Those who seriously follow and commit themselves to the Buddhist path agree to five "vows": The vow to abstain from killing, from stealing, from sexual misconduct, from false speech and from intoxicants. Of the five precepts, the one least adhered to among Western Buddhist practitioners is the last one: to abstain from consuming alcohol and using drugs.
Simply sipping a glass of wine is so ingrained in Western culture that many who say they are Buddhist are not aware of the prohibition against consuming alcoholic drinks of any kind. Buddhist teaching states clearly that alcohol is a danger. Ledi Sayadaw (1846–1923), a prominent Pali scholar and Burmese Meditation teacher, is the author of A Talk On Intoxicants. There he outlines these as some pitfalls of drinking alcohol:
- it corrupts the heart;
- it leads to addiction;
- it weakens good character;
- it gives a false sense of peace;
- it produces unwholesome karma;
- it destroys the healthy state of the mind;
- it makes the mind vulnerable to evil forces;
- it inclines a person toward sensual pleasures and wrong view;
- it overwhelms the mind producing confusion, negligence, heedlessness.
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