Is it ok to take some alcohol occasionally?


The churches I went to growing up (Methodist ad Presbyterian) generally used grape juice for communion.


As does the United Church of Canada, the largest mainline Protestant denomination here in Canada.

High church Lutherans and Anglo-Catholics are the only mainline Protestant sects I can think of offhand that still use wine necessarily and mandate it.


So, it is the choice of the priest?
Perhaps what Jesus drank was red grape juice, not red vine!


I am sorry if I misrepresenting Christianity.
If you say that Christian church or the Bible is not supporting alcohol consumption, then they are supporting my case.


So, in your opinion occasionally consumption of alcohol is in line with Buddha’s teaching?
I want to make it clear that this is not an attack on Bhante Sujato. I have a lot of faith in him that he does not consume alcohol even occasionally. As far as I see it is just a typo.


The issue is chosen inebriation, which is to say, choosing a state that prevents mindfulness and clear awareness.

You seem to have the idea that any alcohol at all is necessarily inebriating to that extent. That’s false.


What I am saying is even a small amount of alcohol prevents mindfulness and awareness.
That is why there is a zero alcohol tolerance by police to P and L platers.


What’s this mean? Please be precise:

  1. Any at all?
  2. One shot glass of Xian wine?
  3. One barrel of single malt scotch?

Or something else in the range there, somewhere?

(I have a followup, I just want to get settled on this question first.)


The advantage of the ‘teetotalitarian’ ( good one, @daverupa ! :grin:) approach is that it is very simple and straightforward - You simply abstain, and don’t have to spend a lot of time worrying about it after that. I find it very liberating.


Any at all.


Okay then. That is biologically impossible, so I’m simply in a place of disagreement with you on this.


Well, I am talking from my experience.
Once I had a very small amount of alcohol at a work party.
I was just missed running to another vehicle on my way home.
I know the culprit was alcohol.


Again, this imprecision is leading us astray. It obscures context altogether (e.g. consumed over what time? your body weight? other food? intention?), which is exactly the wrong way to investigate the precepts.

Imagine a bottle of beer consumed over the course of 60 minutes during a meal. This amount of alcohol is non-zero, but subclinical. Drink that beer over the course of 40 seconds after 3 days of fasting, though, and the situation changes.

Context matters.


Exactly. Its easier and more safety to just avoid entirely than eel-wriggle about it.


I think there is a Vinaya rule about consuming alcohol as a medicine. Bhante @brahmali may help us with this.


I have no problem with people who consume alcohol.
I do not think that if someone spites me with a small amount of alcohol that I will go to hell.
But I do not want to justify (eel-wriggle) it as the right action.


This is a great choice for many people, helpful and supportive, just as you find it to be.

…but when this sort of ‘holier-than-thou’ attitude starts to creep in, I wonder whether they’ve forgotten why they’re practicing the precepts…

No one has been.


I see your point.
But I am not advocating there should be the death penalty for people who consume alcohol.
The point I am making here is if a person who wants to experience higher Jhana, the alcohol could be a hindrance. Some people mistake Jhana experience to the high you experience using drugs.


But you don’t know, and cannot know what other people’s motivations are. You are assuming they are coming from a place of arrogance and conceit.

I am an alcoholic in recovery. I don’t think its safe for me to give myself any wiggle room on the 5th precept, nor do I encourage others to have a loose interpretation of it. If that’s holier than thou, so be it.


That makes sense.

I am trying to encourage an accurate understanding of it. There is a nuance here that’s getting lost, I think, and it’s making all y’all’s presentation of this precept somewhat abrasive.