Keeping Precepts your experience

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Keeping Precepts your experience

Postby LastLegend » Wed Aug 27, 2014 8:16 am

I am here to express my confusion.

I have come to a conclusion either from my personal experience or excessive thinking. I don't know. :lol: Some people believe that precepts are uncomfortably restrictive that they bind and chain us. I find precepts liberating though they might be uncomfortable at times. But I not am sure. I think maybe I feel that way because I just completely threw or emptied out some of my desires that kept me binding. Maybe they will come back who knows. It's trying to quit smoking, instead just quit and empty out a desire to smoke. Will it work? I don't know. We will see how strong my Dharma strength is. :mrgreen:

What's your experience with keeping precepts?
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Re: Keeping Precepts your experience

Postby Mkoll » Wed Aug 27, 2014 10:30 am

Well since you brought it up indirectly, I'll talk about my experience with the fifth. I used to drink and use drugs regularly but haven't touched them (except some caffeine from coffee/tea/chocolate) since I started following that precept. Having been away from drink and drugs long enough, I'm able to see them in a light that I never could have had I continued using them: I don't see myself ever going back to drinking or using in this life and hopefully future ones. It's quite liberating, actually.

I hope you can quit for long enough to get to a similar point as well.
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Re: Keeping Precepts your experience

Postby Gwenn Dana » Wed Aug 27, 2014 10:33 am

I see various perspectives on precepts.

1. As a guide for oneself. In that situation, the behavior which the precept indicates is still a "desire". However one which is at times difficult to keep, along the lines of "I wish to view myself as able to comply to that, but I observe myself in fact deviating." But well, that kind of precept is "want".

2. As a means of protection. In that situation, the behavior, which the precept indicates, can usually be done in safe environments, but is difficult to keep up in "contested" situations. Then precepts are an easy way to shorten discussions. "Why don't you do XXX?" "I've taken a vow." Period. You can see that with many book religions.

3. As a means of communication. In that situation, the beavior, which the precept indicates, is already there, and no problem, hardly any matter what. The precept then merely describes behavior.

4. As a tradition. In that situation, the ritual of taking them creates some sort of bond, where the only thing that matters is that it's those precepts which have been there since a couple thousand years.

And I'm sure there are many more.

My personal opinion is, that precepts should only be taken when the corresponding behavior already comes natural to oneself. As a means of communication, or maybe tradition. Otherwise it is a matter of desire. Either you will behave in a certain way, or you won't. Only the future will show. If you need a vow to do it, your actions are based on emotions that are connected to the vow (or breaking it). In my eyes that's doomed to fail should you not be able to live up to your expectations. You may end up conditioning yourself upon fear of breaking a vow. But kicking out those expectations is one of the problems to begin with, so those emotions lose their grip.

I guess it's the same as with anything: Not making too much of an issue out of keeping or breaking someting.

Best wishes
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Re: Keeping Precepts your experience

Postby LastLegend » Wed Aug 27, 2014 12:06 pm

Sometimes it's a matter of recognizing the suffering that ones behavior bring. It is a sacrifice we have to make in order to feel better for example. Not to mention unwholesome behavior will bring negative karmic effects. At this point, it's a matter of conviction.
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Re: Keeping Precepts your experience

Postby duckfiasco » Wed Aug 27, 2014 5:37 pm

Precepts are very difficult for some people.
The Perfect Way knows no difficulties
Except that it refuses to make preferences;
Only when freed from hate and love,
It reveals itself fully and without disguise.
- Sengcan (tr. Suzuki)
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Re: Keeping Precepts your experience

Postby Malcolm » Wed Aug 27, 2014 5:43 pm

duckfiasco wrote:Precepts are very difficult for some people.

Most people can refrain from taking life, lying and stealing.

Sexual misconduct and drinking alcohol, that is a little harder.
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

Though there are infinite liberating gateways of Dharma,
there are none not included in the dimension of the knowledge of the Great Perfection.

-- Buddha Samantabhadri
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Re: Keeping Precepts your experience

Postby Challenge23 » Wed Aug 27, 2014 6:19 pm

Well, for me, it depends on the precept.

Not killing for me is fairly easy, though I still thoughtlessly kill insects from time to time and am not vegan. So it's good but not really good.

Not stealing is also fairly easy, though I can be forgetful and sometimes take something from a friend and don't ask them first(though when I realize it I promptly return it). So it also is good but not really good.

Not lying gets a little harder. Silence and/or changing the subject is not the appropriate response(at least as far as the person asking) when someone whose art is hideous asks what you think about it. So, pretty ok. Not really good.

Sexual misconduct is either really hard or pretty easy depending on which definition you use. I define it as being faithful to my significant other, always having 100% consent, and not having sex anywhere unethical(like an altar or something) which for me isn't all that hard. There are other interpretations(not having any sexual activity at all, eliminating all non-procreative sex, etc.) which are immensely harder. So for that one, I'll call it somewhat ok.

As far as no intoxicants..I suck at that. A whole lot. Not "alcoholic/Snoop Lion/Keith Richards" bad but "I can distinguish various types of wine via taste/average jam band fan" bad.
I'm an agnostic in the same sense that Robert Anton Wilson was, except his reaction was laughter. Mine isn't.

I am not a teacher in any tradition, Buddhist or otherwise. Anything that I have posted should not be taken as representing the view of anyone other than my own. And maybe Larry S. Smith of Montgomery, Alabama. But most likely just me.
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Re: Keeping Precepts your experience

Postby Gwenn Dana » Thu Aug 28, 2014 7:20 pm

The true precept is not conscious of itself as a precept, and therefore is a true precept.
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Re: Keeping Precepts your experience

Postby garudha » Mon Sep 01, 2014 9:05 am

Gwenn Dana wrote:The true precept is not conscious of itself as a precept, and therefore is a true precept.

A truly dead cat is not conscious of itself as a dead cat, and therefore is a truly dead cat.

...But what about the cat which knows itself not :yinyang:

smoking cat by Malkavian-Psyblood @
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Re: Keeping Precepts your experience

Postby Nighthawk » Mon Sep 01, 2014 5:23 pm

Very tough to follow when living in amoral western society.
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Re: Keeping Precepts your experience

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Mon Sep 01, 2014 10:27 pm

I was able to quit drinking and smoking dope for the first time in my life after taking refuge and taking my precepts. I was already ready, but I feel like that made it stick. I do over consume caffeine.

Lying is the most iffy for me, because there are times where you do things like embellish in a seemingly meaningless story that can slip past you. I'm happily married so sexual conduct (at least as defined in the most basic sense) is not a huge problem. That said, I have big issues with overabundance of sexual energy, and I imagine i'd be "at risk" here if I was younger and had a different lifestyle than I do.

I have never had a problem with not intentionally killing, long before taking my precepts I had a real soft spot for animals, and i'd see my friends using things like those electric fly swatters, or friends burning bugs as a kid.. and think WTF to myself, killing stuff for fun or convenience especially has always bothered me quite strongly.

Stealing is one of those areas..f "grey area" things related to property use, things like use of digital resources, things like borrowing stuff with no real intention to return etc. that really come down to just trying to be more mindful. When I was younger, I used to have some crazy ideas that it was ok to steal from the greedy or corrupt..which of course I don't think anymore.

Anyway, it's not about never messing up, but constantly righting the ship and being mindful, if you go around thinking " oh i'll never follow them perfectly" you'll just develop some kind of neuroses..I really don't think the teachings are meant to be used like matter what vehicle you're riding on. Personally I don't think the basic 5 precepts are all that hard, they are a sort of bare minimum of ethical behavior really, even the (minor) Vajrayana commitments and practice I have I consider much more challenging so far.
"Just as a lotus does not grow out of a well-levelled soil but from the mire, in the same way the awakening mind
is not born in the hearts of disciples in whom the moisture of attachment has dried up. It grows instead in the hearts of ordinary sentient beings who possess in full the fetters of bondage." -Se Chilbu Choki Gyaltsen
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Re: Keeping Precepts your experience

Postby Ayu » Tue Sep 02, 2014 5:06 am

Yes, I also observe the precepts as a big help instead of just saying: "I would be better if I did..."
It is a matter of the unconcious mind - determination originates there. And there it can be destroyed again also. That's why I'm quite careful with engaging in talking too much about it. Sorry, :shrug:

But once determined, it is no problem anymore for me how other people do. It is just a matter between me and me. ;)
For examle, my band, they accept and love me as a non-drinker and a non-smoker - while they get high on some weeds and alcohol every rehearsal. It's their habit. But it doesn't touch me. I sit between them with my bottle of water or applejuice.
I know why. Because alcohol harms me, I'm determined not to take it.
:smile: But when the bass player describes the taste of this certain wine, i don't listen really. My mind doesn't follow. Otherwise it would be hard or impossible for me to hold the precept.

I think the precepts are a great help, because I don't want to do these bad deeds anyhow. If I had or had not the precepts, I have to abandon bad habits anyhow.
Because, if our mothers, who have been kind to us
From beginningless time, are suffering,
What can we do with (just) our own happiness?
From 10th of 37 Bodhisattva Practices
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