The Devil’s Milk is an expression I use to symbolise that addictive and disorienting chemical soup that our brain releases during times of stress. While there are many studies that highlight the toxic nature of this Milk, its true danger lies not so much in how its long term effects imperils the function of our organs but in its corrosive effect on our connection with the spirit and, consequently, our connection with spiritual realities; it may, therefore, be more correctly identified as a Pneuma-toxin; a destroyer of our personal sense of and responsiveness to spiritual realities. We drink this Milk at our peril.
This Devil’s Milk is a well known guilty pleasure for most. It comes in a variety of flavours: anger, fear, greed, hatred, jealousy, resentment, lust, spite, vanity to name but a few of the more popular flavours but, regardless of which we prefer, the effects are always the same: after a few sups our higher mind [the strong man of the house Mk. 3:27] is bound and blinded and the beast within [our animalistic urges that rob us of dignity and grace] gains ascendancy rendering us spiritually blind and leaving us spiritually bereft. We awaken from these indulgences with the hangover of shame, guilt, and despair. Without exception: all the traditions warn us of the dangers of the Devil’s Milk.
The religions of the world have many things in common, structurally in creed, code, and cult: and ethically in the oft referred to Golden Rule: Treat all others as you would like to be treated. However, they also share deeper elements like the much exalted aspiration of Self Control. Furthermore, each tradition offers their respective techniques for its attainment: yoga, prayer, meditation, contemplation, study, mantra, mindfulness, service, etc. The early teachers and seers understood that the first step towards happiness is Self Control; peace is impossible without it. The Torah teaches that it is easier to take a city than to take control of one’s self; that to be without self-control is to be as ‘a city without walls’; and asserted that no one has yet tamed the tongue. In spite of the fact that ALL the traditions exalt self control and proactively promote and teach methods for its attainment, bizarrely, secular Western society – currently groaning under the health burden of gluttony, lust, and vice – hasn’t bothered to consider the social implications of having an education policy wherein self control is taught and nurtured, nor of fostering a culture wherein that is the norm. Society has not yet realised the value of the teaching that an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure; it has yet to awaken to the genuine, even economic, value of the pursuit of wisdom.
The Ego is dependent on the Devil’s Milk and will engage in myriad dramas, games, and schemes to ensure its abundant supply but only the divine Ambrosia of Truth can free the Self of the madness induced by the vapours of the boiling flesh: liberate the Self from its moorings in the flesh and free it to realise the higher and more ennobling realities of the Spirit.
Self Control cannot be had without neutralising the Ego’s power to drive behaviour. The first step in achieving Self Control, then, is Self Awareness. Self Awareness implies dispassionate self observation and reflection which - eventually and ideally - leads to a thorough understanding of one’s self; deep insight into the reasons [cultural, historical, cosmic, biological and pneumalogical] that drive behaviour. Intelligent and enlightened self understanding frees us to bring our will into harmony with the dictates of highest wisdom: LOVE. Freedom, then, real liberty – is the freedom to respond to the exigencies of life from a place of Love. Bondage, even servitude to the flesh, comes with indulging in the Devil’s Milk.