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Vegetarian week — 6 Comments

  1. Bhante,

    “the Buddha also allowed smoking….(but remember there is an allowance for smoking in the monk’s code).”

    Being no expert on Vinaya, the only instance of smoking that I found was in the medicines section. For those not familiar, basically, the monks try a medicine and when it doesn’t work they think of a new treatment, but doubt whether it is allowable or not. The monks approach the Buddha and ask if the new treatment is allowable, the Buddha approves, they try it, it fails, think of new treatment, doubt allowability, ask Buddha, get approval, try it, etc., for several pages. Smoking falls in this series of allowances.

    My guess is that the Buddha would have allowed morphine as medicine, but to extend that allowance to recreational use is a bit of a stretch. To my mind, it’s the same with smoking.

    Unless, of course, there is another allowance for smoking elsewhere, on which I would be happy to be corrected!


    • Weren’t we meeting up soon ? This Wednesday is good – there will be a few of us at the Vegie indlace on Tanon Pan, Silom. When are you in town ?

  2. My memory is hazy on the topic too, but I recall “Bhikkhus I permit you to smoke leaves through a pipe”.
    The vinaya experts at Amaravati temples quoted so anyway.
    Though of course, tobacco was considered ok until very recently, so I can’t see any reason why it would not have been allowed 2500 years ago. Knowing what we know now it would certainly be frowned upon.
    As an ex-smoker I might be biased…

  3. Final note on smoking: I recall learning that tobacco was indigenous to the Americas and then spread by Europeans to the rest of the world…so what were they smoking 2500 yrs ago in India? According to one source: “Substances such as Cannabis, clarified butter (ghee), fish offal, dried snake skins and various pastes molded around incense sticks dates back at least 2000 years”. I’ve read that Egyptians smoked cannabis for medicinal reasons long before that (but dried snake skins…?).

    • I had wondered about the availability of tobacco or related plants. To non-smokers the whole concept must be pretty strange. As I recall monks were allowed to smoke leaves ‘through a pipe’. So the smokers argues a cigarette was pipe shaped…

      The Jains certainly had an influence on India of the time. But the whole issue ssems to have been a common one of the time. I feel that for Buddhists, the biggest factor is the precept against killing. It feels pretty silly to not kill a mosquito, but to eat a pig. Nowadays we know it is more healthy to stay off meat, and meditators tend to be fairly health conscious. The most important point is that eating meat was not considered a necessity or pre-requisite for gaining enlightenment. So I guess the choice is one’s own.