How important is keeping Precepts?

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

How important is keeping Precepts?

Postby rowyourboat » Thu Aug 23, 2012 9:20 pm

Hello All,

I wondered how important keeping precepts was, in your personal practice- also it would be good to know why you give it little or high importance.

Thank you

With metta
With Metta

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Re: How important is keeping Precepts?

Postby David N. Snyder » Thu Aug 23, 2012 10:08 pm

Very high importance. It makes life flow smoother, less suffering.

Not killing is a no brainer; no one wants to be killed and we don't want to kill.

Not stealing, sexually exploiting others, or lying are also important to have a guilt-free better life and avoid quarrels later.

And the final precept about not taking intoxicants is not something I have any problem keeping. I know some Buddhists struggle with this one in social situations, but everyone I know, knows that I don't drink and don't make an issue of it. You don't need intoxicants to survive. We need to eat food, but there is no need for any intoxicants other than giving in to social pressure, which is not a good reason, imo.
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Re: How important is keeping Precepts?

Postby befriend » Thu Aug 23, 2012 10:40 pm

its not some empty ritual its necessary, like you just cant harm beings and then go sit down and be like mr. peaceful lovey dovey, theres a hippocracy your not in tune with yourself when you break the precepts.
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Re: How important is keeping Precepts?

Postby Ben » Thu Aug 23, 2012 10:54 pm

Very important.
It is good for others as much as it is good for oneself.
And without the foundation of sila, there can be no sammasamadhi nor liberative panna.
kind regards,

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Re: How important is keeping Precepts?

Postby James the Giant » Thu Aug 23, 2012 11:23 pm

For me, the precepts are the foundation.
When I keep the precepts I feel happy.
When I feel happy I am relaxed.
When I am relaxed I concentrate easily.
When I concentrate easily I meditate better.
When I meditate better, I am a little closer to nibbanna.
Then,
saturated with joy,
you will put an end to suffering and stress.
SN 9.11
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Re: How important is keeping Precepts?

Postby Cittasanto » Thu Aug 23, 2012 11:38 pm

rowyourboat wrote:Hello All,

I wondered how important keeping precepts was, in your personal practice- also it would be good to know why you give it little or high importance.

Thank you

With metta

100% important.
they help you see the hindrences; provide a basis for good self esteem; make life more deliberate, so avoid allot of stress.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
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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: How important is keeping Precepts?

Postby SDC » Fri Aug 24, 2012 1:48 am

Very important. Paramount.

As others have said, it makes life easier for yourself and others.
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Re: How important is keeping Precepts?

Postby thaijeppe » Fri Aug 24, 2012 1:58 am

:goodpost:
James the Giant wrote:For me, the precepts are the foundation.
When I keep the precepts I feel happy.
When I feel happy I am relaxed.
When I am relaxed I concentrate easily.
When I concentrate easily I meditate better.
When I meditate better, I am a little closer to nibbanna.


Totally agree Sila is the cornerstone of the practise, without your practice will go nowhere.
Also I can recommend to follow the eight precept from time to time, it will also benefit your pratice a lot.
I have come into the habbit to follow the eight precept every vassa, so I am in it right now, and it is a great experince,
and it is not difficult either.

:anjali:
If you let go a little, you will have a little peace. If you
let go a lot, you will have a lot of peace. If you let go completely,
you will know complete peace and freedom.
Ajahn Chah
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Re: How important is keeping Precepts?

Postby Kim OHara » Fri Aug 24, 2012 6:21 am

I could just say, "Me, too!" but I will add a bit.
If we are awake for 16 hours a day and meditating for one hour a day (and I know I often don't manage that much :embarassed: ), then maintaining sila works out at about 95% of our practice opportunity.
The precepts are a concise statement of the basics, so they are relatively easy to keep in mind and apply, but I have to say that I broaden 'don't lie' into 'maintain Right Speech' - and I find it the most important, because it comes up so much more often than the others.

:namaste:
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Re: How important is keeping Precepts?

Postby Cittasanto » Fri Aug 24, 2012 6:47 am

Kim O'Hara wrote:I could just say, "Me, too!" but I will add a bit.
If we are awake for 16 hours a day and meditating for one hour a day (and I know I often don't manage that much :embarassed: ), then maintaining sila works out at about 95% of our practice opportunity.

Think this is the best reason given so far!
:twothumbsup:
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
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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: How important is keeping Precepts?

Postby Hickersonia » Fri Aug 24, 2012 12:06 pm

Cittasanto wrote:
Kim O'Hara wrote:I could just say, "Me, too!" but I will add a bit.
If we are awake for 16 hours a day and meditating for one hour a day (and I know I often don't manage that much :embarassed: ), then maintaining sila works out at about 95% of our practice opportunity.

Think this is the best reason given so far!
:twothumbsup:

Wow... yeah, is a going point.

I keep the 5 precepts out of appreciation for their value as I have experienced directly. The precepts are critically important in any situation where I might otherwise do something unvirtuous out of ignorance or delusion. Unvirtuous action always leads me towards irritability and discontent while the keeping the precepts never does.
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Re: How important is keeping Precepts?

Postby BubbaBuddhist » Fri Aug 24, 2012 2:17 pm

I think they are quite important, the hardest for me is right speech as I tend to be sarcastic. I also enjoy a fine cognac on occasion. Only one, and a small amount which I savor for a long time :toast: so it can hardly be called intoxicating although it's certainly a sensual pleasure.

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Re: How important is keeping Precepts?

Postby Alobha » Fri Aug 24, 2012 2:24 pm

rowyourboat wrote:Hello All,

I wondered how important keeping precepts was, in your personal practice- also it would be good to know why you give it little or high importance.

Thank you

With metta


Keeping the precepts was and still is highly important. Keeping them kept me from a lot of actions that would have led to remorse, agitation and suffering. Keeping the precepts is protecting myself and others from harm and a continuous support for peace and gladness in this life. It makes life much easier. Not lying, there is no fear that one's lies are being detected and one is punished or treated badly for it. Not killing, there is gladness whenever the choice to preserve or end life is taken in favor of preserving life - no matter whether it is a fly, a little spider or any other living being.
Every one of the precepts has its individual value, but all of them have always been beneficial, not unbeneficial for me and others.

Best wishes,
Alobha
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Re: How important is keeping Precepts?

Postby Ytrog » Sat Aug 25, 2012 9:32 am

I agree with the rest here: it is absolutely important.
I find right speech also the most difficult btw. I like to talk ;)
Suffering is asking from life what it can never give you.


mindfulness, bliss and beyond (page 8) wrote:Do not linger on the past. Do not keep carrying around coffins full of dead moments


If you see any unskillful speech (or other action) from me let me know, so I can learn from it.
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Re: How important is keeping Precepts?

Postby amrad » Sun Aug 26, 2012 4:19 am

I dont think its a matter of forcing your self to OBEY the precepts. If you have a strong meditation practice you find desire for alcohol drugs, hurting others lying stealing cheating on your wife,ect, just slip away of there own accord, you really start to see them for what they are. And you see the wisdom of how easy following the precepts makes your life,Its not a grit your teeth kind of thing. :smile:
The Buddha said to go to the base of a tree calm your mind and find tranquility, if you do that correctly its far more powerful than any drug. I probably haven't stated that correctly, but Im sure one of the sutta guardians will fix it :reading:
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Re: How important is keeping Precepts?

Postby manas » Mon Aug 27, 2012 8:54 am

rowyourboat wrote:Hello All,

I wondered how important keeping precepts was, in your personal practice- also it would be good to know why you give it little or high importance.

Thank you

With metta


Well they are also rather good at keeping one out of hell - that's always a good bonus :tongue:

But seriously, I can recall how I used to meditate without having cleaned up a certain precept, and my meditations could 'only go so far'; But one day, I finally made a firm resolve in my heart that I would never break that precept again in that way, and my meditation practice literally improved overnight. Just like that!

Further down the track now, there are still many imperfections in how I practice sila, but I try to make sure the general direction is towards greater purity, and not backwards (and I'm doing heaps better than even one year ago). Just today I reflected on how much happier I am when I am free from remorse. Once again, I'm finding that the suttas are correct: observing sila leads to greater ease and happiness, even in the here-and-now.

Sila, as I understand it, is like the foundation stones of a building; as the building goes up, they need to remain there, and if we remove them halfway though the process, the building will come crashing down!

metta :anjali:
The greatest warrior of all time turned out to be the most peaceful one.
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Re: How important is keeping Precepts?

Postby Dan74 » Mon Aug 27, 2012 9:53 am

amrad wrote:I dont think its a matter of forcing your self to OBEY the precepts. If you have a strong meditation practice you find desire for alcohol drugs, hurting others lying stealing cheating on your wife,ect, just slip away of there own accord, you really start to see them for what they are. And you see the wisdom of how easy following the precepts makes your life,Its not a grit your teeth kind of thing. :smile:
The Buddha said to go to the base of a tree calm your mind and find tranquility, if you do that correctly its far more powerful than any drug. I probably haven't stated that correctly, but Im sure one of the sutta guardians will fix it :reading:

:goodpost:

Yes, I think rather than being harsh on ourselves for failing at the precepts, it is better to nurture faith in and commitment to practice, to practice more and to cultivate mindfulness in all activities. Then precepts become second nature.

On the other hand it is no good to make excuses and to be lax or permissive either. The middle way here, as I see it, is attention, attention, attention.

Without very careful attention, purity can bolster one of the chief fetters - pride.
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Re: How important is keeping Precepts?

Postby sattva » Mon Aug 27, 2012 7:24 pm

To everyone's posts :twothumbsup:

for myself my heart knows the difference when i break the precepts or when i keep them :heart:
Wishing: In gladness and in safety,
May all beings be at ease.
---from the Metta Sutta
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Re: How important is keeping Precepts?

Postby rowyourboat » Tue Aug 28, 2012 9:24 pm

Thanks everyone for your posts. Apart from what has been said so far (with which I agree with), I find the more I have an attitude of renunciation, respect, gratitude, purity etc the easier it is for me to keep the precepts. If I am on a hedonistic bent then it is a lot harder. Also I find having good samadhi helps to reduce the craving which leads to breaking the precepts. Also the remorse I get from breaking the precepts gets in the way of developing joy and bliss in meditation, and therefore an obstacle to developing concentration.

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