Dharma Drinks, Buddhist Brewers and Rapping Monks

Via John Pappas
on Jan 26, 2010
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Its Sunday, early morning and the Buddhists are talking about booze….I am in the Pure Land!

For those out there who have made comments about how “stale” and “overly traditional” Buddhism is in Asia, and how the “real” innovation is happening in North America and Europe, here’s an interesting story out of Japan about a monk running a bar to spread the word about Buddha’s teachings to younger folks. The story itself doesn’t represent the many changes and innovations that are underway in Asian Buddhist communities, but it does point to the fact that wildly unconventional approaches to the dharma can spring up anywhere.

In a similar way as Ethan Nictern and others have taken here in the U.S., the story reported above is one that mixes popular culture and Buddhist teachings. The monk in question, Zenshin Fujioka, is concerned about the concentration of grey and white-haired folks at Buddhist temples, and has chosen to break out of the box, and maybe break the precepts in the process, in order to get his message to the younger generations. His “Monk Bar,” serves Buddhist teachings with a glass of booze, in modern language, with a side of hip hop. It’s enough of a departure to probably make the minds of most Buddhist practitioners spin, but I wonder if there isn’t something to this whole thing.
~ From Dangerous Harvests

So very cool. I have been advocating Dharma Drinks for a while. Not so much that I want to drink or force everyone else to but by utilizing an outside venue can lead to a more interesting discussion. While stuck in a temple or zen center there is an atmosphere that is different then when you meet in a more public and social place. Whether or not you decide to have a pint with your Dharma is up to you.

Also there are a few Buddhist Brewers out there other than my self (I occassionally whip up a batch of Buddha Ale). Check out their stuff here and here.

On a historical note, beer-brewing may have birthed our whole civilization….

But could alcohol also have been a catalyst for human civilization? According to archaeologist Patrick McGovern this may have been the case when early man decided to start farming. Why humans turned from hunting and gathering to agriculture could be the result of our ancestors’ simple urge for alcoholic beverages.

“Alcohol provided the initial motivation,” said McGovern, a biomolecular archaeologist at the University of Pennsylvania Museum. “Then it got going the engine of society.”

As one of the leading experts on the study of ancient alcoholic brews, McGovern has found evidence showing that early man was making the beverage as far back as 9,000 years ago.

His earliest sample, which dates to 7000 BC, includes pottery shards found in a Neolithic village at the Jiahu site in China. By examining the clay shards, McGovern discovered traces of Tartaric acid, a compound found in alcoholic brews.

Beautiful! Neolithic Chinese sipping on millet wine. With the 5th Precept in place we may all still be hunting and gathering…maybe just gathering.






About John Pappas

John Pappas is a struggling Zen practitioner with a slight Vajrayana palate (but he won't admit it) stumbling between the relative and absolute through the Buddhist Purgatory otherwise known as the Great Plains of South Dakota. Emerging writer, librarian and aspiring hungry ghost, John spews his skewed perception of the dharma all over his personal blog, Subtle Dharma Mouth Punch as well as on the ephemeral Elephant Journal and occasionally (while having no artistic ability to speak of) on Dharma/Arte. John also loves tacos, homebrew, yoginis and obscure Cthulhu references. You can follow him on twitter under the handle @zendustzendirt


4 Responses to “Dharma Drinks, Buddhist Brewers and Rapping Monks”

  1. Okay, I'm starting a Dharma Drinks Club here in Boulder!

  2. Sweet! I've attempted them time and again here in Rapid City. I meet at a locally own joint with good beer and tea so that no one feels left out but it is taking awhile to catch on….I like calling it the "Mindful Drinking Club"

  3. Great blog.

    You’re probably aware that all the ancient Yoga texts mention the illusive “soma”, which historians believe was a powerful hallucinogen, perhaps a mushroom or an herb.

    Even the austere, disciplined Yoga Sutra states matter-of-factly, after detailed instructions on progressive meditation leading to realization, that “these attainments may also arise through the use of herbs.”

    (This is going to be the first item in my coming blog, “The Surprising Lines in the Yoga Sutra No One Ever Tells You About.”)

    So why not beer?

    Bob Weisenberg

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