Alcohol

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

Alcohol

Postby clw_uk » Mon Feb 09, 2009 6:20 pm

I have noticed a slight trend in some western buddhists appling the teaching of the middle way to alcohol, saying that as long as you dont over indulge then its ok. I myself, since becoming a buddhist, have not touched a drop as I feel the teachings are pretty clear in reguard to alcohol.

Does everyone here practice complete abstinence?

Do any of you agree that one can drink in moderation?
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Re: Alcohol

Postby bodom » Mon Feb 09, 2009 6:34 pm

clw_uk wrote:I have noticed a slight trend in some western buddhists appling the teaching of the middle way to alcohol, saying that as long as you dont over indulge then its ok. I myself, since becoming a buddhist, have not touched a drop as I feel the teachings are pretty clear in reguard to alcohol.

Does everyone here practice complete abstinence?

Do any of you agree that one can drink in moderation?


I didnt get in trouble everytime i was drinking but everytime i was in trouble i was drinking. For me and alcohol there is no middle way. It has caused me enough trouble in my life and abstinence is not that big of a deal for me anymore.

I like what the Sigalovada Sutta has to say about alcohol:

"These are the six dangers inherent in heedlessness caused by intoxication: loss of immediate wealth, increased quarreling, susceptibility to illness, disrepute, indecent exposure, and weakened insight.

"Who plays with dice and drinks intoxicants, goes to women who are dear unto others as their own lives, associates with the mean and not with elders — he declines just as the moon during the waning half.

"Who is drunk, poor, destitute, still thirsty whilst drinking, frequents the bars, sinks in debt as a stone in water, swiftly brings disrepute to his family.

"Who by habit sleeps by day, and keeps late hours, is ever intoxicated, and is licentious, is not fit to lead a household life.

:namaste:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: Alcohol

Postby clw_uk » Mon Feb 09, 2009 6:50 pm

Thank you for those quotes

:namaste:

I to cannot practice the middle way with alcohol, dont know when to say no once i start.

There is one story I like reguarding the drinking of alcohol

There was a monk who was meditating in a cave when Mara appeared before him along with wine, a woman and a warrior.

Mara said that the monk must either drink the wine, have sex with the woman or kill the warrior or otherwise Mara would kill him.

The monk considered, he knew that doing any of these things would be breaking the Vinaya but he decided to go with the one he thought would be least damaging, so he drank the wine.


Then killed the warrior

Then had sex with the woman


Think it puts accross quite well how drink can lead to making more unwholesome kamma

I refelct on this often when im tempted by a quick drink.
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Re: Alcohol

Postby bodom » Mon Feb 09, 2009 6:53 pm

clw_uk wrote:Thank you for those quotes

:namaste:

I to cannot practice the middle way with alcohol, dont know when to say no once i start.

There is one story I like reguarding the drinking of alcohol

There was a monk who was meditating in a cave when Mara appeared before him along with wine, a woman and a warrior.

Mara said that the monk must either drink the wine, have sex with the woman or kill the warrior or otherwise Mara would kill him.

The monk considered, he knew that doing any of these things would be breaking the Vinaya but he decided to go with the one he thought would be least damaging, so he drank the wine.


Then killed the warrior

Then had sex with the woman


Think it puts accross quite well how drink can lead to making more unwholesome kamma

I refelct on this often when im tempted by a quick drink.


I always liked that story. I can definitely relate. Once i got started drinking anything and everything was off the table.

:namaste:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Alcohol

Postby GrahamR » Mon Feb 09, 2009 6:54 pm

The problem with alcohol is after one glass you think you can have just one more, then maybe another ... then ...
I find it easier just not to drink at all.
with metta :bow:
GRAHAM

clw_uk wrote:Thank you for those quotes

:namaste:

I to cannot practice the middle way with alcohol, dont know when to say no once i start.

There is one story I like reguarding the drinking of alcohol

There was a monk who was meditating in a cave when Mara appeared before him along with wine, a woman and a warrior.

Mara said that the monk must either drink the wine, have sex with the woman or kill the warrior or otherwise Mara would kill him.

The monk considered, he knew that doing any of these things would be breaking the Vinaya but he decided to go with the one he thought would be least damaging, so he drank the wine.


Then killed the warrior

Then had sex with the woman


Think it puts accross quite well how drink can lead to making more unwholesome kamma

I refelct on this often when im tempted by a quick drink.
With metta :bow:
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Re: Alcohol

Postby mountain » Mon Feb 09, 2009 7:48 pm

Its important to practice the panca-sila with fidelity. This supports and protects us and our practice.In the particular case of the use of alcohol its also includes the dangers inherant in alcohol based activities. I have often thought of booze as concentrated Mara in a bottle.
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Re: Alcohol

Postby clw_uk » Mon Feb 09, 2009 7:50 pm

I have often thought of booze as concentrated Mara in a bottle.


:namaste:
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Re: Alcohol

Postby fijiNut » Mon Feb 09, 2009 8:42 pm

§ A young man was discussing the precepts with Ajaan Fuang and came to number five, against taking intoxicants: "The Buddha forbade alcohol because most people lose their mindfulness when they drink it, right? But if you drink mindfully it's okay, isn't it, Than Phaw?"

"If you were really mindful," he answered, "you wouldn't drink it in the first place."
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Re: Alcohol

Postby Annapurna » Mon Feb 09, 2009 11:20 pm

clw_uk wrote:I have noticed a slight trend in some western buddhists appling the teaching of the middle way to alcohol, saying that as long as you dont over indulge then its ok. I myself, since becoming a buddhist, have not touched a drop as I feel the teachings are pretty clear in reguard to alcohol.

Does everyone here practice complete abstinence?

Do any of you agree that one can drink in moderation?


I have absolutely no desire left for alcohol, this fog in the head is :toilet:

Very seldom I drink a little as medicine when I ate too greasy and have indigestion.

That' s it.
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Re: Alcohol

Postby Ben » Tue Feb 10, 2009 12:33 am

Hi Craig

clw_uk wrote:Does everyone here practice complete abstinence?

I don't know, but I do.
clw_uk wrote:Do any of you agree that one can drink in moderation?

One can certainly drink in moderation. However, drinking any quantity is incompatible with the fifth precept. And sila is fundamental to mental cultivation.
Kind regards

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Re: Alcohol

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Feb 10, 2009 1:01 am

I agree with Ben. Any amount of alcohol messes with the mind.

I don't not drink because I think it's "bad". I don't drink because I know the mind is much clearer without it (from memory and from occasionally accidentally imbibing a little from supposedly non-alcoholic sources...).

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Re: Alcohol

Postby DhammaDan » Tue Feb 10, 2009 2:50 am

I'm also completely abstinent when it comes to alcohol.

The other day actually, I went to a meet-up with one of my university groups to a bar/restaurant. The drinking seemed to get a little out of hand and one of the guys asked if I wanted anything. I politely refused and explained the precept. I was more comfortable because most of them are Buddhist (the club is mostly East Asians) and although they respected my lifestyle, it was surprising that they too were Buddhist and drink so heavily. I guess different cultures have taken on fairly different interpretations.
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Re: Alcohol

Postby Individual » Tue Feb 10, 2009 3:36 am

clw_uk wrote:I have noticed a slight trend in some western buddhists appling the teaching of the middle way to alcohol, saying that as long as you dont over indulge then its ok. I myself, since becoming a buddhist, have not touched a drop as I feel the teachings are pretty clear in reguard to alcohol.

Does everyone here practice complete abstinence?

Do any of you agree that one can drink in moderation?

I feel I should practice abstinence from alcohol, based on experience, and because my father's an alcoholic...

...But I don't, because of craving. Not an alcoholic myself, but I occasionally enjoy getting a bit drunk (about 4-5 beers over a few hours), only at night of course, though. Drinking in the morning isn't good because of how awful you feel afterwards.

The important thing to recognize is the intention. Taking a substance with the intent to get intoxicated is reckless. And alcohol tastes awful, so people pretty much always drink it because of unskillful intentions.
Last edited by Individual on Tue Feb 10, 2009 3:37 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Alcohol

Postby zavk » Tue Feb 10, 2009 3:36 am

I must confess that I have not been able to abstain from intoxicants. But lucky for me, my body can only take a small amount of alcohol. I have 3 drinks over the course of the entire night and that's plenty for me. But I certainly don't see this as an excuse. I do feel the effects of alcohol on my practice. I can feel its clouding effects on the mind. And I do realise that there are consequences I have to bear. So far, I've managed to sit in the morning even when I drink the night before. I plan to keep doing so.

Perhaps I cannot be considered an upasaka. But I accept that this is where I'm at at this point of my life. I recognise that although I am as yet unable to keep the fifth precept, it can nevertheless be an aspiration of my spiritual endeavours.

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Re: Alcohol

Postby Individual » Tue Feb 10, 2009 3:40 am

clw_uk wrote:
There was a monk who was meditating in a cave when Mara appeared before him along with wine, a woman and a warrior.

Mara said that the monk must either drink the wine, have sex with the woman or kill the warrior or otherwise Mara would kill him.

The monk considered, he knew that doing any of these things would be breaking the Vinaya but he decided to go with the one he thought would be least damaging, so he drank the wine.


Then killed the warrior

Then had sex with the woman


Think it puts accross quite well how drink can lead to making more unwholesome kamma

I refelct on this often when im tempted by a quick drink.

That is largely the allure of alcohol. When you get drunk, you feel an illusion of joy, strength, and confidence, by being mindless of the way things really are. In general, I think the feeling of euphoria associated with intoxicants can always be traced back to a kind of physiologically-conditioned mindlessness.
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Re: Alcohol

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Feb 10, 2009 3:48 am

Greetings,

mikenz66 wrote:I don't drink because I know the mind is much clearer without it


This is the main reason that I rarely drink... because abstinence contributes to heedfulness. Even one drink will negatively impact mindfulness and if it impacts mindfulness you're far more llkely to act ignorantly, and as per the dependent origination process, suffering will be the inevitable result.

I do still have the occasional drink if visiting friends or if it's a really hot Summer day... but even then it will only be 1 or 2 at max over the space of a few hours. I don't act immorally if I have 1 or 2 so don't have concerns about sila per se, but the negative effects on mindfulness and concentration are still discernable.

Metta,
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Re: Alcohol

Postby Annapurna » Tue Feb 10, 2009 6:54 am

zavk wrote:I must confess that I have not been able to abstain from intoxicants. But lucky for me, my body can only take a small amount of alcohol. I have 3 drinks over the course of the entire night and that's plenty for me. But I certainly don't see this as an excuse. I do feel the effects of alcohol on my practice. I can feel its clouding effects on the mind. And I do realise that there are consequences I have to bear. So far, I've managed to sit in the morning even when I drink the night before. I plan to keep doing so.

Perhaps I cannot be considered an upasaka. But I accept that this is where I'm at at this point of my life. I recognise that although I am as yet unable to keep the fifth precept, it can nevertheless be an aspiration of my spiritual endeavours.

Metta,
zavk


May I ask why you find it impossible to renounce alcohol?
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Re: Alcohol

Postby zavk » Tue Feb 10, 2009 9:10 am

Annabel wrote:
zavk wrote:I must confess that I have not been able to abstain from intoxicants. But lucky for me, my body can only take a small amount of alcohol. I have 3 drinks over the course of the entire night and that's plenty for me. But I certainly don't see this as an excuse. I do feel the effects of alcohol on my practice. I can feel its clouding effects on the mind. And I do realise that there are consequences I have to bear. So far, I've managed to sit in the morning even when I drink the night before. I plan to keep doing so.

Perhaps I cannot be considered an upasaka. But I accept that this is where I'm at at this point of my life. I recognise that although I am as yet unable to keep the fifth precept, it can nevertheless be an aspiration of my spiritual endeavours.

Metta,
zavk


May I ask why you find it impossible to renounce alcohol?



To be honest, I don't usually crave alcohol. Outside of social situations, I don't drink alcohol. I don't have a glass of wine with my meals or anything like that. In fact, I don't enjoy anything else besides a cold beer--no spirits or wine for me.

So I wouldn't say I find it 'impossible'. I just haven't been able to cut it off completely. Retro's experience speaks to me. A cold beer has been extremely refreshing in the past few weeks when it had been so hot here in Melbourne! My body doesn't allow me to take enough alcohol to the point of heedlessness. I don't get drunk as such; I just go straight to feeling sick.

In a sense I'm grateful that I have some sort of biological 'safety valve'! But again, this is not an excuse. I just don't wish to beat myself up with some sort of puritanical stick and generate feelings of aversion over my 'failure' to be a 'perfect' Buddhist. I just do what I can, watching and learning from my present circumstances, and always with the precepts as guiding principles, even if I cannot adhere to them totally. I do believe that with enough 'dhammic momentum' my craving for alcohol (even though it is mild) will dissipate.

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Re: Alcohol

Postby Annapurna » Tue Feb 10, 2009 9:35 am

I understand the desire for a cold drink.

I drink sparkling mineralwater mixed with juice.

Wonderful.

I do believe that with enough 'dhammic momentum' my craving for alcohol (even though it is mild) will dissipate.


Probably so. :smile: :coffee:
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Re: Alcohol

Postby Rui Sousa » Tue Feb 10, 2009 1:25 pm

Being mindfull of the effect of even a small amount of wine did to my mind, made me decide not to drink at all. It happened when my wife was on her 8th month of pregnancy, we were at a birthday party and I was drinking my second beer, she had some pain and asked me to get ready to drive her to the hospital... I couldn't !!! I was not able to safely drive my wife and my yet-to-be born son to the hospital !!! That was it, no more alcohol.

I might taste wine when someone say "is this wine bad?", or "this is the best wine I have ever tasted". And that's it.

I love to drink beer at lunch or when I am with friends, there are some brands that have 0,0º non-alchoholic beers that make that indulgence possible without breaking the percept, so I can still have a nice cold beer while watching the sunset. :toast:
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