Observing the 5th Precept

Buddhist ethical conduct including the Five Precepts (Pañcasikkhāpada), and Eightfold Ethical Conduct (Aṭṭhasīla).
andrewCLXIV
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Observing the 5th Precept

Post by andrewCLXIV » Mon Apr 30, 2018 6:58 am

I've got a question for everyone who used to consume alcohol (or any other intoxicant) but has since stopped. I'm a convert to Buddhism, and looking to observe the 5th Precept. However, I've realized that a good number of my social activities with friends involve alcohol. It seems a trip to the bar is what a lot of people want after most events, whether it's a lunch out, a regular weekend, vacation, etc. I don't want to become alienated from them, and certainly don't want to come off as judgmental, but I also realize that giving up intoxicants is important for spiritual progress. How did you make the transition, and what effects did it have on your relationships with your friends?

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Sam Vara
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Re: Observing the 5th Precept

Post by Sam Vara » Mon Apr 30, 2018 10:05 am

andrewCLXIV wrote:
Mon Apr 30, 2018 6:58 am
I've got a question for everyone who used to consume alcohol (or any other intoxicant) but has since stopped. I'm a convert to Buddhism, and looking to observe the 5th Precept. However, I've realized that a good number of my social activities with friends involve alcohol. It seems a trip to the bar is what a lot of people want after most events, whether it's a lunch out, a regular weekend, vacation, etc. I don't want to become alienated from them, and certainly don't want to come off as judgmental, but I also realize that giving up intoxicants is important for spiritual progress. How did you make the transition, and what effects did it have on your relationships with your friends?
I think the answer depends very much on one's age, culture, and social circumstances. I gave up alcohol because I used to practice and teach a type of martial arts activity which left one feeling very bright and energised. People would go to the bar afterwards, but I realised that the good feelings were rapidly dissipated by even the first sip of alcohol. People were able to respect this when I told them why I didn't want to drink.

As I've grown older, I have noticed less pressure from others to drink alcohol. If people ask, I just tell them that I don't like it, and that's normally good enough. If they ask about Buddhism, I tell them that refraining from alcohol helps me keep a clear mind, which I like. Sometimes, people assume that I am physically intolerant, or am a recovering alcoholic, and just let the matter drop. There is also a big taboo now about drinking and driving. I've heard that in my country (UK) there is now more tolerance of people not drinking; it's not such an issue.

It might be difficult, of course, if someone is moving from regular social drinking to teetotalism within the same group of friends. I think the best approach then is to say that you realised that for you it was not helpful, but that you are fine about others drinking. Make yourself the odd one out (rather than them), but not so odd that they want to turn it into an issue.

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mikenz66
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Re: Observing the 5th Precept

Post by mikenz66 » Mon Apr 30, 2018 11:25 am

Well said, Sam. I could add that the drink-driving concern means that people can be quite appreciative to have a non-drinker around. I sometimes find myself ferrying my wife's friends home...

And not drinking doesn't mean you have to be glum, boring, or preachy... In fact, if that is the case, I'd be worried.

:heart:
Mike

LaRosa
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Re: Observing the 5th Precept

Post by LaRosa » Mon Apr 30, 2018 1:44 pm

" I don't want to become alienated from them, and certainly don't want to come off as judgmental,"

Dear Andrew, I have been sober for 35 years now, and I would suggest that you are being overly concerned about the perceptions of those you call friends. I was a heavy drinker as were most of my friends. And when I quit drinking those people quit being my so-called friends. By choosing the 'right' path you must not be concerned with others judgment. And you can't alienate others. Only they can do that.

Further I would suggest that you look into the concept of dependent origination. It is quite deep so I will not attempt a cursory explanation. But suffice to say that having chosen this path one must be clear with intent on the deeper meaning of cessation of suffering. This means that you can learn great lessons from this struggle by examining your need or 'craving' for the elements which you have described. For example you might meditate on your desire to maintain your status quo. Or why you fear the judgment of others?

This is a long and winding road. Walk it slowly enjoying every aspect of your liberation from alcohol. Give yourself love for achieving release from a path of toxic elements.

With Loving Kindness, April Rose
[please feel free to stay in touch with me] :candle:

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Dhammarakkhito
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Re: Observing the 5th Precept

Post by Dhammarakkhito » Tue May 01, 2018 12:26 am

if they have a problem, it's theirs, not yours, unless you make it yours.

How can someone practice both for themselves and others?…He does not drink alcohol and encourages other people not to drink alcohol.
-AN 4.99


Anyone that gambles, drinks alcohol, has affairs, associates with bad characters, he wanes like the moon in its waning phase.
- DN 31

https://simplesuttas.wordpress.com/2013/02/27/alcohol/

"A layman who has chosen to practice this Dhamma should not indulge in the drinking of intoxicants. He should not drink them nor encourage others to do so; realizing that it leads to madness. Through intoxication foolish people perform evil deeds and cause other heedless people to do likewise. He should avoid intoxication, this occasion for demerit, which stupefies the mind, and is the pleasure of foolish people.

Do not kill a living being;
do not take what is not given;
do not speak a lie;
do not drink intoxicants;
abstain from sexual intercourse;...

*https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .irel.html

"Meghiya, when a monk has admirable people as friends, companions, and colleagues, it is to be expected that he will be virtuous, will dwell restrained in accordance with the Patimokkha, consummate in his behavior and sphere of activity, and will train himself, having undertaken the training rules, seeing danger in the slightest faults.

"When a monk has admirable people as friends, companions, and colleagues, it is to be expected that he will get to hear at will, easily and without difficulty, talk that is truly sobering and conducive to the opening of awareness, i.e., talk on modesty, on contentment, on seclusion, on non-entanglement, on arousing persistence, on virtue, on concentration, on discernment, on release, and on the knowledge and vision of release.

"When a monk has admirable people as friends, companions, and colleagues, it is to be expected that he will keep his persistence aroused for abandoning unskillful qualities, and for taking on skillful qualities — steadfast, solid in his effort, not shirking his duties with regard to skillful qualities.

"When a monk has admirable people as friends, companions, and colleagues, it is to be expected that he will be discerning, endowed with discernment of arising and passing away — noble, penetrating, leading to the right ending of stress."

— Ud 4.1


I'm blind, my eyes are destroyed. I've stumbled on a wilderness track. Even if I must crawl, I'll go on, but not with an evil companion.

— Thag 95

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/dha ... ttata.html

suttas on lay people and on friendships:
https://suttacentral.net/dn31/en/kelly-sawyer-yareham
*
https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html

the answer isnt what you may want to hear and what a lot of people on this forum wont agree with
you cant go to bars as if you approve of their behavior. thats not helping them, it's enticing you and encouraging them.
i used to be offended by people who wouldnt drink now i dont drink, if you can help someone be a good person you are their friend otherwise you are a burden and should stay away from them for your benefit and theirs
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rightviewftw
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Re: Observing the 5th Precept

Post by rightviewftw » Tue May 01, 2018 12:57 am

Long story but i more or less converted all my close friends
My advice is to train a lot and very seriously, at least periodically
when you change for the better your friends will see that

It is different when you tell your friends you are keeping 8+ precepts and meditating several hours a day, they will probably be interested in why you are doing it and how that is going instead of focusing on the non-drinking part. Everybody has the same existential problems and it might give you an opening to discuss those things.

Also when you are serious about the training and are pushing yourself to places you never gone it is kind of a given that you do not drink, most people will understand that it would be counter productive. I experienced a lot of back and forth from friends, some teasing and tempting behaviors but also a lot of support and questions.

I had to expell one guy from my life eventually because his behavior was just terrible.

My drug of choice was always weed tho, so i never really had the social drinking kind of friends but i had several drug dealer friends.
Last edited by rightviewftw on Tue May 01, 2018 1:46 am, edited 2 times in total.
How to meditate: Anapanasati, Satipatthana.
Intro to General Semantics
Factors & Perceptions

Parallel Dhammapada Reading
Chinese to Eng Dhp
"The statements; 'With the remainderless stopping & fading of the six contact-media is it the case that there is anything else?' '.. is it the case that there is not anything else .. is it the case that there both is & is not anything else .. is it the case that there neither is nor is not anything else?' objectify non-objectification. However far the six contact-media go, that is how far objectification goes."

Digity
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Re: Observing the 5th Precept

Post by Digity » Tue May 01, 2018 1:37 am

First off, if you decide to stop drinking and your friends don't want to hang out with you then those were not real friends...they were drinking buddies.

When I stopped drinking it created some awkwardness with my old friends who knew I use to drink. They didn't like seeing me stop. However, they knew I had an interest in Buddhism and some figured out why I stopped. Now they've just accepted the fact that i don't drink...but it took some awkward times to get to this point where it's now just normal for me not to drink.

Looking back, I'm glad I stopped drinking. It's not something I regret doing, but I had some tough moments along the way...like going to a open bar resort for a wedding where everyone was getting hammered drunk every night and I sat their with my coke, etc. I really wanted to drink during that vacation, but I stuck to my guns and didn't. Moments like that really test your commitment.

Like others have said, the age you quit really makes a difference. I stopped in my early 30s, but there's less pressure to drink then than in your 20s. Not sure I had the willpower to due it back in my 20s. I was too busy just trying to fit in and hang out with people....Dhamma practice was sort of low on the list back then. Once I got into my 30s I think I started taking it more seriously. Having said that, nothing good came out of all my drinking in my twenties...did some regrettable things under the influence.

Just remember, a good friend won't care if you drink or not.

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Re: Observing the 5th Precept

Post by atharva2k » Mon May 28, 2018 11:48 am

Hello, just wanted to chime in. I stopped drinking at 18, much before I encountered Buddhism. At that age, there was a lot of pressure from my friends to drink. One of my friends even used to get angry at me because I wouldn't drink at her parties. But, as I got older and did not change my stance, they just dropped it. Now they know and accept it. If you are firm and they are your real friends, they will eventually come around.

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egon
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Re: Observing the 5th Precept

Post by egon » Fri Jun 01, 2018 4:55 pm

andrewCLXIV wrote:
Mon Apr 30, 2018 6:58 am
I've got a question for everyone who used to consume alcohol (or any other intoxicant) but has since stopped. I'm a convert to Buddhism, and looking to observe the 5th Precept. However, I've realized that a good number of my social activities with friends involve alcohol. It seems a trip to the bar is what a lot of people want after most events, whether it's a lunch out, a regular weekend, vacation, etc. I don't want to become alienated from them, and certainly don't want to come off as judgmental, but I also realize that giving up intoxicants is important for spiritual progress. How did you make the transition, and what effects did it have on your relationships with your friends?
Hi andrewCLXIV. I've recently gone totally sober as well. I stopped going to bars after my kids were born though, so thankfully I haven't experienced that particular struggle. I think some good advice is this: if you can participate in the activity and keep the 5th precept without difficulty, go and be social! Have FUN! Be friendly! The 5th precept is for keeping a clear head, which prevents wrong speech and wrong action among other things. If people give you a friendly hard time about it, laugh it off. If people are unpleasant about it, let that roll off as well.

Their reaction isn't about you. It's about them. I read something recently: "We would all worry less about what other people think about us if we realized how little they actually do."

SarathW
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Re: Observing the 5th Precept

Post by SarathW » Sat Jun 02, 2018 10:47 am

How did you make the transition
I just stopped.
After joining Dhamma Wheel about five years ago. I felt it is inappropriate to teach Dhamma and consume alcohol.
I still have a lot of peer group pressure to consume alcohol but I never gave to them.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

ieee23
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Re: Observing the 5th Precept

Post by ieee23 » Sat Jun 02, 2018 4:40 pm

Go out with your friends. Get a look-alike-drink. Gingerale in a mug instead of beer. Club soda with lime in a glass with ice. Cranberry juice, etc. If anyone asks, say its for your health, doctor's orders. If they have a problems with that, they were never your friends to begin with, only drinking buddies.
Whatever a bhikkhu frequently thinks and ponders upon, that will become the inclination of his mind. - MN 19

ieee23
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Re: Observing the 5th Precept

Post by ieee23 » Sat Jun 02, 2018 4:41 pm

SarathW wrote:
Sat Jun 02, 2018 10:47 am
How did you make the transition
I just stopped.
After joining Dhamma Wheel about five years ago. I felt it is inappropriate to teach Dhamma and consume alcohol.
I still have a lot of peer group pressure to consume alcohol but I never gave to them.
:twothumbsup: :twothumbsup: :twothumbsup:

So much rationalization around the 5th precept. It is refreshing to read about someone who put that aside and who simply did it.
Whatever a bhikkhu frequently thinks and ponders upon, that will become the inclination of his mind. - MN 19

Laurens
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Re: Observing the 5th Precept

Post by Laurens » Tue Jul 03, 2018 5:48 am

If your friends do not support your decision to stop drinking alcohol or taking any other intoxicants then you need to reassess your definition of 'friend'. A true friend when hearing that you want to stop will offer support, and perhaps advice. If they offer you alcohol then they are not your friend. The first thing I would do is to stop hanging around with anyone who tries to encourage drinking once you've stopped. At least stop seeing them in the context in which they might offer you a drink.

It can be a saddening process but unfortunately for some people it's hard to be confronted by someone who is succeeding in confronting their addictions and problems etc. Once I dealt with my food addiction and dramatically lost weight, lots of "friends" started offering me treats and cakes etc. I can only think that this is because my change in behaviour challenged them somehow and they wanted to see me fail. These people are not good people to make friends with.

Find your nearest Sangha if you want sober buddies.
"If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?"

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

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DC2R
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Re: Observing the 5th Precept

Post by DC2R » Sat Jul 07, 2018 2:24 pm

Imagine you like playing golf. Every week you and your golfing friends go out to play golf. One day, you lose interest in golfing, and start playing tennis instead. Do you go golfing with your golfing friends even though you no longer enjoy it? Wouldn't it be better to associate with new people who enjoy playing tennis since the common bond that you shared with the golfing friends no longer exists?

I think the same idea applies to drinking. Find new friends who share your interest in not drinking.
Don't associate with bad friends.
Don't associate with the low.
Associate with admirable friends.
Associate with the best.
—Dhammapada Verse 78
"May the blessings of the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha always be firmly established in your hearts." ―Ajahn Chah

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Garrib
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Re: Observing the 5th Precept

Post by Garrib » Sat Jul 07, 2018 11:49 pm

I "transitioned" by starting to go out less, get more serious about other things (meditation/studying/professional stuff/volunteering), and when I did meet up with old friends, I would order a root beer or seltzer or something (as opposed to whiskey and beer as we had been accustomed to). This seemed to inspire some of my friends to experiment with abstaining or drinking less - maybe they were just imitating or maybe they saw some of the positive effects it was having on me?

After a year or two, I came to associate with those old "college friends" less and less - at this point I don't see them or communicate with them regularly at all. I do, however, think of them from time to time and try to extend good wishes/let go of the negative memories.

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