Why do Thai monks smoke?

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Kasina
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Why do Thai monks smoke?

Post by Kasina »

I'm sure this has probably been discussed before, but why do Thai monks smoke? Wouldn't this addiction be obstructive to the path?

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Last edited by Kasina on Sat Mar 15, 2014 8:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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culaavuso
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Re: Why do Thai monks smoke?

Post by culaavuso »

I've been told by one Ajahn that this is because Thai culture used to view tobacco as a medicinal, leading to a much wider acceptance in society. The same Ajahn said that refraining from tobacco usage is a matter of sense restraint but that it does not directly violate the Vinaya. Within those bounds there is still quite a bit of room for variation, so the reasons why individual monks choose to smoke may vary.

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Goofaholix
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Re: Why do Thai monks smoke?

Post by Goofaholix »

It's much more common for Thai men to smoke than it is these days in the west, unless there is a compulsion to quit when they ordain the habit will continue.
“Peace is within oneself to be found in the same place as agitation and suffering. It is not found in a forest or on a hilltop, nor is it given by a teacher. Where you experience suffering, you can also find freedom from suffering. Trying to run away from suffering is actually to run toward it.” ― Ajahn Chah

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gavesako
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Re: Why do Thai monks smoke?

Post by gavesako »

The campaign to stop smoking in Thailand has been going on for a while, see for example the rather drastic images of rotten teeth on Thai cigarettes:
http://smoking-solutions.net/stop-your- ... m-smoking/

This was also very popular and widely seen:
Thai anti-smoking ad
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lqbLe4EnmEM

Ajahn Buddhadasa and Panyananda were teaching the laypeople already in the 60s that there is no merit in offering cigarettes to monks. Ajahn Chah, probably also after contact with some Westerners, stopped smoking and banned it in all his monasteries. Until this day, this is one distinguishing mark between his monasteries and the Dhammayut forest monasteries (where lots of monks are practically chain-smoking most of the day, which looks pretty uninspiring). Addiction to smoking is also one reason why many monks have to use money so that they can buy cigarettes when they need them.
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Bhikkhu Pesala
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Re: Why do Thai monks smoke?

Post by Bhikkhu Pesala »

Just as there is no smoke without fire, there is no smoking without craving.

Unlike drinking alcohol, AFAIK there's no specific Vinaya rule about smoking, unless you class it as an intoxicant, which is one valid view-point.

Personally, I don't think it is in the same grade of unwholesomeness as drinking alcohol, more like eating junk food, which is equally bad for your health, and also rooted in craving.

A campaign to stop people giving money to monks would be better than one to stop them giving cigarettes. Accepting money definitely is against the Vinaya rules, and is therefore definitely unwholesome giving (adhammadāna).
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chris98e
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Re: Why do Thai monks smoke?

Post by chris98e »

This is an interesting discussion to me. Out of all the monks that I have come across in the city I live in [Philadelphia PA], I have seen one monk smoking out of about 20 monks. I thought he was one out of many, but after reading this thread I realized he is not the only monk who smokes. I smoke myself but lately I haven't been smoking because I use the patch to help me not smoke. They say you shouldn't use the patch for more than 8 weeks but after them 8 weeks the patch has to be better than smoking. Well it's been 3 weeks and two days so far with the patch and I have smoked 6 and a half ciggeretes. As for the monks who smoke they probably do it to get rid of the pain that techonology is always growing and the people who create the technology have no problem with crushing them with it if they want to. :anjali: :buddha2: :bow:

chris98e
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Re: Why do Thai monks smoke?

Post by chris98e »

chris98e wrote: As for the monks who smoke they probably do it to get rid of the pain that techonology is always growing and the people who create the technology have no problem with crushing them with it if they want to.
This statement can be argued so actually to put it in more reasonable terms I think the monks smoke to get rid of the pain that most people care more about technology then they do about Dhamma. But of course smoking leads to other problems. :buddha2:

myanu
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Re: Why do Thai monks smoke?

Post by myanu »

Dear friends in dhamma!
While discouraging smoking wherever it is possible, I'd like to drag this discussion to the adjacent country, Myanmar where I can see several monks do smoke. They (monks) also chew betel and the mixture. I've recently read a newspaper article where it was stated that over 50 per cent of the population (includes monks) in the country are suffering from hypertension. The same article stated that betel chewing and smoking are two of the main causes for hypertension. As someone mentioned in this thread, smoking and chewing are both cravings (tanha) that must be gradually dropped by everyone who is aspiring to end the cycle of birth-death (samsaara). I believe that readers may agree that the two practices are not good for both lay public and especially unfit for monks. I suggest use the raw materials to manufacture other goods and materials that benefit the society at large.
With metta

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waterchan
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Re: Why do Thai monks smoke?

Post by waterchan »

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:Just as there is no smoke without fire, there is no smoking without craving.
I would agree with this. However, Ajahn Mun and Ajahn Chah were both widely considered to be arahants. Both of them were smokers. When I learned that, I sighed, threw up my hands and wondered if I was really missing something here...

I remember Ajahn Brahm saying that for reasons of maintaining confidence in the Dhamma we should put our faith in the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha. Not the Buddha, Dhamma and a Monk.
quidquid Latine dictum sit altum videtur
(Anything in Latin sounds profound.)

LXNDR
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Re: Why do Thai monks smoke?

Post by LXNDR »

could the absence of rules against smoking in Vinaya while presence of such against alcohol, be due to the fact that smoking wasn't practiced by Indians of the Buddha's time ?

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mikenz66
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Re: Why do Thai monks smoke?

Post by mikenz66 »

Not that I smoke, or condone it, but it seems to me that smoking tobacco does not cause heedlessness in the sense that alcohol etc do. In terms of the basic stimulant effect it appears to be in a similar category drinking tea or coffee. Of course there's craving, but the precept is about heedlessness, not craving...

The issue that smoking cigarettes is harmful to health is a different issue and nothing to do with the precept.

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Mkoll
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Re: Why do Thai monks smoke?

Post by Mkoll »

mikenz66 wrote:Not that I smoke, or condone it, but it seems to me that smoking tobacco does not cause heedlessness in the sense that alcohol etc do. In terms of the basic stimulant effect it appears to be in a similar category drinking tea or coffee. Of course there's craving, but the precept is about heedlessness, not craving...

The issue that smoking cigarettes is harmful to health is a different issue and nothing to do with the precept.

:anjali:
Mike
I think there is a slippery slope here. Using those standards, one could argue that the basic stimulant effect is also similar to cocaine. Or methamphetamine. One has to draw the line somewhere and say: not going beyond that. I think chocolate/tea/coffee (caffeine naturally present in food/drink) is as far as one should go in this regard. If one goes at all.
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Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa

thepea
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Re: Why do Thai monks smoke?

Post by thepea »

They crave the sensation produced from the nicotine entering the system, or more accurately the removal of the sensation produced from nicotine remaining in your system.

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seeker242
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Re: Why do Thai monks smoke?

Post by seeker242 »

mikenz66 wrote:Not that I smoke, or condone it, but it seems to me that smoking tobacco does not cause heedlessness in the sense that alcohol etc do.
Has anyone ever seen someone run around outside naked, screaming, banging pots and pans at 2 AM, because they smoke cigarettes? I've seen alcohol and other drugs do that to people, but never tobacco. :lol:

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Goofaholix
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Re: Why do Thai monks smoke?

Post by Goofaholix »

mikenz66 wrote:Not that I smoke, or condone it, but it seems to me that smoking tobacco does not cause heedlessness in the sense that alcohol etc do. In terms of the basic stimulant effect it appears to be in a similar category drinking tea or coffee. Of course there's craving, but the precept is about heedlessness, not craving...

The issue that smoking cigarettes is harmful to health is a different issue and nothing to do with the precept.
You are right that the precept is about heedlessness not craving, however the whole path is about craving and finding freedom from it so I'm not really sure how someone living the renuciant life wouldn't recognise this in himself even with the lack of a precept.
“Peace is within oneself to be found in the same place as agitation and suffering. It is not found in a forest or on a hilltop, nor is it given by a teacher. Where you experience suffering, you can also find freedom from suffering. Trying to run away from suffering is actually to run toward it.” ― Ajahn Chah

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