Can a Buddhist drink alcohol in moderation?

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

Post by Ben » Sat Oct 16, 2010 11:17 am

Hi Jason

I eventually found it:
The Heart Foundation does not recommend the following.
1. Consuming milk or dark chocolate for the prevention or treatment of CVD. Due to
processing to remove the bitter taste, most chocolate is a poor source of antioxidants,
and contains saturated and trans fats.
2. Drinking coffee for the prevention or treatment of CVD. If consuming coffee, drink only
paper-filtered, percolated, café-style (espresso) or instant (regular and decaffeinated), in
preference to boiled (such as Turkish-style) or plunger coffee. Consume less than five
cups per day.§
3. Drinking red wine or other types of alcoholic drinks for the prevention or treatment of
CVD.
http://www.heartfoundation.org.au/SiteC ... _FINAL.pdf" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Which is located in this document library:
http://www.heartfoundation.org.au/Profe ... fault.aspx" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
The media release (May 2010): http://www.heartfoundation.org.au/SiteC ... %20May.pdf" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
And reported here (where I originally encountered it): http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/wellbei ... -uwev.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
kind regards

Ben
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR

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Ben
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Re: Can a Buddhist drink alcohol in moderation?

Post by Ben » Sat Oct 16, 2010 11:22 am

Hi Valerie,
Sanghamitta wrote:And smugness and superiority drips from some of the replies.
With respect, I don't see that on this thread.
kind regards

Ben
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com..

Paññāsikhara
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Re: Can a Buddhist drink alcohol in moderation?

Post by Paññāsikhara » Sat Oct 16, 2010 12:20 pm

Ben wrote:Hi Jason

I eventually found it:
The Heart Foundation does not recommend the following.
1. Consuming milk or dark chocolate for the prevention or treatment of CVD. Due to
processing to remove the bitter taste, most chocolate is a poor source of antioxidants,
and contains saturated and trans fats.
2. Drinking coffee for the prevention or treatment of CVD. If consuming coffee, drink only
paper-filtered, percolated, café-style (espresso) or instant (regular and decaffeinated), in
preference to boiled (such as Turkish-style) or plunger coffee. Consume less than five
cups per day.§
3. Drinking red wine or other types of alcoholic drinks for the prevention or treatment of
CVD.
http://www.heartfoundation.org.au/SiteC ... _FINAL.pdf" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Which is located in this document library:
http://www.heartfoundation.org.au/Profe ... fault.aspx" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
The media release (May 2010): http://www.heartfoundation.org.au/SiteC ... %20May.pdf" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
And reported here (where I originally encountered it): http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/wellbei ... -uwev.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
kind regards

Ben
Cheers, Ben. Some of the content here may just appear in one of my classes next week!
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 Paññāsikhara » Sat Oct 16, 2010 12:20 pm

Sylvester wrote:A suffering to end suffering. :woohoo:
Poor Sylvester! :group:
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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Ben
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Re: Can a Buddhist drink alcohol in moderation?

Post by Ben » Sat Oct 16, 2010 12:34 pm

Paññāsikhara wrote:Cheers, Ben. Some of the content here may just appear in one of my classes next week!
It was a pleasure to be of assistance, Venerable!
:namaste:
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com..

Sylvester
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Re: Can a Buddhist drink alcohol in moderation?

Post by Sylvester » Sat Oct 16, 2010 12:38 pm

Paññāsikhara wrote:
Sylvester wrote:A suffering to end suffering. :woohoo:
Poor Sylvester! :group:

Alas, Bhante, I wish I could be the object of your commiseration. Sadly, I'm still firmly in the grip of "it". Goodness knows if I'll be able to drop enough of it in time for my retreat next week...

Unless, of course, you're suggesting I divert some of "it" towards tantric practices?

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Re: Can a Buddhist drink alcohol in moderation?

Post by Sanghamitta » Sat Oct 16, 2010 1:31 pm

Ben wrote:Hi Valerie,
Sanghamitta wrote:And smugness and superiority drips from some of the replies.
With respect, I don't see that on this thread.
kind regards

Ben
I was tempted to reply by highlighting Ben....but I dont want to be hoist with my own petard by being hectoring ...best to move on I think. :smile:
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

Bhikku Bodhi.

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Ben
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Re: Can a Buddhist drink alcohol in moderation?

Post by Ben » Sat Oct 16, 2010 1:38 pm

Hi Valerie

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If the offending post was written by a moderator and you believe that it requires a review by the admins, please feel free to go through the complaints procedure that is outlined in the Announcements section. Both process, from my point of view, appears to work well.
kind regards

Ben
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com..

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mettafuture
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Re: Can a Buddhist drink alcohol in moderation?

Post by mettafuture » Sat Oct 16, 2010 4:20 pm

Sanghamitta wrote:I would suggest though before leaving the dog to chase its own tail that those who feel that they have a Buddha given right to judge others should examine their own motives. You worry me far more than those who have the occasional drink.
I'm not trying to judge anyone.

Again, these are the only points I'm trying to make:
  • The 5 precepts aren't commandments, but they are very clear in what they recommend, and the 5th precept clearly recommends we at least try to refrain from intoxicating drinks and drugs.
  • The typical Buddhist undertakes 5 precepts. If you've undertaken the 5th precept, you should at least try to refrain from drinking.
  • You don't HAVE to drink. If you need something to improve your health, there are a lot of natural remedies and herbs available. If you need something that tastes good, there is a whole assortment of non-alcoholic beers and other drinks.
I would guess that some of you have had bad experiences with alcohol yourselves or with those close to you.
I haven't. At worst I've seen people get a hangover or sick from it.
Whatever the reason I suggest that you look to yourselves rather than pontificate to others,
I have looked to myself. I see problems, and I'm actively trying to fix them.

But do you see a problem with drinking? Why does anyone need to drink at all when there are so many non-alcoholic alternatives? Why do they need the alcohol?
There is a naive and childish view found on this forum that drinking a glass of wine will invariably intoxicate and lead to craving.
In a very subtle way, it can get in the way of mindfulness.

Even 1 or 2 drinks can decrease inhibition, judgment, and reaction time.
http://www.hsc.wvu.edu/som/cmed/alcohol/short-term.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Well it doesn't and it doesn't,,, not necessarily. There is an individual physiological response to alcohol just as there is to all we eat and drink.
Part of being a functioning adult is knowing what will effect us as individuals in terms of mindfulness.
Not telling others how they will or should react. I think a great deal of growing up is needed by the western Buddhist community in a number of areas. This and sexuality are two of them.
No one is telling you or anyone else to do anything. The only thing I'm suggesting is that if you aren't ready to undertake the 5th precept, you shouldn't undertake it, or try to reword it in a way that allows moderate drinking.

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Re: Can a Buddhist drink alcohol in moderation?

Post by Sanghamitta » Sat Oct 16, 2010 4:27 pm

I dont drink Mettafuture. I took the precepts for the first time almost 40 years ago and did not drink much before, and not at all since.
BTW I was not "ready "40 years ago and my understanding of the precepts was not a once and for all matter. It is ongoing and continuous. Just as my Going For Refuge is a daily transformative process.
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

Bhikku Bodhi.

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Re: Can a Buddhist drink alcohol in moderation?

Post by Lazy_eye » Sun Oct 17, 2010 12:28 pm

Paññāsikhara wrote: I'm not sure about the usual Theravada POV, but knowing that you have connections with other traditions, I can say that in Chinese Buddhism, there is very early canonical support and therefore the actual practice of choosing whatever of the five one wishes to uphold. If it is taking precepts as a group, one simply does not recite that particular precept that one is not taking; or if by oneself, well just take whatever precepts one feels one can take.

Ultimately, precepts are more about one's own intentions. We needn't take them as either a "five or nothing" approach. One could skillfully make a particular adaption for one's own situation. There are also canonical bases for this, too, so it is not exactly something new.

For instance, one could begin the training in the first four precepts, and for the fifth maybe try something like: "Uphold the training precept of refraining from alcoholic and intoxicating substances from Sunday to Thursday"; and thus give yourself the weekend. This is good practice, gradually building up on one's ability to refrain. Or even cut it down to only Saturday as allowable for oneself. One may thus find that one has to skip on some social engagements, but participate in others. As time goes on, one may find that when the weekend or Saturday comes, one simply isn't interested in a drink at all. Gradually one moves into a full restraint mode, or close. At this point, one may make the resolution to "refrain from alcohol and intoxicants" completely.

Or, take the precept to refrain completely for a period of time, eg. one year, one month, or whatever. I remember as a Uni student - and I studied Engineering, which is notorious for crazy alcoholic behavior - myself and friends would sometimes take a break, and refrain for a while. One friend did it for a bet, he was rather an alcoholic undergrad, and even one month without drinking was a stretch! I did this a couple of times, for a couple of months each. Some time later, reflecting on this, I noticed that I was just as happy during that time of abstinence, and this helped make the decision to refrain completely.
This sounds like a practical and workable approach. I've done something similar in switching to a vegetarian diet.

Didn't realize engineering students could be such hard partiers! At my school, they were better known for bringing calculators along when going out to dinner. Settling the bill often took as long as the dinner itself. :tongue:
This is a bit like the standard precept of refraining from sexual misconduct, then going to the eight fast-day precepts, and aiming for full restraint. In fact, some traditions do have a lay five precept option whereby the third precept is celibacy, even restraint with one's own partner / spouse. This may be particularly good for older couples, who wish to refrain married and happy in a strong relationship, but give more time to their Dhamma practice. (A bit like many societies wherein retirement is a time to turn more towards religious practice.)
Makes sense.

Many marriages fail in the later years when sexual attraction fades or disappears. Focusing on dhamma practice could provide a happier alternative to the quest for eternal youth.

:anjali:
Last edited by Lazy_eye on Sun Oct 17, 2010 3:57 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Can a Buddhist drink alcohol in moderation?

Post by adosa » Sun Oct 17, 2010 3:48 pm

Mettafuture,

Is there nothing that you crave or cling to, and then act on? It's the same with others. Haven't you observed this with your mind? They (we) sometimes turn to things we shouldn't because of past habits leading to craving leading to becoming. Personally I struggle with it sometimes as dukkha can become too much at times and I would rather socialize with friends for a break. What's so hard to understand about that? Is it right? No. Am I making an excuse for it?.....well you'll ultimately be the judge it seems.

Maybe you are more wholesome than I am. I really don't care. A very wise man once said something to the effect....."It's not what they have or haven't done, it's what you have or haven't done."

Maybe this sutta will make my point. Read it, please and it may help your progress.

http://www.vipassana.info/005-anangana-sutta-e1.htm


adosa (a four precept holder...working on the fifth but evidently failing)
"To avoid all evil, to cultivate good, and to cleanse one's mind — this is the teaching of the Buddhas" - Dhammapada 183

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Re: Can a Buddhist drink alcohol in moderation?

Post by PeterB » Mon Oct 18, 2010 12:31 pm

As I am sure Adosa knows the " very wise man" was the Buddha himself..Dhammapada 4 7....who said " What others do or do not do is not my concern ..what I myself do and do not do, that is my concern ".

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Re: Can a Buddhist drink alcohol in moderation?

Post by bodom » Mon Oct 18, 2010 2:12 pm

PeterB wrote:As I am sure Adosa knows the " very wise man" was the Buddha himself..Dhammapada 4 7....who said " What others do or do not do is not my concern ..what I myself do and do not do, that is my concern ".
Welcome back Peter.

:anjali:
To study is to know the texts,
To practice is to know your defilements,
To attain the goal is to know and let go.

- Ajahn Lee Dhammadharo


With no struggling, no thinking,
the mind, still,
will see cause and effect
vanishing in the Void.
Attached to nothing, letting go:
Know that this is the way
to allay all stress.

- Upasika Kee Nanayan

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mettafuture
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Re: Can a Buddhist drink alcohol in moderation?

Post by mettafuture » Tue Oct 19, 2010 5:13 pm

adosa wrote:Is there nothing that you crave or cling to, and then act on?
Of course. For example, I'm a big fan of technology. But the Buddha never suggested we refrain from using it. After undertaking the 5 precepts, I make a conscious effort to refrain from the things I said I would refrain from.

My point is very simple. If you're not ready to undertake the 5th precept, don't undertake it. But if you do undertake it, you shouldn't try to bend or reword it in a way that permits moderate drinking.
Personally I struggle with it sometimes as dukkha can become too much at times and I would rather socialize with friends for a break.
Why can't people socialize while drinking a non-alcoholic beverage? Just yesterday I was out with a group of people. They ordered alcohol, and I ordered a Sprite. It's really not that hard to pick something different from the menu. Or is it? Maybe I'm missing something. And again, I'm not judging anyone. I honestly don't get it, and I'm trying to better understand the need for alcohol.

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