THE FIFTH PRECEPT PROJECT REDUCING SUBSTANCE ABUSE IN THAILAND: REFLECTION

Buddha statue from the Gandhara-culture (1st c...

What I Learned from My Two Blogs Posts on Dharma Dialogue.

As the internet is fast becoming the main means to communicate, spread ideas, and raise awareness across the globe, dharma messages should follow suit too.  With guidance from my professor and also as requirement for the class, I wrote two blogs posts on Dharma Dialog and also created a Facebook group page.  All three generated some discussion but mostly people just viewed the posts and only a few decided to be brave and comment.

It was very interesting and fascinating to post and read everyone’s comments.  I wrote about the Fifth Precept and about the dangers of drugs and alcohol which is what the Fifth Precept is all about.  I wrote those articles based on what I know and what I have learned from living nearly my entire life as a Buddhist monk.  There were four comments for The Fifth Precept blog and seven comments for the Dangers of Drugs and Alcohol blog.  I was excited to find new comments each time a new one got posted.

For the blog about the fifth Precept, my writing was focused on drug and substance abuse in Thailand.  The last two comments were very useful.  One person commented that although Buddhism is the main religion in Thailand and everyone is well aware of the Fifth Precept (which is to refrain from taking substance and outside influence), it is evident that just that knowledge alone is not enough to keep them from taking and abusing drugs and alcohol.  The problem may be psychological and sociological, and I agree.  Every case of addiction cannot be all the same as everyone is different.  Why they became addicted and abused is something much more complicated than just knowing about religion.  The last person wrote about death.  He commented that if everyone would keep in mind that death eventually happens to all of us, we could probably focus on things that matter more and live better.  That is called awareness and I also agree with this person’s comment.

My second blog about dangers of drug and alcohol addiction had seven comments that followed.  Here, there was one person that disagreed with me that addiction caused people to become homeless.  He or she argued that the addiction probably happened to them after they became homeless and the point of the comment was to mostly point a finger at the U.S. government.  I can understand that logic and I do agree it could be the case.  But my point of view about addiction still sides with what the Buddha taught.  Usage and addiction to substance cause nothing but harm – harm to self, harm to others, harm to properties, and alter your consciousness.

Another person commented about attachment which was a very good point.  Although the people on Skid Row were homeless, as in having no home to go to and having to sleep on the street, we all are in a sense, “homeless” as well.  He wrote “We have no true home on earth, no true refuge in earthly things.  The only refuge we have is ourselves, and the Dhamma as our refuge.  To hold on to the idea that we have a home on earth is to keep on suffering.”  I read that and thought wow!  I was glad my blog got people to think and this person’s comment was good reminder of what life was really all about.  We should learn to let go and not be so attached or be too materialistic.  We came into this world with nothing and we can only leave with nothing.  All the money we make in this lifetime, we cannot take with us after death.  The only thing that follows us is our good and bad karma.  What good deed we have done will help protect us and guide us into the next life.

For my Facebook group page, only 3 people commented on my post about drugs and alcohol.  One person asked if it is considered okay in Buddhism if alcohol is used medicinally.  Another person commented in response that she thinks it should be acceptable if substance is being used for medical reason.  She went on further to say that she thinks drinking socially and moderately is okay.  I responded by saying drugs or alcohol should not be consumed at all, per Buddha’s Fifth Precept.  It is better to stay away and keep our mind clear from any altering substances.

The blog writing and Facebook group page was a fun project and I did get to learn by reading other people’s comments.  The world of technology allows for faster communication and social media is a good way to get your ideas out with fast feedback.  I am thankful for the people who commented on my blog and group page, and grateful for my professor too for giving me the opportunity.

With Love and Compassion (Metta)

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