Author Topic: The fifth precept.  (Read 797 times)

Offline lobsang~gazom

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The fifth precept.
« on: March 20, 2017, 06:43:29 pm »
Hi, what is everyone's take on the fifth precept, taking no intoxicants. Does everyone take it as completely literal? I've read many different opinions​ on it by monks and nuns and lay people alike.

I gave up drink for over five years but last year when I was riddled with anxiety I took  a drink to calm my thinking and now I continue​ to drink for same reason, only moderately and am always mindful when doing so.

I saw the anxiety as more of an intoxicant to my mind that the drink I took and many writings I've read on the subject would agree. Love to hear other people's thoughts.

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Offline IdleChater

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Re: The fifth precept.
« Reply #1 on: March 21, 2017, 07:10:05 am »
Thinking seems to vary.

In some traditions precepts are "taken" by vow.   Those who don't  take the vow aren't bound by the precpts - you may do as you please.

In other traditions, especially online, the precepts are binding, more or less by default.  This means that keeping the precepts go part and parcel  with being a Buddhist.  IOW, if you don't  abide by the precepts, you aren't a Buddhist.

I take the more liberal view. 

Take a drink if you want, but I caution you againt self medicating.  Anxiety so severe that medication is required, it's  best managed by your doctor.

Offline openmind

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Re: The fifth precept.
« Reply #2 on: March 21, 2017, 02:40:09 pm »
These are "comments by Chögyam Trungpa" on this subject....

Alcohol & drugs as poison or medicine: comments by Chögyam Trungpa
There seems to be something wrong with an approach to alcohol that is based entirely on morality or social propriety. The
scruples implied have solely to do with the external effects of one’s drinking. The real effect of alcohol is not
considered, but only its impact on the social format. On the other hand, a drinker feels that there is something worthwhile
in his drinking aside from the pleasure he or she gets out of it. There are the warmth and openness that seem to come from
the relaxation of his usual self-conscious style. Also there is the confidence of being able to communicate his perceptions
accurately, which cuts through his usual feeling of inadequacy. Scientists find they are able to solve their problems;
philosophers have new insights; and artists find clear perception. The drinker experiences greater clarity because he feels
more really what he is; therefore daydreams and fantasies can be temporarily put aside.

It seems that alcohol is a weak poison which is capable of being transmuted into medicine. An old Persian folktale tells
how the peacock thrives on poison, which nourishes his system and brightens his plumage. . . .

Whether alcohol is to be a poison or a medicine depends on one’s awareness while drinking. Conscious drinking—remaining
aware of one’s state of mind—transmutes the effect of alcohol. Here awareness involves a tightening up on one’s system as
an intelligent defense mechanism. Alcohol becomes destructive when one gives in to the joviality: letting loose permits the
poisons to enter one’s body. Thus alcohol can be a testing ground. It brings to the surface the latent style of the
drinker’s neuroses, the style that he is habitually hiding. If his neuroses are strong and habitually deeply hidden, he
later forgets what happened when he was drunk or else is extremely embarrassed to remember what he did. . . .

For the yogi, alcohol is fuel for relating with his students and with the world in general, as gasoline allows a motorcar
to relate with the road. But naturally the ordinary drinker who tries to compete with or imitate this transcendental style
of drinking will turn his alcohol into poison. . . .

Offline IdleChater

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Re: The fifth precept.
« Reply #3 on: March 21, 2017, 05:26:29 pm »
These are "comments by Chögyam Trungpa" on this subject....

Alcohol & drugs as poison or medicine: comments by Chögyam Trungpa
There seems to be something wrong with an approach to alcohol that is based entirely on morality or social propriety. The
scruples implied have solely to do with the external effects of one’s drinking. The real effect of alcohol is not
considered, but only its impact on the social format. On the other hand, a drinker feels that there is something worthwhile
in his drinking aside from the pleasure he or she gets out of it. There are the warmth and openness that seem to come from
the relaxation of his usual self-conscious style. Also there is the confidence of being able to communicate his perceptions
accurately, which cuts through his usual feeling of inadequacy. Scientists find they are able to solve their problems;
philosophers have new insights; and artists find clear perception. The drinker experiences greater clarity because he feels
more really what he is; therefore daydreams and fantasies can be temporarily put aside.

It seems that alcohol is a weak poison which is capable of being transmuted into medicine. An old Persian folktale tells
how the peacock thrives on poison, which nourishes his system and brightens his plumage. . . .

Whether alcohol is to be a poison or a medicine depends on one’s awareness while drinking. Conscious drinking—remaining
aware of one’s state of mind—transmutes the effect of alcohol. Here awareness involves a tightening up on one’s system as
an intelligent defense mechanism. Alcohol becomes destructive when one gives in to the joviality: letting loose permits the
poisons to enter one’s body. Thus alcohol can be a testing ground. It brings to the surface the latent style of the
drinker’s neuroses, the style that he is habitually hiding. If his neuroses are strong and habitually deeply hidden, he
later forgets what happened when he was drunk or else is extremely embarrassed to remember what he did. . . .

For the yogi, alcohol is fuel for relating with his students and with the world in general, as gasoline allows a motorcar
to relate with the road. But naturally the ordinary drinker who tries to compete with or imitate this transcendental style
of drinking will turn his alcohol into poison. . . .

Good stuff if you ask me, but I'm sure that will raise a few hackles.

It follows my understanding of the thought about the use of alchoholic beverages in Sadhana practices such as Konchock Chidu as found in the Kagyu and Nyingma lineages.  Where the drink is transmuted from poison to medicine

Offline stillpointdancer

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Re: The fifth precept.
« Reply #4 on: March 22, 2017, 04:13:39 am »
The interesting thing is that if you practice mindfulness, then you start to notice how stuff affects you. Eventually you get so fed up with how your body feels after, say, a drinking session that you tend to call a halt to such things. The downside is that your friends and people you used to socially drink with don't understand, so relationships start to change.
“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” Franz Kafka

Offline IdleChater

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Re: The fifth precept.
« Reply #5 on: March 22, 2017, 10:22:16 am »
The interesting thing is that if you practice mindfulness, then you start to notice how stuff affects you. Eventually you get so fed up with how your body feels after, say, a drinking session that you tend to call a halt to such things. The downside is that your friends and people you used to socially drink with don't understand, so relationships start to change.

Mindfulness is the key!

It can be amazing what is revealed.

One story I like to tell happened some years ago.  My father was actively dying.  I got home from work one evening and had a couple bong hits after dinner and was nursing a scotch  when a call came from my sister about Dad taking a turn for the worse.  I was already pretty broken up over the situation and this news didn't help.  At all.  I was suddenly a complete wreck, overcome with emotion.  It was bad.

While I never practice while high or drunk, remembered a teaching that says that there is nothing that can't be brought to the cusion, so to speak.  Remembering this I decided that high or not, I needed to sit and meditate for a while.  So, I sat down and began to meditate.  What I experienced was profound.

I was able to experience these overwhelming emotions rising up like waves and breaking against the beach of my awareness.  They would then recede, leaving calm behind, but in a short time would rise again, over and over.  Like another teaching says, they were just moments arising and disolving, beginning and ending, one after another, ephemeral.  Its was calming and peaceful and enabled me to get on with the business of preparing for my dad's impending death.

The poison had transmuted to medicine.
« Last Edit: March 22, 2017, 02:30:51 pm by IdleChater »

Offline francis

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Re: The fifth precept.
« Reply #6 on: March 23, 2017, 01:40:05 am »
These are "comments by Chögyam Trungpa" on this subject....

For the yogi, alcohol is fuel for relating with his students and with the world in general, as gasoline allows a motorcar to relate with the road. But naturally the ordinary drinker who tries to compete with or imitate this transcendental style of drinking will turn his alcohol into poison. . . .

Personally, I think people are only fooling themselves if they don’t realise that alcohol is indeed a poison. For all his rhetoric about alcohol being medicine and not a poison, Chögyam Trungpa died of terminal alcoholism and cirrhosis of the liver.  Along the way, his chronic drinking also reduced his ability to communicate intelligible to his student.

My take on the fifth precept (taking no intoxicants) is it that alcohol is a physical poison that robs people of their mindfulness.  It also reduces the levels of serotonin and other neurotransmitters in the brain, which in the long run can worsen anxiety.
"Enlightenment, for a wave in the ocean, is the moment the wave realises it is water." - Thich Nhat Hanh

Offline openmind

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Re: The fifth precept.
« Reply #7 on: March 23, 2017, 04:39:43 am »
These are "comments by Chögyam Trungpa" on this subject....

For the yogi, alcohol is fuel for relating with his students and with the world in general, as gasoline allows a motorcar to relate with the road. But naturally the ordinary drinker who tries to compete with or imitate this transcendental style of drinking will turn his alcohol into poison. . . .


Personally, I think people are only fooling themselves if they don’t realise that alcohol is indeed a poison. For all his rhetoric about alcohol being medicine and not a poison, Chögyam Trungpa died of terminal alcoholism and cirrhosis of the liver.  Along the way, his chronic drinking also reduced his ability to communicate intelligible to his student.

My take on the fifth precept (taking no intoxicants) is it that alcohol is a physical poison that robs people of their mindfulness.  It also reduces the levels of serotonin and other neurotransmitters in the brain, which in the long run can worsen anxiety.


  You are wrong. Wine has been proven to be healthy in moderate amounts. I have known people that are 85 and drink 3-4 glasses of wine per day, are living without any problems. This is typical "if it written in the holy book, it MUST be true", kind of thinking. In real life people become awakened through many different means. Buddhism is a short path to attaining maturity. If others are not following Buddhism are we supposed to convert them too?
  Do you think all teachers make sense to their students all the time? From his coming to America his students have put together some fantastic books of his teaching, that are extremely sensible. In fact there are 90 of his books at : http://www.shambhala.com/authors/o-t/chogyam-trungpa.html?p=1. I would suggest you read a few of these books and come back and tell us what a waste he made of his life and teaching.

Offline francis

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Re: The fifth precept.
« Reply #8 on: March 23, 2017, 05:42:32 am »
You are wrong. Wine has been proven to be healthy in moderate amounts. I have known people that are 85 and drink 3-4 glasses of wine per day, are living without any problems.


Anecdotal evidence, at best.

This is typical "if it written in the holy book, it MUST be true", kind of thinking.


What book? I don’t follow the religions of the book, the Abrahamic religions. Anyhow, they were my personal observations on alcohol.

In real life people become awakened through many different means. Buddhism is a short path to attaining maturity. If others are not following Buddhism are we supposed to convert them too?


People can become awakened through many different means, but the Buddha taught the way to sustain that awakening.

  Do you think all teachers make sense to their students all the time? From his coming to America his students have put together some fantastic books of his teaching, that are extremely sensible. In fact there are 90 of his books at : http://www.shambhala.com/authors/o-t/chogyam-trungpa.html?p=1. I would suggest you read a few of these books and come back and tell us what a waste he made of his life and teaching.


I didn’t say he wasn’t gifted, but think for a moment of what he could have achieved if his mind wasn’t muddled by alcoholic.

Also, note from your quote “but naturally the ordinary drinker who tries to compete with or imitate this transcendental style of drinking will turn his alcohol into poison.” So, no I don't think it is a good idea to encourage people to drink alcohol.

Anyhow, the topic is about alcohol and anxiety and I have made my contribution. That is, alcohol is a physical poison that robs people of their mindfulness.  It also reduces the levels of serotonin and other neurotransmitters in the brain, which in the long run can worsen anxiety.

:twocents:
"Enlightenment, for a wave in the ocean, is the moment the wave realises it is water." - Thich Nhat Hanh

Offline IdleChater

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Re: The fifth precept.
« Reply #9 on: March 23, 2017, 12:20:34 pm »
These are "comments by Chögyam Trungpa" on this subject....

For the yogi, alcohol is fuel for relating with his students and with the world in general, as gasoline allows a motorcar to relate with the road. But naturally the ordinary drinker who tries to compete with or imitate this transcendental style of drinking will turn his alcohol into poison. . . .


Personally, I think people are only fooling themselves if they don’t realise that alcohol is indeed a poison. For all his rhetoric about alcohol being medicine and not a poison, Chögyam Trungpa died of terminal alcoholism and cirrhosis of the liver.  Along the way, his chronic drinking also reduced his ability to communicate intelligible to his student.

My take on the fifth precept (taking no intoxicants) is it that alcohol is a physical poison that robs people of their mindfulness.  It also reduces the levels of serotonin and other neurotransmitters in the brain, which in the long run can worsen anxiety.


  You are wrong. Wine has been proven to be healthy in moderate amounts. I have known people that are 85 and drink 3-4 glasses of wine per day, are living without any problems. This is typical "if it written in the holy book, it MUST be true", kind of thinking. In real life people become awakened through many different means. Buddhism is a short path to attaining maturity. If others are not following Buddhism are we supposed to convert them too?
  Do you think all teachers make sense to their students all the time? From his coming to America his students have put together some fantastic books of his teaching, that are extremely sensible. In fact there are 90 of his books at : http://www.shambhala.com/authors/o-t/chogyam-trungpa.html?p=1. I would suggest you read a few of these books and come back and tell us what a waste he made of his life and teaching.


Trungpa is a controversial character for sure and mostly for his unorthodox lifestyle choices.  However, despite the controversies, he amassed an amazing legagy of teachings as you point out.  And they're really amazing - more so when one considers that just about every book attributed to him has it's basis in oral teachings given by Trungpa,  that were recorded, transcribed, and published as books.  If stories are true, many of those teachings were given when he had been drinking.  It hard to reconcile that so much valuable teaching was handed down by someone who had a serious drinking problem.

There's a documentary available, called Crazy Widom, that tells the story of Trungpa.  They don't hide or sugar-coat a thing about him.  Shambhalians never do.  Pema Chodron is interviewed and she relates a story about how someone came to her asking just how Trungpa could teach the way he did while living the lifestyle he chose and that eventually killed him. Ani Pema replied, "I do not know."

Offline openmind

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Re: The fifth precept.
« Reply #10 on: March 23, 2017, 01:05:03 pm »
francis says
"People can become awakened through many different means, but the Buddha taught the way to sustain that awakening."

How many of his followers did it just like the "buddha"? In 200 years after his death, i wonder how many people refined his teachings, and how many people added a bunch of crap to his teachings, making it impossible to escape the con job they insist that you follow. Those that kept refining the teachings refined it to the end...THERE IS NO PATH.

Offline stillpointdancer

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Re: The fifth precept.
« Reply #11 on: March 24, 2017, 03:34:38 am »
francis says
"People can become awakened through many different means, but the Buddha taught the way to sustain that awakening."

How many of his followers did it just like the "buddha"? In 200 years after his death, i wonder how many people refined his teachings, and how many people added a bunch of crap to his teachings, making it impossible to escape the con job they insist that you follow. Those that kept refining the teachings refined it to the end...THERE IS NO PATH.

Interesting. My own view is that 'sustain that awakening' is wrong here. I think it should be 'interpret that awakening'. Anyone can become awakened by sitting as the Buddha did, determined to see things as they really are. The problem is the experience, which goes beyond words. So strange is it, that the aftermath is open to interpretation, and is usually colored by the prevailing culture. The path is pretty simple and universal really, it's the Buddha's interpretation of what happened to him that makes his story unique.

Of course, the rest of what you say makes a lot of sense, and is the reason most religions are not for me. Others twist stuff for their own ends, to push their own interpretations on the original story, to make it something else. Our task as Buddhists is to try and bring some understanding to the whole process and adjust our own practice accordingly.
“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” Franz Kafka

Offline francis

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Re: The fifth precept.
« Reply #12 on: March 24, 2017, 05:24:12 am »
francis says
"People can become awakened through many different means, but the Buddha taught the way to sustain that awakening."

How many of his followers did it just like the "buddha"? In 200 years after his death, i wonder how many people refined his teachings, and how many people added a bunch of crap to his teachings, making it impossible to escape the con job they insist that you follow. Those that kept refining the teachings refined it to the end...THERE IS NO PATH.


Hi there openmind, I’m not sure where you angry towards Buddhism comes from, but I’m sorry to hear you have lost the path.

The Buddha was a pretty switched on person when it came to understanding human nature, and he warned of false teachings (con jobs) in the future. You can read more in the following suttas:

Anagata-bhayani Sutta: The Discourse on Future Dangers (3) AN 5.79

Anagata-bhayani Sutta: The Discourse on Future Dangers (4) AN 5.80
"Enlightenment, for a wave in the ocean, is the moment the wave realises it is water." - Thich Nhat Hanh

Offline francis

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Re: The fifth precept.
« Reply #13 on: March 24, 2017, 05:27:52 am »
Interesting. My own view is that 'sustain that awakening' is wrong here. I think it should be 'interpret that awakening'. Anyone can become awakened by sitting as the Buddha did, determined to see things as they really are. The problem is the experience, which goes beyond words. So strange is it, that the aftermath is open to interpretation, and is usually colored by the prevailing culture. The path is pretty simple and universal really, it's the Buddha's interpretation of what happened to him that makes his story unique.

Hi stillpointdance, I think it is a bit more complicated than just saying anyone can become awakened by sitting as the Buddha did and being determined to see things as they really are. If that were true, everyone would be awake, but you only have to look at the world news to see they most certainly are not.

However, people do get a glimpse occasionally, a temporary burst of insight that doesn't last that long. I used to call that temporary insight satori, but I could be wrong.

A classic case would be that of Eckhart Tolle who wrote the Power of Now. Obviously, Eckhart had a life changing awakening, but without training that experiences weakened with time.

Of course, the rest of what you say makes a lot of sense, and is the reason most religions are not for me. Others twist stuff for their own ends, to push their own interpretations on the original story, to make it something else. Our task as Buddhists is to try and bring some understanding to the whole process and adjust our own practice accordingly.

Or you could just follow the teaching of the historic Buddha, without the personal embellishments that lead to the long and irregular path.
"Enlightenment, for a wave in the ocean, is the moment the wave realises it is water." - Thich Nhat Hanh

Offline stillpointdancer

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Re: The fifth precept.
« Reply #14 on: March 25, 2017, 04:08:30 am »
Hi francis. "Or you could just follow the teaching of the historic Buddha, without the personal embellishments that lead to the long and irregular path."
Makes a lot of sense to me. I think I oversimplified, but wanted to make the point that we can all become enlightened by meditating, or even just sitting. On the other hand, there is no guarantee that a lifetime of doing that will bring enlightenment, which is why we can all do with a bit of help from the Buddha.
“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” Franz Kafka

 


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