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The 5th Precept

FrankjFrankj Colorado, USA Explorer

How many of us have broken the 5th Precept. I have. In fact, I destroyed it. Being a recovering alcoholic breaking that precept, even before I knew It existed, has caused so much damage and suffering to the ones I love. It has also let me to make many foolish decisions, some of which I am still trying to correct.

Comments

  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    Yes! Too many times in my youth and still on the odd occasion now (2 pints of beer at a work function yesterday).
    It is rare for me to drink these days though and never to the point of drunkenness like my younger days.
    I wish you well in your recovery @Frankj

  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    http://5th-precept.org

    I wish you every success in overcoming your damaging behavour. Alcohol is not a problem for me. Very rarely drink alcohol but I am popping vitamin pills at the moment. I think I have an addictive personality which fortunately (or perhaps not) I have focussed towards:

    • Dharma intoxication
    • Meditation addiction
    • Being a metta junky

    So far, so good ... o:)

    Bunks
  • namarupanamarupa Veteran
    edited July 10

    I know plenty will correct me, but I think the precepts are guidelines as opposed to hard set rules. Even monks are allowed to confess certain precepts as a method of resolve. I would rather believe they are there to help than to hinder. It’s a way to measure your practice. To see how near or far you are from the main path.

    If you have a drink, and there’s no affect or no damage done in any way shape or form, then there is no harm done or forthcoming. If you drink 1 can of beer a year, the only thing I can see that is harmful is if it causes a lingering guilt. If there is no guilt then nothing is worth worrying over. If your desire is follow the precepts to perfection, then yes one drink would count as one mark on your shine.

    federicaFoibleFullDavidScottPen
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    I occasionally help myself to a beer or a glass of wine, but I don’t feel particularly guilty about this. I feel the precepts are intended to help us avoid behaviour harmful to others, and if anything a small amount of alcohol helps one feel happier without harming anyone.

    Which shouldn’t be taken as an excuse to get falling-down drunk, which is not healthy or beneficial for anyone.

  • FrankjFrankj Colorado, USA Explorer

    But, isn't altering you mind in the slightest bit bad when it comes to the precepts? With that being said, is there one precept that takes priority over another? Is it worse to lie opposed to getting drunk or buzzed, giggly?

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think 'Merica! Veteran
    edited July 10

    Try to think of them as training guidelines to help us live better lives and have happier minds rather than absolute rules where one step over the line is the same as 5 miles over the line.

    As far as priority, I can't remember ever hearing a teaching that categorized them that way. But it seems like that could be a possibility, I know some people will take fewer than all 5 precepts.

    Maybe you're like me and don't like to make promises that you're not sure you can keep. Maybe instead of taking them as vows you can take them as ideals to try to live up to, knowing that we are all imperfect and constantly make harmful choices both large and small.

    Don't try to be perfect, try to be better. And be kind to yourself.

    lobsterKeromeFoibleFullDavid
  • FrankjFrankj Colorado, USA Explorer

    Makes sense Person. Thank you. I think I get caught up in the idea that everything is black and white, all or none. I am learning, thanks to many on this forum, the we may not reach our goals or full potential over night, or even in this lifetime.

    lobsternamarupaperson
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    @Frankj said:
    But, isn't altering you mind in the slightest bit bad when it comes to the precepts? With that being said, is there one precept that takes priority over another? Is it worse to lie opposed to getting drunk or buzzed, giggly?

    Yes: I always say that the First Precept is the 'Mother' to all the rest.
    To vow to make effort to do no harm covers all the remaining Precepts, and is also a relevant description of the consequences to ourselves, if we decide to do our own thing.

    It's all free choice; up to us. Nobody is holding a gun to our heads, or compelling, or forcing us to comply.
    But there are consequences, and we need to take that upon ourselves too.

    Big Actions = Big Consequences.

    Little Actions = Little Consequences.

    Usually.
    But not always.

    So, the choices are ours.

    Put it this way; I never drive after having a drink, no matter how little I take in.
    But I make sure that whoever DOES drive, hasn't had a drink, either.

    That's looking at the Consequences. Before I decide what I'm going to do.

    Less of an almighty mess to clear up afterwards, innit....?

    FoibleFullDavid
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    @Frankj said:
    Makes sense Person. Thank you. I think I get caught up in the idea that everything is black and white, all or none. I am learning, thanks to many on this forum, the we may not reach our goals or full potential over night, or even in this lifetime.

    Very well said. <3
    Black and white, absolute thinking may be appropriate. The important thing is to be aware that @federica has integrity and discernment. She is not a nun but a lay person who enjoys a drink. Anyone who is an alcoholic may need to follow total abstention ...

    The precepts for me are about sincerity, discipline and compassion towards our failings. The vast majority of people on this forum are following a course of better choices. We can be a little more gentle with ourself and others ... if trying our best ...

    personFoibleFullDavidkando
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran
    edited July 10

    Do no harm (or as i like to put it, the least harm possible under the circumstances) really does cover all five precepts...It also applies to the self as well as other sentient beings...

    So...Think in moderation, drink in moderation (on a personal level I don't drink alcohol...but each to their own )

    lobsterBunksDavid
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    Moderation is the flowering of the Middle Way.

    Personally I don't follow a perfect-in-every-way life model. It is not my experience ... a perfect book, teacher, path, life or flawless jewel ...

    Fortunately this balance between extreme or absolute dharma is not required or for many of us helpful ... In this sense, as we accept our limitations, our trust and certainty in the Middle Way allows us more natual alignment with our practice and practical being ...

    Shoshin
  • KundoKundo Sydney, Australia Veteran
    edited July 11

    Or as is the Rede in Wicca (in a nutshell) "An it harm none, do what thou whilt"

    However...... whilst I don't particularly care how loosely one chooses to adhere to or accept the precepts, they are what they are, own it if you don't follow or adhere to it, don't make excuses for not adhering to it or try to change it - especially the Fifth Precept.

    _ /\ _

  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    @lobster said:
    Moderation is the flowering of the Middle Way.

    Nicely put :)

  • ScottPenScottPen Maryland Veteran
    edited July 12

    @Frankj, I'm going to quote a comment that I made in an earlier thread that you started back on June 1. After re-reading it I think it still makes sense:

    @ScottPen said:
    The first 4 precepts can be summed up thusly: don't be an asshole. The 5th precept is there in support of the first 4: it's easier to not be an asshole when you're sober. It's also easier to meditate when you're not feeling regret and guilt from being an asshole. Regret and guilt suck, and being an asshole ruins relationships and isolates us from real connection with other people. Evolution has resulted in humans being animals that require collaboration in order to process our experiences and emotions, therefore isolation results in a whole bunch of possible psychological issues which cause us to be dissatisfied and suffer.
    Don't be an asshole and you'll be happier. The rest of Buddhism is an increasingly complex guide to accomplishing this. I'm sure many Buddhists would be indignant or decry my ignorance and wrong view or whatever, but it's how I see it at the moment.
    The point of following or "keeping" the 5P (in my opinion) is not that there are equal and opposite direct consequences for breaking them. It's that life is easier, simpler, and the potential to be liberated from suffering is closer, when we follow them.

    Now, to directly address your post,

    @Frankj said:
    How many of us have broken the 5th Precept. I have. In fact, I destroyed it. Being a recovering alcoholic breaking that precept, even before I knew It existed, has caused so much damage and suffering to the ones I love. It has also let me to make many foolish decisions, some of which I am still trying to correct.

    My friend, getting wasted makes me act terrible. Even when I only have a couple of drinks I'm more sarcastic and confrontational, and although that doesn't rub everyone the wrong way it's not how I'd like to be. I also used to be a daily pot smoker, and the artificial complacence didn't do me any favors either. For me, breaking the 5th precept happens when taking an intoxicant has a harmful effect. In my life, being completely sober is the simplest way to eliminate that possibility. Some people say that you don't know who a person really is until you see them drunk and their inhibitions are lowered. I think that's BS. Our inhibitions are an integral part of how we interact with the world, and are incredibly important if we would like to do no harm.

    Good on you, buddy... stay sober. Feel free to PM me if you have a particularly rough time.

    personBunkslobster
  • ajhayesajhayes Northern Michigan Veteran

    @Frankj I'm in recovery as well. If you need support, feel free to send me a message. It's a rocky road at first, but, it gets smoother.

    ScottPenlobster
  • FrankjFrankj Colorado, USA Explorer

    Thank you very much ajhayes. I may just take you up on that offer one day. I am here for you as well. I have to say starting my Buddhist practice again has renewed my sobriety. It is keeping me focused, clear headed and confident.

    "Some people say that you don't know who a person really is until you see them drunk and their inhibitions are lowered. I think that's BS."

    I agree completely Scott. For me the alcohol or drugs make me someone I am not.

    ajhayeslobster
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    Not true. That's like saying that what happens to you, you can't help, because your behaviour is alien. It makes the fault/responsibility lighter. But that's not strictly accurate.

    Because it brings out a side of you that exists all the time. You (generic, not 'you' specific) just control and suppress it, because 'you' know that to be like that is not common sense, appropriate, respectable or acceptable.
    It must exist all the time, or else it wouldn't be a part of your behaviour.

    Alcohol/drugs - recreationally, and to a person's personal level of excess - make that person inappropriate, disrespectful, and unacceptable.

    @ScottPen and @ajhayes have offered to support and help you, which is wonderful.
    Another member who pops in - though he sadly goes awol for too long, for my liking (!) is @Tosh, who knows all about alcohol addiction too. His input would also be amazing.

    ajhayeskandoScottPenlobster
  • ScottPenScottPen Maryland Veteran

    @federica said:
    Not true. That's like saying that what happens to you, you can't help, because your behaviour is alien. It makes the fault/responsibility lighter. But that's not strictly accurate.

    Because it brings out a side of you that exists all the time. You (generic, not 'you' specific) just control and suppress it, because 'you' know that to be like that is not common sense, appropriate, respectable or acceptable.
    It must exist all the time, or else it wouldn't be a part of your behaviour.

    Alcohol/drugs - recreationally, and to a person's personal level of excess - make that person inappropriate, disrespectful, and unacceptable.

    @Frankj, I think that this distinction, while possibly appearing to be unnecessarily pedantic, is important with regards to Buddhism. It's another example that supports the non-self concept. Who are you? Sober you or wasted you? I think that the dharma suggests that you won't find happiness in either clinging to "sober you" or being averse to "wasted you."

    You're likely to find that your life holds more opportunity for satisfaction when the regret that you feel as a result of your harmful behavior informs your future actions and decision making. But don't get hung up on whether or not you're being your "true self." I'm no scholar of the suttas, but IIRC the Buddha taught that our "true self" is just an illusion. Trying to nail down a definition of your true self is a futile effort. Since we're all changing all the time, the only thing you'll nail down is simultaneously (a) only temporarily accurate, (b) too generous and forgiving to be accurate, and (c) not generous and forgiving enough to be accurate. Illusory delusion. (that's gonna be my next album title)

    federica
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran

    Regardless of if we call it a self we do have a faculty of awareness that can recognize suffering. There is a faculty of intelligence and other faculties. We can recognize intoxicants as such and we can sit with craving just a moment more if we choose to. But for those who never became addicted it is surely not easy to choose to abstain. A bit like choosing not to itch itchy skin even though you know if you itch you will irritate your skin and lead to further itching. And with enough persistence and energy and effort one can get out of the gravitational itchiness of addiction. If so then don’t start ‘using’ again and get trapped again!

  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran

    I know I have the "losing" viewpoint on this. But, I'll state it anyway.

    I'll start backwards. I once asked a Thai Theravadan monk if he thought the Five Precepts were training exercises. His answer was, "Yes". I said, "Training for what?" "Training not to do those five things".

    My father was an alcoholic. He could tolerate a huge amount of alcohol. He could drink a quart a Black Velvet a day at home...and then go out and make the rounds of the bars. Even in bad weather, he normally wouldn't drive when he did that. And I remember more than one night he would come home and, if in the winter, would be covered with snow...not because snow was falling, but because several times on the walk home he would fall into snowbanks. But you know what he would always say? "I'm really drunk". Of course, the night he got pulled over by the cops and badly failed the breathalyzer test, he also said, "I wasn't drunk". In fact, growing up in a family with several alcoholics or borderline alcoholics, I never heard one admit they were drunk. They always denied they were drunk. When my nephew cut off two fingers using a table saw while drunk, he maintained that, "Oh, I wasn't drunk. It was just an accident".

    But, that's just my viewpoint. You are free to have yours.

  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    It is keeping me focused, clear headed and confident.

    Whatever it takes.

    Those are skilfull/better/less unhappy, ignorance generating qualities.

    Some of like to dedicate our practice to others well being. I will do some Medicine Buddha practice for those making effort with alcohol or other drug addiction. Feel sure others will do similar ...
    http://www.lamayeshe.com/advice/benefits-medicine-buddha-practice

    Tad-ya-ta: Om Be-kan-dze Be-kan-dze Ma-ha Be-kan-dze
    Ra-dza Sa-mung-ga-te So-ha!

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