Breaking the precepts

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

Breaking the precepts

Postby Coyote » Wed May 09, 2012 6:36 pm

Hi everybody,

I am trying to live my life following the 5 precepts, and although I haven't taken them formally partly because I don't think I am ready to, I have already found a measure of peace and happiness that comes from abstaining from unwholesome actions. However, I have trouble with maintaining truthfulness and also taking intoxicants. I imagine the last one will come with time as I take myself out of situations and away from people who engage in such behaviour. However, lying is something that I have unfortunately made a habit of and I find it hard to stop myself sometimes. Should I wait until I am able to maintain the purity of the precepts before taking them formally, or not? If I break a precept what is the correct procedure, if any, for continuing to maintain the precepts? Do I have to confess them for example?

Thank you,

WH
"If beings knew, as I know, the results of giving & sharing, they would not eat without having given, nor would the stain of miserliness overcome their minds. Even if it were their last bite, their last mouthful, they would not eat without having shared."
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Re: Breaking the precepts

Postby mikenz66 » Wed May 09, 2012 7:27 pm

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Re: Breaking the precepts

Postby Cittasanto » Wed May 09, 2012 7:32 pm

Coyote wrote:Hi everybody,

I am trying to live my life following the 5 precepts, and although I haven't taken them formally partly because I don't think I am ready to, I have already found a measure of peace and happiness that comes from abstaining from unwholesome actions. However, I have trouble with maintaining truthfulness and also taking intoxicants. I imagine the last one will come with time as I take myself out of situations and away from people who engage in such behaviour. However, lying is something that I have unfortunately made a habit of and I find it hard to stop myself sometimes. Should I wait until I am able to maintain the purity of the precepts before taking them formally, or not? If I break a precept what is the correct procedure, if any, for continuing to maintain the precepts? Do I have to confess them for example?

Thank you,


WH

Hi Coyote,
The lay precepts do not necessarily need confessed but if you have a trusted friend then confessing any wrong doing is good, it help to clarify what has been done, and how you think you could do better, and the voice of another acts like a safe guard incase you are missing something, or wrong in you assessment at some point of how to not do it again. and if you do feel you have broken a precept it is sometimes better to recognise the possibility of a tainted precept and resolve to not do that particular act again, and retake that particular precept.
You do not have to be perfect in the precepts before taking the precepts, this is a path of mistakes, and imperfect beings, we are to ceace to do unskilled acts, learn to so skilled acts, and purify the mind, if we are already at the end of that there would be no point in taking them at any point! but you never actually have to take them formally, i.e. in any precept ceramony, although, this can reinforce the intention, a private ceramony of you and a Buddha rupa, or image of a teacher you particularly like, or anything which arises faith in your mind in the path and point of taking them is good enough. this can also be used to re-establish the precept/s that are broken or for Uposatha days.

With the fifth precept you do not need to be anti-socal, and you can at the end of the day go out and have a soft drink!

regarding fourth precept, why is it you want to lie? or is it saying something which isn't exactly true, while trying to be diplomatic? I make a big foible with being diplomatic all the time, but you can allow yourself plenty of space and time to speak, and reflect on what you are saying, and on why you are saying it.

Hope this Helps
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With Metta
Upāsaka Cittasanto
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Breaking the precepts

Postby manas » Thu May 10, 2012 4:11 am

I can remember back when I was in a relationship, and my then partner asked if I liked her new dress she had just bought, and I just blurted out my honest answer, which offended her greatly. The problem here was that I wasn't being mindful of the situation. In retrospect, I should have answered her question not by saying whether I liked it or not (I didn't), but rather by pointing out any good thing about it I could find (eg, "It certainly fits you well", or something like that). It's kind of evasive to side-step the question like this, but it would have been better than offending her, and maybe amidst the manifold concerns of lay life, this kind of cleverness regading complete honesty is needed. (By comparison, I guess a monk can just be totally honest, 100% of the time without fear, lucky for them!) :D
Primum non nocere: "first, do no harm."
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Re: Breaking the precepts

Postby Coyote » Thu May 10, 2012 8:09 am

Thanks for the replies everyone.

Cittasanto wrote:With the fifth precept you do not need to be anti-socal, and you can at the end of the day go out and have a soft drink!


While this is absolutely right, I'm, not so sure it would work in my case. I don't know whether it is just the people I know or perhaps the binge drinking student culture in the UK in general, but more often than not people go out not to have a good time but also to get very drunk. The problem is It is hard to know when you have been involved in that kind of behaviour, to know whether it is best to give up socialising with people who are heavy drinkers and whose preoccupations on a night out are getting very drunk or not.

Cittasanto wrote:regarding fourth precept, why is it you want to lie? or is it saying something which isn't exactly true, while trying to be diplomatic? I make a big foible with being diplomatic all the time, but you can allow yourself plenty of space and time to speak, and reflect on what you are saying, and on why you are saying it.


It is mainly out of habit. I don't know why, but I find myself almost automatically telling little while lies to make situations a little easier. Yes, trying to be diplomatic would be one reason. The issue is really careless speech and not taking the time to think about what I am saying.


manas wrote:can remember back when I was in a relationship, and my then partner asked if I liked her new dress she had just bought, and I just blurted out my honest answer, which offended her greatly. The problem here was that I wasn't being mindful of the situation. In retrospect, I should have answered her question not by saying whether I liked it or not (I didn't), but rather by pointing out any good thing about it I could find (eg, "It certainly fits you well", or something like that). It's kind of evasive to side-step the question like this, but it would have been better than offending her, and maybe amidst the manifold concerns of lay life, this kind of cleverness regading complete honesty is needed. (By comparison, I guess a monk can just be totally honest, 100% of the time without fear, lucky for them!) :D


Exactly the kind of thing that happens to me. I have got to learn to be aware of possible situations before the arise.

Thanks for your help
"If beings knew, as I know, the results of giving & sharing, they would not eat without having given, nor would the stain of miserliness overcome their minds. Even if it were their last bite, their last mouthful, they would not eat without having shared."
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Re: Breaking the precepts

Postby Cittasanto » Thu May 10, 2012 9:58 pm

Hi,
I think I covered the fourth precept enough
However, the fifth precept...
try going out and not drinking! at worst you break the precept, at best you see what a tit you are when drunk!
I don't socialise anymore simply because I was a big drinker, more so than my friends, and I don't want to be in that situation anymore.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
Upāsaka Cittasanto
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Breaking the precepts

Postby Rui Sousa » Sat May 12, 2012 12:23 am

Cittasanto wrote:Hi,
I think I covered the fourth precept enough
However, the fifth precept...
try going out and not drinking! at worst you break the precept, at best you see what a tit you are when drunk!
I don't socialise anymore simply because I was a big drinker, more so than my friends, and I don't want to be in that situation anymore.


I was also a big drinker. I stopped five years ago. Broker the precept once (had two beers :tongue: ), made a fool of myself and was very ashamed the day after.
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Re: Breaking the precepts

Postby Monkey Mind » Sat May 12, 2012 2:07 am

You've already experienced some benefits from the precepts, so can you imagine more benefits from a stricter observance of them?

I was in the exact same situation, I saw no harm in occasional alcohol drinking. However, I was really surprised that I experienced a lot of benefits in total abstinence. Same with lying, I was convinced that some lies were either harmless or even helpful. Not lying, however, has been very liberating. So... Experiment with strict adherence to precepts, and see if you like the outcomes.
"As I am, so are others;
as others are, so am I."
Having thus identified self and others,
harm no one nor have them harmed.

Sutta Nipāta 3.710
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Re: Breaking the precepts

Postby cooran » Sat May 12, 2012 4:17 am

Hello all,

A perspective:

''To refrain from the heedless use of intoxicants is the Fifth Precept. It means to avoid taking intoxicants to the point of making the mind cloudy and to devote our lives instead to developing clarity and alertness. We have just one mind so we must take care of it.
(…………….)
Abuse of intoxicants is clearly not the way.''

From Seeking the Heart of Wisdom: The Path of Insight Meditation by By Joseph Goldstein, Jack Kornfield
http://books.google.com.au/books?id=O_T ... &q&f=false

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 ---
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Re: Breaking the precepts

Postby Cittasanto » Sat May 12, 2012 5:30 am

Rui Sousa wrote:
Cittasanto wrote:Hi,
I think I covered the fourth precept enough
However, the fifth precept...
try going out and not drinking! at worst you break the precept, at best you see what a tit you are when drunk!
I don't socialise anymore simply because I was a big drinker, more so than my friends, and I don't want to be in that situation anymore.

:)
I have drank also, but nothing to speak of, I just find the pub so awkward now, even when I have been in for a meal!
for me it is like a japanese gameshow, you think you look good, cool, or whatever, but you really look like a moron, and there is nothing to do to stop looking like that.
I was also a big drinker. I stopped five years ago. Broker the precept once (had two beers :tongue: ), made a fool of myself and was very ashamed the day after.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
Upāsaka Cittasanto
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Breaking the precepts

Postby cooran » Sat May 12, 2012 5:54 am

Hello all,

Another perspective:

Avoiding pamāda: An analysis of the Fifth Precept as Social Protection in Contemporary Contexts
with reference to the early Buddhist teachings
- Paul Trafford

http://www.chezpaul.org.uk/buddhism/MSt ... tation.htm

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 ---
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Re: Breaking the precepts

Postby cooran » Sat May 12, 2012 6:33 am

Hello all,

Bhikkhu Bodhi ''A discipline of sobriety''
[..................]
It may well be that a mature, reasonably well-adjusted person can enjoy a few drinks with friends without turning into a drunkard or a murderous fiend. But there is another factor to consider: namely, that this life is not the only life we lead. Our stream of consciousness does not terminate with death but continues on in other forms, and the form it takes is determined by our habits, propensities, and actions in this present life. The possibilities of rebirth are boundless, yet the road to the lower realms is wide and smooth, the road upwards steep and narrow. If we were ordered to walk along a narrow ledge overlooking a sharp precipice, we certainly would not want to put ourselves at risk by first enjoying a few drinks. We would be too keenly aware that nothing less than our life is at stake. If we only had eyes to see, we would realize that this is a perfect metaphor for the human condition, as the Buddha himself, the One with Vision, confirms (see SN 56:42). As human beings we walk along a narrow ledge, and if our moral sense is dulled we can easily topple over the edge, down to the plane of misery, from which it is extremely difficult to re-emerge.

But it is not for our own sakes alone, nor even for the wider benefit of our family and friends, that we should heed the Buddha's injunction to abstain from intoxicants. To do so is also part of our personal responsibility for preserving the Buddha's Sasana. The Teaching can survive only as long as its followers uphold it, and in the present day one of the most insidious corruptions eating away at the entrails of Buddhism is the extensive spread of the drinking habit among those same followers.
[...........]
http://www.vipassana.com/resources/bodh ... briety.php

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 ---
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Re: Breaking the precepts

Postby Coyote » Sat May 12, 2012 1:10 pm

Monkey Mind wrote:You've already experienced some benefits from the precepts, so can you imagine more benefits from a stricter observance of them?

I was in the exact same situation, I saw no harm in occasional alcohol drinking. However, I was really surprised that I experienced a lot of benefits in total abstinence. Same with lying, I was convinced that some lies were either harmless or even helpful. Not lying, however, has been very liberating. So... Experiment with strict adherence to precepts, and see if you like the outcomes.


I think you are right. Last night I went out with friends and drank, and the day after I can honestly say that no good can come from drinking. That's not just the hangover speaking :tongue: , but as others have mentioned the whole idea seems pointless, like a sideshow, and leaves a bitter taste in my mouth (so to speak). From now on I think I am going to make a serious effort to stop drinking.
"If beings knew, as I know, the results of giving & sharing, they would not eat without having given, nor would the stain of miserliness overcome their minds. Even if it were their last bite, their last mouthful, they would not eat without having shared."
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Re: Breaking the precepts

Postby Cittasanto » Sat May 12, 2012 1:47 pm

Coyote wrote:
Monkey Mind wrote:You've already experienced some benefits from the precepts, so can you imagine more benefits from a stricter observance of them?

I was in the exact same situation, I saw no harm in occasional alcohol drinking. However, I was really surprised that I experienced a lot of benefits in total abstinence. Same with lying, I was convinced that some lies were either harmless or even helpful. Not lying, however, has been very liberating. So... Experiment with strict adherence to precepts, and see if you like the outcomes.


I think you are right. Last night I went out with friends and drank, and the day after I can honestly say that no good can come from drinking. That's not just the hangover speaking :tongue: , but as others have mentioned the whole idea seems pointless, like a sideshow, and leaves a bitter taste in my mouth (so to speak). From now on I think I am going to make a serious effort to stop drinking.


hi Coyote,
What are you going to do instead?
I ask not for an answer, but to encourage you to cultivate a positive replacement in your mind of what you are going to do, as part of a upright effort system, & psychologically it is helpful also to not reinforce something in negative terms I AM NOT going to do 'x' & I AM Going to do 'Q'.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
Upāsaka Cittasanto
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Breaking the precepts

Postby Rui Sousa » Sun May 13, 2012 11:53 pm

Coyote wrote:However, lying is something that I have unfortunately made a habit of and I find it hard to stop myself sometimes. Should I wait until I am able to maintain the purity of the precepts before taking them formally, or not? If I break a precept what is the correct procedure, if any, for continuing to maintain the precepts?


If you pay close attention to the exact moment when lying occurs, the causes and consequences will become very visible. Natural disgust will follow, and then the habit is a thing of the past.

My advice is to just pay attention to what happens in your mind when you lie. Which mental states preceded the lie ? Which mental states followed the lie ? What was the motor of the lie ?

The precepts are a training, you will fail. And when you believe you got rid of one level of defilement, you will see another perspective to the precept and realize there is still work to be done.
With Metta
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Re: Breaking the precepts

Postby Coyote » Mon May 14, 2012 8:15 pm

Rui Sousa wrote:If you pay close attention to the exact moment when lying occurs, the causes and consequences will become very visible. Natural disgust will follow, and then the habit is a thing of the past.

My advice is to just pay attention to what happens in your mind when you lie. Which mental states preceded the lie ? Which mental states followed the lie ? What was the motor of the lie ?

The precepts are a training, you will fail. And when you believe you got rid of one level of defilement, you will see another perspective to the precept and realize there is still work to be done.


Thanks for the advice. I shall certainly put this into practice.

Coyote
"If beings knew, as I know, the results of giving & sharing, they would not eat without having given, nor would the stain of miserliness overcome their minds. Even if it were their last bite, their last mouthful, they would not eat without having shared."
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