Fifth precept

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Training of Sila, the Five Precepts (Pañcasikkhāpada), and Eightfold Ethical Conduct (Aṭṭhasīla).

Fifth precept

Postby JackV » Sun Aug 28, 2011 11:10 am

Good day.

I just wanted to get people's views on this.

I was speaking to my Mum and one of my close friends yesterday about quiting drinking. My Mum and friend were of the same opinion. I only really tend to drink on the weekend and not a great deal. I mean I get drunk, but not paralytic. They said if it isn't harming me or anyone else then what is the need to remove that.
Now I was quite suprised about this coming from my Mum. Her reasoning is that should I cut drinking out then I would be less inclined to go out and be social, not that I need to drink in order to do that but that most, if not all, of the social activities my friends and I do (as I presume most Londoners in their 20's do) involve drinking or have alcohol as a major part. For instance going out to a gig. Should I not have a drink I figure that I would simply get bored with the goings on and wish to leave. The next time we go to go out I will be less inclined to go and end up staying in and the weekends are the only time I get to see friends.
I can understand the necessity of not smoking weed for instance, but unlike weed alchohol doesnt linger in my head for days on end distoring my thoughts and ruining my mindfulness. Drinking Friday night means I can still meditate on Sunday (for instance)

I want to commit myself properly to meditation and as such dont want to just decide which bits of the Dhamma I want to follow so I guess I will do it soon, but what are other peoples views and experiences on this? Has anyone else made that step from enjoying drink to tee total? If so, is it easy/hard, do you have to change your life about or just be strong and continue?
I made the transition from carnivore to vegan about 8 years ago and that didn't really seem as difficult as this. And it's carnival today.
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Re: Fifth precept

Postby Mawkish1983 » Sun Aug 28, 2011 11:39 am

Follow the precept or not, your choice. Cherry pick or not, your choice. Follow the teachings of the Buddha or not, your choice. It's all your choice and your kamma.

You're kidding yourself if you think alcohol is harmless.
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Re: Fifth precept

Postby JackV » Sun Aug 28, 2011 12:01 pm

Mawkish1983 wrote:Follow the precept or not, your choice. Cherry pick or not, your choice. Follow the teachings of the Buddha or not, your choice. It's all your choice and your kamma.

You're kidding yourself if you think alcohol is harmless.


I knnow I can't tarnish everyone with the same brush but sometimes I do wonder why I post anything on here, I seem only to get super judgmental and better than thou answers.
Mawkish, when did I say that alchohol was harmless? Having felt the pain (literally and figuratively) of what damage and danger alcohol can cause to people close to you I find this really unfair. I'm simply asking for others advice and experiences of trying to cut out something which (for one reason or another) plays a (or holds a) major position in life. It aint easy just to cut anything out especially entrenched habit and social formations. If everything were easy then most of this sites posts regarding advice in one form or another would be useless, one could simply reply, "well just do it" its your choice.
Clearly it's all my Kamma. I wish people would consider theirs before blurting out insensitive unhelpful rubbish
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Re: Fifth precept

Postby acinteyyo » Sun Aug 28, 2011 12:19 pm

JackV wrote:Drinking Friday night means I can still meditate on Sunday (for instance)
I want to commit myself properly to meditation and as such dont want to just decide which bits of the Dhamma I want to follow...

Hi JackV,

well then consider that drinking on friday night means you can't meditate on friday night. You can't compensate being mindful on friday with being mindful on sunday and you don't really know what you can do tomorrow.
Practice happens here and now.
Finally it's you're choice, be mindfull or be heedless here and now.

best wishes, acinteyyo
Pubbe cāhaṃ bhikkhave, etarahi ca dukkhañceva paññāpemi, dukkhassa ca nirodhaṃ. (M.22)
Both formerly, monks, and now, it is just suffering that I make known and the ending of suffering.
Pathabyā ekarajjena, saggassa gamanena vā sabbalokādhipaccena, sotāpattiphalaṃ varaṃ. (Dhp 178)
Sole dominion over the earth, going to heaven or lordship over all worlds: the fruit of stream-entry excels them.

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Re: Fifth precept

Postby Mawkish1983 » Sun Aug 28, 2011 12:32 pm

JackV wrote:Clearly it's all my Kamma. I wish people would consider theirs before blurting out insensitive unhelpful rubbish

You said:
JackV wrote:I just wanted to get people's views on this
I shared my view. You're welcome. :focus:
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Re: Fifth precept

Postby chownah » Sun Aug 28, 2011 12:47 pm

I agree with everyone about it being your decision. I drank and smoked pot regularly at the early stages of my journey and quit it when it became obvious that my practice benefitted me more than the drinking and smoking and when they got in the way of the superior benefit of the practice. So I guess my advise is to develop a good solid schedule of meditation (twice a day every day....not just on sunday) and work on developing mindfulness throughtout the day....I can almost guarantee you that if you do this for a few months you will discover on saturday morning when you meditate that the alcohol you drank the night before was kind of a waste and it is still a waste the day after consumption.....maybe I'm wrong....that's what happened for me.... I guess if you don't discover why it is better to not drink then there really is no reason to stop...I didn't stop until the benefits of stopping became obvious to me...
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Re: Fifth precept

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Sun Aug 28, 2011 3:27 pm

JackV wrote:Has anyone else made that step from enjoying drink to tee total? If so, is it easy/hard, do you have to change your life about or just be strong and continue?
Like most young men in the UK, I was a regular drinker from the age of 17-21 or so, and not just at weekends. When I started studying Buddhism and meditation, I soon realised that drinking any alcohol was incompatible with following the Buddhist path seriously. I knew that getting intoxicated was just running away from the truth of suffering. Within a week or two I had stopped drinking completely, and have never taken any alcohol since — except maybe the odd chocolate liqueur that I don't notice had alcohol in it before biting it. That was some 37 years ago. It was not difficult to stop, but it very soon became apparent that it was pointless going to the pub with my mates.

If you don't want to be a monk, then its better to visit meditation centres, Buddhist temples, and places of learning, rather than pubs and clubs. You're much more likely to meet a suitable marriage partner in such places. To be married to a non-Buddhist or non-meditator, who likes to drink and party in the western way is always likely to cause problems later in life because you have different values and aims in life, so why go to places that only the heedless enjoy?

Instead of wasting half of your money on alcohol and expensive junk food, invest it in education and learning life skills that will help you in your chosen career.
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Re: Fifth precept

Postby Monkey Mind » Sun Aug 28, 2011 11:16 pm

JackV wrote:They said if it isn't harming me or anyone else then what is the need to remove that.

I would argue that it is harming you and harming others*. I suggest a few experiments. Before giving up alcohol, study your drinking habits and the effects of alcohol on your brain/ mind/ body/ social life, much like a scientist would study a phenomenon of interest. Don't assume you know, but really study it. Then give up alcohol for 20 days. Study the effects of abstinence on your mind/ brain/ body/ social life, also like a scientist. Then try drinking again, and collect comparison data. If you have a regular meditation practice, you will be able to collect better data in all three conditions, but if not there is still benefit to the experiment.

* So when I say drinking alcohol is harmful to self and others, this is based on the evidence I collected from my own experiment.
Bhikkhu Yuttadhammo on the topic: http://youtu.be/cvgjziWbUVU
Aj. Brahmavamso on the topic: http://youtu.be/NKQfkUXfx4Y
"As I am, so are others;
as others are, so am I."
Having thus identified self and others,
harm no one nor have them harmed.

Sutta Nipāta 3.710
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Re: Fifth precept

Postby PeterB » Tue Aug 30, 2011 9:23 am

I always end up feeling in these debates that I play the role of the Defender Of Alcohol.. :smile:

The fact is that I can and do go weeks between a glass of wine to the next glass of wine.

I have been meditating for quite a few years and a glass of wine does not effect my mindfulness at all.

( I will await the replies of those who assure me that I must be wrong about myself. )

However I am also aware that the physiological response to alcohol varies greatly.

I think we have to decide for ourselves where on the spectrum from total abstinence to drinking within our personal limits lies. For some it will clearly be that they need to be teetotal.

I like an occasional glass of Serge Hochar's extraordinary red wine, and will from time to time raise one to toast the health of everyone on this forum. Whether they choose to toast me back, and with what, is their choice.

:anjali:
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Re: Fifth precept

Postby santa100 » Tue Aug 30, 2011 1:39 pm

My body definitely doesn't work well with alcohol. It interferes with me keeping mindfulness during meditation. I couldn't stay focus to study for final exams. I do regular running for 1 hour every other day. If I drink, I won't be able to maintain the stamina and start running out of steam way before the 1-hour mark.. For me, not drinking gives some real practical benefits: save money from buying drinks, improve focus/mindfulness for meditation, and strength/stamina when doing long strenuous exercises..
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Re: Fifth precept

Postby Slow Learner » Tue Aug 30, 2011 2:58 pm

It tooks me a few years of meditating before I was ready to stop drinking, and then at that point it was an easy step to take. I came back from a 10 day retreat and realized that I wanted to continue to be open to things as they are, no matter how unpleasant, rather than create false feelings of pleasure through alcohol.

During the first little while after stopping drinking I approached a lot of occassions like a bit of an experiment - what will it be like to go to this party and not drink, go out after work with friends and not drink, go out for dinner and not drink? It didn't take long before I realized these events were more enjoyable for me, and probably for others, when I wasn't drinking. Of course, as time went on I lost interest in some of these activities, particularly where the main focus was on alcohol.

My suggestion would be to let the insight that develops through your meditation practice guide you in this aspect, and try some of your own experiments to see how they affect you. I don't believe the precepts are commandments to be followed by willpower.

With metta,

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Re: Fifth precept

Postby Jason » Tue Aug 30, 2011 7:47 pm

PeterB wrote:I always end up feeling in these debates that I play the role of the Defender Of Alcohol.. :smile:

The fact is that I can and do go weeks between a glass of wine to the next glass of wine.

I have been meditating for quite a few years and a glass of wine does not effect my mindfulness at all.

( I will await the replies of those who assure me that I must be wrong about myself. )

However I am also aware that the physiological response to alcohol varies greatly.

I think we have to decide for ourselves where on the spectrum from total abstinence to drinking within our personal limits lies. For some it will clearly be that they need to be teetotal.

I like an occasional glass of Serge Hochar's extraordinary red wine, and will from time to time raise one to toast the health of everyone on this forum. Whether they choose to toast me back, and with what, is their choice.

:anjali:


I more or less share PeterB's sentiments (e.g., see this).
"Sabbe dhamma nalam abhinivesaya" (AN 7.58).

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Re: Fifth precept

Postby octathlon » Tue Aug 30, 2011 11:47 pm

If you have no addiction or attachment to alcohol, the 5th precept should be the easiest one of all to follow. So why not just do that, regardless of whether you perceive drinking as affecting your mindfulness or not. It seems like the Buddha must have considered it to be pretty important, to put in the top 5. (Or, maybe it was just meant for some people, the ones whose mindfulness is affected by it? Let's see if I can find where it says that in the Suttas... :reading: )
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Re: Fifth precept

Postby Ben » Wed Aug 31, 2011 12:12 am

JackV wrote:
Mawkish1983 wrote:Follow the precept or not, your choice. Cherry pick or not, your choice. Follow the teachings of the Buddha or not, your choice. It's all your choice and your kamma.

You're kidding yourself if you think alcohol is harmless.


I knnow I can't tarnish everyone with the same brush but sometimes I do wonder why I post anything on here, I seem only to get super judgmental and better than thou answers.
Mawkish, when did I say that alchohol was harmless? Having felt the pain (literally and figuratively) of what damage and danger alcohol can cause to people close to you I find this really unfair. I'm simply asking for others advice and experiences of trying to cut out something which (for one reason or another) plays a (or holds a) major position in life. It aint easy just to cut anything out especially entrenched habit and social formations. If everything were easy then most of this sites posts regarding advice in one form or another would be useless, one could simply reply, "well just do it" its your choice.
Clearly it's all my Kamma. I wish people would consider theirs before blurting out insensitive unhelpful rubbish


Mawkish's response was not "insensitive unhelpful rubbish". I thought it was to the point, sussinct and excellent. I keep the fifth precept and have for years. I don't miss alcohol one iota. I prefer social occassions where no alcohol is served but in this society its sometimes unavoilable. So, I have a non-alcoholic alternative such as a softdrink, juice or water. What you might discover is the greatest difficulty, unless you are physically dependent on alcohol, is the narrative in your own head about how others will react and perceive you. After some time you will value the tranquility and clarity of mind that sustained daily practice and observance of your precepts will give you. And if you are anything like me you won't want to "trade down", even occassionally, to inebriation.
kind regards

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Re: Fifth precept

Postby 2600htz » Wed Aug 31, 2011 1:43 am

Yes just go for it.
The idea its to be good in this, whats the point of playing a game if you play it in the wrong way ?...

With metta.
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Re: Fifth precept

Postby jackson » Wed Aug 31, 2011 4:36 am

Greetings JackV, :smile:
I've found that if I'm attached to something it's around the two years of abstaining mark that I really get perspective and can decide if it's worth indulging myself. So anyway, I'd recommend making a determination to give up alcohol for an extended period of time. It may or may not be easy, but you may find that once it's out of your system you'll actually be turned off by the idea of intoxication, at least that was the case for me when I quit using intoxicants, these days I wouldn't trade sobriety for the world. Anyway, I hope my advice helps.
May you be well, happy, peaceful, and free from suffering, :smile:
Jackson
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Re: Fifth precept

Postby Kim OHara » Wed Aug 31, 2011 5:16 am

Jason wrote:
PeterB wrote:I always end up feeling in these debates that I play the role of the Defender Of Alcohol.. :smile:
...
I think we have to decide for ourselves where on the spectrum from total abstinence to drinking within our personal limits lies.

I more or less share PeterB's sentiments (e.g., see this).

I'm with you guys. :smile:
I don't drink much, and don't want to, but (for me, at least) a glass of wine with dinner is no worse for me in any way than a couple of chocolates afterwards: minor indulgences with no consequences. If I could find another drink that I enjoyed as much with food, I would probably switch, but finding such an alternative is a fair way down my list of 'things which would make me a better person' so I may not get around to it for years.

:meditate:
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Re: Fifth precept

Postby PeterB » Wed Aug 31, 2011 8:29 am

octathlon wrote:If you have no addiction or attachment to alcohol, the 5th precept should be the easiest one of all to follow. So why not just do that, regardless of whether you perceive drinking as affecting your mindfulness or not. It seems like the Buddha must have considered it to be pretty important, to put in the top 5. (Or, maybe it was just meant for some people, the ones whose mindfulness is affected by it? Let's see if I can find where it says that in the Suttas... :reading: )

If you do then you do find anything in the Suttas, then apply it to yourself. You will not find anthing that I havent considered.
Even if you found a Sutta passage that says " and in particular PeterB should not have an occasional glass of wine " I would still reserve the right to form my own judgement thank you Shakyamuni, as I am not you and you are not me.And you live in an ancient culture which in general terms is life negative. And you are not a god.
Now, please tell me what you think about the Bhumis. Thats your forte.

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Re: Fifth precept

Postby Ruralist » Wed Aug 31, 2011 4:18 pm

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:
JackV wrote:Has anyone else made that step from enjoying drink to tee total? If so, is it easy/hard, do you have to change your life about or just be strong and continue?
Like most young men in the UK, I was a regular drinker from the age of 17-21 or so, and not just at weekends. When I started studying Buddhism and meditation, I soon realised that drinking any alcohol was incompatible with following the Buddhist path seriously. I knew that getting intoxicated was just running away from the truth of suffering. Within a week or two I had stopped drinking completely, and have never taken any alcohol since — except maybe the odd chocolate liqueur that I don't notice had alcohol in it before biting it. That was some 37 years ago. It was not difficult to stop, but it very soon became apparent that it was pointless going to the pub with my mates.

If you don't want to be a monk, then its better to visit meditation centres, Buddhist temples, and places of learning, rather than pubs and clubs. You're much more likely to meet a suitable marriage partner in such places. To be married to a non-Buddhist or non-meditator, who likes to drink and party in the western way is always likely to cause problems later in life because you have different values and aims in life, so why go to places that only the heedless enjoy?

Instead of wasting half of your money on alcohol and expensive junk food, invest it in education and learning life skills that will help you in your chosen career.


this is one of the problems i have faced
"Let monkeys be monkeys without getting emotionally involved. Peace can be born within you because you know the way monkeys are. Knowing the manner of monkeys, you will let go and be at peace, not getting tied up in monkey business." Ven. Ajahn Chah
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Re: Fifth precept

Postby Epistemes » Wed Aug 31, 2011 6:07 pm

I came to the realization that my drinking buddies were not really my friends at all. Sure, we'd play pool, share some jokes, maybe even catch a live band or something, but there was never any real bonding. I soon realized that they could take me or leave me depending on my drinking schedule.

I'm not saying this is everyone's situation, but if you can't have interaction with your (drinking) buddies outside of drinking, then they're not your friends and you're better off alone anyway. This loneliness is a perfect time to judge your motivation to truly practice the dhamma.

Friends come and go. All relationships are impermanent, and so are the effects of alcohol.
The wind spins without end,
one moment southward,
the next moment northward.
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