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Is it wrong to gift alcohol to non-Buddhists?

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  • Is it wrong to gift alcohol to non-Buddhists?

    The title says it all.

    In todays culture and society gifting alcholol is very common and convenient. It is always accepted and you can apparently never go wrong with it.
    My room-mate's birthday was this week and as I didn't have time to do propper shopping (I never do), so I picked up a bottle of whisky from the airport. He was very happy with it and visibly impressed.

    Am I going against a precept here? Perhaps the first? I mean ... I know for a fact that my room-mate does not abuse alcohol. He has a crate of beer stocked up in the fridge; so I don't think that me buying him alcohol relevantly modifies his perspective on drinking. Yet. Is it still wrong as a Buddhist to gift alcohol to a non-Buddhist?

  • #2
    Hi Daniel,
    For me, I dont like alchohol, and dont like how it makes people behave,
    however you gave your friend a gift, and that sounds good.
    we could go into the first precept, but he is not a Buddhist? so in my book its sounds ok.
    My mum keeps buying me chocolate, and I'm not supposed to eat it, but its still a gift
    wishing you well

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    • #3
      If he does not have a 'drinking problem' or does not want to turn budhist all of a sudden then i only see the metta part because 'He was very happy with it and visibly impressed.' Whatever he does with the whisky is his choice so there's no need to feel some sort of guilt in his place. The rest is more like a 'what if' to me so it has nothing to do with the present where you're supposed to live.
      Now having said that these questions can sometimes answer themselves ... if it turns out that your room-mate for example snores all night because of this gift then you might have given not only him but also yourself more than you bargained for and might reconsider what you give him next year. don't mind me though, i'm only kidding, it's probably going to be ok .

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      • #4
        Daniel,

        I can't give you a sutta reference, but I have read and heard more than once that it is unskillful to give alcohol as a gift. Would it be bad to give shotgun shells to him if he were a duck hunter? Just an analogy. I don't think that this is something that gets you reborn in a miserable hell for aeons and ages, but there it is. It's not my opinion, just a plain answer to your question, though Stefan describes some probable kamma vippaka up above. Cheers.

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        • #5
          Well I did do it out of compassion ... but out of convenience as well.

          As I look at it now ... it's not appropiate for a Buddhist to gift alcohol. (Stefan, fortunatelly we only share the bathroom and the kitchen ... so I won't hear him snoring) I also don't like the way people behave on alcohol.

          This could be seen as an extension of "right livelihood" ...as we should not do business with weapons (the duck analogy), intoxicants, poisons, human beings and meat. It may be intuitive that we should not gift them either. Then again if we don't do the killing, I don't see how bringing burgers from the supermarket to a barbeque is a crime.

          Thank you all for your input.

          Metta,
          Daniel

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          • #6
            well Daniel, even then it tells a lot about you that you even bother to ask yourself whether it was the right thing to do or not. whatever the belief and even with good intentions every once in a while we all prove that we're just human by making some silly mistake but that's just my point of view.

            with metta,
            Stefan

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            • #7
              I don't think it is right. You are giving them something you regard as a poison that you would not or should not take into your own body.

              Alcohol has many harmful effects. Most of all, it destroys heedfulness and allows the defilements full reign over the body. If you really look into someone far gone into alcohol, they are an intoxicated mess, a slave to craving, generally lacking in any shame and compunction.

              It is also a gift which you can never expect the person to use wisely. It can't be used wisely by definition - except perhaps by application direct to the kitchen sink.

              I have made this same mistake about a month ago. For the last time, I hope.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Daniel Ionita View Post
                The title says it all.

                In todays culture and society gifting alcholol is very common and convenient. It is always accepted and you can apparently never go wrong with it.
                My room-mate's birthday was this week and as I didn't have time to do propper shopping (I never do), so I picked up a bottle of whisky from the airport. He was very happy with it and visibly impressed.

                Am I going against a precept here? Perhaps the first? I mean ... I know for a fact that my room-mate does not abuse alcohol. He has a crate of beer stocked up in the fridge; so I don't think that me buying him alcohol relevantly modifies his perspective on drinking. Yet. Is it still wrong as a Buddhist to gift alcohol to a non-Buddhist?
                Yes, there are suttas saying that it's unskillful to give alcohol as a gift to someone else. There are also suttas stating humor and disavowing your parents is inappropriate (how the Buddha came up with this I have no idea since he disavowed his parents, harassed his father until he agreed, in pursuit of enlightenment). What matters is mostly your intention. If you intention was kind and giving, then I don't think it is "wrong".
                Last edited by Rocky Roberts; 10th-April-2013, 12:12 PM.

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                • #9
                  I don't believe I was wrong, I had the right kind intention, but I could have done better in choosing the gift :P.

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                  • #10
                    Really Daniel? I have to say I'm a bit surprised at your most recent conclusion...the first part of it anyway.

                    And Rocky...because the Buddha was wrong about something before he was enlightened doesn't take away from what he has taught after being enlightened. I know you know better as a person who has demonstrated a proficiency with logic and fallacious thought.

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                    • #11
                      Well in the sense that getting alcohol as a gift is better than not getting him anything at all. I wasn't here for his birthday party and we're not very close friends, my gift is also very generous compared to the usual contribution people make to a gift here. This isn't something I've done out of obligation, I just wanted to put a smile on his face.

                      So between gifting alcohol and not gifting anything, which one is better? Of course that doesn't make gifting alcohol a wise choice.

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                      • #12
                        I guess it's all relative. I tend to think that no gift is better. There are any numbers of ways to justify it I suppose and just as many ideas against it. You would but I wouldn't. The original question asked if it was wrong. As a Buddhist, it is unskillful to provide alcohol except for medicinal purposes. Is it wrong to you given the situation may have been a better question. Either way, you're still a great person, in my opinion.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Jerrod Lopes View Post
                          Really Daniel? I have to say I'm a bit surprised at your most recent conclusion...the first part of it anyway.

                          And Rocky...because the Buddha was wrong about something before he was enlightened doesn't take away from what he has taught after being enlightened. I know you know better as a person who has demonstrated a proficiency with logic and fallacious thought.
                          It doesn't mean he was right about it either. Still, you'd think the Buddha would understand that some behaviors, which seem culturally unethical, might be necessary to the path and wouldn't simply disavow them in the absolutist manner Daniel had in mind when he asked.

                          Although I'm glad you did ask about this, since I read over it and realized I didn't explain myself very thoroughly. My point wasn't simply to say the Buddha was right or wrong in these matters. The point was that due to such inconsistencies in the suttas, it would be impossible to read such ethics in an all-or-nothing fashion without misunderstanding or misapplying them. For instance, there's such a thing as being irrationally rational. This includes obsessing about consistency to the point where one cherry picks examples in pursuit of one's desire for consistency. For instance, it's a natural human tendency to synthesize texts so that they make sense, but it becomes irrationally rational when one denies various inconsistencies or refuses to appropriate ones understanding in light of such inconsistency. You often find this with Biblical dogmatists who say "the example proves the rule" when presented with a verse that undermines their literalistic take on certain scriptures.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Daniel Ionita View Post
                            I don't believe I was wrong, I had the right kind intention, but I could have done better in choosing the gift :P.
                            Agreed Daniel, hope your friend enjoys his gift from you.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Mark Hyland View Post
                              Agreed Daniel, hope your friend enjoys his gift from you.
                              Responsibly...

                              Also, thanks Jerrod for believing in me.

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