The Day Before India
This cab driver sees me regularly. He rolled down the window. “Why are you on Bloor? I usually see you walking on Yonge St.” he said amicably. Unfortunately when I stuck my head in to hear him the cab’s interior smelt like a brewery. After a few words of exchange I felt myself to be woozy. The alcohol content was that dense in the air.
I felt bad for my cab driver friend who succumbs to drinking. I had no idea. I shouldn’t be surprised. That’s the culture, isn’t it? Even in our affluent neighbourhood the liquor store is promoting a show, “Soul Whiskey”. It sounded like an oxymoron when I saw th sign. What does a potent liquor have in common with the soul?
The four pillars of mundane living that we monastics abstain from; intoxicants, meat-eating, gambling and casual sex, guarantee a socially happier life. This could not be further from the truth. I will not pass judgment on those who are habituated to such activities. I will loathe the sin and not the sinner.
Before I became a monk, in my mid-teens, I tried a cigarette. It was horrible. I recall seeing Cate Blanchette as Elizabeth the first trying her first tobacco from Sir Walter Raleigh. The reaction I had was like that. And I know it might sound funny to those who address me as “Maharaj” that I tried my first beer. “That is a harsh beverage,” I thought. Only socially did I feel the need to perpetuate (for some time). A cream soda pop drink surpasses that gassy urine-flavoured drink found in the amber coloured bottle.
You know, I was never really attracted to those things and habits. The meat? No! Girls! Yes! But my faith in God led me to avoid intimacy until marriage. It was a principle I sustained. Eventually I ended up with no marriage. The life of the real contraception of saying “No!” to these taboos made it easy for me to slide into my current lifestyle.
I’m ever so grateful for that. I still must work on greed, envy, anger, illusion, madness and other layers of lust. Looks like a lifetime assignment. Okay! “Keep busy and engaged in devotional service and count the days of temptation away.
I wish my taxi friend well.