Prohibition can be a support for purification, not a substitute
Some governments recognize that alcoholism leads to various problems such as disease, domestic abuse and driving under intoxication. To curb such problems, they prohibit alcohol.
Prohibition can help by deterring impulsive indulgence. But it doesn’t deter compulsive alcoholics – they simply seek it illegally. And illegally trafficked alcohol often comes with far lesser quality or quantity checks, leading to greater health hazards. Further, in today’s cultural ethos that puts a premium on free rights, bans of any kind trigger vehement protests and defiance.
To actually change things for the better, prohibition needs to be complemented with purification, that is, by the change of desires from lower indulgence to more wholesome forms of pleasure.
The most wholesome pleasure is spiritual pleasure. Gita wisdom explains that our longing for pleasure originates in our spiritual nature as souls. And that longing is best fulfilled though loving connection with the supreme spiritual reality, God, Krishna, the reservoir of all pleasure. In fact, that spiritual longing when misdirected in the material realm manifests as worldly cravings.
The Bhagavad-gita (03.37) indicates that selfish desire, referred generically as lust, impels self-destructive behavior, such as alcoholism. To counter selfish desire, the Gita (03.41) urges us to begin with control of the senses. Sense control is made easier by external supports such as prohibition.
Significantly however, the Gita section concludes (03.43) that we can conquer selfish desire only by rising to spiritual consciousness. The best way to spiritual consciousness is by practicing bhakti-yoga, which connects us with all-pure Krishna. As that connection purifies us, we find higher spiritual satisfaction, and our lower cravings decline and disappear.
If restriction of any kind is implemented in isolation, it seems like deprivation and triggers rebellion. But if complemented with spiritual education and devotional purification, restriction helps us progress undistracted towards higher satisfaction.
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