You’re saying to yourself, “ahhhh, there’s that precept thing about abstaining from intoxicants…” Yes I remember.
I remember the night in 1989, when a dear friend brought four bottles of wine to my apartment. He brought 1986 Cos d’Estournel, Gruaud Larose, Ducru Beaucaillou, and Talbot. Wine was horrible vinegar water or sweet goop, right? Nobody really liked that stuff, right? After that evening, I was hooked. My life as a hedonist had begun. Over the ensuing years I built a cellar of over 1,000 bottles, not to mention all the accoutrements needed for enjoying the wine life.
But, I slowly stopped drinking alcohol. A minor health issue made alcohol a Pavlovian negative physical stimulus. As I healed I started my practice and gained clarity on the role of wine in my life. Meditative investigation lead me to some conclusions.
- I liked the attention from my friends and family. I was the go-to wine guy. Every holiday, every special occasion, I’d get a call from the curious to desperate soul looking for the perfect bottle for a special dinner or gift. I was unique and valuable in a way.
- Both my daughter and I are supertasters. I’m good at wine tasting. It felt great to have an interesting talent.
- I could show off by bringing the expensive, hard to find conversation piece to any gathering. Success symbol, symbol of refinement and so on..
Ego and insecurity. Of course none of these were conscious intentions. My intentions were to enjoy and to enable others’ enjoyment and fun. Meditation revealed what made wine so fun. I know, Buddhists are such downers, turning enjoyment into a torturous psychotherapy session. Unfortunately this knowledge made the cellar a burden. On top of all that, the associated stuff was overwhelming. The glassware alone was a crystal heap of lead tinged toxic waste.
What to do with the cellar. First, get rid of the stuff that’s dead, thus four cases last weekend. We laid to rest the bottles of vinegar and we had a blast. We practiced olympic class, free style spitting. We pretended we were horrible wine snobs reviewing the plonk. My favorite moment was when she channeled Ross from “Friends” and wretched, “It tastes like feet!“
Now what? Sell the rest? That treads on right livelihood. According to “The Craft of the Heart” an upasaka ( उपासक ) should refrain from selling intoxicants. Do I drink it? There’s that precept again. Do I pour it all down the drain? I guess I’ll have to meditate on it and investigate what my heart says. I’ll update when I decide.