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PostPosted: Mon Jul 08, 2013 10:40 pm 
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This is a very interesting debate. I occasionally drink alcohol, and have on occasion drunk a little too much! However, my own personal relationship with Buddhism is that it offers an escape from dogmatic rules that are so prevalent in other faiths and philosophies; my understanding is that outside of the key teachings of the Buddha, all supplementary and subsequently added rules are more cultural in nature. Perhaps drinking alcohol is a negative action, perhaps it is not. And would 'good intent' play any part here? Could it be seen as compassionate to partake in an alcoholic drink when in the company of non-Buddhist friends who are also enjoying one, simply as a way of 'fitting in'?

Or course, there are many more learned than I, and I readily accept that I may be absolutely wrong.

But, in any case, :cheers:


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 08, 2013 11:40 pm 
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dalailemur wrote:
Perhaps drinking alcohol is a negative action, perhaps it is not. And would 'good intent' play any part here? Could it be seen as compassionate to partake in an alcoholic drink when in the company of non-Buddhist friends who are also enjoying one, simply as a way of 'fitting in'?


Example of good intent: You really want to help a friend that is having a serious problem, but he's feeling too shy to comment. Despite this, he will agree to go for some drinks. Then you go to drink with him, and he opens up. Then you have a possibility for a helpful, more direct communication with him.

All this talk of alcohol makes me want to have a beer right now, but i will have to drive in a few minutes, so that's forbidden... I should not drink and drive... otherwise the drinks would spill while cornering at high speeds!! :mrgreen:


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 09, 2013 3:33 am 
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I think whether or not its necessary depends on the person. In itself, obviously, alcohol is not evil. It is a neutral substance. It has medical uses in some forms, it has some health benefits in other forms, and yet ingested in excess, especially repeatedly, tends to have negative consequences up to and including sickness and death. Alcohol can be medicine for both mind and body, for example a drink used responsibly to alleviate stress not only relaxes the mind, but in turn relaxes the body. The poisons of hatred, desire and greed for example have biological equivalents that weaken the body and make it more susceptible to various diseases of both mind and body. So drinking can have a medicinal effect on ones state, even increasing ones ability to perform meditation or a daily practice of some kind.

On the other hand using alcohol frequently to relax in such a way begins to become a crutch. Using it for fun opens up an entirely separate can of worms. When you drink to the point of intoxication, you are playing with fire. Maybe you can maintain mindfulness, maybe not. You say you will just have one or two, and it turns into five or six and a shot. You say you will only spend 20$, and you end up spending 80$. So begins a cascade effect of saying you will do one thing then acting in the opposite way as a result of how the alcohol is influencing your decision making process. True mindfulness is aware of this process and therefore would not make decisions based upon it. Sure, its possible to maintain Rigpa (for example) while drunk and high even. Every state of body-mind related experience is based in chemicals, and there are biological effects that can be experienced from meditation and other practices. From this point of view its not like one chemically induced experience is more valid, real, substantial or permanent than any other. Although mother nature might have chosen this one particular arrangement, it doesn't mean other arrangements and experiences are inherently wrong. The mind influenced by LSD is capable of permanent realizations about the nature of the mind or reality. There are paths that include drug use of various kinds that lead to various siddhis and states of enlightenment. Theres no real absolutes that we can lock down in regards tor right or wrong with alcohol or anything else. We could create an arbitrary rule that we choose to follow, saying for example its all OK as long as positive results come from it. Once a negative result manifests, we should consider giving it up. It seems inevitable that a negative result will eventually manifest whenever any substance is used enough. Then again I think the inevitability of a negative result is just samsara in a nutshell.

Either way we are always playing with fire whenever we begin to alter our chemical state in extreme ways. One moment we are fine, then we lose mindfulness and suddenly we are saying or doing things we will later regret, even if only mildly as social humiliation. I know this from experience :)


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 09, 2013 2:32 pm 
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flavio81 wrote:
Example of good intent: You really want to help a friend that is having a serious problem, but he's feeling too shy to comment. Despite this, he will agree to go for some drinks. Then you go to drink with him, and he opens up. Then you have a possibility for a helpful, more direct communication with him.


I've done this without drinking alcohol whilst my friend did. He didn't feel awkward that I wasn't drinking and I never made him to feel that he shouldn't drink especially when he needed to off load. However I did turn him down when he offered to go drinking more to "celebrate".

dalailemur wrote:
Could it be seen as compassionate to partake in an alcoholic drink when in the company of non-Buddhist friends who are also enjoying one, simply as a way of 'fitting in'?


Sorry to be blunt, but no, that's just giving in to an excuse. :tongue: I've been to many parties without drinking alcohol and fitted right in. Does a vegetarian go to a bbq and eat meat to fit in? No, they bring their own, or the host will provide for them. :smile:

Gassho,
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 10, 2013 1:26 am 
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I tend to be quite strict with myself in this regard. I do not drink any alcohol.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 10, 2013 8:06 am 
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Indrajala, (and perhaps this might have already been written by another), Buddha Shakyamuni refused to make rules until given a reason to make a rule. All the vinaya rules were only made after there was some instance making it prudent. I can find some scriptural support for this if you'd like. I imagine someone has already pointed it out though.

Alcohol is still permitted for medicine.
I don't think any special investigation is necessary to see why Buddha Shakyamuni guarded his followers against falling into the trap of alcohol.

Personally I've never seen the appeal of alcohol. It tastes horrible and makes you uninteresting, uncoordinated, and far louder than you intend to be. Caffeine is my drug of choice.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 10, 2013 8:22 am 
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Malcolm wrote:
Huseng wrote:
Seishin wrote:
Are we talking about for montastics only?


The five lay precepts include a prohibition on alcohol as well, so yes it includes everyone, not just monastics.



The point in general is intoxication, not alchohol. I do not consider wine with meals covered.

What he said.

There is also the little matter of distinguishing between what the Buddha ( whoever he was ) said in contrast to what Buddhaghosa's wee commitee said he said 600 years after the event.
Ramon200 if you think it ' tastes horrible' you may have been drinking the wrong booze.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 10, 2013 9:03 pm 
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Ramon1920 wrote:
Alcohol is still permitted for medicine.
I don't think any special investigation is necessary to see why Buddha Shakyamuni guarded his followers against falling into the trap of alcohol.

Personally I've never seen the appeal of alcohol. It tastes horrible and makes you uninteresting, uncoordinated, and far louder than you intend to be. Caffeine is my drug of choice.


Good post! :thumbsup:
Apart of a glass of good wine in a meal, I cannot see either why some people are attracted so much by alcohol.
And I have quit caffeine too since many years ago. :smile:

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 10, 2013 9:33 pm 
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Ramon1920 wrote:
Personally I've never seen the appeal of alcohol. It tastes horrible and makes you uninteresting, uncoordinated, and far louder than you intend to be. Caffeine is my drug of choice.


This is funny, i find caffeine a far worse, far dangerous drug, for it is more addictive than alcohol, it is put everywhere (chocolates, soda, etc) causes nervousness, restlesness in the mind, and interferes with the sleep cycle, which has the potential to cause chronic damage to one's health in general. By the same criteria, amphetamines could as well be your drug of choice.

Bottom line, as Malcolm has pointed out, is that the buddha was against intoxication, not consumption...


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 10, 2013 10:22 pm 
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flavio81 wrote:
This is funny, i find caffeine a far worse, far dangerous drug....


Ah yes, but the latest study shows that a couple of cups a coffee a day can improve health and cognitive ability. Any more than that and it's bad. Having it black is good, but with sugar and milk it's bad :quoteunquote: ..... as with most things there isn't a black and white, although I agree coffee is a lot more addictive.

It's also worth noting than the healthy benefits of a glass of wine a day is only when taken with food. Having alcohol with food slows down it's absorption into the blood stream and gives your kidneys a better chance to process it. Having alcohol without food isn't as good and over time, a little alcohol can damage your kidneys.

And a little more that I had posted right at the start of the thread;
Seishin wrote:
I agree that one glass here or there will not hinder progress, and high fives to those who have the will power to say "no more" in social situations.

However I do believe it's important to highlight that there is a fine line between alcohol having no effects and having detrimental effects.
NHS studies have shown that one glass with your sunday meal can be benificial to your health. But two glasses overwrites those benifits and actually becomes something negative. This sort of alcohol once in a while won't leave any lasting detrimental effect on the body or mind, but regularly taken over a long period of time will be detrimental to body and mind. I knew a lecturer while I was at uni who had a glass of wine everyday with his dinner and he had significant health problems, but didn't have the will power to give it up. *edit* (he was in his 70s)
Wine glasses in the UK have actually increased in size, so one glass is actually equivilant to 1 and half.

So while I agree that we shouldn't prohibit alcohol (I favour "abstain") I do not think discussion on the matter to be silly. :smile:

Gassho,
Seishin

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 11, 2013 7:11 am 
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A lot of people get defensive around alcohol.

If you can't even give up booze maybe you aren't serious about Buddhism at all.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 11, 2013 9:27 am 
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Ramon1920 wrote:
If you can't even give up booze maybe you aren't serious about Buddhism at all.


My tibetan buddhist master, who has impeccable credentials, tibetan-born, recognized tulku, has explicitly told us that alcohol consumption per se is not only not forbidden but a in moderate doses can even be beneficial to the practice. Who should i follow if i'm a "serious" Buddhist, my vajra guru or Ramon1920's self-righteous, narrow-mindedly moralistic view? Perhaps too much caffeine is making you restless Ramon...

I don't think it's fair to judge a practitioner being "not serious about Buddhism" for not following a precept that is NOT essential in some traditions of buddhism.

If your Buddhist path instructs you to renounce booze, then do it. But don't assume that every other buddhist has to do it regardless of the tradition.

What you're doing is creating solid walls between yourself and the others, Ramon. Quoting a recent post from user Kirtu: "We see what we are conceptually primed to see."

How can you communicate with others if you will approach them only through your heavy preconceptions? And how can the compassion arise if there is no communication? And how can ego be defeated if there is no compassion?


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 11, 2013 10:40 am 
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:good: Spot on.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 11, 2013 11:25 am 
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flavio81 wrote:
Dechen Norbu wrote:
Well, That's how I see vows. I know it's polemic and you don't have to agree. If you need to make a vow to avoid doing a negative action, it follows that you can't control your actions based on knowledge. That's not a good sign. If you don't do something because you made a vow, not out of the understanding that such actions will bring harm, you made yourself a puppet to written letter. This doesn't mean that vows are useless. It means they should at most bee seen as a temporary aid, not something definitive in themselves.


Your position is somewhat extreme, but I agree for the most part. I understood that such kind of vows help people of lesser capacity to protect themselves from doing harm to themselves or to other people. It does not mean that ALL buddhists should do the same.


no, only those of lesser capacities ... at least it is how Rinpoché (ChNN) did express it in a recent teaching :thinking:

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 11, 2013 12:46 pm 
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As a Buddhist, that considers myself to be very basic in my practise. I was wondering how many other precepts can be broken or manipulated to suit my life style. Considering that as a lay practitioner I'm only expected to keep 5 precepts & a monk is supposed to keep 200+ I would have thought that 5 isn't a big ask. Seriously, I've read another post on here recently where a guy asked if groping your mates girlfriend is breaking the 3rd precept. Well I don't know, but if he's caught a broken jaw could be on the cards. Precepts are not commandments, but breaking them may well bring some bad karma into your life (another basic Buddhist principle). The 5 precepts were given to us by the Buddha as a way to minimise bad luck/karma in our lives. It's advice, not a commandment, take it or leave it, but please stop trying to change & twist basic Buddhist teachings to make yourself feel better. This only confuses newcomers about what is & isn't Buddhism.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 11, 2013 12:47 pm 
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As a Buddhist, that considers myself to be very basic in my practise. I was wondering how many other precepts can be broken or manipulated to suit my life style. Considering that as a lay practitioner I'm only expected to keep 5 precepts & a monk is supposed to keep 200+ I would have thought that 5 isn't a big ask. Seriously, I've read another post on here recently where a guy asked if groping your mates girlfriend is breaking the 3rd precept. Well I don't know, but if he's caught a broken jaw could be on the cards. Precepts are not commandments, but breaking them may well bring some bad karma into your life (another basic Buddhist principle). The 5 precepts were given to us by the Buddha as a way to minimise bad luck/karma in our lives. It's advice, not a commandment, take it or leave it, but please stop trying to change & twist basic Buddhist teachings to make yourself feel better. This only confuses newcomers about what is & isn't Buddhism.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 11, 2013 12:48 pm 
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Ramon1920 wrote:
A lot of people get defensive around alcohol.

If you can't even give up booze maybe you aren't serious about Buddhism at all.

I was fairly recently on retreat for almost two months. During that time I did not think about alcohol once.
A week after the retreat finished I had a glass of amontillado. I enjoyed it.
I realise that not everyone can do that. I cant do that with cream cakes...there is a danger that one will be a slippery slope.
I haven't smoked for nearly 25 years. I know people who can ( genuinely ) have the occasional cigarette..I can't. I would soon be up to 30 a day..


Its knowing oneself.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 11, 2013 12:54 pm 
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shaunc wrote:
As a Buddhist, that considers myself to be very basic in my practise. I was wondering how many other precepts can be broken or manipulated to suit my life style. Considering that as a lay practitioner I'm only expected to keep 5 precepts & a monk is supposed to keep 200+ I would have thought that 5 isn't a big ask. Seriously, I've read another post on here recently where a guy asked if groping your mates girlfriend is breaking the 3rd precept. Well I don't know, but if he's caught a broken jaw could be on the cards. Precepts are not commandments, but breaking them may well bring some bad karma into your life (another basic Buddhist principle). The 5 precepts were given to us by the Buddha as a way to minimise bad luck/karma in our lives. It's advice, not a commandment, take it or leave it, but please stop trying to change & twist basic Buddhist teachings to make yourself feel better. This only confuses newcomers about what is & isn't Buddhism.

Precepts..whatever their origin is in actuality..are indeed not commandments, and therefore cannot be broken. They are aspirations..the individual response to them has many variables.

NB Karma-vipaka and 'luck' are not compatible concepts. It appears that there are a number of possible causes of confusion laying in wait for those new to Buddhism.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 11, 2013 12:55 pm 
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:good:
Simon E. wrote:
Ramon1920 wrote:
A lot of people get defensive around alcohol.

If you can't even give up booze maybe you aren't serious about Buddhism at all.

I was fairly recently on retreat for almost two months. During that time I did not think about alcohol once.
A week after the retreat finished I had a glass of amontillado. I enjoyed it.
I realise that not everyone can do that. I cant do that with cream cakes...there is a danger that one will be a slippery slope.
I haven't smoked for nearly 25 years. I know people who can ( genuinely ) have the occasional cigarette..I can't. I would soon be up to 30 a day..


Its knowing oneself.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 11, 2013 1:03 pm 
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Ramon1920 wrote:
A lot of people get defensive around alcohol.

If you can't even give up booze maybe you aren't serious about Buddhism at all.


That's simply unfair to judge someone as not serious about Buddhism because they "can't even give up booze".

I agree that alcohol can lead to problems and would encourage people to generally abstain from it, but I also recognize that plenty of mature, stable and well-rounded Buddhists (ordained included) do consume alcohol. There are many Buddhists who become emotionally and psychologically compromised over the sight of a fellow Buddhist consuming alcohol. This is neurotic and self-defeating behaviour.

If you think you're superior to others either in practice or in personal qualities by virtue of abstaining from alcohol, then you are clearly suffering from egotistical thoughts which will probably do you more damage than a glass of wine ever could.

Pride is the real killer of practice, not liquor.

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