I believe Buddhist should refrain from consuming alcohol

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Posted by Tim C. ( on April 21, 2000 at 23:57:53:

In Reply to: Re: Alcohol posted by Ant on April 19, 2000 at 03:19:58:

Dear Mike and Ant:

My interpretation and opinion is contrary to Ant's. The 5th Precept which Buddhist lay-persons are to abide by is that one should refrain from taking intoxicating substances. As an Addiction and Alcoholism professional, scientifically and clinically I have to say that alcohol, whether consumed in moderation or in excess is an intoxicant and mind-altering--there are just different degrees of intoxication. This is even apparant in your description of being out with your friends who drink in excess:

"I drink when I go out with my friends because the evening gets dull very quickly if I'm the only sober one there. I drink in moderation though and believe it's OK as I wouldn't enjoy myself as much if I didn't drink."

The point is, at some level there is intoxication which alters your mind so that the night does not become dull, and so that you enjoy yourself more. Secondly, Buddhism does not ascribe to a theory which says we should all enjoy ourselves as much as possible and at no cost. Buddhism ascribes to the theory that all life is by nature suffering, and that we have this deceptive tendency to mask this suffering, not with true happiness, but by worldly pleasures and indulgences.

Now, I am sure that there are many Buddhists who drink, and who ascribe to the theory that in moderation this is not bad. But, I would also reasonably assume that those who ascribe to this theory are all drinkers (I'm not at all implying alcoholics in my phrasing).

Essentially, my interpretation is that no alcohol consumption is what Buddhist practitioners should practice. With regard to consuming moderate levels of alcohol as not harming self or others, in Buddhist philosophy you are harming yourself--this pleasure which comes from alcohol consumption, this feeling of contentment is just another delusion of happiness which must be overcome. And, wouldn't we all be lost if Lord Buddha had decided to go out drinking with his friends instead of meditating under the Bodhi tree?

I have spoken a bit here, so I will end this. My opinion is that no alcohol is good--it is counter productive to the the Path. Likewise, this is not always reasonable to ask of everyone, so just do you best and be mindful of the delusion which comes with alcohol consumption--this false and chemically induced feeling of well-being.

I wish Ant no disrespect, and I wish you great spiritual fortunes on your path.


Tim C.

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