The Five Precepts Blues; #5.2 – Ten Little Bottles

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Barry, from Ox Herding, left this comment on my last post;

“There are passages in the Pali Canon where Buddha clarifies the fifth precept. He means: Don’t consume any alcohol or other intoxicating substance.

Of course, not everyone wants to give up consumption and so they focus on the “heedlessness/carelessness” clause, as if one could consume just a little without effect. But, as Thich Nhat Hanh says, intoxication begins with the first glass.”

He must have known where I was heading with this! ^_^

The the precepts I was given at Hanmaum, the fifth precept goes;

The Precept of Avoiding Intoxicants. I will never drink to excess. For the sake of myself and others, I vow to live within my limits.

In Daehaeng Kunsunim’s precepts, she leaves a little room for drink. I was a little surprised by this when I first heard it, but Chong Go Sunim explained that it comes from the cultural circumstances where refusing to drink is taken as an insult to the one who offered (loss of face) and can cause a surprising amount of hassle. Especially when it’s usually your boss offering the drinks, you might not have a pleasant time at work.

So, although I understand the reason, it still doesn’t sit well for me. I’m not Korean. Sometimes I think about taking the five precepts again, only for a stronger take on the fifth precept. In the end, I know it’s really only up to me, but it’s still something I consider.

As Johnny Bond reminds us, in Ten Little Bottles, the middle way of taking even just “one little swaller” isn’t the middle way the Buddha spoke of. Back to ThichNhat Hanh’s admonition, it’s only a couple little swallers before ol’ Johnny is already in a mess!

[I’ve continued having trouble posting video, but clicking on the image will open the song in a new tab/page. I’m not fond of all the advertising on Youtube, so I prefer not to use it. The adds WordPress attaches here are bad enough!]

One response »

  1. As you know, I also take the 5th precept to mean no drinking alcohol (seems pretty clear to me), and have done my best on this one for over seven years now. But of course there are times we break the precepts. I did this afternoon. Had a glass of wine at a family celebration. My first alcohol for many months. It was nice. But then I found myself fancying another glass, speaking just that little louder than usual, laughing more than I usually would, and it’s pretty damned clear that Buddha knew what he was talking about. Stick to tea if you want real happiness! Marcus _/\_

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