While researching my last blog about quitting alcohol, I found a great deal of discussion from people who did not think the 5th precept of abstaining from alcohol applied to just one glass of wine. I did see variations such as “one glass”, “two glasses”, “as long as it doesn’t cause heedlessness”, “alcohol has been proven to have health benefits”, “My Doctor told me I could have one drink a night”, “There are Monks who smoke and drink” and my favorite “What if someone needs a little bit just to be able to gather up enough nerve to attend a…” (class/dharma talk/meditation/etc)
It sounds to me that the thought of doing without alcohol is causing some… Suffering! Think about it for a moment.
Before I go any further, here are the 5 Precepts that I copied and pasted from Wikipedia:
I undertake the training rule to abstain from killing
I undertake the training rule to abstain from taking what is not given
I undertake the training rule to avoid sensual misconduct.
I undertake the training rule to abstain from false speech.
I undertake the training rule to abstain from fermented drink that causes heedlessness
As has been explained by a few of my teachers, there will be parts of Buddhism we may not understand or we may not feel comfortable with and for now, we can put those items aside and focus on other areas.
When it comes to learning about Buddhism, it is important to understand the history and philosophy, the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold path, it is good to attend dharma classes or even meditation classes. It is also helpful to know about the Five Precepts and while I think everyone should be conscious of them, normally they come into play when you decide to commit yourself to Buddhism. It is considered “Taking the Precepts”. (or taking refuge).
I do find it a bit humorous, though. In my searches, I did not find anyone complaining that they cannot kill someone, nor did I see anyone complaining that they cannot steal, nor any complains about no sexual conduct or false speech… but take away their Fermented Drinks… now there is a problem!
As I said earlier, if avoiding alcohol or drugs are a big issue to you, then you may have a problem. If it is not something you can tackle right now, maybe put it on the back burner so you can concentrate on other aspects of Buddhism. My feeling is that eventually you will be ready to tackle the issue, or at the very least address the issue at some point by, maybe, attempting to quit for a short period of time. I have a friend who is a heavy drinker but never seems to have an issue putting the alcohol aside for Lent. I’m abstaining for now, not for Buddhism, but for my own health. It’s been almost three weeks since my last drink and have had no issues. To be honest, it has given me more time to meditate. While I’m not telling you what to do, I want to give you something to consider.
Photo Credit: Venerable Wuling (http://www.abuddhistperspective.org/)