In my view, anything that brings us away from the here and now is an intoxicant.
That is a reasonable view, but it is not what the vow to refrain from intoxicants is concerned with.
The precept to refrain from intoxicants is for more practical reasons, because people--perhaps not all people--are often more likely to break the other precepts when they are intoxicated. This is how it was explained to me by my lama. There may not be any statistics to back up this claim, but that's where it lies. So, you could be totally aware, as you say, and be totally aware that you are breaking the four preceding precepts.
I feel that focusing on the future could also be considered an intoxicant. It seems like its the cycle of want-receive addiction that is trying to be avoided by the fifth precept, not truly the banishment of drinking.
One can certainly get hooked on dreaming about the future or dwelling on the past and not be focused on the here and now. But it is not considered an intoxicant. Interesting, though, that you should mention drinking and breaking the cycle of addiction. I took the precept against intoxicants from my lama specifically because I thought it would help me to stop drinking, and craving alcohol, as nothing else helped. And it did. Immediately. That was about 20 years ago. I have tasted alcohol since then but i now find it unpleasant. I have no desire to drink it anymore than i would want to drink soured milk. (just an interesting bit of trivia, from personal experience, to add to this topic).
This is where it starts to get tricky, because I'm going to bring cannabis into this discussion, too. I firmly believe that this plant IS medicine. It has the ability not just to manage pain, but to heal in many cases. I don't generally believe that smoking is medicinal except perhaps in the case of those with stomach issues who seem unable to find an appetite or digest food without. I think that the mechanism in which "pot makes the user more able to cope with reality" is ruined when the cycle of want-receive is in place because it becomes "without pot, I can't handle reality."
Yes, that's tricky....i have no idea what you are saying.
Now a truly insightful person might see what marijuana showed them to make life more bearable and apply that to their entire life sans the pot. Or they might, I don't know, see smoking as a blessing and become an addict.
Well, you can't say that marijuana isn't the scenic
route. I think I constantly had plenty of THC (the stuff in pot that gets you high) in my body from the time I was 17 until I was around 33. It makes your blood vessels expand, so not only do you get red eyes, but a lot more blood rushing to your brain. I gave it up shortly after I quit drinking. Yes, I think some substances make you see the world a different way than you did before, and that experience stays with you.
The point I may be meandering around is probably sickness. Is this just suffering? Impermanent ailments of the body? Are we all sick? Is the Dharma the only tool we should use to heal ourselves?
if you say samsara is "sickness" to me that's too much like the christian idea of 'original sin' It also reminds me of a Star Trek TNG episode where a planet of people thought they needed some kind of drug to keep them healthy but it turned out they were all just hooked on it and what they thought was illness was actually withdrawal.
Ennyhow...No, it isn't sickness. All beings are striving to be free from striving. Ironic!
And yes, the BuddhaDharma is the only medicine based on that diagnosis of the human condition.
There are lots of meds for all kinds of stuff that will heal this and that. Politics, religion, money, power, drugs, whatever. make you feel real good. But BuddhaDharma is the only one that treats the cause and not just the symptoms.
What exactly do you mean when you say get 'high'?
You have to ask???
Getting high is just another aspect of confused mind. I'm not saying people should or shouldn't. But it's like food coloring in water. You can make water any color you want, but it's still water. It doesn't really change the water. You can get high or not, but that has nothing to do with opening your mind, letting go of attachments or being compassionate. It's still the same mind. The only difference is that its, like um.....he he he ....ummm... wow, man, what was um...hey, you got anything to eat??
Obviously ingesting any substance alters our reality; as we absorb it it alters us. I'm pretty sure eating my morning oatmeal gets me high in some form.
So, you say a bowl is a bowl is a bowl!!!
No, I have to disagree with you here. I used to start every day with a bowl of that other stuff. These days, as a matter of fact, it IS oatmeal. Two totally different things. Or maybe there is something different about your oatmeal??? Is that why the Quaker guy on the box has that weird smile?