SuttaCentral

Is it ok to take some alcohol occasionally?


#181

Why convince anyone else as long as we are all aware of our own limits (which might be different from each other’s). Those limits may change from time to time as well. The Kalama sutta says you need to know whether one’s actions are beneficial for oneself and others. Some reflective capacity is required to keep the precepts but in the case of abstinence, no capacity to reflect would be required.

With metta


#182

That is why we have a Kalyanamittas.
There is a Sutta where a friend had to pull the Bodhisatva by his hair to expose him to Dhamma.:grinning:
I think the name was Jotipala. Can’t locate the sutta.


#183

I would like to know , is that so according to Buddha’s teachings ?
Or buddhists should not giving hint to encourage at all ?
Isn’t that buddhists should be reminded themselves to be skillful in action and lives a wholesome life and at the same time not advocating something leading other to which could cause unskillfulness !


#184

No

Yes

Yes


#185

Sorry for the late response. Here is what the Vinaya has to say (from the Bhesajja-kkhandhaka of the Mahāvagga, my translation):

At one time Venerable Pilindavaccha had a wind disease. The doctors said he needed a heated concoction of oil. They told the Master and he said:

“Monks, I allow a heated concoction of oil.”

They wanted to add alcohol to that concoction. They told the Master and he said:

“Monks, I allow alcohol in a heated concoction of oil.”

Soon afterwards the monks from the group of six added too much alcohol as they were heating the oil. They drank it and became drunk. They told the Master and he said:

“Monks, you should not drink heated oil with too much alcohol. If you do, you should be dealt with according to the rule. I allow you to drink heated oil when there is no discernible color, smell, or taste of alcohol.”


#186

Yes, and clearly in this discussion there is one camp that is focusing on the CONSUMING OF ALCOHOL itself and another camp who is focusing on the EFFECTS/INTENTION of consuming alcohol.

As far as I can tell, the 5th Precept is really more about the latter, as many have pointed out.

I took Upasika precepts 3 years ago and renewed them a few years ago, and while I haven’t had a chance to renew them again, I’ve lived on them pretty successfully for 3 years. The 5th Precept has been the absolute easiest one to keep, even as my wife/friends/coworkers have the occasional adult beverage. I’ve definitely stretched the 2nd and 4th more than a few times!

That said, on my recent 10-year anniversary vacation with my wife, I decided to try a beer again - just to see if I would even actually drink it, and to see how I would react when I did, and to “test my mettle” in a way with the 5th Precept.
So I cracked the can (cheap Mexican light beer), and took exactly 3 small sips before setting it down. And that very well could be the last time I have a drink again.

Now, I never had an addiction problem, and 3 sips in no way shape or form is going to have any noticeable physical/mental effect on me, even after 3 years of teetotalling, so I could run that experiment knowing there were no harmful side effects outside of a little shame :slight_smile:

Do I feel like I broke the 5th Precept? Yes, technically I did, but since my intentions were good - essentially to remind myself why I don’t drink - I feel it had POSITIVE dhammic effects, as I reinforced the idea that I’m perfectly happy keeping the Precept.
The point has been made that there are gradients of severity with all but the 1st Precept, and I think that it’s reasonable to keep that in mind and avoid an absolutist black-and-white perspective. The Buddha himself never advocated for a stringent black-and-white view, so it would seem odd to apply one here, particularly if it is borne out of one’s AVERSION.


#187

I do appreciate when discussions such as this one are re-visited some time after the last post as it gives people a chance to reflect on past contributions and also for new members to participate in an ongoing conversation.

I started practicing Buddhism a little over a year ago and have not consumed any alcohol since I started my practice. I have to say that despite the ubiquity of alcohol in Western culture (something I hadn’t fully realized until I started to refrain from alcohol consumption), I have had no difficulty whatsoever refraining from drinking. I don’t miss it at all.

Here is a brief personal anecdote: At university commencement in May one of my colleagues invited me to steal away to his office for a nip of alcohol between department receptions and graduation ceremonies (who knew my colleagues keep alcohol in their offices?!). I explained to him that as a practitioner of Buddhism I have sworn off alcohol. He was quite impressed. I told him that of the Five Precepts, not consuming alcohol is one of the easiest to keep. I explained that the hardest precept to keep in an academic environment is to refrain from gossiping. To that, he burst out in laughter!

By the way, I watched a documentary on Bhutan recently and noticed that many practicing Buddhists in an overtly Buddhist country drink alcohol. That seems odd to me. Can anyone lend insight?

Edited for vocabulary.


#188

This is very common in Sri Lanka.
I would say 98% of male consume alcohol. Unfortunately more and more Sri Lankan women also consume alcohol now days even though the number is very low.
Compare this to Muslims in Sri Lanka. It is not easy to find a Muslim who consume alcohol or smoke.


#189

Never try to break the precepts to test your virtues.
This is some thing like like you test your celibacy (or virginity) by having sexual intercourse.


#190

You cant break the precepts mindfully.
When you break it you are unmindful.


#191

@JMGinPDX James, I could make the argument that you didn’t break the precept. The precepts are training rules. Your intention was to test your intention and resolve in this area, and as part of your training, proved to yourself you could abandon alcohol consumption skillfully and without craving. I think that’s an excellent result, and I liked the way you approached the issue: not as a punitive law to break or not break, but as a training rule that you implemented to further your advancement on the Path. This, to me, is what is terrific about the Buddha’s path of training. It is incumbent on each of us to understand that which is skillful and ethical, and to implement that in our lives. We are the heirs of our intentions and actions, and not mere slaves to laws or punitive commandments concocted by third parties, bereft in some cases of ethics.

I think the 5th precept is unique in this way. A sip of Mexican beer is not the same, ethically, as a slight deviation from other precepts, such as killing a spider or a quick night of debauchery. I mention this only to head off any comments that might suggest that slight deviations from other key training rules have equal ethical weight. IMO, they don’t.


#192

Please give me a Sutta support for your claim.
There is a Sutta to say that you can’t have sensual pleasures without attachment.
You can’t kill some one to test your first precept.


#193

Substance A is taken by three people.

Person X experiences it with attachment.
Person Y experiences it with disgust.
Person Z experiences with neither attachment nor disgust.


#194

It is also common in Thailand. The aspiration does not always match the reality… My Thai friends are impressed that I do not drink — they think I’m very virtuous… :joy: :rofl:

:heart:


#195

I know only people smoke and consume alcohol even though I knew few people smoke Marijuana in my university days. They all come under the first category neither for second and third.
Could you give me an example.
I am addicted to sugar even though I want to give it up.
Only thing we consume with disgust is Sri Lnakan Aurvedic medicine. They are so bitter.


#196

Drinking is a slippery slope. I’ve thought in the past that my drinking was for the taste of the beverage.

Then I realized I’m doing it for the effect; for the escape.

I used to smoke cigarettes and that is one addiction which cannot be moderated. It is all or nothing.

Alcohol has a nice taste, IMO. But the effects are also enticing. And then you wake up with your hands shaking; thinking to your self, “the cure for a hangover is another drink.”

I currently drink to excess because I want to escape reality. I do it for the same reasons I meditate.

Meditation isn’t addictive. Drinking can be. I see a problem with drinking for taste - it leads to drinking for effect. At some point I expect I’ll drop it all together.

I’m not there yet. I work a 7 to 3 and at the end of the week I want to escape reality. Drinking facilitates that. And when Monday starts, I go back to meditative practices. They are as equally enjoyable - however there is something pleasant about alcohol that keeps me coming back to it.

Will I be deranged in my next existence? That is what the Buddha states. Even a small amount of alcohol leads to a rebirth in which one is deranged.

I’m … willing to take the chance that this isn’t the case.

As someone who has never taken the precepts; Cheers!


#197

I think meditation could be addictive if you experience first Jhana. (I have not experience this yet)
One day if you see that I am not in this forum 24X7 (because surfing internet also addictive) you will know that I have attained first Jhana.


#198

Agree.
I used to consume Scotch and Coke. (a deadly combination)


#199

I am not convinced that consume alcohol will take you to hell.
But consume alcohol deprive mindfulness and can break the rest of the precepts.


#200

You can’t drink alcohol mindfully?