Translating Classical Buddhism to Modern English

The Numerical Discourses

Chapter 14: Five Precepts

9. Drinking Alcohol

1. Thus I have heard: One time, the Buddha was staying at Anāthapiṇḍada’s Park in Jeta’s Grove of Śrāvastī.

2. It was then that the Bhagavān addressed the monks, “I don’t see anything in this assembly like one thing that when cultivated and cultivated often accomplishes the misdeeds of animals, hungry ghosts, and Hell.[1] If they were born among humans, a person will be made mentally ill, deluded, and unaware of what’s true or false. What is that one thing? It’s drinking alcohol.

3. The Buddha told the monks, “If a person likes drinking alcohol, they’ll be born where there’s no wisdom, and they’ll always harbor delusions there …

4. “Therefore, monks, you should take care not to drink alcohol.[2] Thus, monks, you should train yourselves.”

5. When the monks heard what the Buddha taught, they rejoiced and approved.


  1. misdeeds of animals, hungry ghosts, and Hell. C. 畜生、餓鬼、地獄罪. Here, this phrase is in reverse order compared to how it occurs in the other sūtras of this chapter. It’s also more specific about the actions involved being misdeeds. There’s no alternate reading to indicate that this was a later change, so I’ve left it as-is. In the other sūtras, the same phrase reads: “actions of Hell, hungry ghosts, and animals.” [back]
  2. Therefore, monks. C. 如是,諸比丘⋯. Here, I’ve adopted an alternate reading that corrects “thus” to “therefore” to match the usual conclusion. [back]

Translator: Charles Patton

Last Revised: 31 July 2023