What Is the Buddhist View toward Smoking, Drinking, and Gambling?

There is no regulation prohibiting smoking in the Buddhist precepts, and when done to prevent tropical diseases, the Buddha permitted bhiksus to smoke. But to promote good habits and dignified conduct, Chinese Buddhists have always discouraged smoking. Buddhism does forbid the use of harmful narcotics or stimulants, which is why the fifth precept prohibits the consumption of alcohol. Drinking itself is not evil, but the effects of alcohol often lead to evil behavior. For the same reason, Buddhism does not permit people to use harmful substances such as opium and heroin. As for gambling, it is strictly prohibited in the Buddhist sūtras because it is basically a waste of money and energy, and often leads to depression and bankruptcy.[1] Gambling by its very nature involves deceitful behavior, and sometimes leads to evil deeds such as murder, theft, slander, and harsh speech. It is therefore strictly forbidden in Buddhism.

  1. See the Sīngālaka Sūtra, in the Chang ahan sūtras, T 1: 1.70b25–26 and c7–11. Author.
    This Chinese sūtra corresponds to the Pali Sigālaka Sutta, Dīgha Nikāya no. 31; in the Walshe translation, references to gambling are on pp. 464–65. Trans.


Orthodox Chinese Buddhism: A Contemporary Chan Master's Answers to Common Questions. (2007)
by Master Sheng Yen | Translated by Douglas Gildow and Otto Chang. | ISBN 978-1-55643-657-4


Lists of errata, suggested changes and comments by Douglas Gildow