I love decent whisky, but normally can't justify the extortionate expenditure when the world has greater priorities. However, a couple of weeks ago I helped at a charity auction where all the funds raised were going to needy children. A half case of whisky came up - the best, from the private bottlings of the Chairman of the Bruichladdich distillery, home of Lagavulin.
So I won the auction with a bid of £500. My wife was very understanding.
Two days ago I allowed a couple of friends to help me open the first two bottles. We had a pleasant time - but the conversation was interrupted by the whisky and the whisky was interrupted by the conversation. Neither were satisfactory - yet this was the very best whisky, and when I have the same two chaps round for conversation, we converse well.
Tonight I sat alone and tried again. My son was asleep, my wife in the bath - just me and the whisky, and silence.
The experience is as impossible to describe as the inner experience of zazen - that is why food critics and Zen manuals both resort to apparently meaningless strings of words .
However, if you've done Zen, then you'll understand when I say that the whisky tasting involved one-pointed mind. What a joy! And what a contrast to the previous attempt at the same experience!
Zen is doing one thing, whole-heartedly, at one time.
(I would like to assure readers that no precepts were broken in the writing of this blog - at over US$100 per bottle, I can't afford to get heedless.)