How Getting Drunk can Bring You Closer to God.

Via John Dalton
on Aug 9, 2011
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Photo: John Dalton

I took this picture a couple of months ago after five pints of beer. It’s lovely isn’t it? It certainly looked lovely to me…five pints later. I was on my way to the local shop to buy some cigars at the time. As I flopped along I couldn’t help but notice how beautiful the moon was, how exquisitely it lit up the blossoms on the cherry tree, and how the streetlight balanced this with orange highlights.

It was a moment of beauty that would have been easy to miss, but once noticed brought out all the beauty of the night. I thought to myself, “Well of course everything looks beautiful, you’re drunk!”

I kept going but the beauty didn’t stop. When I got to the shop the guys who worked there had this great camaraderie and they all seemed to love their funky late night job. I felt like I was in the best feel-good movie ever! I could almost hear the soundtrack. I had nothing but warm feelings for my fellow man. I would have greeted anyone as a friend. I thought to myself, “Well of course you would, you’re drunk!”

This kind of thinking was ruining the vibe and a fight broke out inside me. One part of me thought being drunk was actually allowing me to be closer to how I truly am on the inside – free, loving, easy. If I was sober I would have had my defenses up. I would have been cautious and ready for trouble.

Photo: Tim Dobson

Another part of me thought that if I wasn’t careful bad things could happen. I was able to cite experiences I’d had that backed up this opinion, lots of bad things that had happened to me. The evidence for caution was so strong that it was starting to kill my beer buzz until the first part of me remembered that by and large, when I’m drunk, nothing bad usually happens to me, so all this caution was unnecessary.

Then there was the honesty that came with drunkenness, the things I say that ordinarily I wouldn’t; whether it’s inappropriate flirtation or spontaneous soul baring, these are the declarations that would never happen without booze. In the cold light of morning they are often regretted but does that mean they don’t have value? I don’t think so. Sometimes the boozey rant is the only way to say something.

Of course the tricky thing with booze is it excludes the cautious parts of me. They fade into the background. And when they’re not there the sense of relief is immense. The goodwill just wells up. All is as it should be. It’s so good that it could only get better by having another drink. And with caution in the background I can’t think of a reason not to. I was only planning on having one beer, just to take the edge off, but now I definitely think another pint is a capital idea. And so it goes until I find myself walking to the shop and taking photos in the dark.

From my experiences treating people as a cranio sacral therapist I know how devastating alcohol can be, the same with drugs, but nevertheless I like the way I feel when I’m drunk. I can see why people become alcoholics or drug addicts. Living can be very difficult and grinding and being able to access my true nature on demand is very attractive. I can of course access it without alcohol but not on demand, not when I really need it. It’s not like I can sit on the couch at the end of a hard day and make the soul fatigue melt away like a glass of wine can or the way a beer or two can make a room full of strangers easier to deal with.

Booze is a shortcut to my true self with a built in tendency for excess.

Do you have the same kind of experiences when you get drunk?
Why do you drink?
Why don’t you?

*Previously posted on


About John Dalton

Born in the craggy foothills of suburban Dublin John Dalton staggered along the spiritual path until he got himself enlightened in 1996. Deciding against a career as a celebrity guru he became a cranio sacral therapist instead. His first book Why Do We Get Sick? Why Do We Get Better? A Wellness Detective Manual is an undo-it-yourself book for sickness and unhappiness and is popular with people of all ages. His latest book Maya Noise describes what happens after enlightenment and what it's like to live an ordinary life with extraordinary knowledge. It reads like The Power of Now meets Pulp fiction and has become a firm favorite with spiritual teachers and gurus the world over. Passionate about cranio sacral therapy he oversees a project called Open Source Cranio which aims to provide free online cranio sacral training resources for people in developing countries. He lives in Dublin, Ireland with his wife and smiles a lot when cycling. You can see all of his Elephant Journal articles here. He also tweets and has recently discovered talking about himself in the third person is disturbingly easy.


15 Responses to “How Getting Drunk can Bring You Closer to God.”

  1. Jay says:

    If there is anything the yogic traditions have to offer us, it is the means for profound insight into our experience as human beings. Meditation, asana, contemplation, all are vehicles to deeper and deeper levels of self knowing.

    No matter how one would like to glamorize the experience of the sweet innocence of drunken revelry, it is nonetheless just drunken revelry, wickedly and pathologically entangled in the material realm, ultimately an impediment to authentic spiritual growth.

    All one needs to do is to look around. Who are the most illuminated beings on the face of the earth? Who are the ones who inhabit the highest levels of personal growth and development? Who are the the most spiritually evolved? My guess is that it's been years since they've downed five pints.

    There is a reason why the yogic and contemplative traditions do not support alcohol. It quite literally pollutes our gross realm experience in a powerfully bio-energetic fashion, becoming a rather insurmountable impediment to accessing the more subtle, deeper, realms of experience.

    Alcohol is an impediment and has no place in an authentic spiritual practice.

  2. Andy says:

    "All one needs to do is to look around. Who are the most illuminated beings on the face of the earth? Who are the ones who inhabit the highest levels of personal growth and development? Who are the the most spiritually evolved? My guess is that it's been years since they've downed five pints."

    Perhaps the most mentioned, most revered wise man in all of Elephant Journal Land, Chogyam Trungpa, was a raging alcoholic. Just to throw that out there.

  3. JAYS says:

    As was Alan Watts, right?

  4. PrettySure says:

    I dunno… I like a few good drinks now and then. I can completely relate with what you’re talking about. NOTHING tastes so good as a cold beer after a long day playing outside. Yes, I would have enjoyed my day just as much without it, but the cool liquid in my throat paired with the warmness in my belly and the overwhelming sensation of GOODNESS (which I’m sure can be partially attributed to the alcohol) just can’t be denied. Sometimes it’s about not taking everything – including Enlightenment – so damn seriously. We should all have goals but don’t forget to *live* a little my friends!

  5. Karen Eliot says:

    Beer in particular has been a part of the human diet for a very long time. I suspect fermentation of gathered grains in water, consumed, led to a strong desire to sit down and stop the pastoral thing, and grow some crops for a while. Get this beermaking thing worked out.

    We use it like we use other plants. as an inebriant. Animals do it too, even unstressed ones. It’s good for us, in moderation.

  6. Justme says:

    I know what you are talking about. I recently became mire aware of how my intoxication was helping me access a part of me that I was suppressing when sober. I am also aware that I can easily get addicted to this way of accessing those suppressed parts. So now that I keep on getting a glimpse of the feelings I’m suppressing through alcohol, I’m hoping I find a way to slowly come to accept these parts of me when I’m sober. I feel that the intoxication became a portal for me to access this deep information about myself.

    I feel that the way our so called civilized society raises children is one of the leading causes for this suppression. Since, at such a young age we start forcing children to obey the rules that make us appear like everyone else. We all learn to suppress so many true parts and expresences of our lives and they come out when we allow ourselves to put our guards down and be free.

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  11. Lee says:

    I am a born again Christian who talks in tongues and, really tries to abide in the the word threw the Grace of God. I believe in Him and love Him deaply. Sadly no one has answered my question , maybe this is even the rong place for me to b voicing this. But when I’m drinking, I really feel close to my Lord! Yes I have my issues specificly in my marriage but, the fact is when I have had. And spometimes I can consume beyond what I thought I could. But the Grace He puts apon me, I really feel shameless! When I’m conciouse of this I’m just taken by the Holy spirit! But if I do this unconciously. Drinking the way I sometimes do when I’m alone with friendsm I’m out of order. I’m not a nightmare but wen I reflect I feel like I’m actin high school!I wish I can have a christain perspective on this. A born again holly spirit filled someone. But to everyone else. I apreciate never the less. I do believe we all kinda feel the same, but I jus needs more spiritual clarity. God bless u guys. All my love

  12. Asy says:

    From the Beginning of man , from Adam And Eve, Man has Strived to know more to know as much as he can , Dang this is why we had the problem of knowledge of good and bad in the first place. Using alcohol to get closer to god, is just a more convenient medium to access a state of mind that everyday life stops us achieving. So all i can say is alcohol brought me closer to god and changed the whole way of my life, i was a sinner i did all the wrong things but was searching for the answer , who am i , what is my purpose. and what does god want from me. dont get me wrong, i was not a raging drunk , because that is condemed by scripture, but i used it to lift me above the stress and heartache of this world so i could focus on a higher goal, and for me it worked, all you gotta do is make sure you are not destroying your body with it as that is against gods rules, so in moderation it is ok , personally i think its a awsome. way and better than perscription drugs. God loves us and wants us to find him, and if we can do it without hurting ourselves or others , i think he is fairly pleased.

  13. Buzzed says:

    Wow, this is on point with exactly how I felt certain times when I have the perfect buzz going. I have moments of pure clarity, enjoying the present, and not being in my thoughts. All of my defenses, self-doubt, insecurities, and anxiety dissipate and I'm left with pure consciousness. Everything looks so beautiful to me, the sun, the trees, the streets, all become extremely vivid and colorful. I had the same experience as you watching patrons mingle in a bar and I felt like I was the silent observer watching a movie. I become so clairvoyant with sound, I can hear noises coming from all directions with extreme clarity. It was all very blissful. I know what you're talking about. I'd imagine it's a taste of enlightenment. However, I do notice this usually only occurs when I drink during day light.

    I concur with Justme. I truly hope to learn the same self-acceptance when I'm sober so I can finally be free. To achieve that buzz 24/7 without Alcohol, life would awesome. Meditation and Catharsis is a good way to release these suppressed emotions and neurotic holding patterns.

  14. Jeff says:

    I practice yoga for the same reasons you drink alcohol.

  15. ItDoesNotMatter says:

    alcohol elevates you closer to God. there are many substances that do the same, and take you even deeper to the truth.