Taking the Fifth

By Lennis Lyon Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful consumption, I am committed to cultivating good health, both physical and mental, for myself my family, and my society by practicing mindful eating, drinking, and consuming. I will ingest only items that preserve peace, well-being, and joy in my body, in my consciousness, and in the collective body and consciousness of my family and society. I am determined not to use alcohol or any other intoxicant or to ingest foods or other items that contain toxins, such as certain TV programs, magazines, books, films, and conversations. I am aware that to damage my body or my consciousness with these poisons is to betray my ancestors, my parents, my society, and future generation. I will work to transform violence, fear, anger, and confusion in myself and in society by practicing a diet for myself and for society. I understand that a proper diet is crucial for self-transformation and for the transformation of society.

At the 1997 Santa Barbara Retreat, I took the first four Mindfulness Trainings. I was not yet ready to give up the glass of wine I enjoyed at occasional dinner parties, and declined the Fifth Training. Then, at the 1999 Santa Barbara Retreat, I reflected often on the joys and sufferings of my only child, my 25-year-old son, Tatian. I recognized that his sufferings included how uncomfortable he felt with me when I drank alcohol. I could see that what I thought were witty, entertaining comments, flowing easily after my glass of wine, were really made without regard for their effect on others. Tatian has chosen not to drink alcohol in high school, college, and as an adult. During the retreat, I wrote this letter:

My Dear Son,

I love you very much. I want to give you a gift for choosing not to drink alcohol, and to support you in this decision. I have decided to stop drinking alcohol and to take a vow with Thich Nhat Hanh to support me. You no longer need to worry about being embarrassed by my behavior from drinking wine. It has been ten months since I took the Fifth Mindfulness Training. When I am tempted to have a sip of wine, I see my son's beautiful face, and decline.

Lennis Lyon practices with the Pot Luck Sangha in Oakland, California.

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