Sake and "Right Drinking"
Well this is a sight name Sake Buddha so I figure I should write about sake and Buddhism. First, of all I am not a Buddhist expert by any stretch. I know the ultimate goal of Buddhism is to obtain enlightenment by eliminating suffering (which is mainly due to attachment). It is something I started to get into to help with the everyday stress in my life. The main purpose of my journey into Buddhism is help me deal with stress in my life and to make me a more compassionate human being.
I know the fifth precept of Buddhism prohibits intoxication because of the effects on the mind. Most of you reading this have been drunk before or have at least seen someone who was drunk before. You know that alcohol can impair judgement and cloud your mind. From I gathered this is the main reason behind this precept and that in some cultures this rule is relaxed.
I have read an interesting blog on The Huffington Post about this topic. The author mentioned what he called” right drinking”. The concept is basically to drink a little to relax and open up and stop yourself from getting drunk. The author gave the concept the following basic guidelines:
1. Know why you are drinking.
2. Taste the drink.
3. Watch what happens to your mind when you drink.
4. Find your middle way.
When I read this, I thought to myself I started doing this already since I entered my mid 30’s. This is when I realized I don’t like waking up feeling terrible and hungover, so I changed my drinking habits. I focused on the quality over quantity aspect of drinks and began just enjoying a drink or two instead of drinking as much as I can. I am sure my wallet and my liver are happy I made this decision.
Let me briefly talk about how I clear my mind and find my zen. I do practice meditation during the day. I generally mediate for 10 minutes a day. Sometimes at work I will put on my headphones and listen to Chill on SiriusXM or some Japanese style music and just focus on work. I find just using my tools and working also seems to put me in a meditative or trance like state.
Now on other occasions like a long day, a beautiful day, or even lately on a cold snowy day I like to pour my self some sake and just clear my mind or even just give my mind the time to wander. The sake does slow my mind down from my typical mile a minute to a nice leisurely pace. It allows me to forget about all of the little things and focus on the more important things in life such as family and personal goals.
Other times as I sip on the sake and enjoy its taste, I will just imagine the brewing process and the hard work that goes into it. I typically think on people working hard and making sake by old school techniques. I picture what I assume would be a kimoto or yamahai method of making sake. Lots ok cedar kiokes being filled and tended too. I picture the hard work of making the koji rice, the monitoring fermenting moromi, the pressing of the sake, and ultimately the bottling of the sake. Then I picture when it is all said and done the toji and kurabito opening a bottle and toasting. I also picture them having the farmer(s) who grew the rice there as well taking part.
To me these simple things help me do a few things. It helps me clear my mind. It helps me appreciate how things are connected. In a way from the farmer growing the rice to the brewers who produced the sake we are all connected. The most important part is that it relaxes me and makes me feel better. This is my own version of “right drinking” that came about for me naturally without effort.
In the end I believe in personal freedom so people can enjoy as sake as much as they want. However, look at the ways that “right drinking” might be able to benefit you. A person might not be into Buddhism, but I think it can help people appreciate the hard work and dedication that goes into brewing sake (or any beverage really). I know in this age of instant gratification just take a moment to savor the sake and find the enlightenment in every sip.