The Poison That Drove Me Insane

“Don’t drink and you will be reborn as an insane person!”

That’s what I was told when I was young. It is part of the Buddhist teaching in Myanmar. It’s Karma, you drink, you crazy next life. That doesn’t make sense. Who care what happen next life. I can’t remember past life. Why should I care about what happen next? That is exactly the problem with taking any religious teaching literally. You miss the point.

When I was young, my father used to drink. He was abusive and violent when he’s drunk. He is an honest and hard working man. But he had a bad temper, and it get worst when he got drunk. I witnessed how my mom suffered and how my dad got into troubles because of alcohol.

Given the circumstances, I should find alcohol disgusting. I should be sick of it. But it turned out I love it. I like to drink. I had been drinking since 16 years old. I enjoyed a good drink now and then throughout my teenage years and beyond. My university days were stained with booze and blackouts. When I started working, I hanged out with similar crowd who liked to drink. I started to get a reputation of someone who love to drink and who would drink until blackout.

It was quite a miracle I did not run into any serious trouble in the past given the amount of blackouts I regularly had. But I had wasted most of the evening in my youth rather than improving on my craft and career as a programmer.

When I moved to Singapore, I drunk less. Partly because it is damn expensive here and partly I was trying real hard to improve myself in personal, professional and spiritual level. I read books after books, I tried meditation, I took online classes to keep learning new skills for my profession. I got married to a beautiful wife. And lived happily.

Then, I started to drink regularly on weekends, on Fridays and on the eve of public holidays. I told myself and others that I was just chilling and relaxing, taking a break from the busy and stressful work days. As you can guess, the blackouts were coming back, and most of my weekend mornings spent in the cloud of hangover.

I became emotionally unstable. Paranoia set in. I felt jealous and angry when I drunk. And it made my relationships complicated and almost ruined them. I became irrational, reading less and just getting by at work instead of performing to my best as I used to.

Since a few months ago, I started to see all these things. I mean like really see what they are, what is happening. And I remembered what I was told when I was a kid about alcohol consumption. Alcohol won’t make you reborn as an insane person next life. It make you insane right now at the moment you consume it.

That is why I gave up alcohol and take the fifth precept that is not to intoxicate self or others. Since then, I’ve been meditating everyday, writing everyday and improving myself in general everyday.

But this is not easy. This is a daily battle. And I will be fighting it for the rest of my life.

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