The Sufis and other mystics have a very beautiful word for ‘intoxication’ which they call ‘Khumaari (खुमारी)’. It is a state of complete drunkenness where awareness and unawareness both co-exists. If you ever read the songs of those mystics, you find them calling their masters as some sort of host serving the drink.
I had a very bad experience with alcoholic drinks since the days of my childhood. For a start, I never liked the taste or smell of it. I tried it a few times but to no avail; it left the same impression on me. But, I always wondered why people were so infatuated with this thing. It was always fun for me to sit with guys when they were drunk. That was always a good opportunity for me to study them, their behaviors and their actions. So, one thing I discovered was that, they want forget their pains, their sufferings, and their misery. All these emotions are released from their system in a form of some sort of catharsis. However, it did bother me that they were the puppet of the chemical changes inside the system. They were not throwing away those repressions consciously but mechanically under the catalytic actions of the chemicals. This is why when the hangover ends, some of them were in more anxiety and depression than they were before because the problem never really ended, it was just curtained for some time. So, what the chemicals really did was take them to the state of below-mind, a condition where the mind does not have the reins to control your emotions and they just pour down. And, the feeling of drunkenness comes when the energy starts surging upwards through your lowest centers and the necessary condition for that to happen is that your mind should not be there.
Despite my aversion to those things, I did like, however, to sit with those guys and sometimes I envied that state they were in. But, at the same time, I don’t want to mess my body and mind. You see, the dark side of those chemicals is that, you never know when it starts affecting your system. If one glass of drink took you to that state when you started, you will need two glasses to reach there after sometime and so on. But, you have grown so fond of that state, that feeling, that you never really look back and start consuming more and more at the expense of your body and mind. And, you are eventually on a slow self-suicide mission because every action is going to have its consequence whether you like it or not.
So, I was asking myself an impossible thing, to be aware and to experience that drunkenness without messing with my system. Now, I think I can relate the first paragraph. At first, I thought mystics are those kind of people who condemn these things. But, here I find them using all sorts of vocabulary which are used to describe the conditions in a tavern (they like calling it मधुशाला). It was all too confusing at first, so esoteric, so abstruse that the mind could not grasp. Those expressions were not just by one or two mystics, nearly everyone repeated it, however, using their own unique expressions.
I started getting my answers when my meditative experience started to blossom. I don’t really know how I was so interested in meditation. I think the main motivation was after I started reading Osho’s literature. I was so impressed by him, his way of life, his explanations that suddenly it felt everything clicked together and I ended up joining his ‘neo-sanyas’ and this was all before I joined college. His way of ‘sanyas’ was profound, revolutionary and revolting. The center of his ‘sanyas’ was life itself, not god, not scriptures, not soul, nothing like those things that we have heard since we were born. He wanted man to be ‘Zorba, The Buddha’. Zorba is a Greek character referring to the outer dimension of life who lives his life fully without any regrets or repressions whatsoever. Zorba is a singing and dancing man. On the other hand, Buddha refers to the inner dimension of life; silent, meditative, introspective. Only if Zorba-ness in life fully lived, Buddha-ness in life is possible. He completely debunked the idea of a personified god and went on to explain that any mystic who claim to found God has found him in the form of an experience which cannot be told in words. God is an adjective not a noun. That was the time when I truly got out of that theist-atheist mess and became an agnostic, a seeker.
So, meditation is an art of introspection where a seeker is constantly in search of the question ‘Who am I?’. It is an act of witnessing where one becomes an observer and sees the inner mess. In that observation, the subject slowly starts to disidentify himself from the object. The first experience of meditation is a bitter one and without the proper guidance of a living master it can be suicidal as well. The first inner digging only brings out sand and dust in the form of mental mess. That’s when you start to realize consciously that your subconscious and unconscious is filled with so many repressions. This is one of the hardest times for the meditator because he can become more disturbed than he was before. But, eventually when he learns that act of witnessing, these disturbance starts to grow weaker and weaker. Boy, it takes time though.
Now, I think I can relate all this. While alcohol and other chemicals take you below-mind, the meditative experience takes you beyond mind. And, in that state, you experience the same drunkenness, albeit you are aware this time. The first time it happened to me, I was in awe, in wonder. I had no control over my body yet I knew everything that was happening. It was a surreal experience. And, it’s just opposite here. If you reach that state after one hour of mediation, next time you might only take half an hour to reach that state and so on. So, what those mystics were describing was a part of meditative experience. The true mystics are never really against those chemicals, they just want us to feel and realize something greater, something bigger, something the mind don’t have any answers of. I could finally understand their bold statements like, ‘Why don’t you come in my tavern? Why do you drink such lowly wines which can’t give you a complete hangover? Drink my wine, the hangover will never left.’ That was also the time my respect for all the mystics grew tremendously because we thought that they left everything and lived a desolated life. But, the truth was they were the most stoned guys on this planet, the coolest ever.
So, now whenever I have that urge, I sit alone for some time and that inebriation starts kicking in. I hope one day I could get that total hangover. I honestly don’t know why I wrote this today.