I am interested lately in how Americans/other westerners view and relate to the 5th precept, forbidding intoxicants.
For some background - Personally I have a great attachment to alcohol in moderate amounts. I have 1-3 drinks a day, and generally I am very unhappy to go without (possibly this would be called "alcohol dependence" I don't know). I fully recognize this is a hinderance to progress in meditation, etc., and it clearly violates the 5th precept. It is just one of the more gross/obvious issues that I need to work on.
But for my question, is it your impression (as members of this forum) that western lay buddhists take the 5th precept seriously?
My impression is that drinking is fairly well tolerated by many western lay buddhists. There is even one writer, Lodro Rinzler, who writes for the Huffington Post. He gives a very permissive view of alcohol and also marijuana usehttp://www.huffingtonpost.com/lodro-rin ... 54051.html
Please note, I'm not referring to Mr. Rinzler as an authority, just as a possible example of what I see as a permissive attitude. Given that he writes articles for the Huffington Post, I would perceive this as somewhat 'pop culture'.
Otherwise, I get the impression that many western buddhists see at least infrequent or occasional alcohol use as not being a problem. This would include my in-person meditation teacher, from the IMS perspetive, who at least on one occasion suggested that he might have a beer infrequently.
For these reasons, I don't get the impression that the 5th precept is taking exceedingly seriously by many westerners. Is this also your impression? Should they take it "seriously?" It does trouble me when portions of the pali cannon would seem to suggest that total compliance
with the 5th precept is necessary. For instance, one of the six recollections refers to 'possessing the moral virtues held dear by the noble ones . . . unbroken, untorn, umblemished, unmottled
. . .'
I am not asking this question with the intent of trying to justify my own non-compliance with the 5th precept. But I appreciate any discussion or thoughts on this topic. Personally, I don't know if I can actually recite the six recollections to myself with any seriousness, unless I am wholly compliant with at least the 5 precepts.