No. 146 from ‘Precious Garland’ by Nagarjuna
Intoxicants lead to worldly scorn,
Your affairs are ruined, wealth is wasted,
The unsuitable is done from delusion,
Therefore always avoid intoxication.
It is better to avoid intoxication in order to retain control of actions of body, speech, and mind. In some ways it is strange that this is not included in the 10 Non Virtuous Actions, because it is often a precursor to other non virtuous actions.
In some ways intoxicants can be a breeding ground for anger and hatred. This intoxication might be the aggression associated with alcohol and drunkenness. Or it might be a symptom of paranoia or depression associated with other types of intoxicants. The term “intoxicants” is very broad and the verse applies to all of them.
Intoxicants In Society
In society, intoxicants and alcohol in particular have become a way to “break the ice” in social or professional gatherings and draw people together. To get away from intoxicants can be quite difficult, particularly in client facing or account management roles. 10 years ago might have been different, but now it is possible to perform the roles without alcohol and for the client to be comfortable with a sober representative. Two people I know have become sober for their own reasons and have still been able to perform this type of role, and have said that it is possible.
Not A Binary Choice
This seems to suggest a binary choice, either cut out alcohol altogether or be a big booze hag. Personally, I have not chosen to cut out alcohol altogether but I could reduce the amount of alcohol that I consume. A realistic goal would be to drink once per week, maximum. Preferably I wouldn’t drink at all, but I want to set a realistic goal.