Great Construction

Religion and Alcohol

     Drinking and religion are clearly related, a relationship that has remained unacknowledged, and I would like to discuss this point here.
     Aside from moderate amounts in daily life, there is a spiritual cause for the propensity to drink large amounts of alcoholic beverages. That cause is a spirit, an animal spirit, whether that of a tengu, a fox, and rarely that of a dragon, that resides in the abdomen of the subject, and dominates the human being in order to enjoy drinking alcohol. The spirit possessing the abdomen absorbs the spiritual essence of the alcohol, so the amount of alcohol actually consumed by the individual decreases by a great percentage. That we hear that such and such a person could not drink a gallon of water but easily drinks a gallon of some alcoholic beverage readily illustrates this phenomenon. It is as if there were a sponge in the abdomen sucking up all the alcohol. As the subject comes under the influence of the alcohol, the possessing spirit will reveal itself through the way the individual acts. Argument and the haughty display of convoluted logic show a tengu spirit. An expansive demeanor, lots of laughing, and sleepiness reveals the spirit of a fox. Persistently picking arguments is the hallmark of a dragon spirit.
     These are the three basic types of spirits and they can also be easily identified by the face of the subject which has the features indicative of the kind of possessing animal, whether the tengu or fox. People with dragon spirits look like the dragons in paintings and sculptures. In human beings the eyes are sunken but shining, there are high cheekbones with square jaws, and the person is rather slim.
     In extreme cases, those who work themselves into drunken frenzies, who lose all common sense when drunk and display violent behavior as in forms of mental illness, are usually being possessed by the spirit of a dead human being. These spirits were alcoholics in their previous lives when their brains were destroyed by the great amounts of alcohol they consumed and who may themselves then have been possessed by animal spirits. These kinds of bad drunks cause trouble for all those around them with their malicious violence.
     Alcoholics and those prone to drinking large amounts of alcohol must be reformed. We have all seen such persons, they are a loss to society and they cause constant suffering to their spouses and all family members, so the household never enjoys peace. Usually an unfortunate end awaits these people. Even when alcoholics try to reform themselves, they are not successful. That is because the cause of their condition is an animal spirit, a formless guest, in their abdomen, so it is only natural that alcoholism must be reformed by spiritual methods, that is, by religion. So far, however, we have not seen any religion that has the power to effect such a reformation. There might be one or two, but since the methods are based on self-denial, they are unsatisfactory because a great amount of suffering accompanies the self-denial.
     It may seem quite boastful to say that the Kannon Church does not recommend cutting back or abstaining from drinking alcohol. Those who want to drink are free to partake as they like. People who like alcoholic beverages find this very pleasing at first, but as time passes, they find that alcohol becomes less pleasant, and that they feel drunk only after a small amount. They then come to the point where they only want to consume moderate amounts. Many members such as these are in our organization, and this is because, over time, the spirit occupying the abdomen receives the light of Kannon and shrinks in size and power, and so the amount of alcohol it consumes decreases as well.
     Alcoholics and heavy drinkers will disappear among the members of any religion that has the brilliance of the divine light.

Essays on Faith (Shinkô Zatsuwa), September 5, 1948, page 81.
translated by cynndd

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The essay “Sake to Shûkyô” (“Religion and Alcohol”), originally published in Shinkô Zatsuwa (Essays on Faith), was anthologized in the 1982 volume Shinji no Kenkô. Shinji no Kenkô was translated and published in 1987 as True Health. In Shinji no Kenkô, “Sake to Shûkyô” follows the essay “Supôtsu Igaku” (“Medicine and Sport”) but does not appear in True Health.