When you engage in spiritual training, and you do it with the mindset of an Olympic athlete, you encounter the resistance to whatever it is you are training for, and it only gets stronger the more you train. Muscles rip and heal stronger than they were before. This is the spiritual training--the mind of an athlete--that St. Paul spoke of. You have to watch your diet. You have to train even when you are still tired from the day before. You have to endure pain. It is the way of a Champion.
More and more I have less and less reasons to continue to disregard the 5th Precept regarding the use of intoxicants in accordance with the Theravada tradition:
"The Fifth Precept is to refrain from taking intoxicants. Drink and drugs dull and befuddle the precious human intellect. Leading to heedlessness they are the root of many other wrong behaviours and much personal and social misery. Buddhism is all about sharpening and clarifying the mind which is the exact opposite of what we get from alcohol or marijuana etc. Those who think they can make progress on the path and indulge in intoxicants are only fooling themselves. And there is no ground for the view that a little doesn't hurt. We wouldn't consider applying this standard to the other precepts; a little bit of killing or stealing for example. A small pile of dung still smells like dung. The right amount of drink is none."
Trying to get around this is like trying to get around Jesus' teaching on divorce--all justifications for it fall to the floor like sparrows flying headfirst into a window they didn't see. And it really sucks because, like I said, I really like smoking weed.
My liberal stance towards the use of cannabis and other drugs relates it analogously: "A bowl to me is like a beer, you see?" My attitude comes not so much from thinking that drugs are good to use (they aren't), but rather using it to point out the inherent hypocrisy in our drug laws regarding the double standard with alcohol. The reasons why alcohol should be illegal and cannabis legal (or illegal, depending on your moral perspective on the use and sale of intoxicants, even alcohol--(think Moslem law in the Middle East.)) are plenty when you take account deaths due to toxicity, drunk driving, liver failure, the propensity for the perpetration of rape...I could go on and on. I could say that until either alcohol is made illegal, or marijuana is made legal, I will continue to smoke, but that would really be missing the point.
The point is that Buddha is right: drugs do cloud the mind. When I smoke, I smoke to relax, but that in large part comes from getting high. The only insight drugs offer come from a mind impaired, lazy, as if one had dementia. They are used as a shortcut to temporary enlightenment, but they are false: they show reality distorted, not reality perceived.
So in a little over two weeks, I am vowing not to ingest intoxicants for the purpose of intoxication. This includes nicotine, drugs, and heavy alcohol use. I don't particularly want to give any of these up. But then again, I don't like exercising, either. This is life under the cruel tutelage of Atony of Egypt.