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Uncovering the "I"

Susan R. Johnson MD, FAAP 5/10/2000

During my first year in the Waldorf teacher training program, Rene Querido came to give us lectures on Wolfram Von Eschenbach's Parzival. Somehow the subject of alcohol came up during his talks. He told us that he had stopped drinking alcohol because it separated him from his true self, his "I". He claimed that we lose touch with our higher-self, our spirit, when we drink alcohol. Instead, we end up functioning like a ship in a storm, tossed around in the waves of emotion, without a captain to guide the way. He claimed that even one glass of wine could affect our ability to think clearly for days. I knew that a glass of wine usually made me a little light headed and sleepy, but I always felt fine the next day. I decided to test his observation.

The next week I got together with a group of friends to celebrate my birthday, and I had one glass of wine. The following morning I tried to do my homework. My teacher training class was reading a book by Rudolf Steiner entitled, The Younger Generation. We were expected to write a topic sentence for every paragraph in the assigned chapter. I couldn't do it. My mind could not clearly connect one sentence with another when I was reading. I was able to read the paragraph, but it was without comprehension. I waited until the next morning and tried to do my homework again. I still couldn't do it. Finally, by the fourth morning my mind was clear enough to actually read a paragraph and come up with a summary sentence. I then had a sobering thought, "if I only had one glass of wine every 3 days, I would go through the rest of my life without being able to think clearly". I would be disconnected from my own thinking; my own thoughts which are so intimately connected to my own spirit. Often, drinking alcohol is an escape. It dulls the mind (it separates our mind from our body) and keeps us from hearing that inner voice which is trying to tell us it is uncomfortable with certain decisions we are making in our life. Maybe it is not an accident that alcoholic drinks are often referred to as "spirits" - false spirits, which replace our connection to the true one.

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