Home » Features » Should You Avoid Intoxicants Or Intoxication?

Seeing ‘moderate drinking’ as extreme,
thus never drinking even ‘moderately’,
you will never be drinking extremely.

Stonepeace | Books

Bearing in mind that intoxicants include alcoholic beverages, and all other substances that can cause loss of mindfulness, is the fifth precept to avoid intoxicants, as taught by the Buddha, to simply ‘avoid them’ altogether, or to ‘avoid being intoxicated by them’? This is an interesting question, as it suggests the possibility of drinking without becoming drunk… which seems pretty safe? Well, all who become drunk are those who had a drop too many, even when they claim they did not, or assumed it was impossible for them to do so.

However, if you see the very first drop, already as one drop too many, you will truly never have one drop too many. All who had drunk driving accidents deludedly believed they were not really drunk, which is why they drove, endangering many others on the streets. Social drinking can thus turn out anti-social in its ultimate sense! Even drinking by yourself at home, you might have an accident, when due to tipsiness, you slip and hurt yourself. Indeed, even habitual drinkers can underestimate how easy it is to lose their clarity of mind. In the Sigalovada Sutta, the Buddha warned of indulgence in intoxicants possibly leading to decrease of wealth and intellect, increase of conflicts and diseases, getting of a bad name, and even shameless bodily exposure!

It is good to avoid wine for food flavouring too. Though unlikely to intoxicate, it might subtly spur interest in its taste, leading to drinking later. Likewise should medicines with alcohol best be avoided, unless they are absolutely needed, with no other alternatives. Mindful that the first to fourth precepts are to avoid killing, stealing, sexual misconduct and lying, may we never be the infamous drunk who unmindfully breaks in his neighbour’s house, kills his pet, beds his wife and lies to cover his misdeeds. Let us observe the fifth precept to preserve the first four precepts!

True respect arises for those
who guard their moral integrity;
not for those who are ‘sporting’
with their loose moral integrity.

Stonepeace | Books

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