Hi all , Is Sila Just Training Rules?
[Presented by Dr.Tep Sastri @ SD/JTN]
Do virtues (sila) in general mean just precepts (say, 5-, 8- or 10-precepts) for lay Buddhists, and the Patimokha training rules for monks? Or, does sila mean more than that?
Bhikhu Bodhi, in "Nourishing the Roots", says that sila covers both good conduct and good character; i.e. sila equals 'moral conduct' plus the inner 'purification of character'. http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... el259.html
[Bhikhu Bodhi:] "The Pali word sila originally meant simply conduct. But in the context of the Buddhist spiritual training the term is used to signify only a specific kind of conduct, i.e., good conduct, and by an extension of meaning, the type of character for which such conduct stands, i.e., good character. Hence sila means both moral conduct, a body of habits governed by moral principles, and moral virtue, the interior quality the regular observance of these principles is intended to produce.
"Both shades of meaning are essential to understand the place of sila in the spectrum of Buddhist discipline. Sila in the former sense consists in the non-transgression through body or speech of the basic precepts regulating the moral life. It is moral discipline in deed and word, beginning as the inhibition of immoral impulses seeking an outlet through body and speech, and developing into the habitual conformation to the principles of righteous conduct. But the full range of sila is not exhausted by mere outward behavioral control, for the term has in addition a deeper, more psychological significance. In this second sense sila is moral purity, the inner purification of character which results from a life consistently moulded upon moral principles. This aspect of sila places the stress on the subjective, motivational side of action. It looks not towards the outward act itself, but towards the rectitude of mind from which good conduct springs.
"Because of this mutual dependence of the two domains, moral conduct and purity of character lock up with one another in a subtle and complex interrelationship. The fulfillment of the purification of virtue requires that both aspects of sila be realized: on the one side, behavior of body and speech must be brought into accord with the moral ideal; on the other, the mental disposition must be cleansed of its corruptions until it is impeccably pure. The former without the latter is insufficient; the latter without the former is impossible. Between the two, the internal aspect is the more important from the standpoint of spiritual development, since bodily and verbal deeds acquire ethical significance primarily as expressions of a corresponding disposition of mind. In the sequence of spiritual training, however, it is moral discipline that comes first. For at the beginning of training, purification of character stands as an ideal which must be reached; it is not a reality with which one can start."