Under The Influence
Updated: Jan 10, 2020
The goal should always be sobriety – I’m not referring to the avoidance of alcohol, but more so, the avoidance of that drunken state all together.
Sure, for some it might be alcohol, for others it’s obsessing over people or things, an attachment to an idea or outcome, to shopping or a relationship.
It could be lust, jealousy, gluttony or even a sense of despondency – all of which have the potential to overcome you completely; rendering your better judgment obsolete.
It’s essentially a deviation from your most natural state and it’s this deviation (or distortion) that I am referring to.
In Buddhism, the hook is basically that life is suffering and the cause of all suffering is selfish craving and personal desire.
The only way to end suffering is to end your attachment to desire and following the ‘Eightfold Path’ is what ultimately helps you do this.
Many of the established traditions call for a level of self-discipline for good reason; it's a trait that serves a powerful purpose and it can also be identified in those who excel in modern sports, in the workplace and society more broadly.
The martial arts call on you to also cultivate your character above and beyond any skills you may acquire.
My point is, you don’t want to go through life living 'under the influence'.
To have your judgments clouded and your behaviour subverted by your moods, emotions and various attachments.
The stoic’s understood the importance of being able to act independently of how you may be feeling at any given point in time.
I would say that it's a matter of staying steadfast in your convictions and doing what’s right, over doing what’s easy.
In Eastern Orthodoxy this approach is often referred to as ‘tempering the passions’ - and it’s in this constant tempering, where much of the battle is fought.
To resist temptation and to not act impulsively,
To remain watchful in each moment and recognise when your passions have taken over and distorted reality; putting you in that drunken state.