Fifth Precept / Caffeine

Buddhist ethical conduct including the Five Precepts (Pañcasikkhāpada), and Eightfold Ethical Conduct (Aṭṭhasīla).
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Hickersonia
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Re: Fifth Precept / Caffeine

Post by Hickersonia » Sun Jan 29, 2012 7:45 pm

Very interesting perspectives here, and I appreciate everyone's point of view. :) I apologize if the question got anyone worked up / irritated, as that surely wasn't my intention.

I also appreciate the idea that meditation should help me resolve such issues. Thank you, Bhikkhu Pesala, for that.
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Sovatthika
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Re: Fifth Precept / Caffeine

Post by Sovatthika » Wed Jul 19, 2017 8:07 am

to me, if you seek out coffee to illicit those feelings, to fulfill a craving (impossible), then you are violating the precept. i know that's an extreme interpretation, but the heart of it is attaining sati, mindfulness. following the precepts is all good, but you can't without employing right view, right effort
i gather the precept pertains to substances producing heedlessness -- not just alcohol, and i take intoxicants to be any substance that inhibits sati. while the kind of low-effort buddhism that allows one to 'enjoy' caffeine produces results if heedful in other areas, it's more susceptible to corruption due to lack of effort. and caffeine is a psychoactive drug (unlike a perhaps necessary drug like penicillin) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychoactive_drug

edit: i understand that thc and cbd both can stop seizures nearly cold. i still can't really condone it for its mind-altering properties, but right intention might negate that
namo tassa bhagavato arahato sammā sambuddhassa

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Re: Fifth Precept / Caffeine

Post by Garrib » Sat Jul 22, 2017 2:22 am

Dhammomhi wrote:to me, if you seek out coffee to illicit those feelings, to fulfill a craving (impossible), then you are violating the precept. i know that's an extreme interpretation, but the heart of it is attaining sati, mindfulness. following the precepts is all good, but you can't without employing right view, right effort
i gather the precept pertains to substances producing heedlessness -- not just alcohol, and i take intoxicants to be any substance that inhibits sati. while the kind of low-effort buddhism that allows one to 'enjoy' caffeine produces results if heedful in other areas, it's more susceptible to corruption due to lack of effort. and caffeine is a psychoactive drug (unlike a perhaps necessary drug like penicillin) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychoactive_drug

edit: i understand that thc and cbd both can stop seizures nearly cold. i still can't really condone it for its mind-altering properties, but right intention might negate that
I think you are correct that the Dhamma is about overcoming craving - and if anything you're doing is leading to more sensual craving, then at some point you will have to let go of it. However, I don't think coffee rises to the level of breaking a precept - if it did, I would abandon it...One eats food to fulfill a craving for food and continued existence - eating food is not breaking a precept. When a person drinks liquor for the first time, they are not satisfying an addiction - they really don't know what is going to happen to them, subjectively. Nonetheless, they would be breaking the 5th precept in doing so.

I certainly don't think there is anything wrong with abstaining from drinking coffee - it may well be a useful practice, but my current understanding is that it is not part of the 5th precept. (And I certainly do hope so because I am nursing a cup of coffee right now!)

Best,

Brad

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Sovatthika
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Re: Fifth Precept / Caffeine

Post by Sovatthika » Sat Jul 22, 2017 3:13 am

if you would, entertain
what's the purpose of coffee? can it sustain your health, does it give life like food does
and i'm not trying to say any pointless actions are against said precept, just the ones that involve mind altering substances. i guess there are degrees of success/failure and alcohol is more demonized, but maybe
idk
namo tassa bhagavato arahato sammā sambuddhassa

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Re: Fifth Precept / Caffeine

Post by Garrib » Sat Jul 22, 2017 7:59 am

Dhammomhi wrote:if you would, entertain
what's the purpose of coffee? can it sustain your health, does it give life like food does
and i'm not trying to say any pointless actions are against said precept, just the ones that involve mind altering substances. i guess there are degrees of success/failure and alcohol is more demonized, but maybe
idk
Having experienced drinking both coffee and alcohol (clean now) I can say for sure that alcohol has a major effect on your mind. I've never had a coffee hangover and I am able to meditate after drinking it...I can't say the same for alcohol. Alcohol and drugs also contribute to other unskillful behaviors in a way that coffee and tea simply do not. And yes, I think coffee and tea can be good for your health in moderate doses, provided you are also drinking enough water.

I guess the main reason that I don't think twice about drinking coffee or tea is that I've yet to come across a reputable Buddhist teacher that interprets the precept in that way, in addition to the fact that I have not experienced drinking caffeinated beverages weakening my mindfulness, moral behavior, etc...As long as I don't drink alcohol or use drugs, or any other substances with the intention of getting intoxicated, I tend to think that I have succeeded in keeping the precept. I don't view coffee and tea as failures at all - At the same time, I am willing to keep an open mind on the subject...If I come across some convincing Dhamma that condemns it, I will abandon immediately.

Thanks for the convo!
:smile:
MettaKaruna,

Brad

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Sovatthika
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Re: Fifth Precept / Caffeine

Post by Sovatthika » Sat Jul 22, 2017 8:49 am

i would actually like to pin this down, since it's a common thing to say apparently; i quit alcohol too and i was something like a daily drinker. i wouldn't have called myself an alcoholic though, and i don't really believe it was that great a problem for me. i didn't have withdrawals, i would only have hangovers if i wasn't diligent about taking in water
i mainly quit because it pissed off my mom, and she would harass me to stop so i finally did
i mean i had my drinking down to a science almost, and yes, it was a huge problem when i was younger and the way most people use alcohol is extremely irresponsible.
this thread has been going for days, so i don't remember; have we pinned down a definition of intoxication? i would have done careless things on alcohol for sure, but i don't think it would've made me prone to violence. maybe sex yeah
ok ignore what i said about 'this thread' as i had mixed it up with a different thread; anyway, yes, mindfulness. without sounding accusatory, have you gone without caffeine in a while? oh, and the health argument can totally be made for alcohol, e.g., one glass of wine for heart health. i feel like irritability was a huge problem coming off nicotine and that is basically the case with regular stimulants; it affects your mood
i'm willing to be wrong here i just want to know why
namo tassa bhagavato arahato sammā sambuddhassa

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Re: Fifth Precept / Caffeine

Post by seeker242 » Sat Jul 22, 2017 12:22 pm

Dhammomhi wrote: this thread has been going for days, so i don't remember; have we pinned down a definition of intoxication?
I think it been pinned down that caffeine doesn't break the precept. :meditate:

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Sovatthika
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Re: Fifth Precept / Caffeine

Post by Sovatthika » Sun Jul 23, 2017 3:07 am

no it hasn't, and i think you've been less than kind
namo tassa bhagavato arahato sammā sambuddhassa

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Re: Fifth Precept / Caffeine

Post by Garrib » Sun Jul 23, 2017 4:15 am

Dhammomhi wrote:no it hasn't, and i think you've been less than kind
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z0RU0zZqPtk
https://www.thaivisa.com/forum/topic/35 ... h-precept/
IMO, caffeine is not a breach of the precept. Anything you take into your body is going to have some effect on you - but not all substances can be considered intoxicants that cause heedlessness. Alcohol and drugs (illegal drugs/mind altering substances) can.

I found this from a muslim perspective: http://seekershub.org/ans-blog/2011/07/ ... -not-haram - similar reasoning here. (I'm not muslim and don't encourage anyone to become muslim, I just thought it was interesting to see the similarities across traditions).

I think it ultimately boils down to common sense - the effect of caffeine is going to be very minor, and likely you are just looking for a little wakefulness and/or enjoy the taste - you are not trying to get intoxicated and you aren't going to become inebriated, unconscious, or out of control.

Again, there is nothing wrong in abstaining from caffeine - if it is a problem for you or you just want to cut it out, by all means, do so. I think I eventually would like to do that myself.

Best,

Brad

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Re: Fifth Precept / Caffeine

Post by ieee23 » Sun Jul 23, 2017 5:34 pm

Usually this point is used as a rationalization for people who want to use recreations drugs/alcohol, but the spirit behind the 5th precept is to avoid imbibing things that make you act to the detriment of your karma and that make it harder to spend the maximum amount of time in mindfulness in the present moment.

Too much caffeine definatley does that to me. It can make me short tempered and interfere with my presence of mind.

On the other hand when I have short nights, or exhausting days, the same caffeine can help me function at a better level for getting good things done.

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Re: Fifth Precept / Caffeine

Post by Invokingvajras » Thu Aug 03, 2017 8:03 am

Dhammaboy wrote:caffeine is a psychoactive drug (unlike a perhaps necessary drug like penicillin) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychoactive_drug
That pretty much sums it up.

One thing to consider is that psychoactive drugs can be administered to others for medicinal purposes. While I don't think consumption of caffeine is quite on par with the offense of intoxication through alcohol, sobriety is the ideal state.

It all depends on where you are in your practice. Right effort is a key factor, and for some that is incredibly difficult to maintain, based on any number of factors in our respective, present lives. When practicing Dhamma, integrity is everything.
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