Translating Classical Buddhism to Modern English

The Numerical Discourses

Chapter 14: Five Precepts

10. Not 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, “There isn’t anything in this assembly greater than this one thing[1] that when cultivated and cultivated often brings the merits that are among humans, merits up in Heaven, and attains the realization of Nirvāṇa. What is that one thing? It’s not drinking alcohol.”

3. The Buddha told the monks, “If a person doesn’t drink alcohol and doesn’t think about drinking alcohol, they’ll be born intelligent, have no foolish delusions, and widely know the sūtras. Their mind won’t be in disarray …

4. “Thus, monks, you should train yourselves.”[2]

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


  1. There isn’t anything in this assembly greater than this one thing. C. 於此衆中無有一法勝此法者. This final sūtra of the chapter has a different translation of the opening line that makes better sense than the rest. Lit., it reads: “There isn’t a single thing greater than this thing …” This does at least confirm that it is what was intended. [back]
  2. The first statement beginning these conclusions has been lost. Since these pithy statements were unique to each text, I’ve not tried to reconstruct it. Presumably, it was along the lines of “Therefore, monks, you should train in not drinking alcohol.” [back]

Translator: Charles Patton

Last Revised: 31 July 2023