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The vinaya should be updated

Posted: Sun Jun 30, 2013 6:32 am
by clw_uk
I would like to discuss the vinaya. From my understanding Buddha put the rules of the vinaya in place to restrain the monks and nuns and also to keep the sangha in good standing with the culture at large.


Based on this, in my opinion, the vinaya should be amended to ban smoking and caffeine (including tea). I think this because they are intoxicants that lead one to sensuality and craving. I also think that if Buddha was aware of caffeine and nictonine in his own time he would have banned them under the vinaya.


Leading on from this I think the ban on dwarfs should be lifted as these are no longer subject to serious social stigmata as they used to be.


Thoughts?

Re: The vinaya should be updated

Posted: Sun Jun 30, 2013 7:09 am
by Ben
clw_uk wrote:Based on this, in my opinion, the vinaya should be amended to ban smoking and caffeine (including tea). I think this because they are intoxicants that lead one to sensuality and craving. I also think that if Buddha was aware of caffeine and nictonine in his own time he would have banned them under the vinaya.
With respect, this is just an opinion and speculation on how you think the Buddha would act given your own predeliction and view on the matter.
Caffeine and nicotine are not intoxicants. While nicotine is extremely harmful and its use should be discouraged, neither caffeine nor nicotine are intoxicants.
kind regards,

Ben

Re: The vinaya should be updated

Posted: Sun Jun 30, 2013 7:44 am
by clw_uk
With respect, this is just an opinion and speculation on how you think the Buddha would act given your own predeliction and view on the matter.
Caffeine and nicotine are not intoxicants. While nicotine is extremely harmful and its use should be discouraged, neither caffeine nor nicotine are intoxicants.
Hey Ben

I agree it is speculation and opinion :)

I guess its on how you define intoxicants and also how you define it in Buddhadhamma. For example alcohol is obviously and intoxicant by the effect of drunkenness and also because of its dulling of the mind and the dulling of sati. However I think nicotine can be classed as an intoxicant as well due to its effect on the brain. It stimulates pleasure and gives extreme cravings. It also has an effect on mood as well with deep puffs giving a relaxing effect and short puffs giving a stimulating effect.

"Research suggests that, when smokers wish to achieve a stimulating effect, they take short quick puffs, which produce a low level of blood nicotine.[55] This stimulates nerve transmission. When they wish to relax, they take deep puffs, which produce a high level of blood nicotine, which depresses the passage of nerve impulses, producing a mild sedative effect. At low doses, nicotine potently enhances the actions of norepinephrine and dopamine in the brain, causing a drug effect typical of those of psychostimulants. At higher doses, nicotine enhances the effect of serotonin and opiate activity, producing a calming, pain-killing effect. Nicotine is unique in comparison to most drugs, as its profile changes from stimulant to sedative/pain killer in increasing dosages and use."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicotine

I know thats wikipedia but as a smoker I can say that that quote is true. Also I can say that the craving for a cigarette is more intense then the craving for cocaine (I am ashamed to say I have used coke in the past).

From my experience I would class nicotine as an intoxicant and I stand by my speculation that Buddha would have prohibited its use.

Re: The vinaya should be updated

Posted: Sun Jun 30, 2013 8:59 am
by Bhikkhu Pesala
clw_uk wrote:Based on this, in my opinion, the vinaya should be amended to ban smoking and caffeine (including tea). I think this because they are intoxicants that lead one to sensuality and craving. I also think that if Buddha was aware of caffeine and nicotine in his own time he would have banned them under the vinaya.
While nicotine probably would have been prohibited, I doubt very much whether caffeine would have been.

Exhortations
In this main meditation centre of Rangoon, you can all see that we observe the Vinaya discipline to our utmost and we also try to fulfil the virtues of fewness of wishes (appiccho), contentment (santutthi) and destruction of defilements (sallekha) as much as we can by abstaining from smoking, betel-chewing and other such frivolous and degrading habits. By such abstinence we gain more time for the noble practice of study (pariyatti) and practice (patipatti), and we gain the respect of our devotees.
clw_uk wrote:Leading on from this I think the ban on dwarfs should be lifted as these are no longer subject to serious social stigmata as they used to be.
That's a new one on me. Where does the Vinaya ban dwarfs? There were certainly monks in the Buddha's time of very short stature.

Re: The vinaya should be updated

Posted: Sun Jun 30, 2013 9:16 am
by clw_uk
I haven't come across the the ban on dwarfism in the texts personally but apparently it's there

Paṇḍaka are categorized with others who are also excluded from ordination; either those with physical abnormalities such as deafness or dwarfism, or those who have committed crimes.[15] "The Story of the Prohibition of the Ordination of Pandaka" from the Vinaya explains that the ban is a response to the example of a monk with an insatiable desire to be sexually penetrated by men, who requested and received this from some animal handlers, who then in turn related the incident to the wider community and brought disgrace upon the sangha.[16][17]
http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhism ... rientation

Re: The vinaya should be updated

Posted: Sun Jun 30, 2013 9:41 am
by binocular
clw_uk wrote:Based on this, in my opinion, the vinaya should be amended to ban smoking and caffeine (including tea). I think this because they are intoxicants that lead one to sensuality and craving. I also think that if Buddha was aware of caffeine and nictonine in his own time he would have banned them under the vinaya.
I think it depends on how one understands the precept of taking up the training not to consume intoxicants.

One can be legalistic about it, and go by the letter of the precept: so that if a substance (or an activity) is not officially listed as an intoxicant, one would think it is appropriate to consume it. Or even that one is a weakling for not consuming it.

On the other hand, one could go by the spirit of the precept, and avoid all substances and activities the consuming of which or engaging in which one feels intoxicated by. Whether that is heroin or looking at photos of beautiful people in fashion magazines or whichever may be the case.

Re: The vinaya should be updated

Posted: Sun Jun 30, 2013 9:50 am
by clw_uk
I understand the precept as a restraint against anything that will A) cloud judgement and lead to unskilful behaviour, for example getting drunk and being aggressive.


B) consuming anything that increased craving. That would include heroin, cocaine, caffeine, nicotine and even painkillers.



Obviously Buddha didn't know about caffeine and nicotine, or even cocaine and heroin, because he wasnt all knowing but I do believe that if he did know about them he would prohibit them (obviously heroin and cocaine is a given).


If you do a thought experiment can you really imagine Buddha saying its ok to smoke, or using caffeine to stay awake it's skilful?

Re: The vinaya should be updated

Posted: Sun Jun 30, 2013 9:59 am
by gavesako
A lot of monks seem to be heavy coffee drinkers. I am not, but I find tea useful for staying awake and not falling asleep during evening meditation. This seems to be the long-standing experience of Chinese and Japanese Zen monks as well.

Re: The vinaya should be updated

Posted: Sun Jun 30, 2013 10:11 am
by clw_uk
gavesako wrote:A lot of monks seem to be heavy coffee drinkers. I am not, but I find tea useful for staying awake and not falling asleep during evening meditation. This seems to be the long-standing experience of Chinese and Japanese Zen monks as well.

Hello bhante


What is the difference then between using a little bit of speed to stay awake or using a bit of caffeine?

If you take a small amount of speed you practically get the same effect as caffeine, mild euphoria and altertness.

Re: The vinaya should be updated

Posted: Sun Jun 30, 2013 10:29 am
by BlackBird
Respectfully I don't think the Buddha would have banned caffiene. It's not an intoxicant unless taken in excessively high level doses by which point the experience becomes really unpleasant - The average cup of coffee does not inhibit mindfulness. I would argue if anything, a cup of coffee helps promote mindfulness, or at least helps hold sloth and torpor at bay.

But that's just my 2cents.

Re: The vinaya should be updated

Posted: Sun Jun 30, 2013 11:04 am
by Modus.Ponens
I hope the vinaya is only changed because of very important reasons, and no other. And I consider the ban on dwarfism to be a very important reason. The smoking and caffeine, not so much.

Re: The vinaya should be updated

Posted: Sun Jun 30, 2013 11:44 am
by gavesako
The Buddha allowed various parts of plants such as leaves and roots and resins to be used as bhesajja (medicine) and even consumed in the afternoon. I suppose he followed the Ayurveda of his time and the advice of physicians like Jivaka on what is suitable and what is not. So these days we could certainly adapt some of this knowledge in accordance with modern research (such as on the effects of tobbaco). I can't tell from personal experience what the effect of speed or other substances is on the human mind, but one important factor in making decisions here is the public opinion. Whatever is objected to by the society at large and would be seen as a fault in the eyes of the world (loka-vajja) would not be suitable for a bhikkhu.

Re: The vinaya should be updated

Posted: Sun Jun 30, 2013 12:59 pm
by lyndon taylor
I would guess, there was plenty of tea of some kind was available in India in the Buddha's time and I would assume some of that tea contained caffeine, doesn't the highest grade tea come from India. For instance, green tea, I believe, contains some caffeine, just not as much. Lots of plants naturally contain caffeine not just black tea or green tea.

Well according to wikepedia, tea as we know it was introduced to India from China in the early 1800s; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_tea

Re: The vinaya should be updated

Posted: Sun Jun 30, 2013 4:19 pm
by binocular
gavesako wrote:A lot of monks seem to be heavy coffee drinkers.
But how does this fit with the concept of seeing food (and drink) as a requisite -

There is the case where a monk, considering it appropriately, takes his food not playfully, nor for intoxication, nor for putting on bulk, nor for beautification, but simply for the survival & continuance of this body, for ending its afflictions, for the support of the holy life, thinking, 'I will destroy old feelings [of hunger] & not create new feelings [from overeating]. Thus I will maintain myself, be blameless, & live in comfort.' This is how a monk knows moderation in eating.

and

"And these two, husband and wife, killed their only son, so dearly beloved by them, prepared dried and roasted meat, and, eating their son's flesh, crossed in that way the remaining part of the desert. And while eating their son's flesh, they were beating their breast and crying: 'Where are you, our only and beloved son? Where are you, our only and beloved son?'
"What do you think, O monks? Will they eat the food for the pleasure of it, for enjoyment, for comeliness' sake, for (the body's) embellishment?"[7]
"Certainly not, O Lord."
"Will they not rather eat the food merely for the sake of crossing the desert?"
"So it is, O Lord."
SN 12.63


?

Re: The vinaya should be updated

Posted: Sun Jun 30, 2013 4:22 pm
by binocular
gavesako wrote:A lot of monks seem to be heavy coffee drinkers. I am not, but I find tea useful for staying awake and not falling asleep during evening meditation. This seems to be the long-standing experience of Chinese and Japanese Zen monks as well.
All the legal drugs like coffee, tea, alcohol, nicotine only make me sleepy, drowsy.
I have no idea how people can function after having drunk a cup of coffee in the morning. I'd fall asleep.

Re: The vinaya should be updated

Posted: Sun Jun 30, 2013 5:01 pm
by Coyote
binocular wrote: All the legal drugs like coffee, tea, alcohol, nicotine only make me sleepy, drowsy.
I have no idea how people can function after having drunk a cup of coffee in the morning. I'd fall asleep.
I no longer drink caffeinated coffee, mainly because it disrupts my sleeping patterns and causes headaches and sickness if I missed my morning cup. The few times I have had coffee recently made me initially full of energy, but it soon gave way to tiredness, like a sugar slump. Tea isn't too bad, and I usually have a cup in the afternoon.
I think nicotine/cigarettes are borderline because of the addiction tenancy. Since tea and coffee do not have this effect unless you are a heavy drinker, I don't think the ban on intoxicants should include them.

Re: The vinaya should be updated

Posted: Sun Jun 30, 2013 5:45 pm
by DNS
Re: dwarfs

Ven. Bhaddiya was a dwarf during the time of the Buddha, ordained and attained enlightenment.
I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying near Sāvatthī at Jeta's Grove, Anāthapiṇḍika's monastery. And on that occasion Ven. Bhaddiya the Dwarf, following behind a large number of monks, was going to the Blessed One. From afar, the Blessed One saw Ven. Bhaddiya the Dwarf coming, following behind a large number of monks: ugly, unsightly, stunted, treated with condescension[1] by most of the monks. On seeing him, the Blessed One addressed the monks, "Monks, do you see that monk coming from afar, following behind a large number of monks: ugly, unsightly, stunted, treated with condescension by most of the monks?"

"Yes, lord."

"That, monks, is a monk of great power, great might. The attainment already attained by that monk is not of a sort easily attained. And by means of it he has reached & remains in the supreme goal of the holy life for which clansmen rightly go forth from home into homelessness, knowing & realizing it for himself right in the here-&-now."
Udana 7.5