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The Fifth Precept

Drinking alcohol

Smoking

Consumption of animals products

The Fifth Precept is: to avoid taking intoxicants. Drinking alcohol would be a violation of the fifth precept. The Fifth Precept is interpreted somewhat differently in Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism.

Theravada Buddhism


According to Bhikkhu Bodhi (American Theravada Buddhist monk), violating the precept requires an intoxicant, an intention to take an intoxicant, the activity of ingesting the intoxicant, and the actual ingestion of the intoxicant. Theravada Buddhism considers the Fifth Precept to be a clear prohibition of drinking.


But! Most Buddhists do not consider that smoking violates the five precepts.

With smoking it all comes down to an attachment and addiction. It can be considered as “intoxicant" if it distracts us from the path. If we are feeling urge to smoke, can’t live without it, it doesn’t make us happy, we always want more - you should try to work with your addiction through meditation.

You should also think of our interconnection with all the sentiment beings. Smoking is not only bad for the smoker, but also creates dangerous second-hand smoke.


Mahayana Buddhism


In Brahma Net Sutra, drinking liquor is a "minor" offense, but selling it is a major breach of the precepts. To drink liquor hurts only oneself, but selling hurts others and is a violation of the Bodhisattva vows.


Animal consumption


The first of five precept is not to kill.


The key teachings of Buddhism about animals:

  • Animals and humans share the same essential nature. We are not a separate class of beings to whom a separate class of ethical rules applies.

  • The highest Buddhist virtue is compassion, which we are to show to all sentient beings at all times.

  • We should do all in our power to avoid causing suffering or death for any sentient being.

The Dalai Lama appealed to all Tibetans to stop wearing traditional clothing decorated with wildlife skins during the Kalachakra ceremony held in January 2006 in Amravati, southern India. His Holiness asked them to inculcate love and respect towards all living beings and to conserve wildlife.

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