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Words of Wisdom

Rrefraining from Intoxicants: Religions Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, Part 1 of 2

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Illicit drug usage remains a major problem in our society. Factors contributing to drug use are varied, but the effect is the same. Drugs not only harm the person using them, they also affect that person’s husband or wife, children, other family, and friends. To address this global problem, the United Nations General Assembly has declared June 26 as International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. Each year, communities and organizations around the world work together to raise awareness about the harm of illicit drugs. The goal of these annual events is a worldwide drug-free society.

Supreme Master Ching Hai has also conveyed Her deep concern about the detrimental effects of drug use. During a 1999 lecture in Cape Town, South Africa, She spoke of the heartbreaking consequences to both the drug user and their loved ones. “It affects everything. It makes your mind blurred. It shrinks your brain. It clogs your nerves. It makes you hallucinate. It makes you go crazy when you don't have it and become addicted to it. It breaks your family love, relationship. It drives your girlfriend, boyfriend away. It makes you become a criminal sometimes. How do you have peace in this chaotic state of mind in order to practice spiritually even? You have to be first calm and normal. We have enough confusion with work, with war, with disaster, with relationship already. Do not create more confusion for yourselves and damage your only vehicle to reach God. This is the body, the temple. Keep it well, in order, healthy, because you must use it. Drug is no, no, no, no.”

In the Five Precepts that serve as basic guidelines for wholesome living, the Lord Buddha included illicit drugs: The fifth precept of “No intoxicants” is a clear directive to abstain from substances that cloud our awareness and wisdom. Venerable Patriarch Bodhidharma also said, “The ten Dharma worlds are the body and mind. In the sphere of the originally pure Dharma, not being ignorant is called the precept of refraining from using intoxicants.” The Baha’i writings also affirm that true blissfulness arises from spiritual practice. It will never be attained through the use of drugs: “Concerning the so-called ‘spiritual’ virtues of the hallucinogens... spiritual stimulation should come from turning one's heart to Bahá'u'lláh and not through physical means such as drugs and agents....”

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