Yes it’s true! They have beer at Kopan. The only problem is, it’s made out of carbonated water, sugar and ginger. No hops, no malt and no alcohol! It is packaged in a can similar to a “real” beer can And it does say “beer” on the label. But there is no real “beer” inside. For those of you who know something about Tibetan Buddhism “it is merely labeled beer”. For the rest who don’t, I will explain when I get home. I’m not sure what the British were thinking when they came up with this name. (it is made in the UK).
Today was the last day of the Eight Mahayana Precepts. Every morning before sunrise, vows were taken for 24 hours. They were: to refrain from Killing, lying, stealing, sexual activity, taking intoxicants, sitting on high beds with pride, wearing jewelry and perfume, taking more than one meal a day and singing-dancing-playing music. This practice allows you to experience that abstaining from unwholesome action is the basis for developing many positive qualities.
Now most people didn’t have a problem with with some of these. But a lot of people had concerns about the one meal a day vow. It is eaten between 11am and 12 noon ONLY! No other meals, no snacks, nothing that you have to chew to swallow. Only liquids at all other times. In the end most people realized that it wasn’t that hard to do and actually made them realize that we think about food a lot and spend a lot of time based on food. Buying, planning, preparation, eating, cleanup, etc.
The other one that bothered some people was the vow concerning intoxicants. They consider smoking cigarettes an intoxicant. Which it is but so is caffeine. Which is in the coffee and tea.
The perfume vow. If you had deodorized deodorant (is there really such a thing?) you were okay to use it. Otherwise, not allowed. Showers and soap were allowed to everyones relief.
And lastly. The sitting on high beds with pride vow. This one dates back to whenever these precepts were started. Most people back then slept on the floor I guess. There aren’t any real high beds here so that wasn’t a problem. And whenever you sat on your bed you couldn’t imagine it as being yours and decorated with jewels and fine linen. When I would sit on mine, I would hunch my shoulders over a little and not smile.
Most people are looking forward to 3 meals a day, putting on gobs of makeup and perfume, smoking whatever, wearing all of their lavish jewelry and singing and dancing while bouncing on their beds! And I am going to drink 2 cans of Ginger Beer instead of one, just because I can.