the 5th precept

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the 5th precept

Postby jcsuperstar » Fri Jan 02, 2009 1:37 pm

so is the original pali, to not drink at all or to not abuse alcohol?
also isnt it specificly aimed at alcohol and not generic intoxicants? (thus not really against drug use?)

maybe Dhammanando can help out here...
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Re: the 5th precept

Postby Fede » Fri Jan 02, 2009 2:05 pm

THis from Accesstoinsight:

5. Suramerayamajja pamadatthana veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami
I undertake the precept to refrain from intoxicating drinks and drugs which lead to carelessness.


From here:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/dhamma/sila/pancasila.html

I think it's pretty clear that abstention is the name of the game.
It's a personal matter of choice at the end of the day.
Nobody is telling you what you MUST absolutely, or must NOT absolutely do.
But to imbibe, ingest or inhale anything which will alter your mind-state, is discouraged.

This of course, is very different to taking prescribed drugs for a medical condition.
"Samsara: The human condition's heartbreaking inability to sustain contentment." Elizabeth Gilbert, 'Eat, Pray, Love'.

Simplify: 17 into 1 WILL go: Mindfulness!

Quieta movere magna merces videbatur. (Sallust, c.86-c.35 BC)
Translation: Just to stir things up seemed a good reward in itself. ;)

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Re: the 5th precept

Postby Dhammanando » Fri Jan 02, 2009 2:51 pm

Hi JC,

jcsuperstar wrote:so is the original pali, to not drink at all or to not abuse alcohol?
also isnt it specificly aimed at alcohol and not generic intoxicants? (thus not really against drug use?)


In the Theravadin understanding the fifth precept enjoins complete abstinence, not moderation. It is broken when one knowingly consumes even the smallest amount of alcohol. It is not broken if the alcohol is consumed unwittingly or is an ingredient in an essential medicine.

To what substances other than alcohol the precept might be applicable is a matter of contention, but the question to ask is whether the substance will lead to loss of appamāda, meaning non-negligence, heedfulness, diligence. Appamāda consists in the arising of the mental factors of mindfulness (sati), clear comprehension (sampajañña), and wholesome energy (kusala viriya). So, taking amphetamine, for example, will tend to increase one's energy but at the same time impede mindfulness and clear comprehension. In the absence of these two, the energy is sure to be akusala, and so amphetamine is an intoxicant. Cannabis is likely to impede all three mental factors, and so this too is an intoxicant.

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu
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    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
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Re: the 5th precept

Postby Cittasanto » Fri Jan 02, 2009 3:31 pm

Hi All
When I was looking at different translations of the pali, it generally stated Intoxicants! or mind altering substances! it has only been more recently (well a few years ago but closer to now than the other translations) that I have seen more and more translations refer to alcohol and drugs.
I would say it is refraining from all Intoxicants that cloud the judgements and loosen personal restraint! not including Medical drugs used for specific treatments which may or may not have a side effect of intoxication as long as they were specifically prescribed too the person using them and no other option was, or is available which would do the at least the same job!
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Re: the 5th precept

Postby Fede » Fri Jan 02, 2009 10:38 pm

Manapa wrote:.....not including Medical drugs used for specific treatments which may or may not have a side effect of intoxication as long as they were specifically prescribed too the person using them and no other option was, or is available which would do the at least the same job!


Yup, which is what I said...... ;)

_/I\_
"Samsara: The human condition's heartbreaking inability to sustain contentment." Elizabeth Gilbert, 'Eat, Pray, Love'.

Simplify: 17 into 1 WILL go: Mindfulness!

Quieta movere magna merces videbatur. (Sallust, c.86-c.35 BC)
Translation: Just to stir things up seemed a good reward in itself. ;)

I am sooooo happy - How on earth could I be otherwise?! :D


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Re: the 5th precept

Postby retrofuturist » Sat Jan 03, 2009 4:18 am

Greetings,

I think venerable Dhammanando's point is critical... whilst the Buddha specifically identified alcohol as a problem, he wouldn't have known about all the bizarre chemical concoctions that people have come up with over the last couple of centuries, so it's valuable to look at the intent of the precept as well as the literal rendition in this instance.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


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One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: the 5th precept

Postby Jechbi » Sat Jan 03, 2009 5:50 am

Hello all,

This thought from Ven. Dhammanando provides some practical insight:
Dhammanando wrote:To what substances other than alcohol the precept might be applicable is a matter of contention, but the question to ask is whether the substance will lead to loss of appamāda, meaning non-negligence, heedfulness, diligence. Appamāda consists in the arising of the mental factors of mindfulness (sati), clear comprehension (sampajañña), and wholesome energy (kusala viriya). So, taking amphetamine, for example, will tend to increase one's energy but at the same time impede mindfulness and clear comprehension. In the absence of these two, the energy is sure to be akusala, and so amphetamine is an intoxicant. Cannabis is likely to impede all three mental factors, and so this too is an intoxicant.

I wonder if there is a clear way to evaluate the effects of other common "drugs" on these three mental factors. In what respect are they influenced by the ingestion of caffeine? Of nicotine?

Is the consumption of tobacco products or coffee and tea a matter of consideration with regard to this precept? Or is the use of these substances fully outside any reasonable application of the precept?

A related question: I've heard some people describe caffeine as a substance that can help boost clarity during morning meditation. Is caffeine unlike amphetamine, increasing energy while leaving the other two mental factors unimpeded? More broadly, if a substance existed that could boost any one or all of the mental factors without impeding any of them, would it be good practice to ingest this substance regularly?

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Re: the 5th precept

Postby retrofuturist » Sat Jan 03, 2009 6:02 am

Greetings Jechbi,

Jechbi wrote:Is the consumption of tobacco products or coffee and tea a matter of consideration with regard to this precept? Or is the use of these substances fully outside any reasonable application of the precept?

Well if they're prohibited (especially 'tea'), I think there's going to be a fair few transgressions of this precept within the Sangha!

And if tea is fine, by implication coffee should be fine (since the active ingredient in each is caffeine).

It would be nice to know where the line is usually drawn though.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: the 5th precept

Postby jcsuperstar » Sun Jan 04, 2009 3:42 am

Dhammanando wrote:Hi JC,

jcsuperstar wrote:so is the original pali, to not drink at all or to not abuse alcohol?
also isnt it specificly aimed at alcohol and not generic intoxicants? (thus not really against drug use?)


In the Theravadin understanding the fifth precept enjoins complete abstinence, not moderation. It is broken when one knowingly consumes even the smallest amount of alcohol. It is not broken if the alcohol is consumed unwittingly or is an ingredient in an essential medicine.

To what substances other than alcohol the precept might be applicable is a matter of contention, but the question to ask is whether the substance will lead to loss of appamāda, meaning non-negligence, heedfulness, diligence. Appamāda consists in the arising of the mental factors of mindfulness (sati), clear comprehension (sampajañña), and wholesome energy (kusala viriya). So, taking amphetamine, for example, will tend to increase one's energy but at the same time impede mindfulness and clear comprehension. In the absence of these two, the energy is sure to be akusala, and so amphetamine is an intoxicant. Cannabis is likely to impede all three mental factors, and so this too is an intoxicant.

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu


i'm just gonna throw this out there so you dont think i'm trying to defend anything i do: i dont drink.

but i've been offered beer and whiskey at a wat in thailand, from lay people who's son was just ordained. i thought it very odd, not that these things would be included in the celebration, but that these people who from all i knew about them where devout lay followers, would have brought these items to a Wat.
i also know many other devout lay followers who drink. all thai.

so how is this reconciled? is it seen as something akin to a peccadillo? and since theyll be retaking the 5 precepts next sunday or whatever (it's basically a weekly thing for thai people it seems) it's just no big deal to break the vow?
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Re: the 5th precept

Postby Jason » Sun Jan 04, 2009 4:47 am

Ajahn Khemasanto, abbot of Wat Dhammasala in Perry, Mchigan, has said that having a glass of wine with dinner (for a lay-follwers at least) does not violate the fifth precept as long as one stops before they can "feel the effects" of the alcohol. The main reasoning behind this interpretation, I suppose, is the intent of the precept itself, i.e., the precept to refrain from intoxicating drinks and drugs that lead to carelessness is meant to help protect one from breaking the other four precepts, not to insinuate that drinking alcohol in and of itself is unwholesome. Whether this is what the Buddha himself meant when he formulated the fifth precept, I do not know; I am just passing along what I have heard. I myself have a glass of wine once in a while, and I do not lose any sleep over it. Suffice it to say that I am not a strict "Theravadin." I tend to follow the spirit rather than the letter when it comes to doctrine.
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Re: the 5th precept

Postby Dhammanando » Sun Jan 04, 2009 9:20 am

Hi JC,

jcsuperstar wrote:
Dhammanando wrote:but i've been offered beer and whiskey at a wat in thailand, from lay people who's son was just ordained. i thought it very odd, not that these things would be included in the celebration, but that these people who from all i knew about them where devout lay followers, would have brought these items to a Wat.
i also know many other devout lay followers who drink. all thai.

so how is this reconciled?


Every breach of the fifth precept arises from a greed-rooted citta. If your friends know what the fifth precept entails but break it anyway because their desire for alcohol outweighs their hiri and ottappa, then the greed-rooted citta will probably be one of the four kinds that are dissociated from wrong view. But how they will reconcile their behaviour with their taking of the precepts is anyone's guess. On the other hand, if your friends have been mistaught the precept (e.g., if they think that moderate drinking is not a breach of it), then it will most likely be one of the four kinds of greed-rooted citta associated with wrong view. In that case, on account of their wrong view —i.e. their confusing of akusala for kusala— the question of "reconciling" simply wouldn't arise, for they would fail to discern any conflict between their (nominal) commitment to the precepts and their actual behaviour.

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

    It were endless to dispute upon everything that is disputable.
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Re: the 5th precept

Postby Cittasanto » Sun Jan 04, 2009 9:55 am

Hi Elohim

Elohim wrote:Ajahn Khemasanto, abbot of Wat Dhammasala in Perry, Mchigan, has said that having a glass of wine with dinner (for a lay-follwers at least) does not violate the fifth precept as long as one stops before they can "feel the effects" of the alcohol. The main reasoning behind this interpretation, I suppose, is the intent of the precept itself, i.e., the precept to refrain from intoxicating drinks and drugs that lead to carelessness is meant to help protect one from breaking the other four precepts, not to insinuate that drinking alcohol in and of itself is unwholesome. Whether this is what the Buddha himself meant when he formulated the fifth precept, I do not know; I am just passing along what I have heard. I myself have a glass of wine once in a while, and I do not lose any sleep over it. Suffice it to say that I am not a strict "Theravadin." I tend to follow the spirit rather than the letter when it comes to doctrine.


I have heard this before on a talk from a monk, and Lay Teachers, I suppose it can be seen as a tool, which can aid relaxation after a stressful day at work, if only consumed in small amounts, but any amount of intoxicant intoxicates even if it is only a small amount!
but then again Alcohol or particular types such as wine, are given as a suggestion to aid digestion for some by Doctors, and I have not been great myself with regard to drink, ending up in prison, so I abstain for the most part, only drinking once a week at most, but I am in a profession which requires I sample drink every now and then so stick to very small amounts half shot glass when I have to! which isn't often!

I think and the same goes with all of the Precepts, that it is not so much following them strictly but following them wisely! ie don't beat yourself up for breaking them!
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
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Re: the 5th precept

Postby jcsuperstar » Tue Jan 06, 2009 9:22 am

a bit off topic maybe, but i find it kinda funny that a meditation teacher or monk would recomend drinking and not meditation as a course for relaxation... :ugeek:
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Re: the 5th precept

Postby Cittasanto » Tue Jan 06, 2009 9:42 am

Hi jc

jcsuperstar wrote:a bit off topic maybe, but i find it kinda funny that a meditation teacher or monk would recomend drinking and not meditation as a course for relaxation... :ugeek:


the account I heard wasn't a suggestion, or recommendation, I can not comment on the Ajahn Mentioned aboves talk, but there are other reasons why Alcahol is taken besides for intoxication!
I have just remembered I heard on a talk on youtube by another Monastic with a similar view as the one I and others mentioned! Bhante V??? cant remember the name, but maybe that would clear the side step up for you!
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
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"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: the 5th precept

Postby Moth » Tue Sep 28, 2010 7:28 pm

Sorry to ressurect an old thread.

So, is drinking caffine considered a violation of the 5th precept? How about smoking tobacco?
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Re: the 5th precept

Postby Reductor » Tue Sep 28, 2010 7:46 pm

Moth wrote:Sorry to ressurect an old thread.

So, is drinking caffine considered a violation of the 5th precept?


Gawd, I sure hope not! ;)
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Re: the 5th precept

Postby David N. Snyder » Tue Sep 28, 2010 8:17 pm

Caffeine and smoking are fine.

http://buddhismatoz.com/s/Smoking.html

But for monks, in my opinion, it is similar to indulgence in the senses and probably not appropriate; but that is just my opinion, no set rule in the Vinaya.
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Re: the 5th precept

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Sep 28, 2010 11:59 pm

Greetings David,

David N. Snyder wrote:But for monks, in my opinion, it is similar to indulgence in the senses and probably not appropriate; but that is just my opinion, no set rule in the Vinaya.

I agree with you on the smoking issue (though as you point out, it's not connected to precept violation) - to me it's more that it is not a valid requisite, and is in fact harmful.

As for caffeine I certainly wouldn't consider it problematic at all, particularly since drinks like tea contain caffeine, and it can be used responsibly... especially if monks need to pull an all-nighter!

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: the 5th precept

Postby David N. Snyder » Wed Sep 29, 2010 12:13 am

Hi Retro,

Yes, I meant smoking is probably inappropriate (not caffeine) due to its harmful effects and indulgence in the senses (but not a precept violation).

Caffeine is not bad and does not appear to effect the mind or consciousness in moderate amounts. Tea, especially, only has small amounts (as compared to coffee).

I am a big tea drinker myself, about 8 cups of Jasmine per day. :tongue:
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Re: the 5th precept

Postby Vepacitta » Wed Sep 29, 2010 1:27 am

Coffee, coffee, you make me glow
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