Problem with the 5th precept

Discuss your personal experience with the Dharma here. How has it enriched your life? What challenges does it present?

Re: Problem with the 5th precept

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Wed Nov 21, 2012 10:33 pm

I think there may be some misunderstanding about the precepts,
as though their purpose is some kind of rigid "self-denial" trip,
like some kind of ascetic torture, lying on a bed of nails or whatever.

First of all, you don't have to take the precepts in order to practice dharma.
Second, the idea that taking the precepts immediately conjures up resistance to them,
is like saying the moment you get married and exchange wedding vows
you suddenly have this desire to cheat on your spouse
some sort of "forbidden fruit" thing.

The reason to take the precepts is because you want to, and because you feel you are ready to.
Not because you want to undergo some major hardship.
But why would anyone want to? It is because at some point you might feel that
realization or nirvana or the perfect cessation of suffering, whatever you want to call it,
is actually possible.
It's not just a theoretical proposition.

Suppose you were quite confident that somewhere in your back yard was buried a huge chest full of gold coins.
How eager would you be to start digging?
How hard would it be to live with sore muscles from all that digging...
if you were certain that once you uncovered that chest of gold, you would be set for life?
Maybe not too hard.

That is how it is with precepts.
.
.
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Re: Problem with the 5th precept

Postby Zealot » Thu Nov 22, 2012 4:23 am

furtom wrote:Hello all. Very interesting discussion. (This is my first post. I know I should post something in the other section, but I've never been good with introducing myself, so I'll just jump right in. Please forgive me.)

I personally tend to resonate with more rigid interpretations of things like precepts, or at least I think I do. If anyone were to ask me if it were OK to drink or smoke pot after taking precepts, my first gut response would be, "Of course not!" Add to this the idea of earning income from dealing drugs and the situation seems pretty clear cut.

But is it? This is a Mahayana forum and that means open to all. How many Buddhists in East Asia refrain from all alcohol? Eat vegetarian? Never lie? Refrain from all harmful speech? etc. Note, I'm not excusing it. I'm just saying. They are Buddhists too.

Mahayana Buddhism has a strong devotional component to it for a reason! We pray to Bodhisattva like Quan Yin precisely because we are not wholly able to carry the load alone. If you practice Pure Land or some sort of Lotus devotion, this idea is explicit. But even in more self reliant practices like Zen, such devotions are (or these days we may have to say should be) an integral part of the Buddhist experience.

The lines have grayed in what is "acceptable" not because there is really any debate about what is right or wrong, but because these practices are welcome to all. If you believe all beings have Buddha nature, you have to think this way.

As far a right livelihood goes, as I said, the dealing of drugs would seem far, far afield. But on the other hand, what would we tell a butcher or liquor store owner if they came here? You have to give up your business before you can practice?

I guess what I'm saying is, you have to start somewhere. I would just say to Zealot and Ikkyu that they are welcome to become Buddhists if that is what their hearts are telling them to do. The rest is between they and their teacher. It will all come out in the wash. It is certainly true (and very important) that sila cultivates prajna, but please don't forget that prajna cultivated sila, too. You can go from A to B or you can go from B to A. :namaste:

OK, so we won't say, "I'm OK, you're OK. Do anything you want." But on the other hand, don't make Buddhism such a serious and heavy thing that new people feel somehow inadequate.


Well, first off, welcome to the forums and thank you for your wonderful contribution :D

Second, let's get this debate going! *rolls up sleeves* :twisted:

The term 'drug dealer' just by itself has such a negative connotation, but in essence it's just a pharmacist. Who wrote the prescription for the plant they're buying you ask? No one needs a prescription to buy a plant I say. CO lawmakers and citizens agree, apparently.

This debate has gone on a long time with some of my questions never being answered: namely, why is cannabis a cut-and-dry intoxicant? Heedlessness is not an automatic by-product. Pain-relief and cancer-fighting properties are fairly automated by products, however.

It's medicine! Yes, with potential for abuse, but that's true of anything you can ingest or participate in. The only problem lies only in intent or ignorance.

Garcher, as in the precepts have been passed down through generations. They are important foundations for most variations of Buddhism. Apparently they have seen more power in those words than just letters, but you must see the wisdom and power through your own eyes to believe. Some magic words I have recently beheld the power of with from my own eyes are "let it be so" and "make it so."

Wishing everyone love, understanding, and acceptance.
:namaste:
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Re: Problem with the 5th precept

Postby duckfiasco » Thu Nov 22, 2012 4:32 am

Wonderful first post, furtom :) Welcome. :buddha1: :heart:

The precepts are signposts that lead to somewhere. You can't never kill in samsara any more than you could be a signpost :rolleye: If we see a shortcut through a bog or a precept that points up a steep stony trail, I hope we can trust the sign maker to get us where we're going!
Please take the above post with a grain of salt.
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Re: Problem with the 5th precept

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Thu Nov 22, 2012 4:55 am

Zealot wrote:This debate has gone on a long time with some of my questions never being answered: namely, why is cannabis a cut-and-dry intoxicant?


Actually, your question was answered directly and succinctly,
and then you said what's the difference between pot and oatmeal.
Oatmeal goes in one bowl and cannabis goes in another
and if you can't tell the difference then there's obviously no need to
spend money on pot when oatmeal is cheaper by the pound anyhow.

It isn't Buddhism's problem that it doesn't fit into the hemp agenda.
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The Chinese characters are Fo (buddha) and Ming (bright). The image is of a student of Buddhism, who, imagining himself to be a monk, and not understanding the true meaning of the words takes the sound of the words literally. Likewise, People on web forums sometime seem to be foaming at the mouth.
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Re: Problem with the 5th precept

Postby duckfiasco » Thu Nov 22, 2012 5:37 am

"I smoke this joint for the benefit of all beings." If you can say this with a straight face, then more power to you. I think anything that makes us lose mindfulness and clouds our practice of bodhicitta is like a drug and should be gradually pruned back.
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Re: Problem with the 5th precept

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Thu Nov 22, 2012 6:00 am

I am glad to see pot being somewhat decriminalized in America. 30 years ago I was very active in the legalize-hemp movement, so I don't have any problems with it for what it is and clinical data may support its use medicinally.
But to say it doesn't f*** with your head or get you high is bullsh**
or to say "everything affects you somehow, even oatmeal does,
so why single pot out as an intoxicant?" is just as stupid an argument as saying
that all mind-altering substances drugs are the same, that crack and pot are the same.
And I doubt very many pro-cannabis people would state that claim.
Aside from that,
While being high might make one interested in Dharma
or perhaps even understand some dharma writing in a way one didn't understand it before,
in terms of working with the mind, and actually practicing dharma
mind-altering substances really have no value
and are just as likely if not more likely to slow one's progress.
.
.
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The Chinese characters are Fo (buddha) and Ming (bright). The image is of a student of Buddhism, who, imagining himself to be a monk, and not understanding the true meaning of the words takes the sound of the words literally. Likewise, People on web forums sometime seem to be foaming at the mouth.
Original painting by P.Volker /used by permission.
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Re: Problem with the 5th precept

Postby Zealot » Thu Nov 22, 2012 7:02 am

What terrible arguments you both put forth! I do not wish to sound rude, but truly, you did not address the points.

Duckfiasco, you did not address intent. Why does one smoke a joint?

PadmaVonSamba, you are confusing my meaning. I did not say all mind-altering substances are the same, however, if you wish to group it in without doubt or exception as an intoxicant, you must first prove it has no medicinal value. Alcohol, even has medicinal potential, why you hatin' on the kush? I simply said anything ingested or participated in has potential for abuse (oatmeal included).

Please, I stated my points succinctly, and you have gone all over the place with your reply.

I will state them again.

Cannabis is medicine. It has potential for heedlessness [as does everything samsaric], however the potential lies in the intent or ignorance of the user, not within the substance.

I hope my reply will not be regarded as hostile as I do not mean it as such. Best wishes everyone!
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Re: Problem with the 5th precept

Postby duckfiasco » Thu Nov 22, 2012 8:13 am

Duckfiasco, you did not address intent. Why does one smoke a joint?

Let me try again then :cheers: I hope this isn't too lengthy.

The purpose of any practice is to ultimately reduce ego clinging and to benefit others. Any action done with this intent can theoretically be wholesome practice. Now, whether any of us here can veg out in front of the TV, read romance novels, or smoke weed with a pure, not at all self-interested intent to help others... I think that may take a very high level of attainment where one practically poops the Dharma :rolling:

In the meantime, the difference with romance novels and the TV is you can put one down and turn the other off, and go practice with a clear, stable mind at any moment. Marijuana in this respect at least takes several hours to wear off. What do you do in the meantime?

It may be argued that you can practice the dharma while high. In a sense, sure, everything we do is part of the path. But in the sense of familiarization, redirecting our habit energies, that is made more difficult when we don't have all our faculties in their top form at our immediate disposal. Is your clarity such that you've already mastered keeping the mind in place in ordinary life and state of mind? My experience being stoned and around people who get stoned on a regular basis is it opens the floodgates of ideas, interesting ones but generally irrelevant. I would look at a blank piece of paper and see drawings I could do. Not active hallucinations, but just endless ideas. My husband gets ideas for music and makes songs. People laugh and apparently act spontaneously. It's very distracting.

However, my perhaps mislead opinion of what's going on is the wisdom instinct, Dharma protector, giant "No", whatever you want to call it, is effectively disabled whenever the state of mind is altered in this way. That includes alcohol, marijuana, spacing out, or generally indulging in pleasures or wallowing in suffering. The amount of effort to regain it varies among these things. The Dharma protector is what enables us to know bodhicitta from our rear end, to know when we're being realistic or indulging in our usual karmic tendencies... basically when to know we're about to try to lick honey off the sword and hopefully can be kind enough to ourselves to abstain. If you've ever done something you later regretted under the influence, or to speak idealistically, if your mind deviated one moment from the cultivation of bodhicitta and reduction of self-clinging under the influence (certainly regrettable), then you have personal experience with this. I do, at least. Why complicate things?

Whether the appearance of spontaneity or ease or perceived clarity arises while high is irrelevant, because the ideal is to be able to maintain a joyful (therefore non-clinging) mind at all times, including death. Practicing while in a chemically altered state is silly as it doesn't benefit you 95% the other time. It's also unlikely you'll be high at the moment of your death. Put another way, we're constantly blown around in our own sober mental climate as is; I'm not sure why you would introduce yet another variable, specifically one that alters your most valuable tool in this pursuit.

Finally, I assume there was a good reason for abstaining from the wine of delusion or drugs or whatever the translations say. I base that trust in the observation that the Three Jewels have brought nothing but benefit to me so far. The Buddha says for X problem, try Y. It's worked nearly every time. So that's a major basis of my faith in this matter, also.

So there are the reasons why I personally used to drink alcohol and smoked marijuana a few times, but decided not to anymore. It's not a prescription for you, but as Dharma friends, we try to share what has helped us in the hope it will help the other, and recommend avoiding what we've seen bring personal harm to us.

Best of luck in your practice. :buddha1: :heart:
Please take the above post with a grain of salt.
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Re: Problem with the 5th precept

Postby Zealot » Thu Nov 22, 2012 12:47 pm

Definitely not too lengthy. I thoroughly enjoyed the read :)

It is true that the chemical high from smoking is not something that can just be turned off. Also, when you're used to your normal state being stoned, it really isn't all that much to ask that one remains mindful as well as I know many of my smoker friends who will likely die under the influence as there isn't really a time when they are sober!

It sounds like you've had casual interactions with this substance which usually has those disctracting effects, increased creativity, decreased drive, etc. But I also bet that when you smoked, you wanted to wind down a little, let loose. Works well, doesn't it?

I have had lots of interaction with WIlly Nelson level stoners who can't actually handle the normal-sober state. Now this is someone fully dependent on a substance for at least their temporary well-being if not until their death. Most of this people would contest that their life was less pleasant and bearable before they started their habit, and they were not as good of a person. So in essence they gained control over themselves where you lost control. Contradicting effects?

Now, sadly, these people that have bettered their emotional state with the help of this substance may never take the next step, and that is embodying that betterment without addiction. They enjoy smoking, they see little or no detrimental effects (and lots of positive), and it is readily available. The thing these people are lacking is the Right View or at least knowledge of the first two truths because with such knowledge that you and I are armed with, we know that this attachment will only lead to more suffering and hardship down the way.

Now the question in my head arises, what is the difference between your situation and theirs. My answer is intention. The people that you grouped smokers into were likely just searching for a release, attachment, and unneeded pleasure. The people I'm referring two have noticed a large quality of life difference be it in pain reduction, mental acuity, or sometimes just compassion. Are these people also guilty of wanting to indulge a little and overdoing it to the point of heedlessness? Absolutely!

However, most everyone in society intoxicates themselves if we take this as the creed: "Any thought, word, or deed that doesn't further the path of the aspirant is a distraction, an intoxicant. Where there is not path, there is no distraction, no intoxicant. None are needed and none will distract." The path of the aspirant is incredibly difficult and I'm certain nearly all who tread it will fall off at least once or twice. I mean, in this context, getting distracted from your mindfulness by an errant thought, INTOXICATION! :tantrum:

I personally agree with your thoughts on "why complicate things?" but if an individual is unable to take the first step on their own, really how bad of a crutch is it? It's good medicine when used with the right intention. Plus, it isn't poison (this is why I don't drink).

Thank you for the advice and sharing :heart: Honestly, I think I'm done with my recreational cannabis use, however, I do enjoy this debate ;)

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Re: Problem with the 5th precept

Postby Sherab Dorje » Thu Nov 22, 2012 2:52 pm

Zealot wrote:Second, let's get this debate going! *rolls up sleeves* :twisted:
You can roll down your sleeves because this debate is over and has been over for some time now. Your questions have been answered and do not require being dealt with again.
The term 'drug dealer' just by itself has such a negative connotation, but in essence it's just a pharmacist. Who wrote the prescription for the plant they're buying you ask? No one needs a prescription to buy a plant I say. CO lawmakers and citizens agree, apparently.
You are not a pharmacist you are a drug dealer. Dealing in intoxicants is wrong livelihood.
This debate has gone on a long time with some of my questions never being answered: namely, why is cannabis a cut-and-dry intoxicant? Heedlessness is not an automatic by-product. Pain-relief and cancer-fighting properties are fairly automated by products, however.

It's medicine! Yes, with potential for abuse, but that's true of anything you can ingest or participate in. The only problem lies only in intent or ignorance.
Because it is an intoxicant. Other medicines are also intoxicants. If used outside of medicinal applications they are for the purpose of intoxication. Killing a being is still killing a being regardless of the intention.
:namaste:
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: Problem with the 5th precept

Postby Seishin » Thu Nov 22, 2012 3:25 pm

Zealot wrote:The term 'drug dealer' just by itself has such a negative connotation, but in essence it's just a pharmacist. Who wrote the prescription for the plant they're buying you ask? No one needs a prescription to buy a plant I say. CO lawmakers and citizens agree, apparently.


:jawdrop: I've only just seen this and I'm a little shocked by it. A pharmacist goes through rigorous training and are only qualified after many years and a degree course. They know the ins and outs of thousands of drugs and substances and they know how much of what substance a person can take, together with what ever else someone is taking, and most importantly, they are licensed to sell drugs and would lose their license for malpractice. You need a prescription for most medicines. All others are considered "over counter" medicines (like painkillers), and those who sell them are not pharmacists. If you consider pot as a medicine but not requiring a prescription then it would be considered "over counter" and you would not be a pharmacist. A pharmacist has a level of responsibility for the patient. Would you ask one of your "customers" what other medications they are taking, would you ask them if they have a history of mental illnesses, would you recommend something else that is more beneficial with less side effects, would you question them if they buy large quantities? All these questions a pharmacist would ask.

In Holland, pot and 'shrooms are legal and are sold in licensed shops. Those selling them do not consider themselves pharmacists.

Gassho,
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Re: Problem with the 5th precept

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Thu Nov 22, 2012 5:07 pm

Zealot wrote: if you wish to group it in without doubt or exception as an intoxicant, you must first prove it has no medicinal value.

No logic to that.

Obviously, many medicines also have effects which alter brain function or the nervous system.
In the thread in which this topic was originally posted,
I said that if you use a substance for medicine it is medicine
and if you use it as an intoxicant it is an intoxicant.
Morphine is a good example of that.

You are just trying to skirt the issue of dealing in intoxicants
in the context of the buddhist precept
because pot can also be used medicinally.

WTF???


Best wishes to you too.
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The Chinese characters are Fo (buddha) and Ming (bright). The image is of a student of Buddhism, who, imagining himself to be a monk, and not understanding the true meaning of the words takes the sound of the words literally. Likewise, People on web forums sometime seem to be foaming at the mouth.
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Re: Problem with the 5th precept

Postby floating_abu » Thu Nov 22, 2012 5:09 pm

Ikkyu wrote:I guess the reason I'm here on Dharma Wheel is primarily because I'm a skeptic. Although I've read A LOT on Buddhism and most other religions (I'm sort of a comparitive religion and philosophy nerd in my spare time, although I'm working to get my BA in professional writing at the moment), I still have issues with the Dharma that I may very well bring up in later posts.

In any case, thank you for reading my introduction and I hope that everything works out well. Many happy returns. Metta. Namaste. Gassho. Yada yada.


Hi Ikkyu,

If you didn't have your doubts, you would probably be pretty stupid.

Who doesn't doubt? Who wouldn't question some of the things that are read?

There is no issue with that. Remember, in Buddhism it is all only an invitation. Gautama, the Buddha of our age, specifically learnt something and he chose, with some encouragement to teach ... And thank God for us, he did :)

In Zen we say it is important to have great doubt, but as you practice (if you practice) you may also find yourself in the conundrum of also having great faith. Great unbreakable faith -- not because someone told you, not because you saw your Grandma doing it, not because it's a hip new trend -- but because your experience, your insights will have shown it to be so.

And in this great conundrum of both great doubt, great faith you can enter the inquiry deeper.

An old friend used to say "Keep the precepts until the precepts keep themselves"

Measure your path, do and observe, but don't give up on the practice - if it is genuine realisation and Truth that you seek. (yes, the kind no-one else can tell you about)

Well wishes,

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Re: Problem with the 5th precept

Postby Sherab Dorje » Thu Nov 22, 2012 5:49 pm

I believe that this is a fitting point to end this discussion before it starts to loop again. If anybody has anything relevant to add, something that is not a rehash of the points already made, please feel free to PM me to reopen the thread.
:namaste:
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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