the 5th precept

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

Re: the 5th precept

Postby Ytrog » Wed Sep 29, 2010 4:09 am

I'm currently trying to lessen my intake of caffeine. At work I was drinking about 10 cups of coffee a day plus some cola. The effects are really like an addiction with even withdrawal effects in the weekend manifested as headaches.

I would say that when considering caffeine that you should keep in mind that it is an addictive substance. When you have addictions your mind is not free. I believe this is stated in the Tipitaka.
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Re: the 5th precept

Postby suanck » Wed Sep 29, 2010 5:15 am

*
If I remember correctly, a guy (Sarakani) of the Sakyan clan was drunk most of the times. But at death, he became a Stream-Enterer (Samyutta Nikaya).

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Re: the 5th precept

Postby Ben » Wed Sep 29, 2010 5:26 am

suanck wrote:*
If I remember correctly, a guy (Sarakani) of the Sakyan clan was drunk most of the times. But at death, he became a Stream-Enterer (Samyutta Nikaya).

Suan.


Yes,but I wouldn't want to base my behaviour on Sarakani's example and I wouldn't recommend anyone else to follow Sarakani;s example either. Instead, I take the fifth precept and maintain it. When we take refuge in the Dhamma, we are also taking refuge in the three-fold training which includes virtue. And by maintaining the precepts, they give one a refuge that offers excellent protection and a firm foundation for the development of samadhi and panna. Not only do I know it through my understanding of the texts but also through direct experience.
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Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725


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Re: the 5th precept

Postby Paññāsikhara » Wed Sep 29, 2010 7:15 am

Ben wrote:
suanck wrote:*
If I remember correctly, a guy (Sarakani) of the Sakyan clan was drunk most of the times. But at death, he became a Stream-Enterer (Samyutta Nikaya).

Suan.


Yes,but I wouldn't want to base my behaviour on Sarakani's example and I wouldn't recommend anyone else to follow Sarakani;s example either. Instead, I take the fifth precept and maintain it. When we take refuge in the Dhamma, we are also taking refuge in the three-fold training which includes virtue. And by maintaining the precepts, they give one a refuge that offers excellent protection and a firm foundation for the development of samadhi and panna. Not only do I know it through my understanding of the texts but also through direct experience.
kind regards

Ben


Well said, Ben.

Probably being born in the Sakya clan he already had some great merit, and would have literally been surrounded by some of the most sincere, dedicated and insightful practitioners of the Dhamma ever. Even a lax person would pick up something in such an environment (except maybe Dandapani!)

Most of us are not so fortunate!
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Re: the 5th precept

Postby Ben » Wed Sep 29, 2010 7:34 am

Paññāsikhara wrote:
Ben wrote:
suanck wrote:*
If I remember correctly, a guy (Sarakani) of the Sakyan clan was drunk most of the times. But at death, he became a Stream-Enterer (Samyutta Nikaya).

Suan.


Yes,but I wouldn't want to base my behaviour on Sarakani's example and I wouldn't recommend anyone else to follow Sarakani;s example either. Instead, I take the fifth precept and maintain it. When we take refuge in the Dhamma, we are also taking refuge in the three-fold training which includes virtue. And by maintaining the precepts, they give one a refuge that offers excellent protection and a firm foundation for the development of samadhi and panna. Not only do I know it through my understanding of the texts but also through direct experience.
kind regards

Ben


Well said, Ben.

Probably being born in the Sakya clan he already had some great merit, and would have literally been surrounded by some of the most sincere, dedicated and insightful practitioners of the Dhamma ever. Even a lax person would pick up something in such an environment (except maybe Dandapani!)

Most of us are not so fortunate!


Thank you Venerable!
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725


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Re: the 5th precept

Postby rowyourboat » Wed Sep 29, 2010 10:24 am

You guys dont kid yourself. You need to keep the five precepts to get to any good stable place in the dhamma. Your mind will give you all the reasons why you should break some at some point- but just know that this is your defilements talking and don't kid yourself. If you cant even give up alcohol just in case it might be problematic, you wont progress very far in this dhamma. Your dedication to the dhamma is not enough. Your levels of letting go are not enough (samma sankappa- right intention- nekkhamma sankappa- intention to renounce/let go) to give rise to sila (that is the stepwise generation of the noble eightfold path as per the mahacattasarika sutta/MN). The reason for that is that the first step -Right View- is not 'Right' enough yet and there is little faith/saddha. Without good sila, there wont be any right livelihood (samma aajiva), again as per the stepwise progression of the noble eightfold path. If you job requires wine tasting and if that is more important than overcoming endless rounds of births and deaths you need to take a serious look at where you are in the path right now.

:jedi:

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Re: the 5th precept

Postby pilgrim » Wed Sep 29, 2010 12:32 pm

I have no particular liking for alcohol, but lately I'm convinced that a little red wine once in a while is beneficial to health and intend to consume moderate amounts. I agree with Ajahn Khemasanto that there is nothing intrinsically evil about alcohol, - the point is not to let it affect your mind. After all many common foods, such as yoghurt, soy sauce, spaghetti sauce, mustard, etc contain alcohol and most buddhists have no issue consuming them.
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Re: the 5th precept

Postby Ben » Wed Sep 29, 2010 1:25 pm

Hi Pilgrim,
pilgrim wrote:I have no particular liking for alcohol, but lately I'm convinced that a little red wine once in a while is beneficial to health and intend to consume moderate amounts. I agree with Ajahn Khemasanto that there is nothing intrinsically evil about alcohol, - the point is not to let it affect your mind. After all many common foods, such as yoghurt, soy sauce, spaghetti sauce, mustard, etc contain alcohol and most buddhists have no issue consuming them.

The amount of alcohol that is in common foods like soy, pasta sauce and mustard (as examples) is that the volume is tiny and that the ethanol is quickly evaporated out when the food is heated. The boiling point for alcohol is 85degC. Alcohol in yoghurt? I haven't heard of that one.
I did see a report a few months ago which looked at the methodology and data collection of many of the studies in the last three or four decades which purported health benefits of drinking an alcoholic beverage, in particular, red-wine. The study authors concluded that there were signficant data reliability and bias issues which distorted findings in favour of alcoholic beverage consumption. Even if there were health benefits of drinking red wine, and I think the main health benefit is the anti-oxidents, there is no shortage of other bountiful sources of anti-oxidants such as green tea and certain berries.
Respectfully, I disagree with your assessment regarding drinking alcohol. There is no way to say that alcohol isn't affecting your mind. The problem with alcohol is that increases our delusion which affects our ability to be self-aware. And its pernicious. Drinking alcohol is also feeding our craving for the sensation we get from drinking it. And so long as you are doing that, you desensitize yourself and instead of being focused on dispassion and cessation, you become focused and fixated on sensual gratification.
kind regards

Ben
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725


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Re: the 5th precept

Postby chownah » Wed Sep 29, 2010 1:52 pm

Caffeine is not an addictive substance in that it does not change the body chemistry of most people so that its absence causes bad reactions....having said this I suppose it is possible for individuals to have bad reactions when their daily dosage of caffeine is disrupted.....it is probably best for theses people to say that caffeine is addictive for them.....for the huge vast majority of people in the world (yes, I"ve asked every one of them) caffeine is a mild stimulant and not addictive in any way....

There is such a thing as an addictive personality....being people whose personalities thend to lead them into habituation for various things....in fact there is evidence that personality is a major factor for narcotic addiction in that thousands of people every year take enough morphine and related drugs in hospital every year to become addicted but for the overwhelming majority of these people addiction is not a problem.

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Re: the 5th precept

Postby Individual » Wed Sep 29, 2010 2:05 pm

chownah wrote:Caffeine is not an addictive substance in that it does not change the body chemistry of most people so that its absence causes bad reactions....having said this I suppose it is possible for individuals to have bad reactions when their daily dosage of caffeine is disrupted.....it is probably best for theses people to say that caffeine is addictive for them.....for the huge vast majority of people in the world (yes, I"ve asked every one of them) caffeine is a mild stimulant and not addictive in any way....

Caffeine is addictive, although not to the same extent as other drugs, like nicotine.

If you only drink a cup of coffee a day, you might not experience it. But try drinking a 6-pack of red bull daily. You can experience irritability, which isn't as bad as nicotine withdrawal but similar. Also, you can end up where you're constantly tired and only have a normal energy level if you are constantly consuming caffeine. Caffeine is a stimulant: whether it's mild or extreme depends on the quantity consumed.

You ever had an "energy shot" (monster energy shot, red bull energy shot)? It's like those cans of energy drinks, except they concentrate the level of caffeine, so that just a few sips has the same caffeine content as an entire can (something like 100-150 mg). On the bottle, it typically has a warning to not combine with other caffeine products (that's how you know the heavy duty stuff -- if it has a warning "limit three cans per day". If it wasn't a risk to your health, of course they'd want you to suck down as many cans as possible).

Drinking it feels like a kick in the face.

Here is a picture of me after drinking one:

Image

If you drink enough caffeine, you can induce psychosis.

Anyway, I will say that I've noticed that consuming caffeine before strenuous exercise is a bit different (and more healthy) than people who guzzle coffee in an office setting.

Also, it greatly increases one-pointed mental focus at the expense of broad range mental abilities, like long-term memory.
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Re: the 5th precept

Postby rowyourboat » Wed Sep 29, 2010 2:59 pm

It is interesting that no one is thinking along the lines of karma but thinking along scientific evidence. Perhaps working on Right View is in order? Right view is the source of the path.

"The drinking of fermented & distilled liquors — when indulged in, developed, & pursued — is something that leads to hell, leads to rebirth as a common animal, leads to the realm of the hungry shades. The slightest of all the results coming from drinking fermented & distilled liquors is that, when one becomes a human being, it leads to mental derangement."

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

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Re: the 5th precept

Postby Individual » Wed Sep 29, 2010 5:06 pm

rowyourboat wrote:It is interesting that no one is thinking along the lines of karma but thinking along scientific evidence. Perhaps working on Right View is in order? Right view is the source of the path.

"The drinking of fermented & distilled liquors — when indulged in, developed, & pursued — is something that leads to hell, leads to rebirth as a common animal, leads to the realm of the hungry shades. The slightest of all the results coming from drinking fermented & distilled liquors is that, when one becomes a human being, it leads to mental derangement."

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

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http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
Right view, I tell you, is of two sorts: There is right view with effluents [asava], siding with merit, resulting in the acquisitions [of becoming]; and there is noble right view, without effluents, transcendent, a factor of the path.

"And what is the right view that has effluents, sides with merit, & results in acquisitions? 'There is what is given, what is offered, what is sacrificed. There are fruits & results of good & bad actions. There is this world & the next world. There is mother & father. There are spontaneously reborn beings; there are priests & contemplatives who, faring rightly & practicing rightly, proclaim this world & the next after having directly known & realized it for themselves.' This is the right view that has effluents, sides with merit, & results in acquisitions.

"And what is the right view that is without effluents, transcendent, a factor of the path? The discernment, the faculty of discernment, the strength of discernment, analysis of qualities as a factor for Awakening, the path factor of right view of one developing the noble path whose mind is noble, whose mind is free from effluents, who is fully possessed of the noble path. This is the right view that is without effluents, transcendent, a factor of the path.
The best things in life aren't things.

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Re: the 5th precept

Postby rowyourboat » Thu Sep 30, 2010 11:12 am

"One tries to abandon wrong view & to enter into right view: This is one's right effort. One is mindful to abandon wrong view & to enter & remain in right view: This is one's right mindfulness. Thus these three qualities — right view, right effort, & right mindfulness — run & circle around right view...

"Of those, right view is the forerunner. And how is right view the forerunner? One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view.
-Mahacattasarika sutta
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Re: the 5th precept

Postby suriyopama » Thu Sep 30, 2010 1:40 pm

Manapa wrote: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!


Hi Manapa, I believe that "mind altering substances" is the best translation that embraces all substances. Even in the smallest alteration.

During my last retreat at Wat Boonyawad Forest, at the second week I had a muscle pain at my hand. The monks gave me one analgesic, and that was the end of my "sati"!! I became a little bit dull for 3 days. But, as someone said, "there is not such thing as a bad meditation", It's been a positive experience to experiment how a soft medicine, that I used to take many times in the past, can alter the mind when you're trying to maintain constant mindfulness 24h, even if it is a prescribed drug, it can take you out of the path, even if you're trying to apply correct effort.

I think that it's not neccesary to specify a list of what is "allowed" and what is not, or what is said at the vinnaya rules. You'll see for yourself what is good and what is not when you're trying to practice seriously.
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Re: the 5th precept

Postby Phra Chuntawongso » Thu Sep 30, 2010 2:09 pm

Hi.
As a monk I would say that the 5th precept has to include all mind altering drugs,except those for medical purposes.
At the temple where I am smoking is a big no no.
Coffee and tea can both be taken but not after midday :coffee:
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Re: the 5th precept

Postby Individual » Thu Sep 30, 2010 5:14 pm

Nanadhaja wrote:Hi.
As a monk I would say that the 5th precept has to include all mind altering drugs,except those for medical purposes.
At the temple where I am smoking is a big no no.
Coffee and tea can both be taken but not after midday :coffee:
With metta

When we think of "mind altering substances," we think of the medical notion of psychoactive compounds and it seems to be for this reason that people focus so much on caffeine. If caffeine was a more basic component of food, even if it had the same effects it has now people would not regard it as such.

How do I know? Well, science has also shown that a lot of people seek processed sugars and fats because of the effects on the brain's pleasure center, yet I have yet to see anybody ever mention abstaining from caffeine-free sodas, candy bars, and potato chips regarding the fifth precept because they misunderstand it as being about drugs. But people who indulge in sugar get a "sugar rush" and "sugar crash", that is similar to what you experience from caffeine. Eating too much fat leads to cardiovascular problems and eating too much sugar leads to diabetes. That's not good kamma either, right? Even though it's not a drug.

Instead of listing the things you can or can't eat and when, wouldn't it be simpler to have a basic rule: "Be mindful of the effects your diet has on your mind and do not ingest anything with unwholesome intent"?
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Re: the 5th precept

Postby Phra Chuntawongso » Thu Sep 30, 2010 8:50 pm

Hi Individual.
I agree.Many foods do give us some sort of rush.
I myself used to be a real coffee addict.A friend of mine once counted me having 30 cups of coffee one saturday.I cut back drastically when that was brought to my attention.Actually I quit out right but the shakes I got were just incredible,so I went back to the coffee and then started to cut down on it.
I remember some years ago when I was still in New Zealand some guys getting stoned on datura tea.They had been drinking beer and smashed the bottles.While they were stoned they were walking around over the broken glass not feeling it.By the time they were found one of the guys had bled to death.Thankfully the other two survived.
The police did not prosecute saying that datura was a common garden plant found throughout the country and therefore not illegal.When some people said that if you could get high on it,perhaps it should be made illegal.
The police response was that if you were going to ban everything that got you high then they would have to close down all the supermarkets.
Many meditation centers do not allow the drinking of coffee or of tea stating that it affects your meditation.
As I said before,at my temple this rule is not in place,however we are supposed to mindful in respect to food and drink.Only taking what is necessary and no more.
I personally have no more than 2 cups a day.Anymore and I think sitting meditation would be off the agenda. :coffee:
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Re: the 5th precept

Postby Ytrog » Fri Oct 01, 2010 7:04 pm

How would you get rid of the habit to use mind altering substances? I try lessening with caffeine, but I sleep so bad that I need it just to do my job properly. I'm afraid that going cold-turkey would result in withdrawal effects (had it before, after not using it for half a day).

I apologise if this isn't the right place to ask, but I would like to get rid of that almost constant restlesness during the day.
Suffering is asking from life what it can never give you.


mindfulness, bliss and beyond (page 8) wrote:Do not linger on the past. Do not keep carrying around coffins full of dead moments


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Re: the 5th precept

Postby Hanzze » Mon Oct 04, 2010 1:37 pm

_/\_
Last edited by Hanzze on Sun Oct 31, 2010 5:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_
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Re: the 5th precept

Postby Sunrise » Fri Oct 08, 2010 2:47 pm

Although the precept says to stay away from alcohol (or any other intoxicant for that matter) I personally think it is fine to take prescribed drugs on medical purposes or consume other sorts of drinks under certain circumstances that force you to do so like harsh weather conditions for example. It is up to the practitioner to keep them in control so that it will not be a hindrance to the practice.

The idea of the precept is that, a person under intoxication is not generally in a clear state of mind. Lack of mental focus and clarity is a hindrance to the Buddhist practice and meditation. In such a state, there is a better chance for a person to engage in wrong-doings and break the other precepts as well which will lead to greater difficulties to the practice. Therefore it makes sense to abide by the precept unless there are other circumstances that force you to do otherwise. It is up to you to make sure you are in control. The precepts are there just to guide you. Of course that is just my opinion :smile:
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