07 December 2005

Moral Debate

I'm going off to Singapore tonight, so there won't be updates until next Monday. During the trip, I plan to audio blog instead of writing a journal as I usually do. And hopefully I'll take lots of nice photos.

We're travelling by bus, and mind you, it's a 10 hour coach ride. And if my last bus ride to Genting is any indication, this could be a cold and uncomfortable ride. That's why I'm bringing my eye shades to block out ambient light, and I'm pondering whether or not I should eat some cold medicine before I leave.

You see, certain cold medicine and cough syrups make you drowsy. I'm pretty immune to cough syrups but those little tablets for colds can send me into slumberland quicker than you can spell 'sleepy'. I don't have a cold anymore, but by taking a tablet I will definitely ensure a nice sleep throughout the ride.

Therein lies the moral debate. In our daily vows as a Buddhist, the fifth of the Five Precepts state that "I will abstain from drugs and liquor that cause intoxication and heedlessness". It does not include drugs for medicinal purposes, but then I'm not sick, so it's hardly for any illness. I'm wondering if by taking medicine to help me sleep, will it mean breaking my fifth precept?

On the other hand, I'm taking it not exactly for intoxication. One of the main reasons that the 5th precept was instituted by the Buddha was because we are capable of breaking the other 4 precepts when we are drunk or high. I hardly think I am able to kill, steal, commit adultery, or lie when I'm sound asleep. It is indeed an interesting conundrum, but at the moment I still think it's okay for me to take those "sleeping pills", as unhealthy as it may be.

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