Is it ok to take some alcohol occasionally?


Brenna, this seems to me to be a an act of Metta for the lovely cows, and I wouldn’t think singing to cows to be a breach of the “entertainments” precept. Something like this trains the mind to incline toward joy and kindness, which is a great support for samadhi. I feel that the training rules that encourage avoidance of entertainments, games, music, etc. are very important ( to me so much of modern entertainment is a pollutant for the mind) but just the thought of you singing to cows seems an act in encouragement of meditation, of peace and of kindness.


Dearest Brenna

How joyful to have you back for a wee visit :slight_smile: …see what I did there…? Wee visit…? Get it? The Scottish reference…? Hee, hee… That’s because of the smile you brought to my face and heart at the thought of you singing to the dear cows…how happy you must have made them with your good, kind vibes…

I love your courage and honesty and how you are facing yourself with such kindness and remaining present. Go you!!! :slight_smile:

Lots of metta :heartpulse:


Monastics have a much stricter wording on their rule. In the Bhikkhu vinaya it’s Pc51. I linked it earlier.

This precept is mostly so you don’t break the other 4. So I find this sort of ironic. :stuck_out_tongue:

Sending lots of metta to @Brenna I know them feels


For me, trying to find the balance when it comes to more restraint, is like trying to understand and feel the difference between being forced to do something and doing something because it makes so much sense and makes life better.

However, I guess, difference of personality mean that one approach will work for some and another for others. So I found it wonderful to hear that @Mat was keeping the precept “strictly” and that @Aminah seemed to feel that she and the 5th Precept just became real good friends. :slight_smile: I want to just say that I love both. :slight_smile:



Drinking itself is not the problem.
Some people may argue that they can drink but still can stay sober without breaking the other four precepts.
Worst of this is that we break the other four precepts when we are completely free from intoxicant and know exactly what we are doing.


It seems like the soma was already long gone. There’s a vague memory of Soma as a deity in the EBTs, but I think the intoxicant/ritual substance is mentioned only in the Jatakas, eg:

Some more references here:


I kind of agree and disagree on this.

Often in the Suttas the Buddha talks about the first 4 precepts when discussing Right Action or bodily Sila. And the 5th Precept doesn’t get a mention. So yes, these first 4 are super important and a major role of Precept 5 is helping us with our Right Action.

But I think the 5th Precept also has a role to play in a number of other factors of the 8 Fold Path.

Right View: There’s a difference in oneself when one views this precept as being important and when one doesn’t. It’s a view that changes our relationship to other Path factors.

Right Intention: I think this is often overlooked but is just so important. It’s part of the intention of Renunciation. The type of thing where one is growing away from the Sensual Realm, from kamaloka stuff and is instead growing into the mind’s joys and clarity more. Really, all the precepts are about this; all harmlessness is about moving away from the coarse, about letting go of that which is grosser; the beginning of a movement towards that which is more refined, more delicate, more sublime. A letting go of ways of being in the world that makes us denser, more stuck more ignorant.

It’s part of the other two aspects of Right Intention also, because it’s an act of kindness and compassion to ourself and the world.

Right Speech: Well this has to be obvious. Particularly when someone is inebriated. But also, I find, when someone isn’t. This is going to be controversial and I apologise for any offence caused but I’m just going on personal experience; it’s much nicer to be talking to people when they don’t have even one drink anywhere near them. It’s like the vibe in the environment changes or something. Perhaps it’s just me. :slight_smile: There are people in my life that I love and admire who still drink…so I’m just going on how I feel when relating to them and comparing them with one drink in hand, lots of drinks and no drinks.

Right Effort: The effort to understand the place of this precept in your practise with gentleness and forgiveness and peace.

Right Mindfulness: Obvious. But it’s not - for me - just about not getting inebriated. It’s about a deep affirmation to myself about my whole hearted commitment to shy away from anything that has even the potential, to cloud my mind. Now, having said this, I’d like to be clear that I’m a dismal failure in most regards. eg. I watch too much t.v… However, it makes me feel joyous to know that I will not, under any circumstances feel pulled by any desire or perception of pleasure to drink alcohol. …to the t.v yes, but alcohol no… I’m hanging out for the day when I have more t.v mastery…or rather, a lessened perception of pleasure around the t.v!

Right Samadhi: Again, obvious and closely related to the previous factor but I think also, very much related to Right Intention and growing away from the realm of the 5 senses into the silent, still places of the mind. Clearly, anyone still watching too much t.v. is still very much working on this one! Thank heavens for 8 precepts and retreats and stuff like that!

In my humble opinion there’s more to the 5th precept than initially meets the eye. Growing mindfulness in the here and now is important. But a more whole hearted commitment is also about understanding the value, beauty, gentleness of sense restraint; even though we may not still be able to keep such restraint purely.

Oh…sorry this is such a long “comment”… :slight_smile:

Is the fifth precept included in the Noble Eightfold Path?
The Alcohol Drinking Stream Enterer - Sarakani the Sakyan SN 55.24

HI @Brenna, hope you well and having frutful travels. What a lovely metta-filled image of you singing to the cows. I lived in Scotland for 5 years so can well imagine the scene. I’m sure the sheep would appreciate it as well!


Thank you!

For a while I was singing songs from the Sound of Music…it seemed like an appropriate place to do it. :laughing:

Aminah! How are you? :grinning:

Yeah, I’m hoping I will just become disillusioned/un-interested in alcohol over time.

:blush: Thank you, Michael! I will definitely be watching that video when I have a moment.

:rofl: :heart: Kay! How are you?

Thank you so much! As a wondeful samaneri told me recently, this practice is a gradual training.

Hello wonderful Anagarika Pasanna! :heart: I hope you’re well. Is your pabbajja happening soon-ish? :grinning:

Thank you, Linda! Yes, indeed! Lots and lots of sheep. Such lovely balls-of-fluff beings they are. :blush:

Sorry mods if I’m deterring this topic :sweat_smile:, I have nothing more to say about alcohol, but I thought you might all enjoy this picture of the groundhog that lives under the monastery porch.


Not doing too badly at present :slight_smile:

That groundhog looks terribly serious. :grin:



It is in fourth Jhana.


Then it should look utterly peaceful. :anjal:


The 00.01% is the last straw break the camel’s back!


Maybe- if you are an alcoholic (dependent on alcohol). If your virtue is otherwise ok, then it is only a one crystal of salt in a vast river, according to the Buddha. It wont change the taste of the river (Lonapala sutta).

with metta


With this argument, you can break any precepts.
This is the wrong view.
I have no problem with people who break the precepts.
What is important is to have the right view.


Yes, it is the sort of wrong view that sustains samsara and among other things caused all of us to be born first place and still around 2,500 years after the last Buddha was around! :sweat_smile:

The important thing is to teach by example and be humble.

As per SN42.8 it is foolish to adhere to fatalistic and deterministic views on what actions and behaviours lead to specific destinations and consequences.

If one has achieved full compliance with the precepts he/she should focus on telling others of the good things that came with it.

By doing so others are inspired or at least get curious on giving a try, the chances are they will eventually reap the same good results and by extent inspire others to give it a try. This is in fact the process of natural contagion of the Dhamma we find in EBTs such as SN46.3.

This is exactly the pedagogy found in fundamental teachings such as the one recorded in DN2.

Banging heads on how strict others should be on their individual compliance with the precepts is mostly a waste of time.

Firstly, simply because that’s not the way the Buddha seems to have approached the challenge of inspiring others in giving themselves the Path a try.

Secondly, because telling others what they should do is much less effective than showing and inspiring them what they can do and the good things that naturally come with it.


True- but not possible online, most of the time. :slight_smile:

I’m assuming people already know this and they break them willingly. So my approach is to say to look at the consequences of doing these negative actions. For example, no one has to keep telling us not to drive on the wrong side of the road. We don’t have to keep taking a precept about it each time we drive- because it is apparent what the consequences of not doing it is. If we look to instances when we avoid doing certain negative things we can immediately know how to really keep the precepts. We can force ourselves to keep precepts too- but that is without any understanding and wont last very long. It wont lead to good samadhi, one of the main purpose for having sila in the path. Proper sila requires wisdom- not willpower.

with metta


As much as someone would feel like sticking their hand inside a red hot oven.

But if the same person stuck his hand inside to stop a piece of paper catching fire inside the oven, it wouldn’t be wrong view- but an appropriate action, given the circumstances.

Being ‘unable’ to stick the hand inside the oven, even when the paper is catching fire, is attachment to precepts (sila upadana). This happens when someone forces themselves (‘forced sankhara’) to stick to a precept, no matter what. This is a suppression of defilements which makes one want to do the actions that break precepts. It is an ‘uneasy peace’. It maybe conducive to some degree (but impure) samadhi. They may find themselves ‘breaking’ the precept and feeling remorseful when they cannot keep on top of it, anymore.

I once asked people in my meditation class in the temple what was an appropriate thing to do at all times. They said being mindful. I felt that the appropriate thing to do at all times is acting with intelligence/discrimination. To act according to the situation and not in preset/predetermined ways.

That’s just what I feel.

with metta


I think we have to.
I had a habit of driving above the speed limits. Once every three years I get a speeding ticket with my pints taken away. When I get the speeding ticket I reduce my speeding for about twelve months and start speeding again.
Now I have a navigator it continuously reminds me of the speed and I did not get a speeding ticket for about five years.
So my point is the speeding ticket is similar to a reminder of the five precepts.


When someone is reminded of the consequences or have to face the consequences of breaking a precept, it does help a person keep it- simply because it works with through a sense of shame (hiri) and fear of wrongdoing (otappa). These two are said to be the causes of moral behavior along with conscientiousness (hirimana), I might add.

On the other hand reading a leaflet on keeping to the speed limit doesn’t have the same effect on behaviour as it doesnt affect hiri otappa. It’s like telling someone to stop smoking, and actually developing signs of lung cancer.

I think there is nothing wrong with taking precepts, in general- I’m just not sure its effective in changing behaviours, that’s all.

with metta