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The interpretation of the 8 precepts - Dhamma Wheel

The interpretation of the 8 precepts

Buddhist ethical conduct including the Five Precepts (Pañcasikkhāpada), and Eightfold Ethical Conduct (Aṭṭhasīla).
starter
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The interpretation of the 8 precepts

Postby starter » Thu Mar 08, 2012 12:40 am

Hi Friends,

After reading the following teaching in DN2, I realized any means of beautification is forbidden for a monk/nun as a means of sense restraint:

"Whereas some brahmans and contemplatives, living off food given in faith, are addicted to scents, cosmetics, and means of beautification such as these — rubbing powders into the body, massaging with oils, bathing in perfumed water, kneading the limbs, using mirrors, ointments, garlands, scents, creams, face-powders, mascara, bracelets, head-bands, decorated walking sticks, ornamented water-bottles, swords, fancy sunshades, decorated sandals, turbans, gems, yak-tail whisks, long-fringed white robes — he abstains from using scents, cosmetics, and means of beautification such as these. This, too, is part of his virtue."

Or probably it's not only for a monk/nun, but also for lay practitioners who hold the 8 precepts (e.g. on Uposatha days)? Should the above-listed things be all included in the 7th precept? I thought the use of mirror and creams are not only for beautification, but also for social appropriateness and health. Probably it's up to one's intention?

I also have a little trouble with the 8th precept: "He abstains from high and luxurious beds and seats" and the practice of sleeping on the floor. I guess the ancient Indian high beds and seats must be very luxurious. That's why the Buddha associated these two together. From the perspective of health and safety, it would be better to sleep on a bed with certain height instead of on the floor. I suppose it's again up to one's intention?

A little more trouble with the 6th precept: "He eats only once a day, refraining from the evening meal and from food at the wrong time of day (after noon?)." I think this teaching is for monastics or the lay in retreats, not for working lay practitioners. Otherwise we'll have to eat a lot during that one meal in order to have enough energy to work for the rest of the day, which might not be so healthy. Refraining from food after noon could be impractical for some working lay practitioners who might have to work before and during the noon hours and can only have lunch in the afternoon.

Well, at the end it's a matter of purifying the mind. I guess some formats might not be so important, as long as we have right intention and have no attachments to sensual indulgence? But these are the Buddha's requirements, the precepts, our sacred vows ...

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Bhikkhu Pesala
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Re: The interpretation of the 8 precepts

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Thu Mar 08, 2012 6:39 am

The eight precepts for lay people are intended to be observed on Uposatha days or during retreats. While working, it is better to observe the if you are able to do so.

The seventh Uposatha day precept includes not using cosmetics, perfumes, jewellery, and other means of beautification, such as fashionable clothing. Wearing white clothes is customary, but other plain colours may be more practical. The point is not to attract attention to oneself.

Sleeping on the floor or on an ordinary bed without an interior sprung mattress meets the requirements to avoid high and luxurious beds. In Mahasi Yeiktha the meditators use beds raised off of the floor to avoid creepy-crawlies, but they have just a thin straw mat for padding. No comfort is gained from that.
• • • • (Upasampadā: 24th June, 1979)

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LonesomeYogurt
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Re: The interpretation of the 8 precepts

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Thu Mar 08, 2012 5:17 pm

The post above pretty much sums up anything I could say (and a lot more too) but on the subject of mirrors, I feel like there were probably fewer mirrors in the Buddha's time so the act of looking into one was a deliberate beautification attempt. I don't think just like walking by a mirror during your daily life or seeing your reflection in and of itself is a violation of that at all so long as you don't spend time beautifying yourself.

Just my thoughts! Otherwise the Venerable one above has much more to say :)
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta


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Re: The interpretation of the 8 precepts

Postby squarepeg » Thu Mar 08, 2012 8:25 pm

All 8 percepts are possible to 99% of people. Sense restraint around music and television, and allowing minor transgressions (glancing and singing) to be noted and fall from mind keep faith from waining. Eating only before noon means you wake up earlyer and appriciate those who suffer to create the food you eat. also the body doesnt need more than one regular meal a day, regardless of what people say it simply dosent need more than one meal a day even if your doing heavy construction work, stay hydrated by drinking alot of water and the body will live, hunger is mental and the more you meditate the less these things affect the mind. In my opinion, these percepts force one to schedule everything but meditation, so that all free time is for meditating and cultivation. We have to be strict on our selfs. Otherwise how do we expect to be a "field of merit" to anyone else?
"Yadisam vapate bijam tadisam harate phalam" — as we sow, so shall we reap
Maranam Bhavissati - "death will take place"

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Re: The interpretation of the 8 precepts

Postby starter » Fri Mar 09, 2012 11:24 pm

Hello friends,

Many thanks for your input. In comparison to your effort on sense restraint, I'm ashamed of myself for not being able to go against will/desire and for lack of power to control mind. Indeed I can go to bed early and wake up early, so that I can eat before 12. If we regard these 8 precepts as means of practicing sense restraint and mind control, then it's quite meaningful. Metta to all,

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Re: The interpretation of the 8 precepts

Postby nameless » Sat Mar 10, 2012 3:34 am


squarepeg
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Re: The interpretation of the 8 precepts

Postby squarepeg » Sat Mar 10, 2012 4:00 pm

"Yadisam vapate bijam tadisam harate phalam" — as we sow, so shall we reap
Maranam Bhavissati - "death will take place"

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Re: The interpretation of the 8 precepts

Postby Cittasanto » Sat Mar 10, 2012 7:53 pm



He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.

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Re: The interpretation of the 8 precepts

Postby starter » Sat Jul 06, 2013 9:40 pm

I wonder if the following life-long eight precepts (not the 8 monastic precepts) were taught by the Buddha; if so I'd appreciate the name of the sutta:

1. I undertake the training rule to abstain from taking life.
2. I undertake the training rule to abstain from taking what is not given.
3. I undertake the training rule to abstain from indulging in sexual misconduct
4. I undertake the training rule to abstain from false speech.
5. I undertake the training rule to abstain from malicious/divisive speech.
6. I undertake the training rule to abstain from harsh speech.
7. I undertake the training rule to abstain from gossiping.
8. I undertake the training rule to abstain from wrong livelihood
and from intoxicating drinks and drugs causing heedlessness.

Thanks and metta!
Last edited by starter on Sun Jul 07, 2013 9:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The interpretation of the 8 precepts

Postby lyndon taylor » Sat Jul 06, 2013 10:11 pm

As to the not eating after 12pm there are medical exemptions to this rule, for things such as diabetes, where you need smaller meals spread over the day, also you're allowed to drink any liquids after 12Pm, fruit juices, milk, even ice cream is permitted by some temples, so you don't have to starve.
18 years ago I made one of the most important decisions of my life and entered a local Cambodian Buddhist Temple as a temple boy and, for only 3 weeks, an actual Therevada Buddhist monk. I am not a scholar, great meditator, or authority on Buddhism, but Buddhism is something I love from the Bottom of my heart. It has taught me sobriety, morality, peace, and very importantly that my suffering is optional, and doesn't have to run my life. I hope to give back what little I can to the Buddhist community, sincerely former monk John

http://trickleupeconomictheory.blogspot.com/

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Re: The interpretation of the 8 precepts

Postby binocular » Sun Jul 07, 2013 4:26 am


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Re: The interpretation of the 8 precepts

Postby lyndon taylor » Sun Jul 07, 2013 2:57 pm

A boxspring on the floor and a proper mattress are still within the allowable height.
18 years ago I made one of the most important decisions of my life and entered a local Cambodian Buddhist Temple as a temple boy and, for only 3 weeks, an actual Therevada Buddhist monk. I am not a scholar, great meditator, or authority on Buddhism, but Buddhism is something I love from the Bottom of my heart. It has taught me sobriety, morality, peace, and very importantly that my suffering is optional, and doesn't have to run my life. I hope to give back what little I can to the Buddhist community, sincerely former monk John

http://trickleupeconomictheory.blogspot.com/

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Re: The interpretation of the 8 precepts

Postby Martin Po » Sun Jul 07, 2013 3:26 pm

In MN21 Buddha said thus:

"Here I addressed the bhikkhus thus: 'Bhikkhus, I eat at a single session. By doing so, I am free from illness and affliction, and I enjoy lightness, strenght, and comfortable abiding.'"

I can approve it from my experiance, also when you eat once a day, your awarenes become more stablished, also there is no sloth, torpor, drowsiness etc. due to food.

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Re: The interpretation of the 8 precepts

Postby starter » Fri Jul 12, 2013 5:49 pm

As I understand, the objective of the Eight Precepts set up by the Buddha is to bring the laity closer to how the monastics practice. It's probably better to keep these precepts as they are instead of inventing the "life-long precepts" as cited and highlighted in my previous post. When I first saw the "life-long precepts" (which I learned is a later invention), I was thinking I'd rather take these instead of the monastic Eight Precepts since they are what a practitioner should practice anyway, and then I don't need to worry about the last three precepts of the monastic ones (abstain from eating at wrong times ...). But on the second thought, I doubted if these "life-long precepts" are later invented instead of the Buddha's original teaching. There's a danger that these "life-long precepts" might gradually replace the Eight Precepts set up by the Buddha. I think we'd better adhere to the Buddha's original teaching without adding such new inventions, especially confusing them with the original teaching.

Thanks and metta!

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Re: The interpretation of the 8 precepts

Postby starter » Tue Jul 30, 2013 6:37 pm

Greetings!

I understand that in the Theravada tradition on uposatha days "the allowable period to eat is between dawn and noon, although some use the clock and the winter time, adding an hour for summer time, so 12:00 in winter an 13:00 in summer". But I wonder if the Buddha actually set the exact hour in the suttas for this precept. I thought that at the Buddha's time there was no clock so it's not very likely that he banned eating at exactly 12:00. When he and/or his disciples were invited for lunch at the lay followers' homes (and I guess the lunch hours could be earlier or later depending on individual families), did they watch the hour and stop eating if it's passed 12:00? From when did the interpretation of stopping eating at 12:00 become the standard practice of the precept?

I thought the precept of not eating after noon was to keep the monastics from going out of the monasteries in the evenings/afternoons, and for better health/meditation. As long as a lunch is finished at a reasonable time and no more meal after that, I can hardly see an offence to the original teaching of the Buddha. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

Metta to all!

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Re: The interpretation of the 8 precepts

Postby lyndon taylor » Tue Jul 30, 2013 6:45 pm

Of course it was from the first light of dawn, to meal completely finished by the time the sun was directly overhead(circa noon)I believe. Don't know about cloudy days??? they would not have had clocks, but may quite possibly have had hourglasses. or a 6 hr hourglass to go from dawn to noon, etc, just speculating.
18 years ago I made one of the most important decisions of my life and entered a local Cambodian Buddhist Temple as a temple boy and, for only 3 weeks, an actual Therevada Buddhist monk. I am not a scholar, great meditator, or authority on Buddhism, but Buddhism is something I love from the Bottom of my heart. It has taught me sobriety, morality, peace, and very importantly that my suffering is optional, and doesn't have to run my life. I hope to give back what little I can to the Buddhist community, sincerely former monk John

http://trickleupeconomictheory.blogspot.com/

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Re: The interpretation of the 8 precepts

Postby dagon » Wed Jul 31, 2013 3:44 am


starter
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Re: The interpretation of the 8 precepts

Postby starter » Wed Jul 31, 2013 3:11 pm

Hello friends,

Many thanks for all your helpful input. Reading the link recommended by dagon gives me a big relief about the 6th precept (not eating out of the time):

"... However, some flexibility will be needed here with people going out to work. For them it would mean no food after their midday lunch until breakfast the next day."

So now I can happily finish my lunch past 12 pm on Uposatha days without blaming myself . But of course it's still better to have more self discipline and mindfulness and try not to have too late lunch. It's not difficult for me to have no food after lunch.

I don't know when the ancient Indian people usually took lunch at the Buddha's time. Now people usually have lunch between 12-1 since they usually have to work from 8-12, 1-5. If we interpret "the noon" as midday lunch, not exactly 12:00, then life would be less stressful for both monastics and lay.

Metta to all!

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starter
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Re: The interpretation of the 8 precepts

Postby starter » Thu Aug 08, 2013 1:24 am

Greetings!

Just to share that I read in the following website about noon, which varies from ~12:30 to ~1:30 pm throughout the year.

http://static.sirimangalo.org/utils/daw ... ideha.html (Bhante Yuttadhammo's monastery)

Metta to all!

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Anagarika
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Re: The interpretation of the 8 precepts

Postby Anagarika » Thu Aug 08, 2013 2:55 am

Has anyone been practicing under the 8 precepts day to day? I was at one time a novice under samanera precepts, and when I disrobed I accepted the 5 lay precepts. My desire is to request 8 precepts and live these day to day, in a sense the precepts that would be given to an Anagarika. Does anyone have any experience with this? I'd happily reordain as a samanera or even Bhikku, in time, but for some years I am required to work in a formal setting and to accept and disburse money. Thus, the desire to take Anagarika ordination. Any thoughts on this are welcome.


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