Author Topic: That (in)famous 5th precept - not taking intoxicating drinks  (Read 3905 times)

Paul

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That (in)famous 5th precept - not taking intoxicating drinks
« on: October 18, 2007, 09:52:37 AM »
I think it's the fifth one anyway.  I'd be interested to know - how many of you still drink alcohol?  Do you drink a little from time-to-time, do you have a 'blast' occasionally, or a glass of red wine with your supper?  Until now I've been one of the 'an occasional reasonable drink can't do any harm' crowd.  I don't drink in the week, but I do sometimes drink with friends during the weekend.  And with the Rugby world cup on (watching rugby is one of the few parts of my 'old' life that has come through to the new one) I've been drinking more than usual with my friends while watching the matches.  But I get a feeling that when I meditate the day after a drink, that my thoughts are more clouded, I seem to drag myself back to the breath or whatever more regularily than I have to on, say a friday.  So I've decided to stop drinking completely, at least for a few months, to see if it really does make a difference.  I'd be interested to hear from those of you who have stopped drinking, did stopping drinking make a difference?  And for those of you who do still drink, do you find it has a negative effect on your sittings?

mettajoey

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Re: That (in)famous 5th precept - not taking intoxicating drinks
« Reply #1 on: October 18, 2007, 01:37:53 PM »
I read once that during the time of the Buddha there was a monk who was considered an Arahant, but when he went back to the village and worked as a servant (something about watching kids or minding a household) he drank daily and sometimes to excess.  However back at the monastery, he was a teetotaler.  The other monks were upset with the Buddha for this monk to have the distinction of an Arahant, (maybe someone out there knows the name of this monk) but the Buddha was resolute.

To me that means we need to live our own path, respective of the precepts, aware of the consequences, and daily striving for our liberation.  For some, it's black and white, for me it's a slew of greys living in this real world and not being isolated from society.  Since I've been on this path, my alcohol and meat consumption is a mere fraction of what it once was.  My work is better, my relationships are better, I'm a happier person.  But, this Thanksgiving, I'm going to a friends house, having turkey and I'll be carrying a specialty beer of some sort.  If I drink too much, I'll be sleeping on the couch.  Once my head clears, I'll sit again.

 
The best type of meditation is the one that you'll do

Paul

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Re: That (in)famous 5th precept - not taking intoxicating drinks
« Reply #2 on: October 18, 2007, 02:42:10 PM »
Silentflute, that makes sense to me.  I hadn't heard that story and it makes sense that it is down to the individual.  I'll see what difference it makes to my practice not drinking.  I agree with what you say about not being isloated in society too, it could cause problems with some people here refusing to at least have one glass of wine with a meal.  I guess maybe it comes down to the middle path again.  The next few months will clarify things anyway, I guess like so many of the Buddhas teachings, the message is 'try and see' instead of 'believe without thinking'.

Matthew

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Drugs vs Meditation: Do You Want To Be A Buddha or a Buddhist?
« Reply #3 on: October 18, 2007, 05:43:22 PM »
On Saturday, April 21 of this year I wrote the following on my website freedomforall.net. I do not recall if it was in response to a topic on the old forum but I think it may have been. what I wrote then applies to alcohol as much as any other drug or intoxicant.

Drugs vs Meditation: Do You Want To Be A Buddha or a Buddhist?

I'd go for meditation every time. Except at parties then I'm strictly an MDMA man. The electric kundalini buzz, highs and lows of meditation, sorrows, profound understandings and misuderstandings of life need all to be explored. There is only one question one needs to ask and only two outcomes as to how one travels and where one arrives.

Why are you meditating? If your answer is "to become a Buddha". Then you have understood why the Buddha bothered. If your answer is not then you may have misunderstood why the Buddha taught and what he taught.

There was an early distinction in Sangha during the Buddha's life. There were members of the Sangha who were renunciants and lived the life of the Buddha and there were lay persons. The renunciants were all definitively answering "to become a Buddha". Some of the lay persons also answered in this way and practiced with diligence and attained the goal.There were several hundred Arahants (goal winners) in the Sangha at the death of the Buddha. Several hundred Buddha's. The main difference between being a Lay and Monastic Buddhist that each person is more likely to more quickly attain the goal in the monastic community.

So if you really really want to be a Buddha, the whole point of following his way, you need to just sit and eat a bit o rice pudding every now and again, when offered, untill you let go enough to be who you really are. And that probably means no drugs, realistically. The Pali cannon certainly has numerous texts where the Buddha makes reference to intoxication so one can assume it isn't helpful on the whole. Were he here today he might be an advocate for LSD or Heroin or who knows what. But I doubt it. They had most of that stuff or something similar in his day anyway.

So how about you? Do you want to be a Buddha?

~oOo~


Good luck with the experiment Paul - keep us posted my friend. Maybe even try keeping a journal of the experience to help you see over the time period what your reflections are and how they develop?

In the Dhamma,

Matthew
« Last Edit: May 05, 2012, 11:43:30 AM by Matthew »
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

Juan

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Re: That (in)famous 5th precept - not taking intoxicating drinks
« Reply #4 on: October 18, 2007, 07:49:46 PM »
Yes... I agree with Paul and Silent Flute.. but then again, precepts are there for a reason...
I gues it all comes down to what part of your personal growth you need to develop, the precept i'm having trouble with right now is sexual behavior, not that i'm a crazy gigolo, but finding a stable relationship is proving hard, and I need to have sex...

I stoped drinking two years and a half ago, it wasn't because of the precepts, they came later and reinforced my decision.
Society treats non drinkers as sick people, or as strange exotic creatures.

There are many many many benefits in not taking a single drop of alcohol. Progress accelerates, there is more lucidity in everyday life and in meditation sittings, I feel more happy and content with myself, I don't take risks because of alcohol related diminished attention (this can be caused with only a cup of wine). No more hangovers, no more foots in my mouth, no more: what the hell did I do last night???!!!!
There is also a side benefit of improved conciousness that i can't really describe but it is very strong, and starts growing when you stop drinking and using drugs for long periods of time like a year or more. The moment you reach this state makes going back to drinking not an option, i don't know if i made myself clear...
 
I have learned that being different from the rest is something good instead of making me feel insecure. I don't drink or do drugs and that is my trip! Far more beautiful or insightful than LSD and far more delightful and fruitful than a drink. 

Life is confusing and full of illussion as it is... why make it more?

Paul

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Re: That (in)famous 5th precept - not taking intoxicating drinks
« Reply #5 on: October 19, 2007, 09:45:55 AM »
Well, I'm going into this experiment with bags of energy and enthusiasm, much of it coming from you guys on this site.  I don't really know how to put this so I'll just write it as it comes: thank you for writing and sharing your ideas.  For me and no doubt many other people out there who find themselves relatively isolated, being able to discuss on this site with you all is a life saver. 

I like your idea TIB and will jot down some thoughts.  You guys are inspirational.

Juan, about the sexual behaviour (the Dhamma turned out to be a disaster recovery plan for me with sexual behavior being a major contributor to the disaster) the way I feel now is if there is no deception, you are not hurting anyone including yourself, and you are aware and willing to assume the consequences, and it is not a constant distraction then there's no problem (OK, there are a lot of 'if's there!).  If it is a problem, according to a book written by a Rinpoche I read once, you could try sleeping less and changing your diet to reduce your sexual appetite.  He also suggested the more drastic measure of meditating on the decomposition of the body after death to help see through the illusion of the beauty of the body but personally I prefered not to go there......

Juan

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Re: That (in)famous 5th precept - not taking intoxicating drinks
« Reply #6 on: October 19, 2007, 06:01:52 PM »
Thank's Paul; It's a constant evolution, my decision now is not to have sex again untill I am completely and utterly in love, it's a little childish but considering i've never been in love it's a good start.

Matthew

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Re: That (in)famous 5th precept - not taking intoxicating drinks
« Reply #7 on: October 19, 2007, 07:34:49 PM »
Juan,

My personal experience in this realm: I was a "gigolo" for many years. I really have no idea how many sexual partners and liaisons I had. It's in the hundreds. I also was engaged in one long term - i.e. ten year - relationship that was truly loving and that was deeply painful to end because I knew I had to undertake a dark-journey into my own being and did not want to take a prisoner on that journey with me. That journey is what lead to me becoming a meditator.

Seven years ago I carefully examined my own mind and drives in regard to sex and also undertook a long reflection on the way the "mating game" is played in modern society. I made the decision to wait until encountering the mother of my children before engaging again in a sexual relationship - if she is out there somewhere.

Since that time I have been celibate (with the exception of two drunken slip-ups). My mind has been more focussed. It has helped me become more compassionate and understanding with all people. It is my experience that it does not take long for sexual desires to subside once you stop engaging in sexual behaviour and sexualised thinking. I still get caught off guard by the occasional leggy blonde but these moments are fairly rare and not long lasting.

My relationships with women have changed completely - I think they are aware that my mind works differently to other men without my having to explain that. They feel comfortable and natural with me and do not feel a need to put their guard up. They are able to be open with me and I am with them.

It has made me a better person and a more rounded human being. If and when I meet the (somewhat elusive) mother of my children I know our relationship will have an entirely different quality than it would otherwise have had.

Love is a very confused subject in our society. You meet someone. You start telling yourself a story about how much you like them. Every time you see them or think about them the levels of serotonin in your brain get raised. It makes you high - it makes you feel good. Quite quickly you associate these good feelings with that person. The rush of chemicals to your brain every time you see them or think about them gets labelled as "love". It's not love - it's a chemical high. It's no wonder that 60% or more of marriages in most modern societies end in divorce - because, like most chemical highs, this one wears off. Eventually one is left looking across a bed or a dining table at someone in the bare light of reality thinking "how the hell did I end up here?".

The definition of "Love" I find most real is that defined by M. Scott Peck in his ground-breaking (though rather too Christian in all other respects for my liking) book "The Road Less Travelled". In that he defines real love along the lines of "putting yourself to one side to truly give of yourself to another". Not exactly his words but that was his meaning. I find this meaning to be wholly coherent with the understandings I have gained through studying the Dhamma and meditating.

It is in line with the teachings of compassion and kindness and generosity and truthfulness that the historical Buddha worked so hard to teach to his Sangha.

It makes me happy. It helps me help others find what makes them happy. It helps me see others for what they are and recognise their need clearly - without colouring it with my own desires and confusions. It is the wisest choice I made in my life and one which I cherish and which has, in every way, helped make me a better human being.

I wish you the best in conquering your sexual desires so they no longer drive you but are within your control. Do not doubt that your relationships will in every way be enhanced by this if you succeed.

In the Dhamma,

Matthew
« Last Edit: October 19, 2007, 07:35:19 PM by The Irreverent Buddhist »
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

Juan

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Re: That (in)famous 5th precept - not taking intoxicating drinks
« Reply #8 on: October 19, 2007, 08:55:27 PM »
TIB;
Thank you so much for your inspiring words, sometimes I feel so lonely in this journey and being in contact with people like you all here makes me feel I'm on the right track.

Some questions:
Does celibacy include self sex? How much does stopping self sex help with practice?




Matthew

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Re: That (in)famous 5th precept - not taking intoxicating drinks
« Reply #9 on: October 19, 2007, 09:15:38 PM »
Some questions:
Does celibacy include self sex? How much does stopping self sex help with practice?

As I said before:

"It is my experience that it does not take long for sexual desires to subside once you stop engaging in sexual behaviour and sexualised thinking."

I think it is impossible for you to have self-sex (i.e. masturbate) without indulging in sexualised thinking !!!

What will you be thinking about when masturbating if not sex? If you think about gardening or cooking or your grandmothers false teeth, I doubt your masturbation will be successful.

In short yes it will help your practice to stop masturbation as well. Otherwise you are going to be indulging the habitual passions of your mind by regularly thinking about sex, imagining sex and having sex in your head (and in your hand).

I suggest when you feel the urge you start meditating on your grandmothers false teeth - this should help you gain control over the desires.

In the Dhamma,

Matthew
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

Juan

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Re: That (in)famous 5th precept - not taking intoxicating drinks
« Reply #10 on: October 21, 2007, 12:44:17 AM »
hahahaha ;D
Another by-product of good meditation: a good sense of humor

Flipasso

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Re: That (in)famous 5th precept - not taking intoxicating drinks
« Reply #11 on: October 22, 2007, 08:18:17 PM »
I agree with TIB.
If you want to be a Buddha then you should follow the path as commitedly as possible being aware to the attachment of being commited to the path aswell...
But if you, like me just search for a more fulfilling experience through a religious life than you should be tolerant with yourself.
I find it that an ocasional night of drunkenness is good so I do it from time to time. But then again, my aim is not towards Buddhaship.

peace@you.all