Children, the increase in the use of intoxicants among today’s generation of youth is cause for alarm. It is gnawing away at society like some incurable disease. It is man’s journey towards mere self-gratification that is leasing him to drink and drugs.
In truth, are we really getting any happiness from these intoxicants? Does happiness reside in cigars, cigarettes, marijuana or other intoxicants? When a dog chews a bone for too long, its gums start bleeding. Imagining that the blood is coming from the bone, it continues chewing it. This is exactly what we are doing when we strive to obtain happiness from intoxicants.
In truth, happiness is within us. The thinking that we can obtain bliss from intoxicants is just our imagination. Amma remembers a story. Seeing an old man sitting happily on a swing in the garden in front of house, swaying in pleasure, a passerby asked, “Uncle, you
look really happy. What’s the secret behind your happiness and health?”
“I smoke six packets of cigarette daily, drink six cases of whisky every week, eat meat thrice daily, and never exercise.”
“Unbelievable!” declared the passerby. “By the way, how old are you?” “Twenty six.” Intoxicants might help one forget everything briefly. But addicts do not realise that intoxicants rob the body of vitality and destroy them. Further, their health is impaired and they age prematurely, leading to an early death. Instead of being an asset to their families and country, they ruin themselves and cause suffering to others.
There was a family that used to live happily. The husband fell into bad company and started drinking. With that, the peace and contentment that used to prevail in the family began to disappear. Because of his drinking, the man stopped going to work for many days. On the days he went to work, he would arrive at his office in a drunken stupor and quarrel with his colleagues. Finally, he lost his job. Having no money to buy drinks, he began harassing his wife for her jewellery. When the wife resisted, the husband started beating her.
Eventually, fearing further assaults, she handed over the jewellery to her husband, who sold it, and spent the entire amount on drink. He then started selling all the pots and pans, and other items in the house. Every day, he would return home drunk and beat his wife, even dragging her by hair. The wife soon became utterly despondent as a result of the unrelenting physical and mental torture. One day, her husband started fighting with her for the small necklace around their baby’s throat. That was the final straw. Unable to tolerate his behaviour any longer, the wife grabbed the baby and came to Amma. This is just one example. Amma sees and hears about many such incidents every day.
Children, everyone today thinks: “What did I gain?” That is not correct. Instead, we should ask ourselves, “What was I able to contribute to society?” Rather than shortening our lives by living like beasts and thinking solely of our happiness, live with an awareness of life’s purpose. Having consumed what we really need, we should distribute the rest as alms.
It is only through spiritual thinking that we can move away from the narrow world of selfishness and suffering, and reach the expansive universe of selflessness and happiness. Only through spirituality we can realise that the real happiness lies in loving and serving others. If we grasp spiritual principles, there will be revolution in our character and outlook. We will become compassionate towards our fellow-beings. It will give us enough strength to free ourselves from the grip of intoxicants and other bad habits. Then, we will always be able to enjoy peace and contentment within.
The writer is a world-renowned spiritual leader