What Can a Buddhist Drink

What Can a Buddhist Drink?

Away from extensive writings on Buddhism and its long-ingrained principles. We take a bolder stride into how the age-long principles presently affect the life of Buddhists. As a result, the question comes up “Is Buddha’s principle unaffected by age and time? Or, are we as percipient humans going to make changes from time to time. May be to still align with the changing setting of the world.

This article is going to look into the view of Buddhists as regards drinking. Yes, what should a Buddhist drink? This might sound not too pressing, but to a devoted Buddhist, it is very pertinent. And, here falls alcohol. Of course, it always starts from within. If what goes into us can alter our within, then there is a need we should look into it. Many people take alcohol as possessing the tendency to alter sound judgment and overall sanity. And, this defeats the aim of most religious groups which is to discipline the mind. However, abounding are many opinions from people. Especially, those born of true research which projects a good image of alcohol. So, with all these opinions flying around, one interested in Buddhism will ask should Buddhists drink alcohol or not?

Firstly, Do Buddhists Drink Alcohol at All?

Yes, Buddhists take alcohol. Buddhism especially the Mahayana sect does not abhor alcohol but intoxication. And, intoxication results from drinking more than required by your body. Hence, it can make one lose his mind, indulge in stupid actions and worry little about consequences. And, when the influence finally dispels and the full senses restored, most of these actions often cause one regret. Buddhism is a religion that aims to severely discipline the minds of the faithful. Thus, while it affords you space to do your thing, it equally understands that not everything you do is good for you. Therein, Buddhism concerns itself deeply about what its members drink. This is because not every member has attained a greater level of mind intelligence and absolute control of their urge. This intelligence aids one not to allow things he should control in turn controlling him.
There are instances of prominent Buddhists that reasonably drank alcohol, which is without the aim of getting intoxicated.

Are Buddhists Monks the Only People Prohibited from Drinking Alcohol?

The fifth precept abhors intoxication, intoxicants. However, different Buddhism sects interpreted Buddha’s original wordings differently. As a result, some Buddhist sects allow the monks to drink mindfully. But then, this might not be the case if the said monk incorporated alcohol abstinence in his vows. Of course, if he did, then the abstinence could linger for life or over a set period.

According to varying Buddhism traditions, certain Buddhism schools, for example, Mahayana Buddhism, lays more emphasis on almsgiving, rather than mind training and self-enlightenment of Theravada Buddhism. And as such, the Tibetan practice only incorporates minimal alcohol intake.

One can think of monks as having greater enlightenment than the lay faithful. This helps them streamline their urges better. More so, they are prone to ego build-up. A reasonable amount of alcohol intake could help them relax their egos a bit.

Why Do Buddhists Avoid Ingesting Alcoholic Beverages?

If any Buddhism faithful forbids himself from drinking alcohol. one can only establish five remote reasons behind it.
It might be:

  • If he is from the Theravada sect, that strongly abhors even taking a drop.
  • Owing to a mere personal choice of abstinence.
  • Owing to medical history or advise.
  • He might have incorporated it into his vow.
  • If the person questions his ability to draw the line between mild relaxation and intoxication. Thus comes the idea, instead of getting drunk, it is better not to drink at all.

It is also noteworthy, that one ascertains his or her frame of mind before drinking. Strong negative emotions e.g. anger, hate, resulting from heartbreaks, hopelessness can even blur one’s sense of reasoning before drinking. And as such, one can easily cross the limits set or intended.

What Does the Fifth Precept Say About Drinking Alcohol?

The fifth precept is ever simple, vivid and direct. It x-rayed the messages it intended conveying in a nutshell that is ”Avoid intoxication or intoxicants ”.

Intoxication or intoxicants here simply means whatever that tends blurring your natural sense of self-awareness and judgment. Therefore, it includes alcohol, drugs and so on.

Why is it that two sane grown-up adults, each packed a car, and went into the pub, later one was able to make it out and peacefully drove his vehicle home but, the other one probably broke bottles and woke up in the said pub the next day with his head probably hurting? This is not rocket science, it is self-control and mindfulness. Hence, the fifth precept is there for us to self-cultivate good perceptual skills. This aids us to identify the extent to which something becomes injurious to us. Thereby, we stop it prior to it stopping our sanity. So, while the fifth precept is comfortable with few sips or a bottle, it totally abhors five bottles at a go.

What Opinion Did Historical Buddha Have About Intoxication?

Buddha said ”intoxication can lead to loss of wealth, increased confrontations, illness, disrepute, and weakening of wisdom”. In a sutra, he included, ”One should refrain from drinking even a drop of alcohol and intoxicants because they can cause heedlessness. If any Buddhist succumb to the lure of intoxicating drinks, they shall not consider me as teacher”.

Do Buddhists Drink Tea?

Yes, tea drinking is generally accepted in Buddhism. For monks, it is more or less an invariable daily routine. It is particularly being taken, in the morning, before, and after meditation. Also, after meals and prior to any tea drinking a face and hand wash usually followed. The idea is that tea drinking improves mental alertness. As such, this helps the mind to focus and improves self-discipline during meditation. Tea does contain caffeine but to a minimal level. This helps reduce dullness and sleepiness. The origin of tea drinking came to light when Buddhism arrived in China. This was during the Han dynasty. (206BC-220). In Chinese temples, tea banquets are hosted from time to time by monks.

Do Buddhists Drink Coffee?

Yes, Buddhists do drink coffee. This is mostly to steady alertness during meditation. Also, enhancing longer meditative hours. But, coffee is high in caffeine and a known stimulant. Sometimes, the benefits derived might be less than its side effects. This is counterproductive to the overall wellbeing of the mind and body. This ranges from restiveness anxiety to even addiction.

If one becomes mindful that drinking coffee, also its side effects can militate one’s work towards the end goal of being a Buddhist. Then it should be re-checked. Hence, the idea is not to allow what we take to prevent our path towards true enlightenment. Buddhists should still be at the forefront to prevent attachment to anything in particular. Coffee is not a substance one should crave for. Nor, should one drink it for the mere pleasure derived from the stimulant contained in it. Thus, it should be something one can take and choose not to take at will.

Is A Buddhist Allowed to Take Any Medicine That Causes Dizziness?

The Historical Buddha himself is not elaborate or teach anything as regards to drug usage. However, the fifth precept covers anything with the proclivity to cloud our minds. So, the question as regards to whether Buddhists can freely take dizziness causing drugs depends. It hinges on the intent of using such drugs.

Most Buddhism traditions presently warn against the use of psychoactive drugs of any kind. But, not in all cases. Psychoactive drugs can cause dizziness, one can take it for medical reasons, on prescription. Also, one can decide to take it for adventure and to satiate personal cravings. If the former is the case, then it is okay. But, if the latter is the case, then it should be re-checked. Abusive tendencies always come as a result of prolonged and mindless usage. And, this creates lingering side effects which are not good to sustain the true practice of Buddhism.

Are There Separate Rules for Lay Buddhists and Monks On What to Drink?

There is no glaring rule which states differently what anyone should drink. Moreover, the fifth precept is for every Buddhist. However, monks are under oath to uphold these precepts. This is quite unlike the lay faithful who can choose to take some precepts which they can uphold, as a vow. Or, see them as merely a guideline. Even more, breaking of sworn precepts by monks is punishable. The punishment is in accordance with the monastic order they dwell in.

Do Buddhists Drink Milk?

Some Buddhists do not take milk. However, this is not because of any rules or precepts in Buddhism that prohibits such. The root of such a decision lies in the fact that most Asians are lactose intolerant. And for one to better practice the religion, one should not wittingly self-inflict harm to his or herself.

Are There Special Ceremonies That Supports Free Tea Drinking?

Tea ceremonies command respect in Asia. there is a belief that it originated from China. From there, its wind blew across Asia. For example, Japan, Korea. Also, it influenced the Buddhism religion. Hence Chinese monastics hosts tea banquet from time to time.

Buddhists Monks and Sugary Drinks:

Juices, sugary drinks are an important part of monks’ diet afternoon. This is because solid foods are only allowed in the morning and towards noon. One can deduce from their prayer chants, before food eating that food is solely for the sustenance of life. And, not for pleasure. Sweetened drinks fuel their energy towards another tomorrow.

Buddhists and Kombucha Tea:

Kombucha tea is native to the Chinese. One can, however, think of it as a traditional drink of the Buddhist nation. But then, it is a fermentation of sweetened tea. That is to say, it is slightly alcoholic. And, whether Buddhists are allowed to consume it is largely dependent on the school of thought. Hence, the Theravada Buddhist sect is very strict as regards to alcohol content. Regardless it is not up to the threshold that causes heedlessness. More so, Mahayana sect still advises mindfulness in anything.

Which Is the Most Generally Accepted Drink in Buddhism?
Seemingly the most popular drink in Buddhism happens to be plain tea. It can be either green or black tea. It is very acceptable in most monastic orders. And, steadily taken by monks. Tea has minimal caffeine content, melded with L-theanine. This is believed to sharpen the mind’s ability to focus.


The two major Buddhist sects physically disagree, but structurally agrees. Since both ideas tend towards the same end which is to still possess a clear non-induced state of mind. And, to approach the practice and our surroundings with a ready wit and sound gumption. To bear the brunt of pains and happiness, and not escape from it.

Generally, abuse of anything will still deal with its blow on us. If not now, later. As a result, drink responsibly as even commercial manufacturers will always warn.

This page responds to the common questions one would have based on which drink a Buddhist can freely take to better practice the teachings of the Buddha.