About the fifth Śīla

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

Re: About the fifth Śīla

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Oct 31, 2009 6:23 am

catmoon wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
catmoon wrote:Hmm. I am something of a Scotch whisky nut. I have special glassware for nosing, and examining a new scotch brings every sense faculty I have to a humming vibrating peak of intensity. Since drinking scotch in this way is an extreme exercise in mindfulness, how does the precept apply?

Just don't get intoxicated, inebriated, inebrious, drunk, tipsy, besotted, or crapulous.



Gee I never tried crapulous before. Do enlighten me!

If you made it to "intoxicated, inebriated, inebrious, drunk, tipsy, besotted," you made it to crapulous. Here is crapulous illustrated:
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: About the fifth Śīla

Postby Individual » Sat Oct 31, 2009 6:31 am

If all Buddhists tell others that in order to be Buddhists:

-They cannot use alcohol or participate in its usage (i.e. Ben's refusal to even serve it)
-They cannot kill insects, get abortions, euthanize animals or elderly relatives
-They cannot use pornography or frequently indulge in casual sex
-They cannot download music, movies, games, or software illegally on the internet
-They cannot engage in foul comedy or unwholesome entertainment
-They must condemn the above activities whenever the situation arises

...with the militant approach Dan describes...

Let's imagine how small Buddhism would be.
Last edited by Individual on Sat Oct 31, 2009 6:38 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: About the fifth Śīla

Postby cooran » Sat Oct 31, 2009 6:34 am

Hello all,

Dan74 said: There is also a sutta involving an actor where the Buddha tells him that what he does will lead to a rebirth in the lower realms (from memory).
Now is all entertainment and music inherently harmful?


Considering a career in acting? You may want to reconsider...
Then Talaputa, the head of an acting troupe, went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, having bowed down to him, sat to one side. As he was sitting there he said to the Blessed One: "Lord, I have heard that it has been passed down by the ancient teaching lineage of actors that 'When an actor on the stage, in the midst of a festival, makes people laugh & gives them delight with his imitation of reality, then with the breakup of the body, after death, he is reborn in the company of the laughing devas.' What does the Blessed One have to say about that?"
"Enough, headman, put that aside. Don't ask me that."
A second time... A third time Talaputa, the head of an acting troupe, said: "Lord, I have heard that it has been passed down by the ancient teaching lineage of actors that 'When an actor on the stage, in the midst of a festival, makes people laugh & gives them delight with his imitation of reality, then with the breakup of the body, after death, he is reborn in the company of the laughing devas.' What does the Blessed One have to say about that?"
"Apparently, headman, I haven't been able to get past you by saying, 'Enough, headman, put that aside. Don't ask me that.' So I will simply answer you. Any beings who are not devoid of passion to begin with, who are bound by the bond of passion, focus with even more passion on things inspiring passion presented by an actor on stage in the midst of a festival. Any beings who are not devoid of aversion to begin with, who are bound by the bond of aversion, focus with even more aversion on things inspiring aversion presented by an actor on stage in the midst of a festival. Any beings who are not devoid of delusion to begin with, who are bound by the bond of delusion, focus with even more delusion on things inspiring delusion presented by an actor on stage in the midst of a festival. Thus the actor — himself intoxicated & heedless, having made others intoxicated & heedless — with the breakup of the body, after death, is reborn in what is called the hell of laughter. But if he holds such a view as this: 'When an actor on the stage, in the midst of a festival, makes people laugh & gives them delight with his imitation of reality, then with the breakup of the body, after death, he is reborn in the company of the laughing devas,' that is his wrong view. Now, there are two destinations for a person with wrong view, I tell you: either hell or the animal womb."
When this was said, Talaputa, the head of an acting troupe, sobbed & burst into tears. [The Blessed One said:] "That is what I couldn't get past you by saying, 'Enough, headman, put that aside. Don't ask me that.'"
"I'm not crying, lord, because of what the Blessed One said to me, but simply because I have been deceived, cheated, & fooled for a long time by that ancient teaching lineage of actors who said: 'When an actor on the stage, in the midst of a festival, makes people laugh & gives them delight with his imitation of reality, then with the breakup of the body, after death, he is reborn in the company of the laughing devas.'
— SN 42.2
From: Right Livelihood (samma-ajivo)
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/dham ... index.html

metta
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Re: About the fifth Śīla

Postby BlackBird » Sat Oct 31, 2009 6:56 am

Individual wrote:Let's imagine how small Buddhism would be.


I don't know if anyone ever expected Buddhism to be a mass movement, let alone a global religion?
"For a disciple who has conviction in the Teacher's message & lives to penetrate it, what accords with the Dhamma is this:
'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." - MN. 70 Kitagiri Sutta
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Re: About the fifth Śīla

Postby Ben » Sat Oct 31, 2009 7:07 am

Individual wrote:...with the militant approach Dan describes...

There is nothing militant about maintaining the precepts, Individual. Without the precepts, there can be no sammasamadhi, and without sammasamadhi, no bhavana-maya-panna. No liberation. I make no apologies for my approach to issues of sila and ethics, and if people don't like it - tough.

Let's imagine how small Buddhism would be.

Instead, let's imagine actually engaging with the practice, and practicing precisely, with a view for liberation. It will have such a profoundly positive effect on your life individual, that it will alter the way you see the world and in fact, the world around you. Focus on your practice Individual, and the big picture will sort itself out.

Ben
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Re: About the fifth Śīla

Postby jcsuperstar » Sat Oct 31, 2009 7:17 am

catmoon wrote:Hmm. I am something of a Scotch whisky nut. I have special glassware for nosing, and examining a new scotch brings every sense faculty I have to a humming vibrating peak of intensity. Since drinking scotch in this way is an extreme exercise in mindfulness, how does the precept apply?


mindfulness isnt automaticly kusala just because it's mindfulness. you can have right or wrong mindfulness
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ

the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat
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Re: About the fifth Śīla

Postby cooran » Sat Oct 31, 2009 7:26 am

Hello Individual, all,

People who follow the Buddha's teachings as closely as possible, and encourage others to do the same (and not water them down to make them more palatable to themselves and others), do so out of metta and karuna for all beings.

Remember how the Buddha warned against not living heedfully.

Staying at Savatthi. Then the Blessed One, picking up a little bit of dust with the tip of his fingernail, said to the monks, "What do you think, monks? Which is greater: the little bit of dust I have picked up with the tip of my fingernail, or the great earth?"
"The great earth is far greater, lord. The little bit of dust the Blessed One has picked up with the tip of his fingernail is next to nothing. It doesn't even count. It's no comparison. It's not even a fraction, this little bit of dust the Blessed One has picked up with the tip of his fingernail, when compared with the great earth.
"In the same way, monks, few are the beings reborn among human beings. Far more are those reborn elsewhere. Thus you should train yourselves: 'We will live heedfully.' That's how you should train yourselves."
SN 20.2 Nakhasikha Sutta: The Tip of the Fingernail

metta
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---
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Re: About the fifth Śīla

Postby zavk » Sat Oct 31, 2009 7:34 am

I still indulge in intoxicants. In all these years since I've started practicing Buddhism seriously, I've learned to let go of some intoxicants not others. I never at any point took a zero tolerance attitude. But as I got more and more acquainted with the Dhamma, those intoxicants just became irrelevant to me. When they became irrelevant, I let go of them quite naturally.

I still drink alcohol occasionally.

Why?
It is because I am still attached to sensual pleasure; I do not pretend that I am free from it.

Do I think that the fifth precept is optional?
No; I am just unable to keep it fully at the moment.

Does that make me a lousy Buddhist?
Maybe.

As I see it, 'lousy Buddhist' and other labels like 'funny' and 'smart' are things that other people give to me. I don't find it particularly productive for me to categorize my own experience according to these labels. If others do it, then it is their decision and responsibility.

My own decision is to continue to inquire into the nature of my attachment to sensual pleasure. Maybe one day I will let go of it. That is, and can only be, my responsibility.

Encouraging reminders about this are welcome, of course.
With metta,
zavk
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Re: About the fifth Śīla

Postby Ben » Sat Oct 31, 2009 7:56 am

zavk wrote:I still drink alcohol occasionally.

Why?
It is because I am still attached to sensual pleasure; I do not pretend that I am free from it.

Do I think that the fifth precept is optional?
No; I am just unable to keep it fully at the moment.

Thank you Ed for contributing your insightful post to this discussion.
I think there's an important distinction with recognizing that one is still attached to sensual pleasure, hence cannot keep the fifth precept, then saying 'its not important' And for the record, I don't think you;re a lousy Buddhist. In fact, I consider you one of the most inspiring co-practitioners that i have had the pleasure to meet. The fact is, this path is hard, its swimming against the great tide.
metta

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Re: About the fifth Śīla

Postby zavk » Sat Oct 31, 2009 8:07 am

Thank you for your kind words, Ben. I would say the same about you.

I am, in fact, about to head off to a 40th birthday party where it is very likely that I will be consuming alcohol. But I am confident to say that I will not reach the point of 'crapulous' (will keep this word in my dictionary!) because my body has a very low tolerance for alcohol--it simply cannot take more than four drinks over the entire night (I average two or three usually).

This is not an excuse, btw. I am just grateful that my body is on my side where the fifth precept is concerned. *phew* Just need to work harder on the craving mind.

Have good weekend Dhamma friends.
With metta,
zavk
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Re: About the fifth Śīla

Postby Individual » Sat Oct 31, 2009 9:16 am

Ben wrote:
zavk wrote:I still drink alcohol occasionally.

Why?
It is because I am still attached to sensual pleasure; I do not pretend that I am free from it.

Do I think that the fifth precept is optional?
No; I am just unable to keep it fully at the moment.

Thank you Ed for contributing your insightful post to this discussion.
I think there's an important distinction with recognizing that one is still attached to sensual pleasure, hence cannot keep the fifth precept, then saying 'its not important' And for the record, I don't think you;re a lousy Buddhist. In fact, I consider you one of the most inspiring co-practitioners that i have had the pleasure to meet. The fact is, this path is hard, its swimming against the great tide.
metta

Ben

I don't think anybody said "it's not important" or that it's "optional". Ben, if you can consider a Buddhist who drinks alcohol to not necessarily be a lousy Buddhist, then you don't seem to have a militant attitude. Maybe Sasaki Roshi isn't a lousy Buddhist, either?
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Re: About the fifth Śīla

Postby puthujjana » Sat Oct 31, 2009 10:18 am

Individual wrote:If all Buddhists tell others that in order to be Buddhists:

-They cannot use alcohol or participate in its usage (i.e. Ben's refusal to even serve it)
-They cannot kill insects, get abortions, euthanize animals or elderly relatives
-They cannot use pornography or frequently indulge in casual sex
-They cannot download music, movies, games, or software illegally on the internet
-They cannot engage in foul comedy or unwholesome entertainment
-They must condemn the above activities whenever the situation arises

...with the militant approach Dan describes...

Let's imagine how small Buddhism would be.


Whether you like it or not, but the Buddhist path is a path of renunciation.

"As a doctrine of renunciation the Dhamma points out that the path to liberation is a personal course of training that centers on the gradual control and mastery of desire, the root cause of suffering."
(Bhikkhu Bodhi)

The Buddha said that indulgence in sense pleasures "is inferior, low, vulgar, ignoble, and leads to no good".

with metta
:anjali:
"Once you understand anatta, then the burden of life is gone. You’ll be at peace with the world. When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness and we can truly be happy."
- Ajahn Chah
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Re: About the fifth Śīla

Postby dragonwarrior » Sat Oct 31, 2009 10:21 am

zavk wrote:I still drink alcohol occasionally.

Why?
It is because I am still attached to sensual pleasure; I do not pretend that I am free from it.

Do I think that the fifth precept is optional?
No; I am just unable to keep it fully at the moment.

Does that make me a lousy Buddhist?
Maybe.


Me too, Zavk. Still so attached to sensual pleasure :embarassed:
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Re: About the fifth Śīla

Postby catmoon » Sat Oct 31, 2009 12:07 pm

tiltbillings wrote:

Gee I never tried crapulous before. Do enlighten me!
If you made it to "intoxicated, inebriated, inebrious, drunk, tipsy, besotted," you made it to crapulous. Here is crapulous illustrated:




Holy Schamoley that was impressive. So was the kid too.

Did the video have its desired effect?

K tnx I have learned a new word today.
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Re: About the fifth Śīla

Postby Jechbi » Sat Oct 31, 2009 3:20 pm

Hmmm ... there seem to be some conflicting and potentially confusing messages being delivered in this thread.

On the one hand, we have clear statements that the precept involves abstention:

Ben wrote:Dan it wasn't just avoiding intoxication. It was abstaining.


Ben wrote:If you are right, then the wording of the sila would be different. More like 'Don't become heedless and careless from taking intoxicants', instead, we see the word abstain


But then on the other hand, someone asks how the precept applies if the tasting of certain alcoholic beverages is approached as an exercise in mindfulness, and in that case we get this:
tiltbillings wrote:
catmoon wrote:Hmm. I am something of a Scotch whisky nut. I have special glassware for nosing, and examining a new scotch brings every sense faculty I have to a humming vibrating peak of intensity. Since drinking scotch in this way is an extreme exercise in mindfulness, how does the precept apply?

Just don't get intoxicated, inebriated, inebrious, drunk, tipsy, besotted, or crapulous.


So in some cases, according to this view, the precept applies as moderation, not abstention.

Those two views of the precept are incompatible.

If anyone out there is reading this thread with an eye toward actually understanding what the precept is, I think it would be best to avoid mixed messages. It's abstention, not moderation, right? At least that's how I've understood it. Let's be clear and consistent.

That said, I feel it's unrealistic to expect that any "Buddhist" will be perfect in sila or in keeping the precepts prior to attainment to the fruit of stream entry. I also feel it's counterproductive to beat oneself up (or to beat anyone up) over the failure to keep the precepts perfectly. So sure, if we drink in our moment of weakness, if we tell a lie because we erroneously feel it's justified, etc., that doesn't make us a "lousy" anything. It just means that now, in this moment, kamma is flavoured with the habit patterns we've built up. We all have our work cut out for us.

I intend this post with respect and with an eye toward productive discussion. If anyone feels slighted or misunderstood or otherwise ill-treated by what I've written (which often seems to occur when any of us makes posts about controversial topics), I ask for patience and foregiveness ahead of time.

But let's get this straightened out before the discussion proceeds: It's abstention, not moderation.

:thanks:
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Uncover, then, what is concealed,
Lest it be soddened by the rain.
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Re: About the fifth Śīla

Postby catmoon » Sat Oct 31, 2009 4:02 pm

Right. Moderation, not abstention. Got it.



The trouble with the abstention position is it leads to a sort of "Thou shalt not.... " mentality. That I find worrisome.
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Re: About the fifth Śīla

Postby Jechbi » Sat Oct 31, 2009 4:41 pm

So I guess that's really the debate. Abstention or moderation with regard to alcohol, sexual misconduct, killing, lying, stealing and so on? Which one reflects the most productive application of Dhamma in our lives?

Plus I think the point is not "thou shalt not," but rather, "I shall not." These are self-prescriptive, not imposed on us by someone else.
Rain soddens what is kept wrapped up,
But never soddens what is open;
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Re: About the fifth Śīla

Postby Lazy_eye » Sat Oct 31, 2009 4:46 pm

To put the question a bit differently, is the operative verb "abstain" or "avoid"?

Abstain meaning that you never touch the stuff, and consider yourself to have broken the precept if you do. Avoid meaning that you refrain from drinking but don't make a hard and fast rule about it -- i.e. you allow exceptions based on situation.

The meaning of "precept" seems to vary significantly among traditions. In Chinese Buddhism, as I understand it, precepts are holy vows and the consequences for violating them are serious. So lay Buddhists sometimes opt out of the fifth sila, because they will not always be able to uphold it. Business situations often involve alcohol and it can be considered insulting (to the host, who might be the boss or senior person in the group) if you refuse to drink.

In some of the Japanese traditions, precepts appear to be seen as "guidelines"...Shin Buddhists for example, don't even take them formally, though they try to practice them.

I'm interested in this question personally because I haven't settled on a tradition yet. Avoiding alcohol isn't a problem for me, but as I wrote earlier, I make exceptions. For example, two or three times a year I travel with colleagues from work. And sometimes when I visit my folks, they like to have wine at the table. Of course, to be unflinchingly honest, I still have some degree of attachment to it; otherwise I could find a skillful way out of these situations.

The precept is important to me, but I wouldn't want to take it "officially" if I felt I was going to be breaking it. Especially not if it's considered a vow.
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Re: About the fifth Śīla

Postby jcsuperstar » Sat Oct 31, 2009 5:50 pm

if it was about moderation not abstinence then we should be cool about killing in mderation, rape in moderation etc, it's clear that pretty much no buddhist is out there saying this, they only want a special case for drinking. everyone who points out that the precepts are not comandments is correct, sure the buddha didnt say "thou shall not" but what he did say is, hey heres the path, this is what you do to follow that path if youre not doing these things youre not on the path, and he set it out in pretty simple straight forward terms. to screw up is fine, we're not perfect but to screw with the directions isnt screwing up its screwing around it's akin to the buddha saying go west and you go northwest instead thinking "eh close enough right?" you wont end up in the same place.

personally i used o drink, i drank as a buddhist, but the more i meditated and the deeper that got the more i saw how much drinking screwed with that, when you really get close to your mind youre able to see/feel what even just a tiny bit of an intoxicant will do, you become way more sensitive, to point where it's just no fun at all. at least that was my experience.

im not a teetotaller in anyway and i know i could drink and be perfectly sound in the moral department, but in the mental development department of buddhism, i just dont see it as possible.
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ

the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat
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Re: About the fifth Śīla

Postby BlackBird » Sat Oct 31, 2009 7:34 pm

catmoon wrote:Right. Moderation, not abstention. Got it.



The trouble with the abstention position is it leads to a sort of "Thou shalt not.... " mentality. That I find worrisome.


Hi Catmoon

I don't think it's about moderation at all. I've never seen a translation of the 5 precepts which says 'I will take intoxicants in moderation' nope, they always say 'I will abstain from taking intoxicants.' If we were to compare drinking in moderation with drinking to excess then it would be clear that drinking in moderation is the lesser of two evils.

That's all that's been said, if you're incapable of abstaining from taking intoxicants, at least don't get drunk.

Metta
Jack
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'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." - MN. 70 Kitagiri Sutta
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