Can one be drunk and still get enlightened?

From Keerti's desk Media Watch

Keerti responds to a question about Osho having been shown holding a glass of champagne. Published in the Deccan Chronicle, January 20, 2020.

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Wine glasses

Recently, someone sent me a question: How can Osho, as an enlightened master, drink a glass of champagne offered by Ma Anand Sheela while travelling to America, as shown in Wild Wild Country?

This is a relevant question. Society does not expect the spiritual ones to have alcoholic drinks. Osho also did agree to it. He says: “Alcohol can disturb before enlightenment because it can make you more unconscious – that’s its whole purpose. Your consciousness is burdened so much with anxieties, worries, anguish, that you take a drink and feel good because your consciousness goes to sleep. Hence, before enlightenment, any kind of intoxicant is absolutely to be dropped. It affects your consciousness and drags it downwards towards darker realms of unconsciousness.”¹

Osho became enlightened at the age of 21. And enlightenment is something that happens forever, one does not become endarkened after this happening. So a glass of champagne could never affect his enlightenment. In tantra traditions, we have known tantrikas who could drink a few jugs of wine and still remain fully aware. Jesus used to drink wine, and Gurdjieff and so many other mystics could enjoy wine without getting drunk or intoxicated.

Osho says: “Just the other day somebody had asked a question – ‘Jesus used to drink alcohol. What do you say about it?’ I can allow Jesus! He was so conscious that he could afford to drink once in a while. But I cannot allow you. You are already so unconscious, you are already so burdened; now, making you more unconscious will be dragging you towards hell. In the East, particularly in India, there has existed a tremendously beautiful esoteric school of tantrikas. One of their very secret methods is that whenever a master thinks that a disciple is ready, he allows him to drink alcohol or take some other drug in small portions, in small quantities, slowly. As his meditation deepens, he is allowed to drink bigger amounts. The only condition to be fulfilled is that he should remain conscious. Even under the influence of the drug, he should remain conscious – that is the only condition to be fulfilled. This is a rare experiment!

“And a moment comes when a real meditator can drink as much… he can drink alcohol just like water and he will remain as centred as ever, as conscious as ever. That is the crucial test.”²

There are so-called holy people all over the world, who never touch alcohol, but then they become intoxicated with the alcohol of being holier than others. They become egotistic and start condemning everybody who drinks. Osho warns us against this drunkenness: “Ego is very intoxicating, remember it. It is more alcoholic than any alcohol can be. And it is pious; when it is pretending to be holy it is very pious — and a pious poison is the purest poison. Avoid it. Come back to the earth. Be simple and see the reality as it is.”³

Quotes by Osho from
¹ From Death to Deathlessness, Ch 5, Q 4
² The Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha, Vol 7, Ch 3
³ The Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha, Vol 8, Ch 11


Keerti facilitates Osho meditation retreats all over the world and is the author of various articles and spiritual books, his latest being Mindfulness: The Master

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