Alcohol/ Tea / Coffee and Spirituality


Hi Gyandev,

Thanks for your answer. I had once said someone that alcohol is a strict “No” for spiritual progress. The man asked me, there are people who have tea-coffee and yet are spiritual, despite tea-coffee being addictive. Even people who have alcohol under control are good and harmless. So why is alcohol a strict no-no, while tea and coffee are still permissible? I had no answer. Can you tell me the reason?

—Sameera, India


The point here is not only about addiction; it is about the direction of consciousness, the direction of awareness. (Physical health is in the picture, too, but let’s focus on the spiritual aspect.)

Spirituality is about higher states of awareness, whereas alcohol leads invariably to a lower state of awareness. People say, “Oh, it makes me relaxed.” Yes, it can, but that relaxation is downward toward subconsciousness. A spiritual seeker, however, wants only upward relaxation, toward superconsciousness. Spiritually speaking, there is nothing positive to say about alcohol, only negative.

Tea and coffee, on the other hand, can heighten awareness, which is why some people turn to them so faithfully. But if we rely on caffeine to heighten our awareness, our willpower will grow weaker—the same willpower that we need to climb the ladder of awareness. Also, that caffeine-induced higher awareness is usually accompanied by a degree of nervousness and restlessness that a spiritual seeker would do well to avoid.

Not everyone is affected significantly by caffeine, but many people are. They are the ones who most need to watch out for tea and coffee. I should add that some people think they are unaffected by caffeine, but only because they consume so much of it that they rarely experience a caffeine-free state with which to make a comparison!

The bottom line: Can one drink alcohol and still be spiritual? Absolutely! One can have many flaws and still be spiritual. But alcohol, like so many flaws, is a drag on one’s spiritual efforts. We will be more successful in every aspect of life without it.