Can a Buddhist drink alcohol in moderation?

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Can a Buddhist drink alcohol in moderation?

Postby mettafuture » Mon Oct 11, 2010 1:16 am

I've never had a drink, and likely never will.

I was just curious.

:toast: <-- root beer
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Re: Can a Buddhist drink alcohol in moderation?

Postby Ben » Mon Oct 11, 2010 1:20 am

Hi MF

I think we discussed the question of the fifth precept not long ago. You might want to look it up to get the range of views you are looking for.
A search for "fifth precept" should locate the thread.
kind regards

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Re: Can a Buddhist drink alcohol in moderation?

Postby mettafuture » Mon Oct 11, 2010 1:26 am

Ben wrote:Hi MF

I think we discussed the question of the fifth precept not long ago. You might want to look it up to get the range of views you are looking for.
A search for "fifth precept" should locate the thread.
kind regards

Ben

Found it:
viewtopic.php?f=13&t=87

Thanks.
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Re: Can a Buddhist drink alcohol in moderation?

Postby Dan74 » Mon Oct 11, 2010 2:39 am

There was a more contentious one (in this subforum?) as I recall, where Ben and I locked horns... :jedi:

;)

PS of course if you don't drink I see absolutely no reason to start, or even wonder about it. Enough challenges in this life already without looking for new ones, if you ask me. As for idle curiosity/opening a can of worms, what is a Buddhist (is there an official definition)? Well, there are many people who consider themselves Buddhist and practice to various degrees as well as drink occasionally (eg ME!). Is this in line with the teaching? Is this harmful? Is this something to be avoided? Is this at the top of priorities as far as practice is concerned?

For me: No, Yes, Yes and No. It's a question of degree. Personally staying too long on this machine is far more harmful to my practice than a monthly glass of wine.
_/|\_
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Re: Can a Buddhist drink alcohol in moderation?

Postby Viriya » Wed Oct 13, 2010 3:04 pm

If you're after a simple answer: no. The fifth precept clearly prohibits alcohol in any quantity for those who uphold it, except when it is consumed unknowingly or as an essential ingredient in medicines.

But then again, if you were into black and white legalistic prohibitions without explanation, Judaism or Islam might be more your style ...so I doubt that such an answer will be particularly satisfactory.
I'm not very good at right speech, although I try, so please guide and correct me if necessary so I don't make bad kamma for myself and cause others to be annoyed. (=
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Re: Can a Buddhist drink alcohol in moderation?

Postby Sanghamitta » Wed Oct 13, 2010 3:18 pm

a simple answer ? Some can and do. Some cant and do. Some cant and dont. Some can and dont.
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Re: Can a Buddhist drink alcohol in moderation?

Postby Sanghamitta » Wed Oct 13, 2010 3:22 pm

[quote="Viriya"]If you're after a simple answer: no. The fifth precept clearly prohibits alcohol in any quantity for those who uphold it, except when it is consumed unknowingly or as an essential ingredient in medicines.

No it doesnt....

It doesnt mention alcohol at all
It talks about that which causes heedlessness. For many many people a glass of wine or beer does not cause heedlessness. For others they do.
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Re: Can a Buddhist drink alcohol in moderation?

Postby Hanzze » Wed Oct 13, 2010 5:03 pm

_/\_
Last edited by Hanzze on Sun Oct 31, 2010 7:32 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: Can a Buddhist drink alcohol in moderation?

Postby Phra Chuntawongso » Wed Oct 13, 2010 8:49 pm

I know people who if they think that they may go out for a drink on any particular day do not take the 5th precept that day.
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Re: Can a Buddhist drink alcohol in moderation?

Postby Sobeh » Wed Oct 13, 2010 9:08 pm

That's the main issue, for me: did I intend, today, to follow the fifth precept? If I did, then I cannot later renege and decide to interpret the precept with a loose eye, but if for example there was a party or other social engagement (a faculty meeting, perhaps dinner with the boss) I would have to decide if certain of the precepts were something I felt pressured to avoid on this occasion or that. This means that, prior to a reiteration of the precepts, I decide which precepts I'm likely to break. This, of course, is an occasion for examining Right Livelihood...
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Re: Can a Buddhist drink alcohol in moderation?

Postby mettafuture » Wed Oct 13, 2010 9:32 pm

I take a very cut and dry approach when it comes to interpreting the precepts.

"I undertake the precept to refrain from intoxicating drinks and drugs which lead to carelessness."

If you undertake to refrain from doing (to not do) something, there isn't any room for sips.

And a question everyone who drinks should ask themselves is "Why?" Why do you need to drink? And if it's the taste you enjoy, why can't you just have a non-alcoholic version of that drink? My guess is many drinkers, even casual drinkers, enjoy the buzz. The alcohol relaxes them. It "takes the edge off." But having a consistent meditation practice, and developing the 4 brahmaviharas can have the same calming effect.
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Re: Can a Buddhist drink alcohol in moderation?

Postby Ben » Wed Oct 13, 2010 9:42 pm

mettafuture wrote:I take a very cut and dry approach when it comes to interpreting the precepts.

"I undertake the precept to refrain from intoxicating drinks and drugs which lead to carelessness."

If you undertake to refrain from (to not do) doing something, there isn't any room for sips.

Indeed!
But since my view on this subject is very well known, I'll bow out of this discussion so that others can express theirs.
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Re: Can a Buddhist drink alcohol in moderation?

Postby adosa » Wed Oct 13, 2010 10:36 pm

mettafuture wrote:I take a very cut and dry approach when it comes to interpreting the precepts.

"I undertake the precept to refrain from intoxicating drinks and drugs which lead to carelessness."

If you undertake to refrain from (to not do) doing something, there isn't any room for sips.



And so what happens to someone who slips up and imbibes? Do they no longer get to carry the label "Buddhist" but you do? Does anyone here keep the precepts lock, stock and barrel? Doubtful. Its a precept and to me that's one of the beauties of the Buddha. He knew we were all fallible and gave us his advice to lead a more happy, safe life. Don't drink sure. But if you do you're excommunicated? No.


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Re: Can a Buddhist drink alcohol in moderation?

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Oct 13, 2010 10:55 pm

Greetings,

I find that it's detrimental to mindfulness, both at the time, and it interrupts any cumulative mindfulness that may have been developed recently. I find that mindfulness needs to be a 'habit' and alcohol interrupts this.

That said, I don't find questions like "Can a Buddhist drink alcohol in moderation?" particularly helpful... I think it's more important to understand and address the (generally negative) causal relationship between alcohol consumption and Dhamma practice. Through understanding the relationship, lifestyle decisions can be made intelligently, rather than through resorting to techniques such as blind adherence, proclamations, generalisations, guilt and shame.

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: Can a Buddhist drink alcohol in moderation?

Postby mettafuture » Wed Oct 13, 2010 11:16 pm

Ben wrote:
mettafuture wrote:I take a very cut and dry approach when it comes to interpreting the precepts.

"I undertake the precept to refrain from intoxicating drinks and drugs which lead to carelessness."

If you undertake to refrain from doing (to not do) something, there isn't any room for sips.

Indeed!
But since my view on this subject is very well known, I'll bow out of this discussion so that others can express theirs.

:namaste:

adosa wrote:
mettafuture wrote:I take a very cut and dry approach when it comes to interpreting the precepts.

"I undertake the precept to refrain from intoxicating drinks and drugs which lead to carelessness."

If you undertake to refrain from doing (to not do) something, there isn't any room for sips.



And so what happens to someone who slips up and imbibes? Do they no longer get to carry the label "Buddhist" but you do?

No. You take the precepts again, and try not to mess up again.

Does anyone here keep the precepts lock, stock and barrel?

I try to. Of course mistakes are bound to happen. What matters is whether or not you have the right intention and effort.
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Re: Can a Buddhist drink alcohol in moderation?

Postby Dan74 » Thu Oct 14, 2010 12:21 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

I find that it's detrimental to mindfulness, both at the time, and it interrupts any cumulative mindfulness that may have been developed recently. I find that mindfulness needs to be a 'habit' and alcohol interrupts this.

That said, I don't find questions like "Can a Buddhist drink alcohol in moderation?" particularly helpful... I think it's more important to understand and address the (generally negative) causal relationship between alcohol consumption and Dhamma practice. Through understanding the relationship, lifestyle decisions can be made intelligently, rather than through resorting to techniques such as blind adherence, proclamations, generalisations, guilt and shame.

Metta,
Retro. :)


I guess it's a trite point but worth mentioning that what is important at one stage of practice may not be important at another.

For instance when one starts to meditate, silence is important. Later one can meditate even when it is not quiet. When we cultivate mindfulness doing things slowly may be helpful at the start, but not later. Likewise with alcohol, when a certain degree of clarity and wisdom has been achieved, alcohol would not really obstruct it
_/|\_
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Re: Can a Buddhist drink alcohol in moderation?

Postby Sobeh » Thu Oct 14, 2010 12:26 am

Dan74 wrote:Likewise with alcohol, when a certain degree of clarity and wisdom has been achieved, alcohol would not really obstruct it


The Sutta isn't off the top of my head, but I know the Buddha soundly corrects a monk who says something similar. It warrants finding, as the view here professed is wholly wrong, so I'll look it up in the meantime.
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Re: Can a Buddhist drink alcohol in moderation?

Postby Dan74 » Thu Oct 14, 2010 12:35 am

It may well be wrong, my friend.

But perhaps more important is this one:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an03/an03.038.than.html

"Monks, there are these three forms of intoxication. Which three? Intoxication with youth, intoxication with health, intoxication with life.

"Drunk with the intoxication of youth, an uninstructed, run-of-the-mill person engages in bodily misconduct, verbal misconduct, & mental misconduct. Having engaged in bodily misconduct, verbal misconduct, & mental misconduct, he — on the break-up of the body, after death — reappears in the plane of deprivation, the bad destination, the lower realms, in hell.

"Drunk with the intoxication of health, an uninstructed, run-of-the-mill person engages in bodily misconduct, verbal misconduct, & mental misconduct. Having engaged in bodily misconduct, verbal misconduct, & mental misconduct, he — on the break-up of the body, after death — reappears in the plane of deprivation, the bad destination, the lower realms, in hell.

"Drunk with the intoxication of life, an uninstructed, run-of-the-mill person engages in bodily misconduct, verbal misconduct, & mental misconduct. Having engaged in bodily misconduct, verbal misconduct, & mental misconduct, he — on the break-up of the body, after death — reappears in the plane of deprivation, the bad destination, the lower realms, in hell.

"Drunk with the intoxication of youth, a monk leaves the training and returns to the lower life. Drunk with the intoxication of health, a monk leaves the training and returns to the lower life. Drunk with the intoxication of life, a monk leaves the training and returns to the lower life."
'Subject to birth, subject to aging, subject to death, run-of-the-mill people are repelled by those who suffer from that to which they are subject. And if I were to be repelled by beings subject to these things, it would not be fitting for me, living as they do.' As I maintained this attitude — knowing the Dhamma without acquisitions — I overcame all intoxication with health, youth, & life as one who sees renunciation as rest. For me, energy arose, Unbinding was clearly seen. There's now no way I could partake of sensual pleasures. Having followed the holy life, I will not return.


Intoxications are many and varied.

Then again for many of us, Westerners, filled with the poison of self-loathing, doubt, feelings of inadequacy and inferiority, a nice small quaff of the drink of health, youth and life would be pretty beneficial, I think - the Middle Path.

Likewise for many of us filled with aversion, attachment to views, inhibitions and tensions, a small quaff of wine would help loosen up and become aware of these. Sila, after all, is not a matter of rules and regulations, but of wholesome intentions. Or at least, so it seems to me.
_/|\_
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Re: Can a Buddhist drink alcohol in moderation?

Postby bodom » Thu Oct 14, 2010 1:22 am

The Buddha spoke quite clearly of the dangers of alcohol.

"There are, young householder, these six evil consequences in indulging in intoxicants which cause infatuation and heedlessness:

(i) loss of wealth,
(ii) increase of quarrels,
(iii) susceptibility to disease,
(iv) earning an evil reputation,
(v) shameless exposure of body,
(vi) weakening of intellect.

"Dice, women, liquor, dancing, singing, sleeping by day, sauntering at unseemly hours, evil companions, avarice — these nine causes ruin a man.

"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.
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: Can a Buddhist drink alcohol in moderation?

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Oct 14, 2010 1:27 am

Greetings Bodom,

A nice quote there, demonstrating the causality involved.

:thumbsup:

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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