Would drinking a glass of wine a day for health reasons break the precepts?

Yes I had heard this argument, thanks. Do you honestly believe that a little bit of alcohol is the equivalent of a little bit of murder, as Ajahn Brahm says? This would imply that the hundreds of millions of people who drink in the world are as morally depraved as murderers. Do people on this forum honestly believe that? I am asking as someone who does not drink, so I am just trying to look at this objectively.

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Thank you, this is a good point. I just wanted to clarify the scientific arguments in favor of having a glass of wine to weigh them against the possible drawbacks described in the suttas.
One thing I noticed in some of the replies above is that drinking alcohol and getting drunk are considered more or less the same thing. This might be true for me if I started drinking for the first time in 15 years or so :grin: but I think that ordinary people don’t get drunk on a single glass.
I know that people like Eckhart Tolle drink a glass occasionally and lay Buddhist leaders like Ikeda also do.
If people on this forum think that one glass of wine is like a bit of muder (see my previous message referring to A Brahm’s video) then why are smoking or chewing betel nut, which is what Ajahn Chah or Ajahn Maha Boowa did, acceptable?

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very interesting points, thank you :pray:

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So you ignored what I said here:

Of course one has to take this as a matter of faith until one can see causation for one’s self.

If you put a higher value on your own ideas and personal observations, then Buddhism isn’t the place to look for answers. If you can speak with certainty about Sir Churchill’s current situation, that’s another matter.

Degrees of bad karma are things that us ordinary folk just can’t know directly with certainty. Killing an insect is breaking the precepts, no question. Is it equivalent to murdering a human being. I don’t see how it would be. Will there be negative results from killing an insect? Of course. Will they be the same negative results that one would get from killing a human? That is the domain of a Samma Sambuddha. Samsara is a complicated place and it’s been going on for a long time.

Is drinking a glass of wine breaking the precept. Of course. Is it equivalent to drinking five bottles a day? That’s irrelevant.

It seems like the real question you are asking is if it is justified. Someone with confidence in the Buddha over scientists would say no. Someone with confidence in scientists over the Buddha might say yes.

While people like to throw around the “precepts aren’t commandments” line, It ignores the fact that the Buddha didn’t just pull them out of no where. He also said very clearly that just because something leads to happiness in the short term it doesn’t necessarily lead to happiness in the long term.So the argument that “people with dementia aren’t happy” is irrelevant.

I don’t think that anyone has mentioned the Vinaya provision for taking medicine that includes alcohol. Alcohol was a known vehicle for delivering medicine in the time of the Buddha. For monastics there is no offence if the substance is watered down to the point that the alcohol cannot be tasted. But to be clear, the alcohol was not the medicine, rather just the thing the medicine was suspended in.


Precept appear to be a good reminder to prevent us from misconduct . To live a happier life is another matter . Even if one do not get any disease one is not guaranteed of living a happy life .
Instead of choosing wine to prevent Alzheimer’s , now you can choose Chinese herbs without side effects plus precept remains unblemished .


Do you mind elaborate ?

So are you saying that in Buddhism when your own observations and rational thinking are in conflict with the texts, then your thoughts and observations are wrong, and the texts are right. A good Buddhist should therefore abandon all critical thinking and just believe the texts. Is that correct?
The only autonomous decision that a Buddhist makes, in this case, is to believe the Buddha instead of Christ, Mohamed or Mahavira… But once you’ve made this decision (but on the basis of what?, since your own thoughts and observations are to be doubted) you should abandon all autonomous and rational thinking. Is that what you are saying?

I have re-read this and if EBT Buddhism is like this, then I find it as sad and scary as Christianity (please understand I am not criticizing you, I am just expressing my feelings; I think I had a misunderstanding about EBT Buddhism probably), in which you are expected to obey all those rules that don’t make any rational sense for you.
I don’t even know whether wine existed at the time of the Buddha, I don’t think that people understand clearly what intoxicants are in that precept (for example now cigarettes are ‘banned’ but they weren’t at the time of Ajahn Chah) and yet one should not question the current interpretation of that precept even in the light of modern science.
I personally find this pretty scary; it is very different from the way Ajahn Brahm presents Buddhism as a way of leading a happier life. I imagine he presents it like that to attract new people to the religion. Once you are converted, it appears from what you say that all freedom of thought is to be abandoned.

I’m sorry if that upset you, but that’s not my intention at all. My suggestion with greatest intention is for you to take a break. With mettā :sparkling_heart:

As I said, I really just found it now, currently watching, and haven’t think much about it. But what I get from his explanation is towards keeping the precepts pure, as the question was specifically about that. The main problem here isn’t about a little bit of alcohol, but about ‘a little bit’. In turn what he said about a little bit of murder isn’t that it is equal to a little bit of alcohol. Instead his point is if you said ok to ‘a little bit’ of alcohol, then why not to say the same with ‘a little bit’ of everything else?

Personally if I’m in your condition, I’ll keep my precepts as pure as possible, because certainly an instruction coming from a very wise man, the Buddha, must mean something, perhaps I can’t really see it now, but I’ll take it seriously and give him a benefit of faith.

One thing I notice so far in my own practice is that the immediate result from keeping precepts pure is a blameless happiness and every time I recollect my pure precepts I’m happy. Certainly being happy can affect someone’s overall health. Another aspect about precepts that many people forget about is that it’s not only about not doing, but also about actively doing good deeds. So instead of buying wine, I’ll use the money to give to people in need. Every time I do good deed, I’m immediately happy.

Thus for this matter I’ll find other alternatives, like meditation which is another powerful tool to calm the mind hence healthy body. Or the way mention by @Viveka is great too, which is shifting my perspective so I’ll minimize negative thinking. Because as we all know negative thinking is the source of health problem. Comprehending about the nature of life is another great thing to decrease fear. One sutta that you can use to comprehend about life is AN5.57:

‘I am liable to grow old, I am not exempt from old age.’
‘I am liable to get sick, I am not exempt from sickness.’
‘I am liable to die, I am not exempt from death.’
‘I must be parted and separated from all I hold dear and beloved.’
‘I am the owner of my deeds and heir to my deeds. Deeds are my womb, my relative, and my refuge.
I shall be the heir of whatever deeds I do, whether good or bad.’

Hope this can help. May you be happy! :slightly_smiling_face:


It’s a little off topic, but in Ayurveda, medicine can be targeted at different parts of the body depending on the substance it was prepared in. One vehicle is water, one vehicle is oil, another ghee, another alcohol. As I recall, alcohol was used to deliver medicine to the nervous system. But please don’t take this as gospel.


This stuff only applies if you decide to voluntarily adopt it.

You don’t have to adopt it unless you want to be a monastic.

Even if you break it you don’t go to hell, you don’t get thrown out or condemned… it is all about intention.

It is a very subtle relationship between taking on precepts and abandoning following ones personal will… and it should be seen as part of deeper Buddhist practice in specifically training the mind to see through delusion, to understand conditioning etc.

Just take it softly, it’s taken me years to start to appreciate some of the subtleties in the interconnected teachings, discipline and training :slight_smile:


Actually, I find Buddhism way sadder and scarier than Christianity, so welcome to the club! :joy: “You mean I’m actually responsible for all this?!” :scream: :rofl:


I am not smart enough to understand your remark I guess.
To clarify, I find Buddhism scary not because of its world view, but in the same sense as I find for example Jehovah witnesses scary (and sad) when they say that one should not have a blood transfusion, on the basis of a literal interpretation of an ancient text, and in spite of the fact that we know, scientifically and rationally, that blood transfusions can save lives.

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Ok, well thank you for sharing. Did you have a question?

“The inconvenient truth”
If you want to seek solace , something over the cloud to comfort you , then the buddhist isnt the place

Yes this is how usually buddhism dealt with alzheimer, not by wine, but the real deal

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Fermented alcohol was absolutely known at that time. It’s an ancient thing. And just because some people are confused about what the precept means, it doesn’t hold that no one knows what they mean. This is an odd kind of reasoning.

I imagine he presents it like that to attract new people to the religion.

I can’t say if Ajhan Brahm does that, but I can say that there is a huge problem with people presenting Buddhism as something that it is not in order to attract people. Many do it with good intentions. But it ends up being more harmful, in my opinion. It’s an old and complicated problem.

It seems as if you wanted to know if there was an allowance according to EBT’s to drink a glass of wine a day and still say that you were keeping the precepts. You got your answer but now you are making all these generalizations about the people who have given you the answer. It feels like trolling, although I’m sure that’s not your intention.

Once you are converted, it appears from what you say that all freedom of thought is to be abandoned.

This is jumping from one extreme to another. And it’s not surprising that one would make a statement like that because Buddhism is in many places presented as the anti-religion where you can believe whatever you want and somehow say it’s Buddhism.

Many people on this forum believe that at least a large number of the texts we have represent what the Buddha taught. (A) And many people on this forum believe that the Buddha was enlightened and that on the night of his enlightenment he saw how beings are reborn according to their actions. (B) Most (if not all) of the people on this forum cannot claim to have the same knowledge that the Buddha did when it comes to results of actions. ( C )

For someone who believes A, B, and C, it is completely reasonable for them to trust what the Buddha had to say in regards to actions even if it may conflict with what they can themselves observe. This is in no way, shape or form “abandoning freedom of thought.”

I’m not totally clear if the “it” refers to precepts, but there are many places in the EBT’s where one of the results of breaking precepts is rebirth in hell. But if it’s any consolation, what you say about getting thrown out or condemned is true. :slight_smile: And I think this is where the distinction should be made, not whether Buddhism is the same as Christianity.

Breaking a precept does not make someone not a Buddhist. Breaking a precept doesn’t mean you should be shunned. (at least not until things reach a crisis point.) Breaking a precept doesn’t mean a guaranteed rebirth in a bad destination. Breaking a precept doesn’t mean you are a bad person, although bad people do exist and they probably break precepts.

But one can’t escape the results of actions. At least not until you attain Nibbana. I think for religious Buddhists, there is a trust that the Buddha is helping us out in the long term by pointing out the results of actions and that the most important things (or maybe the most do-able things) he laid down precepts for. Out of compassion.


Ven. Sagata got drunk by Kāpotikā, a liquor
Kāpotikā (f.) [of doubtful origin, fr. kapota, but probably popular etym., one may compare Sk. kāpiśāyana, a sort of spirituous liquor Halāyudha 2, 175, which expresses a diff. notion, i. e. fr. kapi] a kind of intoxicating drink, of a reddish colour (like pigeons’ fect) Vin iv.109, cp. J i.360 (surā) (PTS dict. 229).

Fermented liquor means: if it is fermented liquor from flour, fermented liquor from cakes, fermented liquor from cooked rice, if it is worked-up yeast, if it is mixed with ingredients.

Spirits means: if it is an extract from flowers, an extract from fruits, an extract from honey, an extract from sugar, if it is mixed with ingredients Pācittiya 51.

Ajahn Brahm delivers his view and understanding.
On the other hand, how could you live happier life when there really is no so called happiness.

This article is a very good example of bad science journalism.

The actual study found that if you give mice a low dose of alcohol, their nervous system seems to get better at clearing away waste.

Because waste clearance is part of the proposed theoretical explanation for Alzheimers in humans, the mentalfloss article (not the scientists) claim:

A new study says two glasses of wine daily can potentially reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s.

The study definitely does not say this. For mentalfloss to present the findings of the study in this way borders on lying. The authors of the mice study say:

Daily intake of alcohol for 30 years at doses scalable to those in the present study reduces human hippocampal volume by 3.4–5.8% compared to abstainers [55]. Naturally, this study performed in mice should not be viewed as a recommendation for alcohol consumption guidelines in humans.

Meaning, when scaling up the alcohol consumption from the mice model to human consumption, those levels are associated with cognitive decline in humans.

The reason why small amounts of alcohol are sometimes correlated with health benefits is because not all studies control for the fact that people with health problems stop drinking.

I.e. moderate drinkers look healthy compared to people who stopped drinking because they have some illness, but they are unhealthier compared to people who stopped drinking for non-health related reasons.

There are anti-oxidants in wine which are good for you, but you might as well just eat some grapes to get those very same anti-oxidants :slight_smile:


This is similar to Chinese medicine working mechanism .

If a person decided to observe the precept of abstaining from taking alcohol drinks and purposely break it not because of treating sicknesses , would that act alone constitute of rebirth in hell ? That seems unlikely , bad karma such as born with defective mind as a result etc is possible . But then again unless Buddha is here !

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evamevaṃ, byagghapajja, evaṃ samuppannānaṃ bhogānaṃ cattāri apāyamukhāni honti—
itthidhutto, surādhutto, akkhadhutto, pāpamitto pāpasahāyo pāpasampavaṅko
In the same way, there are four drains on wealth that has been gathered in this way.
Womanizing, drinking, gambling, and having bad friends, companions, and associates. AN 8.54