dragonfly35 Hangin' in there.
So during this challenge, I’ve been trying my best to commit to the five precepts. I haven’t posted much here, but I’ve been reflecting on how this has gone.
- The first precept is a commitment to refrain from killing or physical violence. Generally I take the concept of ahimsa, which is common to many spiritual traditions in one form or another, to mean refraining from violence of any kind, not just physical, towards all sentient beings including (perhaps most difficult) oneself – that’s much harder. A more positive view of this (from Nischala Joy Devi) is that you treat all beings with reverence and love. Generally, I try to remember this anyway (I’ve been thinking of making it a goal for some time) although it’s hard to do so and I slip up many times. I had an insight about this and some of the other precepts yesterday, which I’ll get to in a moment.
- The second precept is a commitment to refrain from stealing—or literally, from the sutras, “to refrain from taking that which is not offered or given.” This can be really hard because although I know not to take money, I am often greedy about other things including time and food. If you think about just not stealing, that seems easy enough, but this precept really encompasses something much broader: contentment with what you have, not grasping onto things, open generosity, sharing that which you want most. That is really difficult.
- The third precept is refraining from sexual misconduct. This means we resolve not to use our sexual energy in a way that causes harm or suffering to ourselves or others. There are so many different takes on what this means. It’s always been a challenging one for me. I think I’ve developed a very healthy sexual relationship for the first time in my life so this seems easy right now, though it wasn’t for me in the past.
- The fourth precept is about using the power of speech in an ethical way. Traditionally, we commit to refrain from lying, but actually this precept also covers harsh or idle speech and slander. This one is super difficult for me. I often speak thoughtlessly. I gave up on my “think before I speak” goal long ago and have been unable to bring it back because it seems impossible for me and it’s hard to conceive of how I would work on it.
- The last of the five precepts is a commitment to refrain from taking intoxicants that cloud the mind and cause heedlessness, meaning drugs and alcohol (but not prescription medication). Just like the Tricycle site suggested, this has only really been hard for me in certain social situations because of cultural conditioning, and for the most part I’ve realized they were not as hard as I’ve expected going in. There have only been four times that I’ve really noticed the restriction of this precept (the last and hardest will be this evening). I probably won’t continue to hold this precept after I complete this program, but maybe I’ll work on not drinking automatically in situations when I otherwise would.
My insight from yesterday that relates particularly to precepts 1, 2, and 4, is that what these really require is slowing down. I had this insight during walking meditation, when I had conscious awareness of all the bodily movements that go into every step I take every day but am usually totally unaware of. By slowing down enough, I enter a place in my heart that is pure love and peace. I cannot speak a harmful or unauthentic word, I am naturally generous and expansive, and I feel love for everyone and everything. It is only when I speed up that I can act out of anger or stress or selfishness. Huh. You can believe I’ll be thinking about that one a lot more.