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I worked hard in the heat today and when I knocked off, sucked down a couple of apple beers to quench an unbelievable thirst. It knocked me for a loop – I had to lie down, and when I awakened it was as if my brain had been scrubbed clean. I had to return from pretty far away, and it made me uncomfortable.

The Buddha instructed that one should not take intoxicating substances because it causes heedlessness -- a dumbing of awareness, a loss of connection with the world, a harmful obliviousness. But with wine I notice a connection, a loss of separateness, a feeling of wholeness, a warming rush of feeling, the love space. Certain unimportant distinctions blur and drop out, a commonality is reached, and there’s always the promise of ecstasy, of the overarching feeling of the “allrightness” of everything that I find positively spiritual.

It’s the next morning that’s the worry. I’ve drowned myself in water, gotten intimate with my coffee apparatus, dunked in the sea… But it’s always a journey back. 

I wish this washed out state was the state of no thoughts, not slow thoughts.

A quiet mind is a worthy place. But this represents a disquiet and, yes, of course, it’s got me thinking about samyag ajiva, or “Right Livelihood”, the fifth of the Noble Eightfold Path.

The Buddha cautioned all to make a living without doing harm to others. Wine is an intoxicant, which the Buddha said should be avoided. (Of course Trungpa Rinpoche and others would take exception…) But can I do this work without it being a source of suffering for others? 

I “do no harm” to the environment, to those who work here, to the spirit of the land.

Our practices will pass pretty rigid scrutiny. But when the wine leaves my hands, what of it?  

I dream of Cloudburst singing in your throat, of it lifting you up to your highest most conscious place, of it enlivening your day, your conversation, your insight. I hope it takes you to the love space. May it do you no harm.

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