Part III – Chapter 17
Stop substance addictions.
Meditation is all about getting to “know yourself” – your body, mind and soul. Almost as soon as you start meditating, you realize that you want to know yourself as you basically are – and not yourself as modified by various substances.
In this matter, there is no difference between substance use and abuse. Any quantity that has a noticeable effect, whether it is harmful or indifferent to physical health, is too much for meditators.
If you take drugs, such as psychotropic chemicals, marijuana, tobacco or alcohol, or even coffee, occasionally or regularly, in small or large quantities, whatever your pretext or excuse – both your mind and your body are necessarily affected.
If you are having a meditative experience, and you have recently taken some substance, you will naturally wonder whether what you are currently experiencing is “for real” or just an effect of it.
If the experience is negative, you are clearly being shown the need to stop taking such substances. If the experience is positive, ask yourself whether you are satisfied with kidding yourself that you are on a spiritual level worthy of such experience or you will henceforth demand of yourself “the real thing”.
On a mental level, then, even if the effect of substances seems or feels good, it is bad. From the meditative point of view, there is no profit in it, only loss; it is not a shortcut to spiritual experience, but a constant hindrance.
On a physical level, too, whatever the substance you indulge in, it is sure to retard your progress in meditation. For instance, so long as you smoke grass, hash or tobacco, you cannot properly practice meditation on the breath. Or again, if you are drunk or stoned, and try to do yoga or tai chi, you will find your equilibrium and coordination inadequate.
Apart from their direct effects on mind and body, the substances we are discussing here all have nefarious spiritual implications. The very fact of resorting to some sort of substance – whether to palliate one’s life difficulties or out of sheer hedonism – constitutes a spiritual weakness and surrender. Whether such substances are harmful, or merely useless indulgences, with regard to body and mind, the very fact that one has not gotten the matter under control is indicative of a failing of the soul. One has either not reflected sufficiently on the issues involved, or not exercised willpower in accordance with reason.
Spiritual development requires one take full charge of one’s life. It is imperative to completely purify oneself of artificial material inputs, as soon as possible. Of course, this cannot always be done in a flash – but it is much easier to do than it seems to be (as one realizes later, looking back). Use every means at your disposal.
There are social services ready to help drug addicts of all kinds. The medical establishment and alternative medicine offer all sorts of solutions to the problems of tobacco and alcohol dependence. Do whatever works for you, but do it! If you are serious about meditation, and refuse to only pretend to meditate, be an absolutist and get rid of all material impediments without delay and forevermore.
The practice of some sport(s) is very helpful in this struggle for physical health. When you walk, run, cycle, swim or play ball, you soon see for yourself the negative effects of the use of substances; and when you do stop using them, the love of exercise will remove from you any desire to return to your old ways. Keep meditating all the while, because that will motivate you and show you the way to go.
 Heroin, Opium, LSD, Cocaine, Crack, Speed, Ecstasy, etc.
 A policy of zero tolerance is most likely to succeed in the long run. For instance, an ex-smoker need only smoke one puff of one cigarette to return to his old ways; so, no compromise should be indulged in, not even in imagination, ever. When one is free of such dependence one has no regrets, only a sense of relief, and incredulity that one ever found such a thing at all attractive.