What an amazing teacher, Blessed Lord Gauthama Siddhartha, Providing a marvelous toolset for his followers. It is unfortunate that it’s misunderstood by most today, over 2500 years later.
Below is my understanding of how to use these Precepts, One has to Observe one’s own mind, when observing these Precepts. This is my observation only. I haven’t read in depth Buddhist scripture. These are purely my own observations.
Precept 1: I undertake the precept to refrain from destroying living creatures.
– But do you eat?
– Did someone kill?
– How many living creatures died to bring you that cup of rice, slice of bread, bowl of potatoes, or Yam?
– So although you didn’t kill, did you complete a cycle or a chain? The Food chain?
– Do you feel like killing that mosquito buzzing in your ear?
– Do you think of killing that person who insulted you or harm your family?
– Are you aware of your own death?
– Are you aware if you recklessly drive, you may kill someone?
Precept 2: I undertake the precept to refrain from taking that which is not given.
– Do you eat? Do you have a house?
– In that chain, did someone take something that’s not given? Did you complete that chain?
– Do you look at a man / woman, enjoy their beauty, undress them in your mind, enjoy their scent, their mere presence near you and get aroused? Did they give you permission to do all of that in your mind?
Precept 3: I undertake the precept to refrain from sexual activity
– Does any sexual thought come to your mind?
– How did you, who have abstained from sexual activity come into existence? Your parents did it, and you completed the cycle.
– Do you have memories of your girlfriend or boyfriend, their smile, voice, smell, sexual activities you and they shared? When those thoughts arise, do you bottle up?
– If we know human life is the blessed life, If we believe our relatives, friends who have passed maybe stuck in animal realm, or an unseen realm and would love to have another human life. Do you expect someone else to do the job while you abstain from it? Don’t you want to give them that gift? The highest gift, a human life?
Precept 4: I undertake the precept to refrain from incorrect speech.
– Do you talk nonsense all the time?
– Does your speech serve you and others?
– Does your speech mislead others?
– Does your speech contain socially accepted words but filled with lies, deceit, mislead, and nonsense?
– Does your speech contain socially rejected words, but is truthful, leads to wisdom, shows love, and full of meaning?
Precept 5: I undertake the precept to refrain from intoxicating drinks and drugs which lead to carelessness.
– How attached are you to those intoxicants?
– Do you miss them?
– Do you become someone else when you have them? Where was that someone else when you were sober?
– Why did it lead to carelessness? Was a careless “self” living someone deep inside you?
Quoting My Most Favourite Guru, Eckhart Tolle, Author of Power of Now (May not be exact words)
“All external things can do is, bringing out the potential you already have”
Precept 6: I undertake the precept to refrain from eating at the forbidden time (i.e., after noon).
– Do you understand hunger?
– Do you eat for hunger or to please your mind?
– What do you think is the forbidden time for food is, when food and shelter are our basic needs?
– How can you compare eating habits of wild animals and humans? Do wild animals eat all the time? Do they only eat when hungry, and kill only for food? Do humans eat for hunger, or more for greed, to please the mind?
Precept 7: I undertake the precept to refrain from dancing, singing, music, going to see entertainments, wearing garlands, using perfumes, and beautifying the body with cosmetics.
– Do you miss dancing? If your legs break and can’t dance anymore will you feel sad? Do you still dance in your mind? Is their a “self” beyond a dancer?
– Do you miss singing? If you loose your voice will you feel sad? Do you still sing in your mind? Is their a “self” beyond a singer?
– Do miss music? Will you feel sad if you become deaf? Do you still hear music in your mind?
– Do you rely on entertainment? Can’t you see beauty around you in nature? If you go blind, will you be sad that you can’t see anymore. Do you still see in your mind.
– if your deaf, dumb, blind, and disabled and can do all above in your mind, what do you think of your mind? Who is watching your mind seeing all of this?
– Do you think you’re ugly if you don’t wear jewelry? Do you hide behind makeup? Do you hide your body smells with perfume? Are you ashamed of what’s natural? While controlling sexual desire, when your body odours emit pheromones, what happens to you? Are you watching all of this? Your mind activity?
Precept 8: I undertake the precept to refrain from lying on a high or luxurious sleeping place.
– Can you sit in a poor person’s chair?
– Can you sleep on the street?
– If you loose your house and your bed, can you sleep on the floor of some community tent, share it with someone from different social background?
– What is your definition of a high chair?
– What is your definition of luxurious?
– Is it the same as another’s definition?
So these are the precepts.
Where do we draw the line?
Where is the boundary?
Where is the balance?
Where is the moderation?
Have you learnt to go into introspection through these Precepts?
Did you observe your mind when your mind was struggling with the precept?
Did you go deep into the Why?
Did you set an intention of understanding All there is before Observing the 8 Precepts?
Are you observing 8 precepts to look better than others, to feel good about your “self”, just because your religion says so,
Do you truly want to understand, what The Blessed One want you to understand?
– Nim –
P.S: Thank you Buddhist Association of Canada for the image I’ve used. I didn’t ask from you, but I hope as a group of generous Buddhists, to wouldn’t mind me using it.