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Wine and the Fifth Precept

June 7, 2012

When I picked up the primal diet, I also began to drink a small amount of wine. I had to develop a taste for it, since I rarely ever drank before that time. I started the practice of a little wine each evening on some research suggesting that moderate alcohol consumption.

Buddhism on the other hand, has five precepts that all lay practitioners are suggested to follow. The fifth of which is to “abstain from alcoholic drinks that cause recklessness.” Depending on the translation you read, this could come across as “abstain from alcoholic drinks.”

So how do I reconcile the two suggestions? My first thought was to not drink alcohol. Paleo eating and exercise offer many benefits to cardiac health so perhaps there wasn’t a need for that drink at night. A diet rich in meat, veggies, berries and nuts was found to reduce systolic blood pressure, and plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 reduced by 72% (Article from Nature).

But it is difficult for me to not follow sound research. Today I came across this study that looked into the optimal dose of alcohol a day balancing the benefits and detriments varying amounts had on long term health. The final determination was a Quarter glass of wine each day. This is lower than the suggested amount that I had been following, which was one full glass. Since it’s not natural for me to drink, this will be an easy change in my habit.

From the Buddhist perspective, I feel that as long as the drink does not “cause recklessness” or “cloud the mind” then it is acceptable to drink. It should be noted that minimal drinking does cloud the mind to some degree, even a single glass. It is very difficult to meditate with a mind that is clouded by drink. What I’ve been doing is to have my glass, now quarter glass, of wine with dinner around six in the evening. By the time I’m ready for the evening session, three hours later, my mind has cleared.

Clarity of mind is the key here. And it seems that with these latest recommendations of a quarter glass of wine matches that well. So as long as I am mindful with the amount that I am drinking, then I feel very satisfied with the idea that the little bit that I’m consuming has some excellent health benefits.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. June 7, 2012 2:42 pm

    Enjoyed your post. Have a question. I put a little zen practice in my life, but have trouble actually have trouble calling myself a Buddhist because of hardline many American Buddhists take on meat eating. How do you deal with this?

    • June 9, 2012 4:27 am

      Dennis that’s an excellent post topic. Will out something together soon.

      • June 9, 2012 4:32 am

        Thx, would appreciate hearing how you deal with it. I know that lay people aren’t commanded to be vegetarians, it’s just here in the US, it seems that many practitioners almost expect it of everyone. I’ve been formulating my own answers, but am not comfortable calling myself a Buddhist of any type because of my concerns over it.

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