Can a Buddhist drink alcohol in moderation?

Buddhist ethical conduct including the Five Precepts (Pañcasikkhāpada), and Eightfold Ethical Conduct (Aṭṭhasīla).
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Hanzze
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Re: Can a Buddhist drink alcohol in moderation?

Post by Hanzze » Fri Oct 15, 2010 6:22 am

_/\_
Last edited by Hanzze on Sun Oct 31, 2010 7:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_

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Re: Can a Buddhist drink alcohol in moderation?

Post by Sanghamitta » Fri Oct 15, 2010 7:32 am

yuttadhammo wrote:
Lazy_eye wrote:
yuttadhammo wrote: Simply put, how can one claim to be striving for sobriety (i.e. enlightenment) when one condones the use of intoxicants, claiming a state of non-harmful, moderate intoxication?
Bhante,

The same could be said for watching a sports match, playing a video game, going to the movies, having an orgasm, or listening to music. All of these activities/experiences can interrupt mindfulness, and none of them are especially conducive to the abandonment of craving.

What's so special about the occasional glass of wine or beer?
You'd really have to ask the Buddha, though it seems pretty clear to me... In fact, I think you are missing the point of what I said, which is that you can't argue on the basis of "occasional" or "moderate" since that is not how precepts work. Moderation renders the precept not a precept; one could equally ask, "what's so special about killing or stealing once in a while?" In all truth, probably not that much, but this doesn't take away from the fact that it's pretty darn good, both for your own mental development and for the benefit of other beings, to vow never to kill or steal.

Anyway, those activities you mention are included in the eight precepts, so while there obviously is some sort of distinction between them and alcoholic intoxicants according to the Buddha, bringing them up does nothing to further an argument in favour of moderation in regards to the fifth precept, unless you can show that the third and seventh of the eight precepts are also meant to be taken as guidelines for moderation, which I doubt is possible.

The Buddha's teaching is a specific path meant to lead one to a specific goal, and so there are specific rules to be followed for those following the path. I don't see what the problem is with suggesting that these rules be kept absolutely to the best of one's ability, both as a support for one's own practice, and as an example and support for the mutual observance by others in the community.

Anecdotally, when I first started keeping the five precepts almost eleven years ago, I cried happy tears when I took them, knowing that I was freeing both myself and other beings from suffering by keeping them. I haven't broken them since, to the best of my knowledge and understanding, and I don't think I've suffered any loss as a result (except for my old drinking buddies, I suppose :P).
Hold on yo your hat Bhante , because thats EXACTLY how the 5th precept works for many devout practising lay people who dont exactly go to the local temple and announce the fact. Its what makes the 5th different to the other precepts. One cant steal in moderation. One cant kill or lie in moderation. One can drink a glass of wine without being unmindful and many lay people do. Both in the west and in the east.
A member of my household has written before about one of the most impressive lay people we know. He spends a good deal of the year on Vipassana retreats/ He is one of the most calm and compassionate and wise people I know. When he is not on retreat he has a glass of sherry every evening.
His is not advocating that, or promoting that. The fact remains that his mindfulness and dedication to all aspects of Dhamma remain exemplary.
Life ain't always black and white.
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Re: Can a Buddhist drink alcohol in moderation?

Post by Hanzze » Fri Oct 15, 2010 7:41 am

_/\_
Last edited by Hanzze on Sun Oct 31, 2010 7:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_

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Re: Can a Buddhist drink alcohol in moderation?

Post by Sanghamitta » Fri Oct 15, 2010 7:44 am

I live in hope Hanzze that one day you might post something that makes any sense to me. :?
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Re: Can a Buddhist drink alcohol in moderation?

Post by Shonin » Fri Oct 15, 2010 7:51 am

In my experience, the intoxicating effect of Buddhist forums (addictive fascination with intellectual debates, and especially with on's own opinion) is a far more significant obstacle to practice than an occasional tipple. What I mean is that I have actually missed meditation time because of it as well as finding myself mentally distracted by on-going debates. Whereas I have not missed meditation time due to alcohol.

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Re: Can a Buddhist drink alcohol in moderation?

Post by mettafuture » Fri Oct 15, 2010 7:52 am

Sanghamitta wrote:
mettafuture wrote:
Sanghamitta wrote:If by moderation we mean the occasional glass of wine..or a beer on a hot day. I think so..yes. But not everyone agrees...
I think we have to decide for ourselves what enhances or threatens or is neutral in terms of our mindfulness. And that mindfulness is the essence of the precept. Its not that certain things are taboo in general terms. Although for a given individual they might be. It is to some degree an individual issue.
But how can one who chooses to undertake the 5th precept to refrain from intoxicating drinks and drugs still drink? That doesn't make any sense to me. It would be like saying "I will not buy anymore meat products", and then you go out and order a steak. Aren't you just lying to yourself?
What we undertake to do is to refrain from that which causes heedlessness and intoxication.
But that's not all what the precept says though.
For many people a glass of wine or beer does not cause intoxication or heedlessness.
But why do you need to drink at all? What's wrong with sticking with non-alcoholic drinks that don't give you a buzz, or "help take the edge off"? Why can't natural methods that don't depend on external intoxicants be used if a person needs help getting comfortable?
Furthermore it is not a commandment.
Everyone already knows that. I forgot that I have to be extra careful with my wording around here. I didn't mean for my use of the word "can" to be so blown out of proportion.
The reference to undertaking not to eat meat and then buying a steak is a non sequitur. We dont undertake not to eat meat.
But what you're undertaking isn't one of the Buddha's precept. It's your own version of a precept.
Last edited by mettafuture on Fri Oct 15, 2010 8:06 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Can a Buddhist drink alcohol in moderation?

Post by Sanghamitta » Fri Oct 15, 2010 8:04 am

You are once more assuming that I drink. I have not spoken at all about my own habits.
I do know lots of lay Buddhists who do more for the Dhamma than many of us, who have a glass or two. I suppose you could say that constitutes their version of THAT precept. And as they are consenting adults that is fine with me. Why do they do it ? I assume its because they like it.
Cue the " slippery slope " fallacy......... :popcorn:
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Re: Can a Buddhist drink alcohol in moderation?

Post by Sanghamitta » Fri Oct 15, 2010 8:07 am

Shonin wrote:In my experience, the intoxicating effect of Buddhist forums (addictive fascination with intellectual debates, and especially with on's own opinion) is a far more significant obstacle to practice than an occasional tipple. What I mean is that I have actually missed meditation time because of it as well as finding myself mentally distracted by on-going debates. Whereas I have not missed meditation time due to alcohol.
A very very good point. And one that comes uncomfortably close to the bone in my case. In fact I am off to adress that.
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Re: Can a Buddhist drink alcohol in moderation?

Post by mettafuture » Fri Oct 15, 2010 8:10 am

Sanghamitta wrote:You are once more assuming that I drink.
I meant "your" in a general sense.
I assume its because they like it.
But why do they like it? I'm not asking you specifically. I'm asking everyone. As a person who has never had a drink, I just don't get it.
Individual wrote:In moderation, alcohol has skillful uses: It has mixed health effects, such that moderation in some cases may or may not have a net health benefit
Vitamins and natural herbs can also help you, and they can do so without giving you buzz, or poking holes in your liver.
and it may act as an "ice-breaker" for social events.
Why can't people be social while drinking water?

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Re: Can a Buddhist drink alcohol in moderation?

Post by tiltbillings » Fri Oct 15, 2010 8:11 am

Sanghamitta wrote:
Shonin wrote:In my experience, the intoxicating effect of Buddhist forums (addictive fascination with intellectual debates, and especially with on's own opinion) is a far more significant obstacle to practice than an occasional tipple. What I mean is that I have actually missed meditation time because of it as well as finding myself mentally distracted by on-going debates. Whereas I have not missed meditation time due to alcohol.
A very very good point. And one that comes uncomfortably close to the bone in my case. In fact I am off to adress that.
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Re: Can a Buddhist drink alcohol in moderation?

Post by Paññāsikhara » Fri Oct 15, 2010 9:20 am

mettafuture wrote: I really didn't mean for it to be that complicated.

If I had more room in the subject line, I would have put "Can a person who calls themselves a Buddhist drink alcohol in moderation?" If one chooses to undertake the 5 precepts, can they still drink alcohol in moderation? That's all I was wondering.
Okay, so somebody on one had chooses to makes the statement "I undertake the training to refrain from alcohol and intoxicating substances leading to negligence", but "can they drink alcohol in moderation"?

The precept is not "I undertake the training to refrain from becoming intoxicated", but "... to refrain from intoxicating substances".

They "can" do whatever they like, and "call" themselves whatever they like, but personally I would say that they are saying one thing, and doing something else, thus being either very deluded, a hypocrit or a liar.

If they didn't take that precept, I'd still personally say that they are a little foolish, but at least they wouldn't be saying one thing and doing another. I really have a strong dislike for hypocrisy.
My recently moved Blog, containing some of my writings on the Buddha Dhamma, as well as a number of translations from classical Buddhist texts and modern authors, liturgy, etc.: Huifeng's Prajnacara Blog.

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Re: Can a Buddhist drink alcohol in moderation?

Post by Hanzze » Fri Oct 15, 2010 9:35 am

_/\_
Last edited by Hanzze on Sun Oct 31, 2010 7:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_

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Re: Can a Buddhist drink alcohol in moderation?

Post by Sanghamitta » Fri Oct 15, 2010 9:49 am

Paññāsikhara wrote:
mettafuture wrote: I really didn't mean for it to be that complicated.

If I had more room in the subject line, I would have put "Can a person who calls themselves a Buddhist drink alcohol in moderation?" If one chooses to undertake the 5 precepts, can they still drink alcohol in moderation? That's all I was wondering.
Okay, so somebody on one had chooses to makes the statement "I undertake the training to refrain from alcohol and intoxicating substances leading to negligence", but "can they drink alcohol in moderation"?

The precept is not "I undertake the training to refrain from becoming intoxicated", but "... to refrain from intoxicating substances".

They "can" do whatever they like, and "call" themselves whatever they like, but personally I would say that they are saying one thing, and doing something else, thus being either very deluded, a hypocrit or a liar.

If they didn't take that precept, I'd still personally say that they are a little foolish, but at least they wouldn't be saying one thing and doing another. I really have a strong dislike for hypocrisy.
Then you would dislike me I guess Pannasikhara. I am frequently deluded, a hypocrite and a liar. I frequently project and judge others. I frequently withhold the full truth out of a desire to appear better than i am. I frequently say one thing and do something else. I constantly fall short of my own aspirations.
Probably it would be better fro you to "invisible" me rather than dwell in aversion. As for me I would sooner spend time with a compassionate drinker than with a puritan who judges others.
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Re: Can a Buddhist drink alcohol in moderation?

Post by retrofuturist » Fri Oct 15, 2010 9:54 am

Greetings,

I think that regardless of how we approach the matter, I think we would all agree that the cultivation of Right Intention (samma sankappa) is an important aspect of the Noble Eightfold Path.
Bhikkhu Bodhi wrote:The Buddha explains right intention as threefold: the intention of renunciation, the intention of good will, and the intention of harmlessness. The three are opposed to three parallel kinds of wrong intention: intention governed by desire, intention governed by ill will, and intention governed by harmfulness. Each kind of right intention counters the corresponding kind of wrong intention. The intention of renunciation counters the intention of desire, the intention of good will counters the intention of ill will, and the intention of harmlessness counters the intention of harmfulness.
In my opinion, it is as apt for volition regarding drinking as it is about volition regarding anything.

Metta,
Retro. :)
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Re: Can a Buddhist drink alcohol in moderation?

Post by Paññāsikhara » Fri Oct 15, 2010 10:08 am

Sanghamitta wrote:
Then you would dislike me I guess Pannasikhara. I am frequently deluded, a hypocrite and a liar. I frequently project and judge others. I frequently withhold the full truth out of a desire to appear better than i am. I frequently say one thing and do something else. I constantly fall short of my own aspirations.
Probably it would be better fro you to "invisible" me rather than dwell in aversion. As for me I would sooner spend time with a compassionate drinker than with a puritan who judges others.
I said I dislike hypocrisy, not that I dislike hypocrites (if there is such a thing).
For hypocrites, compassion is the best approach.
There is no judging of anyone in this case.

Best to just not take that precept, I figure.
My recently moved Blog, containing some of my writings on the Buddha Dhamma, as well as a number of translations from classical Buddhist texts and modern authors, liturgy, etc.: Huifeng's Prajnacara Blog.

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