The 38 Ways to Happiness :- Restraint from Drinking Intoxicants (2)


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Blessing Twenty:
Restraint from Drinking Intoxicants

 


B. DEFINITIONS
B.1 Definition of ‘intoxicants’
Intoxicants [majjhapāna] in this blessing refer to anything absorbable by the body that clouds the mind. In general this means alcohol, but it also refers to other substances such as addictive drugs. It can mean liquids that are drunk or injected or dry substances like tobacco that are smoked.

B.2 Definition of ‘drinking’
The Pali word ‘saññamo’ used in relation to alcohol in this Blessing usually means ‘being careful with regard to’. In our context, however, ‘being careful’ of intoxicating substances doesn’t just mean using these things with care, in normal circumstances it means total abstention. It is only in exceptional circumstances such as medical use that careful use of alcohol may be considered. Some religions which prohibit alcohol per se will not even allow their followers to use alcohol to clean a wound or to preserve a corpse — however, Buddhism allows intoxicants to be used for medical purposes (e.g. where alcohol must be used to extract the active ingredients of some medicines). This excuse should not, however, be abused by those who put a teaspoonful of medicine in a bottle of alcohol to drink instead of putting a teaspoonful of alcohol in a bottle of medicine. Similarly, we know that such drugs like opium are damaging to smoke, but they may be used for medicinal purposes. However to use them for non-medicinal purposes is prohibited. This is the only reason why ‘being careful in the use of’ is used instead of ‘abstain from’. If your sense of discretion is good, and your mind is clear, then you will be able to know for yourself what is the appropriate use of these substances. Thus we abstain completely from the general use of these substances and we use these substances with care in the case of medicinal use.



 


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