By Sheila Stone In a small retreat last Spring led by Sisters Jina and Annabel, I renewed my commitment to the Five Wonderful Precepts. The first time I took the precepts, the Fifth Precept seemed easy. I was so aware of the suffering caused by unmindful consumption, especially of addictive substances, both in my profession as a public health nurse and in society as a whole. I knew how much my life improved when I made better choices about how to spend my time, and when I refused to drown my emotions in unmindful activity. But I was so judgmental of others. Why couldn't they see it and do this too? Yet, I didn't want to be fanatical about it.
I also became aware that the last time I gave up intoxicants, I did not mind being tense and less sociable; it was so much better than the previous alternative. But this time, I made it part of my vow to cultivate happiness, relaxation, sociability, and open mindedness without the use of alcohol; to cultivate sensuality and "cosmic consciousness" without hallucinogens; to develop perspective without denial of reality and mindless television shows. I vowed to learn ways to have an enjoyable life, not just a "correct" one, and to share those times with others. I vowed not to impose guilt-driven limits on my spending, but to be more mindful of the nickels and dimes( and to enjoy fully what I have bought).
Sheila Stone is a public health nurse in Charlottesville, Virginia.