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What are intoxicants in buddhism?

SJDR21SJDR21 Puerto Rico New

I have doubts on this topic. I am aware that one of the precepts is "Do not consume intoxicants" but this has so many different ways of looking at it im not sure what to think about it.

Shoshin
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Comments

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    With our modern lives, it requires a bit of personal interpretation. You can read strictly the precept as is, which even varies as some I've seen single out alcohol, while most single out anything that can affect your judgement, like @Dakini explained. My preference is actually Thich Nhat Hanh's more modern take, which includes what we consume with our minds as well as unhealthy foods and so on. I will post his take on it below, but what are your doubts on the topic? In the end, it is up to you. I still drink on occasion, I just am far more careful about how much, how often, why, and how it affects me. When prior it was common for me to have a drink or 2 every day to unwind etc. It isn't something I changed because the precept said to. It just happened naturally as a result of my practice as I learned ways to unwind and the reasons why I felt I needed to drink. Once I understood better, the "need" went away.

    https://plumvillage.org/mindfulness-practice/the-5-mindfulness-trainings/ (the link for all 5 of them if you'd like to read)

    "Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful consumption, I am committed to cultivating good health, both physical and mental, for myself, my family, and my society by practicing mindful eating, drinking, and consuming. I will practice looking deeply into how I consume the Four Kinds of Nutriments, namely edible foods, sense impressions, volition, and consciousness. I am determined not to gamble, or to use alcohol, drugs, or any other products which contain toxins, such as certain websites, electronic games, TV programs, films, magazines, books, and conversations. I will practice coming back to the present moment to be in touch with the refreshing, healing and nourishing elements in me and around me, not letting regrets and sorrow drag me back into the past nor letting anxieties, fear, or craving pull me out of the present moment. I am determined not to try to cover up loneliness, anxiety, or other suffering by losing myself in consumption. I will contemplate interbeing and consume in a way that preserves peace, joy, and well-being in my body and consciousness, and in the collective body and consciousness of my family, my society and the Earth."

    ShoshindhammachicklobsterBodhiTzu
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    What are intoxicants in buddhism?

    In the mundane sense, alcohol and Illicit drugs ....any mind altering substance...

    However I guess has @karasti already mentioned, if one wants to take it a little deeper (in a profound kind of way)
    "Ignorance Desire & Aversion" are also intoxicants...more often than not we are "consumed" by all three....

    lobsterDhammaDragon
  • SJDR21SJDR21 Puerto Rico New

    Thanks that helps alot. Tho that thought of intoxicating myself with desire, ignorance and other things really got me thinking on how much I still need to learn about the path I wish to walk on.

  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    Samsara is an intoxicant, full of distractions.

    The plan is this:

    • become intoxicated with the three jewels
    • develop clarity of being/a samsara free existence
    • be happy

    Takes time, attention and focus. I'll join ;)

    Shoshin
  • DhammaDragonDhammaDragon Carpe Diem switzerland Veteran
    edited May 28

    @Shoshin said:

    What are intoxicants in buddhism?

    In the mundane sense, alcohol and Illicit drugs ....any mind altering substance...

    However I guess has @karasti already mentioned, if one wants to take it a little deeper (in a profound kind of way)
    "Ignorance Desire & Aversion" are also intoxicants...more often than not we are "consumed" by all three....

    To stretch concepts a little farther, intoxicants could be any mind-altering substance that is consummed as a volitional result of ignorance, desire and/or aversion...🐉 <3

    Shoshin
  • DhammaDragonDhammaDragon Carpe Diem switzerland Veteran

    @lobster said:
    Samsara is an intoxicant, full of distractions.

    The plan is this:

    • become intoxicated with the three jewels
    • develop clarity of being/a samsara free existence
    • be happy

    Takes time, attention and focus. I'll join ;)

    Samsara is so long...
    I don't mind being distracted from time to time.
    But not intoxicated...🐉

    Hozan
  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran

    I think it's very much down to maintaining a clear awareness in your being moment to moment, keeping sila, and not losing the progress you've made by learning the dharma. By taking intoxicants of any kind you are putting yourself in danger of being overcome by baser emotions and so doing stupid things, as well as addiction and other dangers which take you further from being mindfully aware.

    So I think any kind of addictive or judgment distorting substance should probably be included. Perhaps Thich Nhat Hanh is right and things like playing video games should be included as well, but addiction is such a tricky thing, some people drink alcohol all their lives without coming close, others take one ecstasy tablet and it changes their life for the worse.

    In the end we all have different mental factors out of a long list which dominate our lives. You have to get to know yourself to know where to focus your effort.

    Fosdick
  • chrispchechrispche Southend on Sea, Essex, UK Explorer

    What about Psychedelics? They got me into Buddhism in the first place. I don't do them anymore. However, I don't judge people who do though. Hell! I'm known as the sober one in my circle of friends. They partake in Psychedelics like Psilocybin and LSD. I just hang around get them soft drinks, munchies, sweets and stuff. Basically I look after them while they trip. Funny thing is that it's more rewarding than when I was doing the drugs. :-)

    Anyway my view is that Psychedelics have a place on the spiritual path. Look at the latest Peruvian craze of Ayahuasca. Sure it's not for everyone, but I believe it can open doors and windows into the nature of things.

  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran

    Ayahuasca certainly is interesting, if you go by the stories you hear. For some people it's a very sobering experience apparently, and they come out taking stock of where their lives have led them, in a good way.

    But psychedelics in general, I think they fall under the precept too. In the end I reckon they cause a greater degree of intoxication than a beer, and if you're going to abstain from one you might as well abstain from all such things.

  • chrispchechrispche Southend on Sea, Essex, UK Explorer

    @Kerome said:

    But psychedelics in general, I think they fall under the precept too. In the end I reckon they cause a greater degree of intoxication than a beer, and if you're going to abstain from one you might as well abstain from all such things.

    You see, that is my problem right there. Drugs cannot be put under such a broad blanket. Comparing Alcohol to Psychedelics... They are vastly different. I cannot ever recall someone being over the top or ego centric in the use of Psychedelics. Booze on the other increases your sense of ego and it can all get rather unpleasant. As such I don't socialise with people who drink.

    Don't get me wrong. I have no issue with people who drink. It's up to them what they put into themselves. Just don't expect a spiritual/philosophical discussion from someone who has been drinking. :-p LOL!

    silver
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran
    edited May 28

    In Buddhism, anything mind altering from the outside isn't considered a skillful/valid way to achieve higher states. There is no argument that various substances can help you reach further depths of your mind, but I think i'd view them more as the proverbial raft that you eventually have to let go of. The long-term effects of such substances almost always degrade the mind and body. That wouldn't be considered skillful. Legalities and societal impact entirely aside. But we all have to weigh what those things mean to us and I think that is the point of TNH's broader explanation. What is an intoxicant for us probably varies by person quite a bit. The point is to be aware (openly and honestly) what that means for you.

    Years ago when I drank regularly, I wrote some rather profound things. My ex used to write his best music when drinking. But we fell into the trap of believing that alcohol made those things possible and we couldn't do it otherwise. That is a lie. Drugs and alcohol only facilitate it in some way. the stuff is still in your mind and you can access in ways that don't destroy your body's cells along the way. It just takes more time and patience, which is something a lot of people lack.

    chrispcheFosdick
  • chrispchechrispche Southend on Sea, Essex, UK Explorer

    Indeed! Well Psychedelics for me was that raft. I would never have encountered Buddhism without them. As I said, I no longer take any drug including Alcohol. I simply don't need any of it. Meditation has filled that slot. All I'm saying here is not to write-off Psychedelics they can be a useful tool and no one in the history of use has ever developed an addiction problem with them. Where as booze can be highly addictive. Along with the usual stimulants and opiates.

    silver
  • gracklegrackle Veteran

    The prohibition against intoxicants is to avoid trying to reduce the effects of the three marks of existence by other than wisdom. The marks are annica,dukkha and anatta.

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    I don't think it's probably right that no one in the history of time has been addicted to psychedelics. Just because some things aren't physically addicting like alcohol or heroin doesn't mean they aren't mentally or emotionally addicting just the same. If a person is using any substance in order to avoid feeling the way they are feeling on a regular basis, to me that is exactly what addiction is. It may or may not include the physiological conditions though.

    dhammachick
  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran

    It seems to be true that a wide variety of things can be addictive if you are vulnerable to them - sex, eating, sugar. Having to swear off all of those just because some few people are in such an emotional state that they do get addicted seems unnecessarily harsh, I don't think the precept should be interpreted that strictly.

    It's a tricky distinction to try and make, for sure :)

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    I agree, but I don't think the precept is talking about the risks of addiction. Even a small bit of alcohol alters our brain chemistry. The whole point of taking psychedelics is to change the experience of the brain. It has always been explained to me that the point is to avoid things which cause us to experience things other than they are. Well, of course a million things can be included in that, :lol: including romance and sex. But it seems Buddha was talking specifically about things he knew in his time were used to alter our perceptions and change how we interact with and interact to the world, and that was problematic to him. If the point of Buddhism (in part) is to learn how to see what really is, then clearing our lives as much as possible of the things that cause us not to do so is mostly the goal of that precept, I think. Can a person drink a glass of wine and still see clearly? I'm sure some can. I can until I have the second drink. One is my limit. But on a low carb diet the effects are almost immediate and even one glass leaves me tipsy. So I avoid except a stolen sip here or there. Not because of the precept. But because I don't like feeling that way.

    The problem is ours to solve on our own, but it can be pretty hard to be honest with how stuff affects us when we happen to really like it.

    Fosdick
  • dhammachickdhammachick crazy Aussie BUJU Sydney, Australia Veteran
    edited May 28

    @chrispche said:

    @Kerome said:

    But psychedelics in general, I think they fall under the precept too. In the end I reckon they cause a greater degree of intoxication than a beer, and if you're going to abstain from one you might as well abstain from all such things.

    You see, that is my problem right there. Drugs cannot be put under such a broad blanket. Comparing Alcohol to Psychedelics... They are vastly different. I cannot ever recall someone being over the top or ego centric in the use of Psychedelics. Booze on the other increases your sense of ego and it can all get rather unpleasant. As such I don't socialise with people who drink.

    Don't get me wrong. I have no issue with people who drink. It's up to them what they put into themselves. Just don't expect a spiritual/philosophical discussion from someone who has been drinking. :-p LOL!

    Maybe Buddhism isn't for you then

    @karasti said:
    I don't think it's probably right that no one in the history of time has been addicted to psychedelics. Just because some things aren't physically addicting like alcohol or heroin doesn't mean they aren't mentally or emotionally addicting just the same. If a person is using any substance in order to avoid feeling the way they are feeling on a regular basis, to me that is exactly what addiction is. It may or may not include the physiological conditions though.

    💯%

  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    On the subject of psychedelic drugs and spiritual awakening ... I'm reminded of this LSD experiment from the 1950s...

    Each to their own ...after all.... the Dharma is all about seeing for oneself "Ehipassiko" ...When it comes to the use of mind altering drugs (been there and done that)...I saw/have seen for my self... ... :)

    But NOW I find ....

    "The most essential method which includes all other methods, is to behold the Mind-The Mind is the root from which all things grow-If one can understand the Mind...Everything else is included" (no drugs required :) )

    ~Bodhidharma~

    Have a nice Dharma trips people :) and remember..."DON"T DRUG AND DRIVE"

    chrispche
  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran

    What are intoxicants

    Seems to me traditional style Buddhists consider it to be "drugs & alcohol"

    dhammachick
  • dhammachickdhammachick crazy Aussie BUJU Sydney, Australia Veteran

    Well one could argue that Western Buddhism is the exception to traditional Buddhism. But tbh, it's not really that big a deal. Most literature on Buddhism considers intoxicants to be drugs and alcohol. Most people don't have a problem with it. Not everyone will like it but but that's to be expected too. It is what it is.

  • chrispchechrispche Southend on Sea, Essex, UK Explorer

    @dhammachick said:

    Maybe Buddhism isn't for you then

    >

    Why would you say that? I've been practicing Buddhism for over 15 years. Just because I take a Liberal view on psychedelics?

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Moderator

    No, because you find them acceptable. But anyone who has indulged in something inadvisable, will always find a justification for doing it. ;)

    dhammachick
  • chrispchechrispche Southend on Sea, Essex, UK Explorer

    To be honest I prefer not to judge people who do such things. As I said psychedelics were a gateway into Buddhism for me. The last time I took Psilocybin was 2001. It showed me that all is impermanent and that I should strive to make peace with that concept. I looked up this idea online and from there I picked up a copy of the Dhammapada. The rest is history, it spoke to me so strongly. I no longer needed chemically induced spiritualality. However, my point is they can be an eye opener into the fragility of our own perceptions and consciousness. That's my experience anyway. Everyone else's mileage may vary.

    lobster
  • dhammachickdhammachick crazy Aussie BUJU Sydney, Australia Veteran

    @chrispche said:

    @dhammachick said:

    Maybe Buddhism isn't for you then

    >

    Why would you say that? I've been practicing Buddhism for over 15 years. Just because I take a Liberal view on psychedelics?

    I don't care how long you've been "practising". I say it because your statement of

    However, my point is they can be an eye opener into the fragility of our own perceptions and consciousness. That's my experience anyway. Everyone else's mileage may vary.

    Is IME unskillful and goes against the precept. And yes my mileage varies a great deal. I'm not an enabler and my personal belief is that the excuse above enables people.

  • chrispchechrispche Southend on Sea, Essex, UK Explorer
    edited May 29

    Ok. It's a view. Thanks for the input. I feel that I have no further comments regarding this issue. Metta to you and all that. :-)

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    For me it's not about judging the people who choose to do such things. It is their life and their path. It is just a matter of looking at it from a Buddhist teaching point of view. That doesn't make it a judgement of the people being good/bad or right/wrong. But whether the behavior is skillful per what Buddha taught. Not everything I do is. But I own that and I revisit it frequently to see what further changes I can make to continue to progress forward. Looking at why I had a drink or 2 every day wasn't easy, but it had to be done. You can't face what you can't be honest with yourself about. Questioning why we do and think the things we do is a major aspect of Buddhism. Accepting and owning what we find as well. Making excuses is not. But finding that line can be hard.

    lobster
  • chrispchechrispche Southend on Sea, Essex, UK Explorer

    Hence the fact I don't touch any drink or drugs. With the exception of medicinally prescribed ones when the situation needs it. My point is that, weather right or wrong I have to attribute Psilocybin as the catalyst to getting on the Buddhist path. It opened the door. Meditation and Buddhism allowed me to step through. I don't need psychedelics to explore what meditation shows me.

    Shoshin
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Moderator
    edited May 29

    We didn't either, we got here without any external use. So really,

    @federica said: ...anyone who has indulged in something inadvisable, will always find a justification for doing it.

    is accurate.

    (...and it's 'whether', just to help..... sorry, it's the pedant grammar-nerd in me. A throwback to when I used to study English Language. I don't any more, but some after-effects tend to stick.... :p )

    dhammachick
  • chrispchechrispche Southend on Sea, Essex, UK Explorer

    I was just putting across my experience of the original subject matter. That's all. It was just that an experience!

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Moderator
    edited May 29

    Right Speech also comprises stuff we really should shut up about.

    Trust me, I know.....

    dhammachick
  • chrispchechrispche Southend on Sea, Essex, UK Explorer
    edited May 29

    Ok... I was just putting across my honest experience. I'll leave it there.

  • I think it's down to the individual. Large/moderate amounts of alcohol barely touch me it, I have to drink huge amounts to have any effect but by that time my brain has switched over to autopilot.

    Caffeine on the other hand can be quite intoxicating even after just a small amount.

    chrispche
  • DhammaDragonDhammaDragon Carpe Diem switzerland Veteran

    Nobody is judging you, @chrispche, nor upbraiding you.
    Thank you for sharing your honest experience.

    But insights into impermanence and enlightenment can also be attained through the tried-and-proven old N8P without the need for outer-induced artificial paradises.
    The road is longer and more roundabout, but definitely more satisfactory and long-lasting in the end.
    If intoxicants led to cessation of dukkha they would be included as part of the N8P syllabus.
    The fact that we all have our petty precept violation of choice, does not mean that our choice will shed skilful results.
    We may rationalize to ourselves and others why we stick to a course of action that may be considered unskilful, but we can't evade the consequence of our action.
    An apple tree never grows pears.

    lobsterchrispcheHozanKerome
  • DhammaDragonDhammaDragon Carpe Diem switzerland Veteran

    Nice to see you around here again, @Jeffrey
    🐉 🙏 💕 😙

    Hozansilverlobster
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited May 29

    Ram Dass has said a lot about psychedelics. Have you heard of him? I have his Facebook page in my feed and sometimes he says his opinions/experience of psychedelics and spirituality. I've never done psychedelics outside of marijuana and not planning on trying them as I have a good thing going and perhaps a fragile brain.

    chrispche
  • DhammaDragonDhammaDragon Carpe Diem switzerland Veteran

    Yes, but Ram Dass was experimenting with psychedelics at an age where being new agey or spiritual equalled being high, aka stoned into the other side...
    It's a rather clumsy and blurry period in the history of spirituality, in my humble opinion...
    🐉 🙏

    chrispcheHozan
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran

    Nice to see you too @DhammaDragon and good to be back here to see what others are thinking about in their practice and so forth.

    DhammaDragon
  • techietechie India Veteran

    @chrispche said:
    Indeed! Well Psychedelics for me was that raft. I would never have encountered Buddhism without them. As I said, I no longer take any drug including Alcohol. I simply don't need any of it. Meditation has filled that slot. All I'm saying here is not to write-off Psychedelics they can be a useful tool and no one in the history of use has ever developed an addiction problem with them. Where as booze can be highly addictive. Along with the usual stimulants and opiates.

    As long as you have self-control it shouldn't be a problem. People who are conditioned by social morality may abstain from psychedelics. In Buddhism, self-control matters, not twisted notions of morality imposed on us by society.

    chrispche
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    @techie we weren't really talking about the moral or legal rules of society, but rather those pesky precepts Buddha gave about exactly those types of things.

    dhammachick
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran
    edited May 31

    Things such as drugs (Illicit or otherwise) , can be either a poison (intoxicating) or a medicine (a means to a cure)... it just depends upon the dose...

    The five precepts which many of us "lay-Buddhists" make an attempt to adhere to, seem to be interpreted in many ways, ways more often than not, that sit more comfortable with the participant... I guess that's what the middle way is all about ie, avoiding the extremes, that is, what each individual deems to be extreme... YMMV :)

    lobsterDhammaDragonchrispcheHozan
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran

    @DhammaDragon said:
    Yes, but Ram Dass was experimenting with psychedelics at an age where being new agey or spiritual equalled being high, aka stoned into the other side...
    It's a rather clumsy and blurry period in the history of spirituality, in my humble opinion...
    🐉 🙏

    I would agree but also say that the mixture of spirituality and apparently hedonism or whatever it was was to me a redeeming quality of the counterculture. They did all the drugs but they also believed in love and being 'far out' and so forth. And some of the better minds expressed some good (beautiful/moving) understanding while at the same time being intermingled. So I mean it is quite redeeming to me that I could read Jack Kerouac and I really thought he was a great writer and was sharing something interesting culturally, artistically, and I think he was on to something spiritually and finding out how to live and think and enjoy.

    And I have personally wondered if some of the 60s peace and love and doing your own thing affected some other areas of society in a good way. Like changing entrenched thinking in civil rights. and just maybe lead to more compassion of the mentally ill like listening to them and trying to help them live as they choose but with support instead of institutions with nurse ratchet and the good old labotomies. Of course the newer generations of medicines helped too.

    So I am glad the counterculture and Beatnicks and Hippies happened and it added something to the mainstream. There is always something like that probably every generation.

    lobsterchrispcheDhammaDragon
  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    edited May 31

    French writer Colette said: "I am so drunk on life, that I only drink mineral water."
    That is freedom.

    Nope!
    That is intoxication. Freedom is not for 'life junkies' in dharma ... as you know.

    What we are really describing is triggers and increasingly skilful modes of travel. Optimism, attachment to life the universe and everything is part of a process. Detachment/freedom entails being independent of what is happening in our mind and body. That is a high state of realisation however ...
    https://buddhaimonia.com/blog/let-go-find-peace

    DhammaDragon
  • dhammachickdhammachick crazy Aussie BUJU Sydney, Australia Veteran

    @techie said:
    As long as you have self-control it shouldn't be a problem. People who are conditioned by social morality may abstain from psychedelics. In Buddhism, self-control matters, not twisted notions of morality imposed on us by society.

    What a load of 💩

    DhammaDragonHozanvinlyn
  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    edited May 31

    @techie said:
    As long as you have self-control it shouldn't be a problem. People who are conditioned by social morality may abstain from psychedelics. In Buddhism, self-control matters, not twisted notions of morality imposed on us by society.

    Ethical, moral and virtue (sila) is a practice mode in Dharma. We have to be very wary of teachings that break social, legal, personal boundaries etc. by those expounding 'dharma with psychedelics'. It is not part of my understanding of dharma to cloud the mind. Perhaps you can provide clarity on what you mean @techie?

    DhammaDragonHozan
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