Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Examples: Monday, today, last week, Mar 26, 3/26/04
Welcome home! Please contact lincoln@newbuddhist.com if you have any difficulty logging in or using the site. New registrations must be manually approved which may take up to 48 hours. Can't log in? Try clearing your browser's cookies.

The precepts, love and the positive form

KeromeKerome Love, love is mysteryThe Continent Veteran

It occurred to me the other day that the five precepts are just a shorthand for those people who have trouble developing enough love for their fellow human beings. Some people need a reminder not to kill, steal, commit sexual misconduct, lie or partake in intoxicants to excess. But certain people naturally don’t do those things, because they love their fellow people and creatures. For them, the five precepts just function as an unnecessary constraint.

So when you have reached that stage, and I think it is a point quite a few Buddhists come to, you may want to take up the positive form of the five, which are as follows:

deeds of loving kindness
open-handed generosity
stillness, simplicity, and contentment
truthful communication
mindfulness clear and radiant

It feels to me like the five precepts, with their forbidding phrasing, lead to a certain emptiness within, they restrict you and they do not encourage you to act in the world. The five positive principles are qualities one can develop which feel more meaningful and active than the precepts, and you may find them to be a good complement to your practice.

Wishing you an excellent day,

Gassho

AlexBunkslobsterDakiniDavidadamcrossley

Comments

  • cazcaz Veteran United Kingdom Veteran

    The 5 precepts are a clear basis of moral conduct, we need a clear basis of moral conduct that is committed as this clear restrained basis helps us practice moral discipline more extensively in the form of refraining from the 10 non virtues. by the way so you are clear receiving the precepts means that you shouldn't have any sort of intoxicant at all as it is not conducive to practice.

    SuraShinelobster
  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    The way you describe matters, @Kerome, seems to be heavily influenced by TNH's own methodology of seeing goodness and positivity in everything, which is in many ways, no bad thing, but might be said to be a saccharine view of what the Buddha taught.

    Don't get me wrong; I have absolutely nothing against TNH, and both admire and enjoy his influence; I have seen him 'live' and sat not 10 feet away from him. But he does have a habit of taking teachings and moulding them to a view which is entirely palatable, and sold in bite-sized morsels which are both easy and pleasant to digest.

    In brief, if there is any hard thinking to be done, any effort to be made, it's as if he's suggesting rather, that you sit in the comfy chair while he plumps up the cushions, gives you a footstool and makes you a cup of tea, served with some chocolate hob nobs.

    If the Buddha had meant the 5 Precepts to sound as you infer, he would have made them sound, as you infer.
    The point he was making is that it's hard to change the habit of a lifetime. It takes work, and study and understanding and discipline; because it's only by mastering the self that we can turn the 5 into, as you suggest, positive and beneficial attributes we can then use as benevolent gifts that others might benefit.

    The first precept is the Mother of all the remainder.
    But we have to LEARN that we cannot afford to harm others.
    We have to LEARN that taking anything, without approval - be it property, ideas, thoughts, diamond rings or those paperclips from work - is inappropriate and unskilful.
    We have to LEARN that sexual, sensual misconduct is ultimately damaging, both morally and physically, for all concerned.
    We have to LEARN, that inappropriate words - or unskilful silence - can be detrimental and crippling, and can cause untold damage, which can even be irreversible.
    And we have to LEARN that messing with the wrong stuff, renders everything we think, say and do, at best questionable, at worst suicidal.

    Did you truly know and understand all these, thoroughly, to their very barest depths, before you considered turning them all on their heads, and creating small, beautifully-packaged, confetti-covered little bundles with them?

    johnathanlobsterhow
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    I understand that some people would hold onto the negative form of the five precepts, but that too is clinging. Once you have developed enough love, it becomes superfluous, the behaviour is natural to you and you won’t engage in damaging activities.

    It is at that point that it is appropriate to switch to developing the five positive qualities, it should be an entirely natural transition. It is not necessary to hold onto these strong negative qualities, as if you need a schoolmaster to tell you what you should and what you should not do.

    True freedom lies in following what your heart tells you. The rules are just a support which you may need for a while, but which you should ultimately let go of.

    AlexZenshin
  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    I really don't see how you can see the 5 Precepts as 'negative'. That alone is enough for me to see that you really haven't understood them at all.

  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    The initial form of the precepts is “don’t do this, don’t do that”, it’s forbidding and negative at first glance in my opinion. You can explore them more deeply, view them in different forms such as the one where you see that by giving safety to the world you are contributing to a better space (that comes from a sutra). This is useful and a good thing to do.

    If you’re happy with the precepts, you should feel free to keep them. I’m just passing on my experience in the hope that it may be useful to others.

    Alex
  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    edited February 18

    @Kerome said:
    The initial form of the precepts is “don’t do this, don’t do that”,

    No it's not! I rest my case!

    Tell me, show me here, or anywhere else, where the precepts say to don't do this or that!
    First of all, they're written in the 1st person. Then it's a personal undertaking.
    Secondly, it's a declaration of intent, and a vow to undertake the discipline of self-control.

    it’s forbidding and negative at first glance in my opinion.

    My bold emphasis.
    You're stating an opinion that is extremely skewed, and frankly wrong.
    You need to go back and do more study and research, before stating such inaccurate opinion.

    You can explore them more deeply, view them in different forms such as the one where you see that by giving safety to the world you are contributing to a better space (that comes from a sutra). This is useful and a good thing to do.

    Something you appear to have skimmed over entirely.

    If you’re happy with the precepts, you should feel free to keep them. I’m just passing on my experience in the hope that it may be useful to others.

    Your experience isn't deep enough for me to honestly take it seriously, or even consider it as anything valuable.
    On the contrary, if anything it encourages me to stick to The Buddha's teachings rather than diverge and view matters through rose-tinted spectacles.

  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    Well you certainly don’t have to take my word for it, many Buddhist traditions in the Far East have students take the positive precepts alongside the negative ones.

  • AlexAlex UK Veteran

    “The fifth precept is regarded as important, because drinking alcohol is condemned for the sluggishness and lack of self-control it leads to,[71][156] which might lead to breaking the other precepts.[18] In Spiro's field studies, violating the fifth precept was seen as the worst of all the five precepts by half of the monks interviewed, citing the harmful consequences.[18] Nevertheless, in practice it is often disregarded by lay people.[157] In Thailand, drinking alcohol is fairly common, even drunkenness.[158] Among Tibetans, drinking beer is common, though this is only slightly alcoholic.[154] Medicinal use of alcohol is generally not frowned upon,[144] and in some countries like Thailand and Laos, smoking is usually not regarded as a violation of the precept. Thai and Laotian monks have been known to smoke, though monks who have received more training are less likely to smoke.[42][159] On a similar note, as of 2000, no Buddhist country prohibited the sale or consumption of alcohol, though in Sri Lanka Buddhist revivalists attempted unsuccessfully to get a full prohibition passed in 1956.[42] Moreover, pre-Communist Tibet used to prohibit smoking in some areas of the capital. Monks were prohibited from smoking, and the import of tobacco was banned.[42].”

    I found this interesting. 95% of Thailand are Theravadan Buddhists. 91% of Tibet are Gelupga or Kagyu Buddhists. Alcohol and tobacco use is clearly rather widespread.

    Why aren’t they adhering to precept 5 ? Is the whole of Thailand and all of the Theravadan traditionalists, somehow less ‘Buddhist’ than we are ? I genuinely don’t understand this, I’m just wondering if a different view of the precepts is being adopted by solemn Buddhists in the ‘homeland’ territories ?

    lobsterRen_in_black
  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    @Kerome said:
    Well you certainly don’t have to take my word for it, many Buddhist traditions in the Far East have students take the positive precepts alongside the negative ones.

    I think you need to find different terminology to 'positive' and 'negative'. neither one is accurate, nor are they necessarily individually appropriate.

  • AlexAlex UK Veteran
    edited February 18

    https://www.sheffieldbuddhistcentre.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/The-Five-Precepts-Teachers-Notes.pdf

    @Kerome is actually reflecting what’s widely on the internet on many Buddhist sites re ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ precept wordings.

    Above is one from Sheffield Buddhist Centre, for introduction into schools.

    I’m not commenting as to whether I agree with the concept, I’m comfortable with the precepts as they are, but I would not dispute his posting, as it seems that he is actually wholly accurately quoting a wider Buddhist viewpoint.

    adamcrossley
  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    While the terminology may be widely accepted and apparently much-used, his personal assessment of the Precepts being constructs of 'Don't do this, Don't do that!' is not so spot-on, and I am still of the view that he has made a mistake in his appraisal of the negative quality of the 5. He may well be correct regarding the term. The accuracy of his summary of the lessons therein...? not so much...

  • AlexAlex UK Veteran
    edited February 18

    @federica My read is that he is effectively saying that the 5 precepts are reactive, but don’t cover proactivity and positive actions, which is what the ‘positive’ precepts do.

    He is right. That’s true.

    The 5 precepts are advisories to ‘refrain from’ or ‘avoid’. @kerome is absolutely correct in his statement around ‘don’t do this’, that’s what the precepts are, by their very nature.

    I think you’re interpreting the word ‘negative’ as him saying that adhering to them is a bad idea. That’s not what I interpret. He is saying that they are don’t do’s. And he is right. And some people need that. But some people actually don’t need those, because they are natural adherents due to their elevated morality. They are already not stealing, killing, intoxicants etc., So these folks need a positive set of actions or framework to follow, because the 5 precepts are effectively redundant due to those folks’ inherent morality and ethics.

    The positives are proactive statements as actions that we should take, as a companion to the actions we should not take.

    If we take the example of TNH, as he is mentioned above - he is not killing, hurting, having illicit sex, taking drugs, drinking alcohol etc. So the precepts are a bit irrelevant. Positive precepts actually say to him “OK, Thich, rather than not killing or hurting people, which we know you’re not doing, then be kind. Rather than stealing, be generous”. So they challenge that individual to make a positive contribution, rather than avoiding a negative one. That makes sense.

    I’m ok with this, I see the point he’s making and he’s correct. I see no mistake, but actually a correct and wholly accurate interpretation of how these could be used.

    johnathanKeromeDavidadamcrossley
  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    I'll agree to differ.

  • AlexAlex UK Veteran

    Extreme example, but I can now see it’s needed......

    What’s the point saying to Jesus “Jesus, don’t kill, steal, have illicit sex, tell lies or take drugs”.

    He’s never going to do any of those things, because he’s at a sufficient moral and ethical level, that he’s rendered those instructions pointless.

    If, instead, you say to Jesus “OK, we know you’re morally pre-eminent and great at not doing bad things. So, OK, here’s a new set of instructions. Be kind, be generous, generate an atmosphere of love and relationship, promote honesty and keep a clear head at all times and be mindful”, that’s a far more relevant and proactive framework for him to stick to, that challenges him to do something good, rather than avoiding negative behaviours that he would never do in a million years !

    Those instructions would just be a positive flip side to the asking him not to do bad things.

    I’m guessing you’d never steal. So if I said to you “don’t steal”, you could very well think “well I’d never do that, so what’s the point of that ?!”.

    If I said to you “be generous”, rather than you avoiding stealing, I’m actually asking you to go and give, whether that’s money, time, effort or whatever. So it challenges you to do something, rather than asking you not to do something bad, which you’d never have done anyway.

    I wholly fail to understand what there is to differ with there.

    Kerome
  • ZenshinZenshin Veteran East Midlands UK Veteran

    Ultimately beating myself up about not being able to hold onto the moral standards one thinks one should set oneself out of fear of the Karmic consequences didn't lead me any closer to wisdom, Shakyamuni didn't beat the animal forces in his mind by fear and agressiion towards them but through compassion and acceptance of them once I realised that I began to master them. True morality comes from within and if one tries to wait until one is a completely moral being before walking the path one will be waiting forever. Meditation begins to reinforce the morality which reinforces the wisdom and the wheel of Dharma begins to turn faster whichever one of the spokes one pushes on, thus the way unfolds like a spiral. If I make some "wrong" decision out of being caught up in the pavlovian network of conditioning that is the illusion of a self I don't get too frustrated with it these days, I just try to learn to be more mindful next time it happens to prevent it happening again. After all there wasn't really a me there who made that decision. YMMV.

    AlexlobsterRen_in_black
  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran
    edited February 18

    What did the Buddha say in the Suttas?

    In the Abhisanda Sutta (see link below) the Buddha states the precept in the negative I.e. the noble one abstains from taking life.

    Then he states the positive results of this I.e. in doing so he gives freedom from danger etc.

    https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an08/an08.039.than.html

    AlexRen_in_blackadamcrossley
  • AlexAlex UK Veteran
    edited February 18

    Maybe one should avoid trying to do good, as well as trying to avoid doing bad ? Is that what we are saying ? And those who are of sufficient moral fibre not to kill, steal etc., that’s all thats ever should be expected of them ? That’s some low bar for some supposedly capable and moral people with potentially a large amount of connections or in some cases, followers.....🤷🏻 I think we can do better and more than avoiding bad, lighting incense and chanting.

    Buddha himself makes the point that his own words should be examined and if the evidence or reaction is to discard, that’s fine. He ain’t God and never said he was.

  • AlexAlex UK Veteran
    edited February 18

    I for one, will continue to try and do good, as well as avoiding doing bad. I can do more than “I’m alright Jack”. Maybe that’s just me. Can’t see what the beef is tbh. Some reputable Buddhist organisations with far greater understanding than I are promoting 5 positive precepts. No laurel resting there.

  • AlexAlex UK Veteran
    edited February 18

    @Bunks we can move beyond cause and effect though and add to that by proactively and positively creating positive effect. Or is proactivity something we should not undertake, rather, we should just hope that the effect of our avoiding bad, produces a good result in all cases ? I personally think we can be a bit more active and try to contribute as well as.......

    I do appreciate that the 5 precepts are just that. But I think that we can also do more. Whether that’s as ‘Buddhists’ or whether that’s as compassionate Humans, is maybe where the line lies. Or maybe the 2 don’t need to be mutually exclusive.

  • AlexAlex UK Veteran

    Ps this is how one particular Buddhist centre position things....

    “ It isn’t enough just to not be unskilful—we need to do the opposite if we are to be as skilful as we can. Buddhists will therefore try to behave in the following ways:
    1. To be kind.
    2. To be generous.
    3. To live simply and be content.
    4. To speak truthfully.
    5. To be aware”.

  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    You can do whatever you see fit @Alex - go for it mate!! <3 :)

    Alex
  • AlexAlex UK Veteran
    edited February 18

    @Bunks 😂👍 cheers mate ! Perhaps I’ll get down off my soapbox now 😂❤️

    (I work for a charity and volunteer at 3 others, so I’m passionate about contribution 😉 maybe I should look after myself more sometimes 🙏)

  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    @Alex said:
    @Bunks 😂👍 cheers mate ! Perhaps I’ll get down off my soapbox now 😂❤️

    (I work for a charity and volunteer at 3 others, so I’m passionate about contribution 😉 maybe I should look after myself more sometimes 🙏)

    Wow! Good on you.....

    I always think of the analogy of flying on the aeroplane when they say "If oxygen masks drop down from above you, ensure you put yours on first before helping others".

    Make sure you are looking after yourself first!

    P.S. My son's name is Alex too - respect!

    Alex
  • AlexAlex UK Veteran

    @Bunks yeah that’s a great analogy and very true.

    You have great taste in names ! (Perhaps that’s ego on my part.....Buddha’s gonna get me for that one 😉).

    You’ve piqued my interest re Suttas and I’m wondering what books might be out there with good summaries. I’ve got hols coming up and that might be something satisfying to read and study. Might post something on the forum, see what comes back 👍

    lobster
  • Tee Hee!

    Being reasonably lawful, honest, semi vegan, kind to animals and humans and moderately goodly is no big deal.

    Even I manage that much.

    However ...

    not being a murderer or liar goes much deeper as @federica mentions. If we believe every blade of grass is a future Buddha ...

    For example I managed to follow this precept today (so far so good) by not
    Destroying towns, villages, cities or large areas by means such as fire, bombs, pollution or black magic.

    However offering insight into my advanced behaviour. Bad speech! Tsk tsk.
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bodhisattva_Precepts

    Bad Brain!
    Time to switch religions perhaps ... perhaps not ...

    BunksAlex
  • AlexAlex UK Veteran
    edited February 19

    @lobster Ha ha, I think I actually understood that ! 😂👍

    Congratulations on not destroying Worlds, you’ve complied with precept 1 👏

    And yet......even if one went full Jain re not killing (watch out for them there grass blades !), we can still positively influence behaviour in a proactive way.

    We can feed the birds (tuppence a bag, with apols to Mary Poppins), volunteer at an animal shelter, plant a tree (hello again, Greta 👋), help an old person, work with the disabled.

    In short, we can actually do some good, as well as not doing bad. Or we can sit on our zafu, smell that Nag Champa incense and tell ourselves we’ve done something, like the good old Buddha-botherers we are 😁 Now I’ve said it, hand me those matches and the incense. It’ll make my life more straightforward 😂

    Thank the golden one that TNH is out there, with his sandals, trying to help people. Somewhere in Buddha city.......

    Metta ❤️

    lobster
  • AlexAlex UK Veteran

    @jonathan spot on. This is not about replacing the precepts, this is about augmenting them with positive behaviours, when we can. Skilful living, as well as avoiding unskillful living 👍

    lobsterSuraShine
  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    I found these precepts recently at my local monastery. I like them....


    I take the precept to refrain from killing or harming any living beings.
    I will act for the welfare and happiness of all beings.

    I take the precept to refrain from stealing or cheating.
    I will be honest, generous, open-handed, and take delight in sharing.

    I take the precept to refrain from sexual misconduct.
    I will be honest in relationships, nurturing true love and compassion.

    I take the precept to refrain from false, slanderous, harsh, and frivolous speech.
    I will speak the truth – words that are kind, gentle, comforting, and beneficial.

    I take the precept to refrain from taking alcohol and drugs which are harmful to the mind and body.
    I will strive to keep my mind pure, mindful, alert, and unconfused.

    I understand that these precepts are wonderful precepts that can protect me and others from internal and external dangers.
    I undertake to keep them to the best of my ability!

    johnathanSuraShineDavidadamcrossley
  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    @lobster said:

    so you are clear receiving the precepts means that you shouldn't have any sort of intoxicant at all as it is not conducive to practice.

    I don't think I will ever be a preceptor :'(

    I am intoxicated by smell, sometimes attracted, sometimes repelled. Music can make me euphoric/intoxicated (especially if I abstain for a while). I am addicted to well being and saving plant life (except at meal time). Coffee, mantra and outsense (a crazed incense) alter my moods.

    Basically I am a junky. 🦪🧘🏽‍♀️🙊 Do puja for me ... eh wait ... that is intoxicating too ... :o

    Back to beginners class ...

    Don't beat yourself up @lobster.

    It takes a pretty special person to uphold the precepts while living the lay life.

    One really needs to remove themselves (at least for a period of time) from the hustle and bustle to strengthen their practice to the point required.

    5 year retreat anyone?

    AlexlobsterSuraShine
  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    edited February 19

    5 year retreat anyone?

    Pen at the ready, application form please!! 😄

    AlexBunkslobster
  • @caz said:
    The 5 precepts are a clear basis of moral conduct, we need a clear basis of moral conduct that is committed as this clear restrained basis helps us practice moral discipline more extensively in the form of refraining from the 10 non virtues. by the way so you are clear receiving the precepts means that you shouldn't have any sort of intoxicant at all as it is not conducive to practice.

    I think the OP's point is, that some people aren't drawn to those behaviors anyway; the urge simply doesn't arise for them, ever. So in view of that, what kind of precepts can they take, that would provide them with a guide for growth, and develop their wholesome behavior? I think it's brilliant.

    Let's leave those basic precepts to the lamas and other teachers, who seem to have so much trouble setting a positive example for their students. They seem to need them more than some of their own students do. Perhaps some students already attained higher levels in their past lives, and no longer need such rock-bottom basic prohibitions. This, too, is skillful means, IMO; meeting people where they are, so to speak, and giving them precepts appropriate to their level.

    AlexlobsterDavid
  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    edited February 19

    @lobster said:

    so you are clear receiving the precepts means that you shouldn't have any sort of intoxicant at all as it is not conducive to practice.

    I don't think I will ever be a preceptor :'(

    I am intoxicated by smell, sometimes attracted, sometimes repelled. Music can make me euphoric/intoxicated (especially if I abstain for a while). I am addicted to well being and saving plant life (except at meal time). Coffee, mantra and outsense (a crazed incense) alter my moods.

    Basically I am a junky. 🦪🧘🏽‍♀️🙊 Do puja for me ... eh wait ... that is intoxicating too ... :o

    Back to beginners class ...

    These are some very good points. Each one could spin off a new thread of its own. I think the precept against music (#7, I think) was a result of the sensual music of the Buddha's time, accompanying those dancing girls. I think, that music that inspires us in a spiritual way need not be prohibited. JMHO

    And you speak of euphoria, but what are the Great Bliss practices in some Buddhist traditions, if not a method of accessing euphoria? And they do cause attachment, and Bliss junkies! Is this Enlightenment? What IS "Enlightenment"? Is it a bliss state, or is it simply the falling away of egoic illusions, and seeing the world as it is, full of the suffering that motivates us to help others? Bliss states are impermanent, arising and falling away. But Buddhahood, once attained, is permanent, according to the Buddha's Parinirvana sutras.

    Such wisdom hiding in a little lobster's ramblings... <3

    AlexBunks
  • ZenshinZenshin Veteran East Midlands UK Veteran
    edited February 19

    I think there's a (sometimes) misguided idea as Buddhists we shouldn't enjoy a sensory experience! It's not enjoying the sensory experience that's the problem, it's clinging to it and believing it will bring you any lasting happiness, there is no need to react to an experience with aversion, for me, that's not the middle way that's just judging the experience as wrong from a dualistic perspective, just don't over indulge it and try not to get "strung out" on it. There is no need to be a dried up stick! Shunryu Suzuki had a wife and is probably one of wisest people I've ever read.

    Personally I enjoy blasting out my 90's dance floor trance bangers on Spotify more than I ever did in drugged up Raver days, they give me a boost and relax my social anxiety when I'm out and about but I don't rely on them. I also enjoy a good video game but I try to be mindful of the dopamine buzz they give me.

    There's no need to make an issue out of either enjoyment or aversion, reacting that way for me is extreme and not the middle way, just be aware of your reactions and use them to foster wisdom. And if you can't just keep trying, you will strengthen your ability to be mindful and just be grateful for the moments you are and don't criticise yourself when your not, that's just the Sakkaya-ditthi spouting it's rubbish.

    @Dakini, I'd have to agree, though that there is a lot of (slightly) crazy wisdom thinly veiled in @lobster's humorous posts.

    Ren_in_blackDakini
  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran
    edited February 19

    @Zenshin said:
    I think there's a (sometimes) misguided idea as Buddhists we shouldn't enjoy a sensory experience! It's not enjoying the sensory experience that's the problem, it's clinging to it and believing it will bring you any lasting happiness, there is no need to react to an experience with aversion, for me, that's not the middle way that's just judging the experience as wrong from a dualistic perspective, just don't over indulge it and try not to get "strung out" on it. There is no need to be a dried up stick! Shunryu Suzuki had a wife and is probably one of wisest people I've ever read.

    Personally I enjoy blasting out my 90's dance floor trance bangers on Spotify more than I ever did in drugged up Raver days, they give me a boost and relax my social anxiety when I'm out and about but I don't rely on them. I also enjoy a good video game but I try to be mindful of the dopamine buzz they give me.

    There's no need to make an issue out of either enjoyment or aversion, reacting that way for me is extreme and not the middle way, just be aware of your reactions and use them to foster wisdom. And if you can't just keep trying, you will strengthen your ability to be mindful and just be grateful for the moments you are and don't criticise yourself when your not, that's just the Sakkaya-ditthi spouting it's rubbish.

    @Dakini, I'd have to agree, though that there is a lot of (slightly) crazy wisdom thinly veiled in @lobster's humorous posts.

    I think one of the distinct differences I've noticed between Mahayana and Theravadan Buddhism is that in Therevadan Buddhism there is a belief that one has to remove themselves from the world to achieve enlightenment while in the Mahayana tradition one can become enlightened while remaining embedded in the hustle and bustle.

    It's interesting...

    AlexZenshinlobster
  • ZenshinZenshin Veteran East Midlands UK Veteran

    @federica, Mahayadan is an awesome term, I'm adopting it! My own practice has evolved as a curious blending of Thai Forest Tradition, Soto Zen and Lam Rim but it suits me fine and has really begun to pay off.

    @Bunks, I think that's something that has occured in Theravda in it's evolution since Shakyamuni's time and wasn't necessarily the case during the time he was teaching - there were many householders who according to the Nikaya's were close to being Arahants. Ultimately if you can't find wisdom where you are now, where are you going to find it? After all it exists in your own mind and that's right under your nose! No need to go and spend the rest of your life in a cave in the Himalayas. I believe you have studied with Ajahn Brahm and he doesn't use the term Theravada or Mahayana, rather the term Hahayana which is also good.

    Try to be mindful, and let things take their natural course. Then your mind will become still in any surroundings, like a clear forest pool. All kinds of wonderful, rare animals will come to drink at the pool, and you will clearly see the nature of all things. You will see many strange and wonderful things come and go, but you will be still. This is the happiness of the Buddha. - Ajahn Chah.

    Or to paraphrase Shakyamuni - Chill Homie, let that s**t go!

    For me it's not about Theravada or Mahayana any more - all turnings of the Wheel of Dharma are as inherently empty as everything else.

    Alexlobster
  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran
    edited February 19

    @Zenshin said:
    @federica, Mahayadan is an awesome term, I'm adopting it! My own practice has evolved as a curious blending of Thai Forest Tradition, Soto Zen and Lam Rim but it suits me fine and has really begun to pay off.

    @Bunks, I think that's something that has occured in Theravda in it's evolution since Shakyamuni's time and wasn't necessarily the case during the time he was teaching - there were many householders who according to the Nikaya's were close to being Arahants. Ultimately if you can't find wisdom where you are now, where are you going to find it? After all it exists in your own mind and that's right under your nose! No need to go and spend the rest of your life in a cave in the Himalayas. I believe you have studied with Ajahn Brahm and he doesn't use the term Theravada or Mahayana, rather the term Hahayana which is also good.

    Try to be mindful, and let things take their natural course. Then your mind will become still in any surroundings, like a clear forest pool. All kinds of wonderful, rare animals will come to drink at the pool, and you will clearly see the nature of all things. You will see many strange and wonderful things come and go, but you will be still. This is the happiness of the Buddha. - Ajahn Chah.

    Or to paraphrase Shakyamuni - Chill Homie, let that s**t go!

    For me it's not about Theravada or Mahayana any more - all turnings of the Wheel of Dharma are as inherently empty as everything else.

    While I agree with the sentiment, I do find a few days away from family, friends, work, phone, TV, (bad) news feeds beneficial.

    Just being able to focus on meditation while following the 8 precepts.

    I guess we all have different dispositions - I know I am easily distracted by shiny things :)

    Alexlobster
  • SuraShineSuraShine South Australia Explorer

    @Bunks said:

    While I agree with the sentiment, I do find a few days away from family, friends, work, phone, TV, (bad) news feeds beneficial.

    Absolutely. I make no apologies now if people can't get me online or on the phone at some times.

    lobsterBunksAlex
  • VimalajātiVimalajāti Whitby, Ontario Veteran
    edited February 20

    @Kerome said:
    It occurred to me the other day that the five precepts are just a shorthand for those people who have trouble developing enough love for their fellow human beings. Some people need a reminder not to kill, steal, commit sexual misconduct, lie or partake in intoxicants to excess. But certain people naturally don’t do those things, because they love their fellow people and creatures. For them, the five precepts just function as an unnecessary constraint.

    One observation: if "certain people naturally don't do [these] things," then why would "the five precepts just function as an unnecessary constraint" for these people? What are they being constrained from doing if they wouldn't be doing these things either way?

    The historical ascetic Gautama who preached the dispensation to the śrāvaka was an ascetic, a śramaṇa. These were people who left the world and left luxury and riches in a radical way. It is reflected in the eight uposatha precepts:

    I undertake [to observe] the rule of abstinence from taking life
    I undertake [to observe] the rule of abstinence from taking what is not given
    I undertake [to observe] the rule of abstinence from unchastity
    I undertake [to observe] the rule of abstinence from false speech
    I undertake [to observe] the rule of abstinence from intoxicants which cause a careless frame of mind
    I undertake [to observe] the rule of abstinence from taking food at the wrong time
    I undertake [to observe] the rule of abstinence from dancing, music, visiting shows, flowers, make-up, the wearing of ornaments and decorations
    I undertake [to observe] the rule of abstinence from a tall, high sleeping place.

    The "obvious" precepts include abstention from killing, stealing, and lying. It is less objectively obvious why chastity, the abstention from food after the noontime, the abstention from intoxicants, the abstention from sleeping on an elevated bed, and the abstention from entertainment/aesthetics was a component in the "Holy Life" of the Indian śramaṇas of his time.

    The idea is that comfort and material wealth breed decadence and consumption, that entertainment and aesthetics breed frivolity and vacuity, that intoxicants and lasciviousness breed heedlessness and selfishness. The śramaṇa flees these worldly influences and seeks refuge in the cold, hard, and often wet, forest, and when he does dwell with the comforts of humanity, he does so in the manner of the hermit in his forest hut, be that hut in the village or city.

    The ascetic Gautama was a proponent of what we would call an "extreme lifestyle choice," made this choice himself to live by, and taught this holy life as the summit of achievement to his historical dispensation.

    Love due to self-interest is love for one's own sake, just as distress at the loss of possessions is occasioned by the loss of pleasures. Trees do not revile nor can they be pleased with effort.

    When might I dwell with those whose company is a delight?

    After dwelling in an empty temple, at the foot of a tree, or in caves, when shall I set forth, unconcerned and not looking back? When shall I dwell in unclaimed and naturally spacious regions, wandering as I please and without a residence? When shall I dwell fearlessly, without protecting my body, having a clay bowl as my only property and a garment useless to a thief? When shall I go to the local charnel grounds and compare my own body, which has the nature of decay, with other corpses?

    For this body of mine will also become so putrid that even the jackals will not come near it because of its stench.

    (Venerable Śāntideva, Bodhisattvacaryāvatāra, "Benefits of seeking solitude," 170:25-31)

    The above is from the dispensation to the bodhisattva, but has much the same perspective of renunciation that characterizes the Buddhism of the historical Gautama. It is the perspective of radical renunciation as extreme lifestyle choice that produces the notions below:

    When sentient beings are still not free of greed, and are still bound by greed, a dancer in a stage or festival presents them with even more arousing things. When sentient beings are still not free of hate, and are still bound by hate, a dancer in a stage or festival presents them with even more hateful things. When sentient beings are still not free of delusion, and are still bound by delusion, a dancer in a stage or festival presents them with even more delusory things. And so, being heedless and negligent themselves, they’ve encouraged others to be heedless and negligent. When their body breaks up, after death, they’re reborn in the hell called ‘Laughter’.

    But if you have such a view: “Suppose a dancer entertains and amuses people on a stage or at a festival with truth and lies. When their body breaks up, after death, they’re reborn in the company of laughing gods”. This is your wrong view. An individual with wrong view is reborn in one of two places, I say: hell or the animal realm.

    (Saṁyuttanikāya 42.2, Tālapuṭasutta)

    Much darker. This line of inquiry leads us to bodhisattva prohibitions on association with jugglers, actors, etc. in texts like the Lotus Sūtra, wherein they try to preserve this extreme ascetic lifestyle attested to in the early texts of the Buddha while also being engaged in worldly life (just not near those damn jugglers!). It's a weird half-and-half practice, and I'm not necessarily convinced it is necessarily as conducive to purity than true radical asceticism, away from the lights of the village, but I'm also not necessarily convinced of the purity of this purity, so to speak.

    Indeed, one of the curious points about the bodhisattva precepts is that they necessitate a longer path, aeons longer even, because these precepts will cause you to become entangled in the world and in those suffering within it and will compromise these ancient Indian notions of "purity," that very same purity which must be confessed during the monastic uposatha, for instance.

  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    Thanks @Vimalajāti, it pays to always keep in mind where these comments are coming from. The Buddha was a renunciate monk after all, given to excluding much of the world in order to provide an environment suitable for the holy life.

    Modern life is significantly different from ancient India. We do not have huge tracts of unoccupied forests for renunciates to wander through, and it is more difficult to do without handling money, or having a place to stay. It’s up to us to find our own way through.

    I do think the original point of the thread was a good one, to point out that fulfilling the five precepts can be done by developing positive qualities as well as obeying prohibitions.

    Alex
  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran

    @Bunks said:
    I found these precepts recently at my local monastery. I like them....


    I take the precept to refrain from killing or harming any living beings.
    I will act for the welfare and happiness of all beings.

    I take the precept to refrain from stealing or cheating.
    I will be honest, generous, open-handed, and take delight in sharing.

    I take the precept to refrain from sexual misconduct.
    I will be honest in relationships, nurturing true love and compassion.

    I take the precept to refrain from false, slanderous, harsh, and frivolous speech.
    I will speak the truth – words that are kind, gentle, comforting, and beneficial.

    I take the precept to refrain from taking alcohol and drugs which are harmful to the mind and body.
    I will strive to keep my mind pure, mindful, alert, and unconfused.

    I understand that these precepts are wonderful precepts that can protect me and others from internal and external dangers.
    I undertake to keep them to the best of my ability!

    Simple, to the point yet poetic.

    Mind if I steal this for a framed mindfulness reminder?

    BunksAlex
  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    Feel free @David

Sign In or Register to comment.