What drugs were there in Ancient India?

Buddhist ethical conduct including the Five Precepts (Pañcasikkhāpada), and Eightfold Ethical Conduct (Aṭṭhasīla).
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salayatananirodha
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What drugs were there in Ancient India?

Post by salayatananirodha » Mon Jul 02, 2018 1:04 am

For lack of a history sub-forum, I decided to post here. I came across the below meme. Interestingly, there is a lot of debate over this fifth precept.

What I noticed is that a majority of people jump immediately to all substance-based appamāda or mindlessness.
Or they exclude 'tame' substances like caffeine and nicotine but include heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine and so on.
Or they say intoxication means only downers, not uppers. The simple fact is that at least two, possibly three words in the compound 'surāmerayamajjappamādaṭṭhāna' refer to alcohol explicitly. And majjapa is defined as a drunkard.
It is not insignificant Lord Buddha chose such words. Is it the case that only alcohol was widely used and that nowadays we have a wider variety of drugs?
It's important for us not to try to squeeze all of the misconduct we can into the pañcasīla. Because a lay follower is virtuous by keeping the five precepts https://suttacentral.net/an8.25/en/bodhi, and a sotāpanna possesses spotless virtues. We run the risk of unintentionally blaming noble people if we call minor offenses major (or major offenses minor). I'd like to open up this discussion and possibly return with more sources.
36471239_582335688819754_1305377119739576320_n.jpg
16. 'In what has the world originated?' — so said the Yakkha Hemavata, — 'with what is the world intimate? by what is the world afflicted, after having grasped at what?' (167)

17. 'In six the world has originated, O Hemavata,' — so said Bhagavat, — 'with six it is intimate, by six the world is afflicted, after having grasped at six.' (168)

- Hemavatasutta


links:
https://www.ancient-buddhist-texts.net/index.htm
http://thaiforestwisdom.org/canonical-texts/
http://seeingthroughthenet.net/
https://www.dhammatalks.org/index.html

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JamesTheGiant
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Re: What drugs were there in Ancient India?

Post by JamesTheGiant » Mon Jul 02, 2018 1:23 am

The psychedelic drink "Soma" was used for spiritual purposes in India from time immemorial.
Cannabis came into India about a thousand years before the Buddha.
But strangely there is no mention of drug use in the suttas at all. Just alcohol.

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salayatananirodha
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Re: What drugs were there in Ancient India?

Post by salayatananirodha » Mon Jul 02, 2018 4:01 am

I have also found it strange...

from http://www.buddhisma2z.com/content.php?id=482:
"In the Vinaya, the rules for monks and nuns, the sauna is referred to as a hot room (jantaghàra) or more specifically as a fire room (aggisàlà). The Vinaya gives a detailed description of how these saunas were designed and used. They consisted of a room with tight-fitting doors, windows and ceiling to keep the heat in. Seats and benches were arranged around a fire and there were bowls or troughs of water for sprinkling on the body and on rocks heated by the fire. Clothes were hung on wall pegs, drains led excess water away and pipes let the steam out (Vin.II,120-1).
... There were four kinds of `sweating treatment' (sambhàraseda); using steam made from water with certain herbs it, steam made from water with cannabis in it, `great sweating' and udakakottaka, which may have meant soaking in a tub of hot water (Vin.I,205)."

If this is correct, it verifies the medicinal aspect of cannabis. If we round up all drugs under the fifth precept, we transgress the vinaya.
It's clear that at minimum alcohol intoxication is not acceptable if you're following this precept. Is alcohol essentially worse than other drugs?
We also can't round up all intoxication in this rule because already in the seventh precept we have intoxication from entertainment. It's certainly a good idea not to abuse drugs in any case.
16. 'In what has the world originated?' — so said the Yakkha Hemavata, — 'with what is the world intimate? by what is the world afflicted, after having grasped at what?' (167)

17. 'In six the world has originated, O Hemavata,' — so said Bhagavat, — 'with six it is intimate, by six the world is afflicted, after having grasped at six.' (168)

- Hemavatasutta


links:
https://www.ancient-buddhist-texts.net/index.htm
http://thaiforestwisdom.org/canonical-texts/
http://seeingthroughthenet.net/
https://www.dhammatalks.org/index.html

dharmacorps
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Re: What drugs were there in Ancient India?

Post by dharmacorps » Mon Jul 02, 2018 11:03 pm

It isn't mentioned anywhere in the Canon, but supposedly opium poppy was known in Northern India at the time of the Buddha. It may not have been widespread as a drug of abuse until later though. There may have been considerable overlap between alcohol containing "medications" and herb/floral containing "medications".

Ruud
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Re: What drugs were there in Ancient India?

Post by Ruud » Tue Jul 03, 2018 2:16 am

While the first three parts of surāmerayamajjappamādaṭṭhāna seem to point at alcohol, I do not think we should forget the last part, pamādaṭṭhāna, leading to negligence/heedlessness. While modern drugs are (understandably) not mentioned, I think they can be counted under this precept for their effect of causing heedlessness and intoxication.
And about substances used as medicine, that is a very different story since the intention is very different (curing a disease vs. enjoying intoxication)
Dry up what pertains to the past,
do not take up anything to come later.
If you will not grasp in the middle,
you will live at peace.
—Snp.5.11,v.1099 (tr. Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi)

Whatever is will be was. —Ven. Ñānamoli, A Thinkers Notebook, §221

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salayatananirodha
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Re: What drugs were there in Ancient India?

Post by salayatananirodha » Tue Jul 03, 2018 4:10 am

Why wouldn't we also include, say, jūtappamāda? Heedlessness from games.

Alcohols, in various forms, are used within medicine as an antiseptic, disinfectant, and antidote.[1] Applied to the skin it is used to disinfect skin before a needle stick and before surgery.[2] It may be used both to disinfect the skin of the patient and the hands of the healthcare providers.[2] It can also be used to clean other areas.[2] It is used in mouthwashes.[3][4][5] Taken by mouth or injected into a vein it is used to treat methanol or ethylene glycol toxicity when fomepizole is not available.[1] Aside from these uses, alcohol has no other well-accepted medical uses,[6] the therapeutic index of ethanol is only 10:1.[7]
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcohol_(medicine)

Tossing this in here just for consideration. https://www.healthline.com/health-news/ ... ies-113013
16. 'In what has the world originated?' — so said the Yakkha Hemavata, — 'with what is the world intimate? by what is the world afflicted, after having grasped at what?' (167)

17. 'In six the world has originated, O Hemavata,' — so said Bhagavat, — 'with six it is intimate, by six the world is afflicted, after having grasped at six.' (168)

- Hemavatasutta


links:
https://www.ancient-buddhist-texts.net/index.htm
http://thaiforestwisdom.org/canonical-texts/
http://seeingthroughthenet.net/
https://www.dhammatalks.org/index.html

Ruud
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Re: What drugs were there in Ancient India?

Post by Ruud » Tue Jul 03, 2018 9:06 am

salayatananirodha wrote:
Tue Jul 03, 2018 4:10 am
Why wouldn't we also include, say, jūtappamāda? Heedlessness from games.
Did you ever get so “intoxicated” playing games that it lead to the death of someone? Or to sexual misconduct?
I think games fall much more under sense-restraint (comparable to the 7th precept).
salayatananirodha wrote:
Tue Jul 03, 2018 4:10 am
Alcohols, in various forms, are used within medicine as an antiseptic, disinfectant, and antidote.[1] Applied to the skin it is used to disinfect skin before a needle stick and before surgery.[2] It may be used both to disinfect the skin of the patient and the hands of the healthcare providers.[2] It can also be used to clean other areas.[2] It is used in mouthwashes.[3][4][5] Taken by mouth or injected into a vein it is used to treat methanol or ethylene glycol toxicity when fomepizole is not available.[1] Aside from these uses, alcohol has no other well-accepted medical uses,[6] the therapeutic index of ethanol is only 10:1.[7]
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcohol_(medicine)
The way I understand it these uses would not fall under the precepts
Dry up what pertains to the past,
do not take up anything to come later.
If you will not grasp in the middle,
you will live at peace.
—Snp.5.11,v.1099 (tr. Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi)

Whatever is will be was. —Ven. Ñānamoli, A Thinkers Notebook, §221

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salayatananirodha
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Re: What drugs were there in Ancient India?

Post by salayatananirodha » Wed Jul 04, 2018 4:56 am

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/tru ... 6ad44cad34
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to- ... owl-chaos/
https://www.addictions.com/gambling/

I'd think you were underestimating the allure of such things. It might be easier too to see the drawbacks in alcohol when you wake up with a hangover.
My point with the wikipedia link was to show alcohol has a low potential as medicine, whereas other drugs arguably have a higher potential, and many of them are less fatal.
toxicity.jpg
I've called into question this fifth precept because many speak with assumed certainty on how they feel about it, when 1) drugs are not the only source of appamāda and 2) there is a notable variety of drugs that may or may not be as ethically significant as alcohol. Is taking LSD and hallucinating going to cause someone to die or to engage in sexual misconduct? Has anyone ever died from smoking marijuana or ever expressed a violent tendency that they would not without that influence? Heroin is more fatal according to this diagram than alcohol, but does it reduce shame in the same way? Do you inject heroin and 'black out', doing unethical deeds? Or do you just pass out.
https://simplesuttas.wordpress.com/2013/02/27/alcohol/
I'm not against including other drugs, but the evidence here for me is lacking. :toast:
16. 'In what has the world originated?' — so said the Yakkha Hemavata, — 'with what is the world intimate? by what is the world afflicted, after having grasped at what?' (167)

17. 'In six the world has originated, O Hemavata,' — so said Bhagavat, — 'with six it is intimate, by six the world is afflicted, after having grasped at six.' (168)

- Hemavatasutta


links:
https://www.ancient-buddhist-texts.net/index.htm
http://thaiforestwisdom.org/canonical-texts/
http://seeingthroughthenet.net/
https://www.dhammatalks.org/index.html

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seeker242
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Re: What drugs were there in Ancient India?

Post by seeker242 » Wed Jul 04, 2018 7:13 am

Bhang, an intoxicating drink made from cannabis, was in use and is still used today. Alcohol was not the only "intoxicating drink" of the time.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bhang

Ruud
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Re: What drugs were there in Ancient India?

Post by Ruud » Wed Jul 04, 2018 7:31 am

salayatananirodha wrote:
Wed Jul 04, 2018 4:56 am
...
I understand your point about alcohol as a medicine. I also agree certain substances could be used as drugs. In that regard though, when used as medicine, not as enjoyment, in my understanding they do not fall under the precept. When you had a car accident and your doctor says you need morphine for the pain, I really hope you don’t refuse it because you are keeping the precepts. And how fatal they are for that use do not enter into it, except as a medical decision of the doctor. But it becomes a very different story when you don’t need it but take it because it makes you feel good.

There are indeed other things that can cause heedlessness. Where I think the difference lies is whether they are physical or mental causes. Alcohol and other drugs cloud the mind because of the effect they have on the body. No matter how hard you try, you can’t think yourself sober or thinking clearly when you want to because the body is under influence. Whereas your examples about gaming etc. are situations that do not have a physical/chemical component, and are only in the mind, and therefore can be, ideally, stopped by the mind. People don’t because they are not mindful, but if they wanted to they could be.
In other words:
Alcohol, drugs, etc. should be countered by abstention so that the body does not come under its influence (and thereby the mind).
Games, entertainments etc. should be countered by sense restraint and mindfulness so that the mind does not get under its influence.

Eventhough the precept itself mentions only alcohol, based on the above I think we can include drugs etc. in here, reading the spirit of the rule, not just the letter.

But again, that’s just my interpretation.
Dry up what pertains to the past,
do not take up anything to come later.
If you will not grasp in the middle,
you will live at peace.
—Snp.5.11,v.1099 (tr. Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi)

Whatever is will be was. —Ven. Ñānamoli, A Thinkers Notebook, §221

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salayatananirodha
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Re: What drugs were there in Ancient India?

Post by salayatananirodha » Wed Jul 04, 2018 6:28 pm

In such a case, we must definitely include cigarettes; how else could it be?
More food for thought: https://sites.psu.edu/siowfa15/2015/12/ ... -as-drugs/
If gaming intoxication can be stopped by the mind, so can alcohol intoxication. Part of that is fostering the intention not to induce that state.
If the problem is pleasant feeling, how about having sex?
16. 'In what has the world originated?' — so said the Yakkha Hemavata, — 'with what is the world intimate? by what is the world afflicted, after having grasped at what?' (167)

17. 'In six the world has originated, O Hemavata,' — so said Bhagavat, — 'with six it is intimate, by six the world is afflicted, after having grasped at six.' (168)

- Hemavatasutta


links:
https://www.ancient-buddhist-texts.net/index.htm
http://thaiforestwisdom.org/canonical-texts/
http://seeingthroughthenet.net/
https://www.dhammatalks.org/index.html

Ruud
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Re: What drugs were there in Ancient India?

Post by Ruud » Thu Jul 05, 2018 1:11 am

salayatananirodha wrote:
Wed Jul 04, 2018 6:28 pm
In such a case, we must definitely include cigarettes; how else could it be?
If you feel smoking clouds your mind than yes, cigarettes can be included. I don’t know since I never smoked.
salayatananirodha wrote:
Wed Jul 04, 2018 6:28 pm
If gaming intoxication can be stopped by the mind, so can alcohol intoxication. Part of that is fostering the intention not to induce that state.
My point is that the intoxication is of a different kind. If I give you a bottle of whiskey to drink, you can indeed say “no thanks”, in line with the precept. The precept protected you from intoxication. But if you would decide to drink the whole bottle, no matter how strong you want to, you can not think yourself sober. You can think “it would be better if I go home so that nothing bad happens” but that is it. But on the way home you could still kill someone driving drunkenly. In the case of the game, you might be addicted to playing the game, but if you decide to go home as in the above example, your mind is not clouded anymore physically. One, once actually indulged in, changes the body and thereby the mind, one changes just the mind. That to me is a significant difference.
salayatananirodha wrote:
Wed Jul 04, 2018 6:28 pm
If the problem is pleasant feeling, how about having sex?
The problem is not just pleasant feeling. One can also want to be intoxicated out of aversion, just to forget.
But sex in itself, if done with a suitable partner in line with the third precept, is not immoral. One does have to be careful with indulging in it, but there we come back to sense-restraint and mindfulness again.

To me, what you are proposing falls under the five precepts regarding gaming, entertainment, sex etc., actually falls under the eight uposatha precepts.
Dry up what pertains to the past,
do not take up anything to come later.
If you will not grasp in the middle,
you will live at peace.
—Snp.5.11,v.1099 (tr. Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi)

Whatever is will be was. —Ven. Ñānamoli, A Thinkers Notebook, §221

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salayatananirodha
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Re: What drugs were there in Ancient India?

Post by salayatananirodha » Thu Jul 05, 2018 5:12 am

We disagree on the residue of a cognizable mental object. You go to see a movie you like and it might stay with you for days or years, you always have it in your memory to access after the show. Upon further examination, you might see it like this. You approached a point of agreement with me which is intention being kamma. I'm not a materialist; as such, I think this intoxication of a bottle of whiskey is mind-made, it is the result of kamma. Your body will be 'intoxicated' if a sufficient quantity of alcohol enters your system, but unless you intended to drink it, your mind won't be affected. This is due to the arising and ceasing nature of dhammā, things or phenomena. If no kamma is present, there is no invasion of the mind by them.
Certainly, the entertainment/games and so on come under the higher precepts, I don't mean to quarrel about it. I'd like to point you to hatthaka sutta to qualify a previous point:

"But cold, lord, is the winter night. The 'Between-the-Eights'[1] is a time of snowfall. Hard is the ground trampled by cattle hooves. Thin is the spread of leaves. Sparse are the leaves in the trees. Thin are your ochre robes. And cold blows the Verambha wind. Yet still the Blessed One says, 'Yes, young man. I have slept in ease. Of those in the world who sleep in ease, I am one.'"

"In that case, young man, I will question you in return. Answer as you see fit. Now, what do you think: Suppose a householder or householder's son has a house with a gabled roof, plastered inside & out, draft-free, with close-fitting door & windows shut against the wind. Inside he has a horse-hair couch spread with a long-fleeced coverlet, a white wool coverlet, an embroidered coverlet, a rug of kadali-deer hide, with a canopy above, & red cushions on either side. And there a lamp would be burning, and his four wives, with their many charms, would be attending to him. Would he sleep in ease, or not? Or how does this strike you?"

"Yes, lord, he would sleep in ease. Of those in the world who sleep in ease, he would be one."

"But what do you think, young man. Might there arise in that householder or householder's son any bodily fevers or fevers of mind born of passion so that — burned with those passion-born fevers — he would sleep miserably?"

"Yes, lord."

"As for those passion-born fevers — burned with which the householder or householder's son would sleep miserably — that passion has been abandoned by the Tathagata, its root destroyed, made like a palmyra stump, deprived of the conditions of development, not destined for future arising. Therefore he sleeps in ease.


You might say these women are continuously applying stimulus to the man in his sleep, but I think the point is that sensuality has a lasting effect in the mind, much like alcohol has a lasting effect on the body.
Cigarettes can very well cloud the mind and inspire harsh words if you go cold turkey on them after developing a habit. Why do you think it is that a lot of people don't consider this a breach of the precept?

- karuṇā :pig:
16. 'In what has the world originated?' — so said the Yakkha Hemavata, — 'with what is the world intimate? by what is the world afflicted, after having grasped at what?' (167)

17. 'In six the world has originated, O Hemavata,' — so said Bhagavat, — 'with six it is intimate, by six the world is afflicted, after having grasped at six.' (168)

- Hemavatasutta


links:
https://www.ancient-buddhist-texts.net/index.htm
http://thaiforestwisdom.org/canonical-texts/
http://seeingthroughthenet.net/
https://www.dhammatalks.org/index.html

Ruud
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Re: What drugs were there in Ancient India?

Post by Ruud » Thu Jul 05, 2018 8:10 am

Yeah, I now also see we come from two very different directions.
salayatananirodha wrote:
Thu Jul 05, 2018 5:12 am
You approached a point of agreement with me which is intention being kamma. I'm not a materialist; as such, I think this intoxication of a bottle of whiskey is mind-made, it is the result of kamma. Your body will be 'intoxicated' if a sufficient quantity of alcohol enters your system, but unless you intended to drink it, your mind won't be affected. This is due to the arising and ceasing nature of dhammā, things or phenomena. If no kamma is present, there is no invasion of the mind by them.
I indeed agree that intention/volition is kamma. But I can’t see how what you write next follows from that. If I secretly feed you that bottle of whiskey without you knowing (and therefore not intending), you will still get drunk. That’s just biology. You did not break the precept, because you didn’t intend to drink alcohol, but you are drunk nonetheless.
And being drunk, you are more at risk of breaking the other four precepts because of your clouded mind.
salayatananirodha wrote:
Thu Jul 05, 2018 5:12 am
I'd like to point you to hatthaka sutta to qualify a previous point:

"But cold, lord, is the winter night. The 'Between-the-Eights'[1] is a time of snowfall. Hard is the ground trampled by cattle hooves. Thin is the spread of leaves. Sparse are the leaves in the trees. Thin are your ochre robes. And cold blows the Verambha wind. Yet still the Blessed One says, 'Yes, young man. I have slept in ease. Of those in the world who sleep in ease, I am one.'"

"In that case, young man, I will question you in return. Answer as you see fit. Now, what do you think: Suppose a householder or householder's son has a house with a gabled roof, plastered inside & out, draft-free, with close-fitting door & windows shut against the wind. Inside he has a horse-hair couch spread with a long-fleeced coverlet, a white wool coverlet, an embroidered coverlet, a rug of kadali-deer hide, with a canopy above, & red cushions on either side. And there a lamp would be burning, and his four wives, with their many charms, would be attending to him. Would he sleep in ease, or not? Or how does this strike you?"

"Yes, lord, he would sleep in ease. Of those in the world who sleep in ease, he would be one."

"But what do you think, young man. Might there arise in that householder or householder's son any bodily fevers or fevers of mind born of passion so that — burned with those passion-born fevers — he would sleep miserably?"

"Yes, lord."

"As for those passion-born fevers — burned with which the householder or householder's son would sleep miserably — that passion has been abandoned by the Tathagata, its root destroyed, made like a palmyra stump, deprived of the conditions of development, not destined for future arising. Therefore he sleeps in ease.


You might say these women are continuously applying stimulus to the man in his sleep, but I think the point is that sensuality has a lasting effect in the mind, much like alcohol has a lasting effect on the body.
I think your conclusion does not follow from that sutta. If you look at the whole sutta (https://suttacentral.net/an3.35/en/bodhi), it covers not only lust but also hatred and delusion. The Buddha sleeps comfortably because he has abandoned the roots that could disturb his sleep, no matter where he sleeps. The rich man has not abandoned those and thus is at risk (“might” not “will certainly”) of being swept away by them. The Buddha found a more sure and safe comfort than the rich man. I do not think that this sutta is about sexual ethics.
salayatananirodha wrote:
Thu Jul 05, 2018 5:12 am
Cigarettes can very well cloud the mind and inspire harsh words if you go cold turkey on them after developing a habit. Why do you think it is that a lot of people don't consider this a breach of the precept?
As I said, I never smoked a single cigarette so I can’t say whether they do or don’t cloud the mind when consuming them. Why people don’t think it is a breach? Considering that people over and over even try to discuss whether no alcohol means really really no alcohol, it is not that surprising to me that cigarettes, which appear far less intoxicating than alcohol, are even less considered included in the precept by people.
Dry up what pertains to the past,
do not take up anything to come later.
If you will not grasp in the middle,
you will live at peace.
—Snp.5.11,v.1099 (tr. Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi)

Whatever is will be was. —Ven. Ñānamoli, A Thinkers Notebook, §221

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_anicca_
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Re: What drugs were there in Ancient India?

Post by _anicca_ » Fri Jul 06, 2018 12:30 am

Smoking and gambling don't violate the 5th precept.

An addiction, like to food or sex, that does not directly cause the brain to become intoxicated does not violate the precept.

People who are binge eaters, smokers, and gamblers very much have their wits about them compared to smoking pot or drinking alcohol.

Monks smoke in Thailand because it used to be considered medicinal.

Of course, these are shameful behaviors, so they aren't exactly good even if they don't violate the precepts.
"A virtuous monk, Kotthita my friend, should attend in an appropriate way to the five clinging-aggregates as inconstant, stressful, a disease, a cancer, an arrow, painful, an affliction, alien, a dissolution, an emptiness, not-self."

:buddha1:

http://vipassanameditation.asia

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