“First the man takes a drink, then the drink takes a drink, then the drink takes the man.” – Japanese proverb
The man takes a drink: No one takes their first drink with the desire to become alcoholics. They think that they are just having some fun; they are being cool; they are fitting into the crowd. They believe that they can drink without becoming drunkards.
But drinking moderately is like walking too close to the edge of a road that has no fence and that borders a deep valley. Just by staying close to that edge, they run the entirely unnecessary risk of slipping and falling off.
The drink takes the drink: When people drink in moderation, their habitual indulgence creates within their consciousness an impression, frequently subconscious, that drinking offers pleasure and relief. When life becomes frustrating or distressing and they feel the need for some quick relief, they will turn, often without even their conscious awareness, towards alcohol for relief.
In their seeking such relief, it can be said, in terms of the proverb, that the drink takes the drink. That is, the impressions created by the previous drink impel the drinker to take another drink in what psychologists call “absent-minded indulgence.” The person drinks without even being aware that they had a desire to drink and that they had opened a bottle, poured the drink and sipped it or even swallowed it. Maybe after they drink a full glass or even a full bottle do they realize that they had been drinking.
The drink takes the man: Over time, the pattern of seeking relief through drinking degenerates into drinking becoming the only source of relief. Worse still, the state of not drinking becomes a state of discontent and disturbance that can be relieved only by drinking. Thus, they end up drunkards. At such times, the drink has taken the man – their intelligence, their prestige, their finances, their job, their relationships, their dignity all can be destroyed by their alcoholism.
The Bhagavad-gita (02.62-63) cautions that the degeneration to self-destruction begins with contemplation. By avoiding contemplation on a tempting object, we can protect ourselves from the entire problem of degeneration to self-destruction.
Best to be safe and eschew the drink to avoid the disastrous chain of the drink taking the drink and then the drink taking the man.
And applying this preventive principle can protect us from our particular weakness, the behavioral pattern that we tend to downplay as small, but which can put us in big trouble.
Jun 25, 2022
Radhapriya Chawla, ISKCON Toronto Communications
Jun 19, 2022
Nrsimhananda das, Devotee Care Committee Member NA