Unbreakable precepts?

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Training of Sila, the Five Precepts (Pañcasikkhāpada), and Eightfold Ethical Conduct (Aṭṭhasīla).

Unbreakable precepts?

Postby rowyourboat » Sun Dec 18, 2011 8:13 am

How do you get to a place where you won't break precepts even upon the threat of death?

With metta

Matheesha
With Metta

Karuna
Mudita
& Upekkha
rowyourboat
 
Posts: 1949
Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2009 5:29 pm
Location: London, UK

Re: Unbreakable precepts?

Postby Zom » Sun Dec 18, 2011 8:21 am

I think this is impossible to say.
You have to be in such a situation to tell if you will or will not.
User avatar
Zom
 
Posts: 737
Joined: Fri May 08, 2009 6:38 pm
Location: Russia, Saint-Petersburg

Re: Unbreakable precepts?

Postby Goofaholix » Sun Dec 18, 2011 8:38 am

rowyourboat wrote:How do you get to a place where you won't break precepts even upon the threat of death?


Why would you want to?
"Whenever we feel that we are definitely right, so much so that we refuse to open up to anything or anybody else, right there we are wrong. It becomes wrong view. When suffering arises, where does it arise from? The cause is wrong view, the fruit of that being suffering. If it was right view it wouldn't cause suffering." - Ajahn Chah
"Remember you dont meditate to get anything, but to get rid of things. We do it, not with desire, but with letting go. If you want anything, you wont find it." - Ajahn Chah
User avatar
Goofaholix
 
Posts: 1711
Joined: Sun Nov 15, 2009 3:49 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: Unbreakable precepts?

Postby Ben » Sun Dec 18, 2011 8:42 am

rowyourboat wrote:How do you get to a place where you won't break precepts even upon the threat of death?

With metta

Matheesha



Sotapatti magga & phalla.
kind regards,

Ben
"Only those who take to meditation with good intentions can be assured of success. With the development of the purity and the power of the mind backed by the insight into the ultimate truth of nature, one might be able to do a lot of things in the right direction for the benefit of mankind."

Sayagyi U Ba Khin


Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global Relief
UNHCR Syria Emergency Relief AppealTyphoon Haiyan Relief AppealKiva: (person to person micro-finance)

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com
User avatar
Ben
Site Admin
 
Posts: 15788
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:49 am
Location: Land of the sleeping gods

Re: Unbreakable precepts?

Postby reflection » Sun Dec 18, 2011 1:01 pm

A sotapanna is still deluded/attached in some ways, so I think -although it would be an ocassional slip- he/she can still break the precepts. It will however not be with the full intention of lying/stealing etc. I guess one has to be fully enlightened to never break a precept anymore.
User avatar
reflection
 
Posts: 1115
Joined: Wed Mar 30, 2011 9:27 pm

Re: Unbreakable precepts?

Postby Modus.Ponens » Sun Dec 18, 2011 4:09 pm

I think it was Dipa Ma who said that she was bound by the precepts but that sometimes, she could lie out of force of habbit, "unintentionaly". I interpret this as meaning that it's not a completely black or white situation.

If I'm not remembering it correctly, please correct me.
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"
User avatar
Modus.Ponens
 
Posts: 1820
Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2009 2:38 am
Location: Funchal, Portugal

Re: Unbreakable precepts?

Postby manas » Sun Dec 18, 2011 11:22 pm

.
Last edited by manas on Mon Dec 19, 2011 9:00 am, edited 1 time in total.
Primum non nocere: "first, do no harm."
User avatar
manas
 
Posts: 1945
Joined: Thu Jul 22, 2010 3:04 am
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: Unbreakable precepts?

Postby Viscid » Mon Dec 19, 2011 12:25 am

Why are the precepts worth dying over?
"What holds attention determines action." - William James
User avatar
Viscid
 
Posts: 839
Joined: Fri Jul 09, 2010 8:55 pm
Location: Toronto, Canada

Re: Unbreakable precepts?

Postby Goofaholix » Mon Dec 19, 2011 12:33 am

reflection wrote:I guess one has to be fully enlightened to never break a precept anymore.


There must come a time when the training wheels are no longer needed and what they sought to teach us is fully integrated, otherwise the training is not very good.

We can dream up unlikely scenarios, usually about how to effectively deal with people of murderous intent without breaking the precepts ourselves, but if one needs to consult a manual of case law or idealistic zen stories in difficult situations one hasn't really integrated dhamma.
"Whenever we feel that we are definitely right, so much so that we refuse to open up to anything or anybody else, right there we are wrong. It becomes wrong view. When suffering arises, where does it arise from? The cause is wrong view, the fruit of that being suffering. If it was right view it wouldn't cause suffering." - Ajahn Chah
"Remember you dont meditate to get anything, but to get rid of things. We do it, not with desire, but with letting go. If you want anything, you wont find it." - Ajahn Chah
User avatar
Goofaholix
 
Posts: 1711
Joined: Sun Nov 15, 2009 3:49 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: Unbreakable precepts?

Postby Goofaholix » Mon Dec 19, 2011 12:41 am

Viscid wrote:Why are the precepts worth dying over?


Indeed.

Even for monastics the worse can happen to you if you break one of the 227 precepts is you are deemed to no longer be a monk, yet it seems some lay people find virtue in self sacrifice. Of course the kammic consequences will follow, but you just have to take the consequences and learn from your mistakes.

In the unlikely eevent you are ever threatened with death if you don't eat a cupcake that you are not sure is yours to eat... just eat it already.
"Whenever we feel that we are definitely right, so much so that we refuse to open up to anything or anybody else, right there we are wrong. It becomes wrong view. When suffering arises, where does it arise from? The cause is wrong view, the fruit of that being suffering. If it was right view it wouldn't cause suffering." - Ajahn Chah
"Remember you dont meditate to get anything, but to get rid of things. We do it, not with desire, but with letting go. If you want anything, you wont find it." - Ajahn Chah
User avatar
Goofaholix
 
Posts: 1711
Joined: Sun Nov 15, 2009 3:49 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: Unbreakable precepts?

Postby chownah » Mon Dec 19, 2011 1:32 am

reflection wrote:A sotapanna is still deluded/attached in some ways, so I think -although it would be an ocassional slip- he/she can still break the precepts. It will however not be with the full intention of lying/stealing etc. I guess one has to be fully enlightened to never break a precept anymore.

To the extent that precepts are part of the raft then when "one" is fully enlightened "one" discards the raft and this means the precepts I guess......so an arahant does not follow precepts I guess....
chownah
chownah
 
Posts: 2410
Joined: Wed Aug 12, 2009 2:19 pm

Re: Unbreakable precepts?

Postby cooran » Mon Dec 19, 2011 9:51 am

rowyourboat wrote:How do you get to a place where you won't break precepts even upon the threat of death?

With metta

Matheesha


Hello Matheesha,

I think you have to become an arahant -

AN 9.7 PT Sutava Sutta: To Sutavan
[....................
It is impossible for a monk whose mental fermentations are ended to intentionally deprive a living being of life. [2] It is impossible for a monk whose mental fermentations are ended to take, in the manner of stealing, what is not given. [3] It is impossible for a monk whose mental fermentations are ended to engage in sexual intercourse. [4] It is impossible for a monk whose mental fermentations are ended to tell a conscious lie. [5] It is impossible for a monk whose mental fermentations are ended to consume stored-up sensual things as he did before, when he was a householder.

"[6] It is impossible for a monk whose mental fermentations are ended to follow a bias based on desire. [7] It is impossible for a monk whose mental fermentations are ended to follow a bias based on aversion. [8] It is impossible for a monk whose mental fermentations are ended to follow a bias based on fear. [9] It is impossible for a monk whose mental fermentations are ended to follow a bias based on delusion.

"Both before and now I say to you that an arahant monk whose mental fermentations are ended, who has reached fulfillment, done the task, laid down the burden, attained the true goal, totally destroyed the fetter of becoming, and who is released through right gnosis, cannot possibly transgress these nine principles."
.......................]
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

with metta
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---
User avatar
cooran
 
Posts: 7056
Joined: Tue Jan 06, 2009 11:32 pm
Location: Queensland, Australia

Re: Unbreakable precepts?

Postby Sam Vara » Mon Dec 19, 2011 11:33 am

If one knew for certain that the threat of death was real, then would non-compliance be suicide and therefore breaking the first precept?
User avatar
Sam Vara
 
Posts: 778
Joined: Sun Jun 05, 2011 5:42 pm

Re: Unbreakable precepts?

Postby rowyourboat » Mon Dec 19, 2011 2:04 pm

Thank you for the replies so far. I came across this:
Thus he doesn't consciously tell a lie for his own sake, for the sake of another, or for the sake of any reward. Abandoning false speech, he abstains from false speech.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

What do you make of this?

with metta

Matheesha
With Metta

Karuna
Mudita
& Upekkha
rowyourboat
 
Posts: 1949
Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2009 5:29 pm
Location: London, UK

Re: Unbreakable precepts?

Postby rowyourboat » Mon Dec 19, 2011 4:28 pm

I may have found the answer I was looking for:

"There is the case where a monk is wholly accomplished in virtue, moderately accomplished in concentration, and moderately accomplished in discernment. With reference to the lesser and minor training rules, he falls into offenses and rehabilitates himself. Why is that? Because I have not declared that to be a disqualification in these circumstances. But as for the training rules that are basic to the holy life and proper to the holy life, he is one of permanent virtue, one of steadfast virtue. Having undertaken them, he trains in reference to the training rules. With the wasting away of [the first] three fetters, he is a stream-winner, never again destined for states of woe, certain, headed for self-awakening.


http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

I had read that a stream entrants training in virtue (precepts) was complete with nothing more left to do- so I was confused Aston how he could still sometimes break the precepts. The above sutta (new on accesstoinsight!) clearly shows that complete in training refers to the 'training rules basic to the holy life'. Now if someone could specify what those are, it would be really helpful.

Incidentally I don't see precepts as training wheels - that would be a good way to fool ourselves of this advanced practice IMO. The gradual path gets deeper and deeper at each turning of the wheel, unless you are content to swim forever in the shallows.

:namaste:

With metta

Matheesha
With Metta

Karuna
Mudita
& Upekkha
rowyourboat
 
Posts: 1949
Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2009 5:29 pm
Location: London, UK

Re: Unbreakable precepts?

Postby Goofaholix » Mon Dec 19, 2011 6:48 pm

rowyourboat wrote:The above sutta (new on accesstoinsight!) clearly shows that complete in training refers to the 'training rules basic to the holy life'. Now if someone could specify what those are, it would be really helpful.


The passage you quoted is clear, it's referring to the monks 227 training rules (or presumably only 150 at the time of writing).

rowyourboat wrote:Incidentally I don't see precepts as training wheels - that would be a good way to fool ourselves of this advanced practice IMO. The gradual path gets deeper and deeper at each turning of the wheel, unless you are content to swim forever in the shallows.


What's the difference between training rules and training wheels? it's the same concept.

The point is that once you've integrated the dhamma and morality consulting the rulebook each time a difficult situation arises shouldn't be necessary, and silly notions about sacrificing your life rather than finding an appropriate solution arising out of wisdom to a specific problem seems a tad unecessary.
"Whenever we feel that we are definitely right, so much so that we refuse to open up to anything or anybody else, right there we are wrong. It becomes wrong view. When suffering arises, where does it arise from? The cause is wrong view, the fruit of that being suffering. If it was right view it wouldn't cause suffering." - Ajahn Chah
"Remember you dont meditate to get anything, but to get rid of things. We do it, not with desire, but with letting go. If you want anything, you wont find it." - Ajahn Chah
User avatar
Goofaholix
 
Posts: 1711
Joined: Sun Nov 15, 2009 3:49 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: Unbreakable precepts?

Postby rowyourboat » Mon Dec 19, 2011 10:54 pm

Hi Goof,

Thanks for that. I wonder how the major training rules apply to lay people- at least what is in the noble eightfold path (or the five precepts, the very least) I would have guessed.

'Training rules' is I think an unfortunate choice of words. 'Sikkha' means discipline or field of activity/mastery. The discipline or training in virtue/precepts (sila-sikkha) has been poorly translated to mean 'training rules' which sounds like scafolding around the main structure, or as you say 'training wheels'. But it refers to an entire field of practice around which we must be trained in, until stream entry.

The three trainings:

"There are these three trainings. Which three? ...
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... #trainings


Also 4/8ths (or half) of the Noble eightfold path is about Sila/precepts. So it would be a big mistake to disregard this very interesting and challenging piece of work. The fact that it might not come naturally is simple- when we go along with our sublte cravings and habits our speech and action may 'seem to flow' easily but nevertheless be defiled. This is not in line with what the Buddha taught (not that i wish to argue that point). The dhamma is not about what is easy, seems intuitive or what we believe to be correct- it is what the Buddha said it is- and we need to figure out what he said, like it or not- less we believe that we know better than an enlightened being.

with metta

Matheesha
With Metta

Karuna
Mudita
& Upekkha
rowyourboat
 
Posts: 1949
Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2009 5:29 pm
Location: London, UK

Re: Unbreakable precepts?

Postby Goofaholix » Tue Dec 20, 2011 12:20 am

rowyourboat wrote:'Training rules' is I think an unfortunate choice of words. 'Sikkha' means discipline or field of activity/mastery. The discipline or training in virtue/precepts (sila-sikkha) has been poorly translated to mean 'training rules' which sounds like scafolding around the main structure, or as you say 'training wheels'. But it refers to an entire field of practice around which we must be trained in, until stream entry.


I guess Training wheels does sound a bit flippant, the intention though is not to belittle the precepts but to point out that they are not just a morality enforced from outside but a guide to help a morality to develop from inside.

If your translation of the word is correct then training rules/wheels closer to the real meaning than "commandments" which is how a lot of people seem to interpret the precepts and seems to arise out of silabbata paramasa.

If discipline is the word then "code of discipline" is probably much better. Or to use a more modern term "code of conduct". If you value your career then you will want your employer to regard you as someone of integrity, and so you follow the "code of conduct", however no employee would sacrifice their life to uphold the "code of conduct".

rowyourboat wrote:Also 4/8ths (or half) of the Noble eightfold path is about Sila/precepts. So it would be a big mistake to disregard this very interesting and challenging piece of work. The fact that it might not come naturally is simple- when we go along with our sublte cravings and habits our speech and action may 'seem to flow' easily but nevertheless be defiled. This is not in line with what the Buddha taught (not that i wish to argue that point). The dhamma is not about what is easy, seems intuitive or what we believe to be correct- it is what the Buddha said it is- and we need to figure out what he said, like it or not- less we believe that we know better than an enlightened being.


Nobody is suggesting anything of the sort To frame it in terms of your OP if the Buddha didn't say we should die rather than break the precepts then surely suggesting we should get to that point is " believing that we know better than an enlightened being" is it not.
"Whenever we feel that we are definitely right, so much so that we refuse to open up to anything or anybody else, right there we are wrong. It becomes wrong view. When suffering arises, where does it arise from? The cause is wrong view, the fruit of that being suffering. If it was right view it wouldn't cause suffering." - Ajahn Chah
"Remember you dont meditate to get anything, but to get rid of things. We do it, not with desire, but with letting go. If you want anything, you wont find it." - Ajahn Chah
User avatar
Goofaholix
 
Posts: 1711
Joined: Sun Nov 15, 2009 3:49 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: Unbreakable precepts?

Postby rowyourboat » Tue Dec 20, 2011 7:50 am

Hi Goof,

'Death before breaking the precepts' does sound harsh. It is not in the suttas but in the commentaries as far as I know (regarding stream entrants). Sam talked of suicide- the Buddha said suicide could not be allowed until enlightenment. So I think dying (to keep the precepts) would be a step too far. Far better to stay alive, break a precept and continue to practice until enlightenment in this human life when opportunity has arisen to practice the dhamma. In the Rathavinita sutta Ven.Sariputta asks Ven Cunda the purpose of ordination. He gives an explanation suggesting that even precepts needs letting go of for the sake of nibbana (the latter being the only purpose of ordination).

Then dying to 'keep' precepts would be a better description of an arahanth in my humble opinion. There was one story of a man trying to seduce an enlightened nun by singing the praises of her beautiful eyes (third precept issue). She hands her eyes to him - literally! I guess life means very little to a fully enlightened being and it is impossible for them to break precepts.

Yes, 'code of conduct' would be the best fit. Thank you for that

With metta

Matheesha
With Metta

Karuna
Mudita
& Upekkha
rowyourboat
 
Posts: 1949
Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2009 5:29 pm
Location: London, UK

Re: Unbreakable precepts?

Postby Goofaholix » Tue Dec 20, 2011 8:45 am

rowyourboat wrote:'Death before breaking the precepts' does sound harsh. It is not in the suttas but in the commentaries as far as I know (regarding stream entrants). Sam talked of suicide- the Buddha said suicide could not be allowed until enlightenment. So I think dying (to keep the precepts) would be a step too far. Far better to stay alive, break a precept and continue to practice until enlightenment in this human life when opportunity has arisen to practice the dhamma.


So why ask the question "How do you get to a place where you won't break precepts even upon the threat of death?' as if it were a desirable thing?
"Whenever we feel that we are definitely right, so much so that we refuse to open up to anything or anybody else, right there we are wrong. It becomes wrong view. When suffering arises, where does it arise from? The cause is wrong view, the fruit of that being suffering. If it was right view it wouldn't cause suffering." - Ajahn Chah
"Remember you dont meditate to get anything, but to get rid of things. We do it, not with desire, but with letting go. If you want anything, you wont find it." - Ajahn Chah
User avatar
Goofaholix
 
Posts: 1711
Joined: Sun Nov 15, 2009 3:49 am
Location: New Zealand

Next

Return to Ethical Conduct

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest