing NOT to listen to your mind’s endless attachments, that destroy your freedom, requires energy.

Why do you require energy to fight your mind’s impulses? Let me give you a simple example – imagine you are driving when you are drunk or ‘high’. You are driving at high, or even a moderate speed. A car comes suddenly towards you in the middle of the road. Had you not been drunk; your instincts would have taken over and slammed on the brakes. But, being high (or down based on your choice of drugs), you react either way too fast or way too slow. Now, let’s zoom into that scene –

  • You see the car coming towards you
  • Your body doesn’t react, your mind seems sluggish or over excited
  • Another part of you takes over trying to either speed you up (if you are feeling down), or calm you down (if you are feeling too high)
  • This ‘other part’ literally struggles to get you to act at the right speed, at the right time. This new part of you uses extensive amounts of energy trying to overcome your drugged state and take charge.
  • You finally manage the situation (with blood pounding in your ears with adrenalin), but find yourself sinking back into your previous ‘dissociated’ state

So, now we have two parts of ourselves – one part, the ‘egoistic pleasure-seeking side’ that likes to drink or do drugs. Another part that actually takes the decisions in times of crisis, which is independent of your drugs. Drugs prevent your ‘decision making’ side from acting properly which makes your ‘decision making’ side to use extensive amounts of physical energy (adrenalin) to gain control, leaving you exhausted.

Now, a spiritual path requires you to analyze your ego and confront your deepest fears, your darkest insecurities and accept all of them as part of yourself. You are seeking long-term lasting happiness as compared to a temporary high – that is the essence of spirituality. Before starting your spiritual journey, you are essentially divided, seeing the world and your fears as separate. This is the reason people do drugs, to keep out the darkest parts of themselves because they are afraid of them.

Spirituality is about integrating all of your different parts into a single whole – the good, bad and ugly and accepting them all as part of your soul’s or God’s creation. Integrating your darkest parts doesn’t mean you will become a murderer overnight – it means you realize you CAN be a murderer, but you DON’T want to. All of us are capable of lashing out in fear or anger, and hurting others – and sometimes, we do it because we lose control. Spirituality is about integrating your anger into yourself, so that you can CHOOSE whether to be angry or not. Spiritual consciousness gives you an internal choice, unconsciousness leaves you at the mercy of random external events. Thus, spirituality is true freedom, and with true freedom to ‘not choose’ anger, you achieve compassion. And thus, spirituality, freedom and compassion go together.

Do you become a saint? Not really, you merely become a very ordinary practical man/ woman in control of your senses, body and mind. Spirituality is about discovering extraordinary things about yourself so that you can live a completely free and possibly, very ordinary life, but based on your values, not others’. Spirituality is the extreme version of ‘live and let live’.

All of this takes mental energy, as your soul goes against your mind’s natural ego (which likes to divide things into good and bad, superior and inferior). This ‘spiritual integration’ energy has to come from somewhere, and your soul draws this energy from your body (hormones, adrenaline etc.), making your spiritual journey physically exhausting.

When you are already using up all this energy, and you start drinking or doing drugs, it blocks your soul’s access to your mind. Your soul tries to see into your mind, and apply the accelerator or brakes on your mind, and realizes all the brake (and hydraulic) fluid has been replaced with crap- the accelerator and brake signals simply stop going to your mind.

If you haven’t realized already, the car is your body (with engine and wheels), your soul is the driver, and hydraulics and transmission are your mind. Drinking is effectively equivalent to you freezing your brake and accelerator hydraulic fluids and wondering why your car is not going in the right direction. You may even feel yourself pressing the pedals, the pedals no longer seem to be flexible- they seem clogged.

Is the car still moving? Sure. It has fuel and hydraulic fluids, and the engine is running. But what you don’t realize is that the fuel is being used by the car to plan its own random route (straight into an accident), not by you as the driver to control the route.

So, we have to decide. What kind of fuel and fluids do you want to intake (aka food)? How does the food make you feel? Does your food make you feel intoxicated and detached from your thoughts, or more in control, in touch with your thoughts? The thing is, the more you ingest food and drink that intoxicates, your body becomes addicted and weaker. When you need energy for a new stage of spiritual transformation, you will find yourself too exhausted to continue. Your body is not the same as your soul, but it is an essential physical vehicle that we all need in our pursuit of the truth.

In trying to become a better driver, don’t damage or destroy your vehicle – you don’t get a replacement, at least not in this life. Eat well, in moderation, not so you can achieve a supreme goal, but so you can go as far as you can in your journey with the body you have been given, before your body inevitably breaks down in old age. Your body has a limited time before old age overtakes it (with problems of poor functioning and low energy). Use it well when you are young, in the right ways, for the right reasons. That way, when you are older and have lower energy, you will no longer need your body’s energy that much – you will have completed the most difficult parts of your spiritual journey, and will be ready to move on to the next phase post physical death.

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