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Must your sila be perfect to sincerely take 5 precepts? - Dhamma Wheel

Must your sila be perfect to sincerely take 5 precepts?

Buddhist ethical conduct including the Five Precepts (Pañcasikkhāpada), and Eightfold Ethical Conduct (Aṭṭhasīla).
dhammapal
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Must your sila be perfect to sincerely take 5 precepts?

Postby dhammapal » Wed Apr 18, 2012 10:42 am

Hi,

I have called myself a Buddhist for many years but I've been having trouble lately taking the refuges and precepts. I just salute the Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha from the Ratana Sutta.

The Buddha said that taking the refuges and precepts sincerely is more meritorious than giving him a meal so it's not as simple as it sounds.

I think to promise to keep the first precept I have to be like a Bodhisatta, and taking it when I know I have exceptions would be breaking the fourth precept against lying and the refuges as well. I got headlice in high school and used poisonous shampoo which I worry could happen again. I wonder if that is one of the reasons that monastics shave their heads.

Do you think I could take the first precept: "I undertake the precept to avoid destroying the life of living beings for the next 24 hours"? Do you think that promising to keep it forever and ever could be eternalism?

I guess that the Metta chant for snakes might help protect me from other parasites. And harm to parasites is the tip of the iceberg regarding the dukkha involved in me consuming food, clothing, shelter and medicine.

Thanks / dhammapal.






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reflection
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Re: Must your sila be perfect to sincerely take 5 precepts?

Postby reflection » Wed Apr 18, 2012 10:45 am

To answer the question in the title, the answer is a simple no. Just like the other parts of the path, the precepts are a training. They are not rules set in stone.

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Ben
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Re: Must your sila be perfect to sincerely take 5 precepts?

Postby Ben » Wed Apr 18, 2012 12:07 pm

Must your sila be perfect to sincerely take 5 precepts?

- No. But its a good idea to keep your precepts continuously for as long as possible.
Also, keep in mind why you are keeping your precepts. Sila is extremely important but not the only aspect of practice - you also need to develop samadhi and panna.
All the best,

Ben
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

(Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • •

e: [email protected]..

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Alobha
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Re: Must your sila be perfect to sincerely take 5 precepts?

Postby Alobha » Wed Apr 18, 2012 1:28 pm


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Cittasanto
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Re: Must your sila be perfect to sincerely take 5 precepts?

Postby Cittasanto » Wed Apr 18, 2012 2:16 pm

Like all the patimokkha rules, the pancasila have loopholes, they are not expressed anywhere, but there are situations where it is not avoidable yet not deliberate!
The problem with simple things is that the mind wants to make it complex is some way, yet just following the letter and spirit of the rules is very simple, how easy is it to walk down the streat and not stab someone in the neck with a #2 pencil untill they die from it?
how easy is it to just not have something when you can not afford it, instead of taking it without permission?
how easy is it to have consentual relations with someone?
how easy is it not to take intoxicants?
or how about that pesky having to tell the truth?
you seam to be being elevating these things to some mythic feat, a herculean task few can do, when in reality it is the recognising where you are erring and correcting that behaviour which leads to progress on the path with the precepts, and in the path in general.


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.

dhammapal
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Re: Must your sila be perfect to sincerely take 5 precepts?

Postby dhammapal » Thu Apr 19, 2012 9:49 am







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reflection
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Re: Must your sila be perfect to sincerely take 5 precepts?

Postby reflection » Thu Apr 19, 2012 4:44 pm


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Goofaholix
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Re: Must your sila be perfect to sincerely take 5 precepts?

Postby Goofaholix » Thu Apr 19, 2012 7:42 pm

The precepts are phrased "I undertake the rule of training...", why would training be necessary if one were perfect?

dhammapal
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Re: Must your sila be perfect to sincerely take 5 precepts?

Postby dhammapal » Fri Apr 20, 2012 10:10 am

Bhikkhu Khantipalo's translation is:
“I undertake the rule of training to refrain from killing living creatures.”

It is a confession offence for a monk to intentionally kill animals or insects. So it is not the end of the world if you intentionally kill some headlice. I don't know what the kammic gravity is though.

Yes the precepts are not for status looking down on non-Buddhists but are working on a skill: killing is never skillful, stealing is never skillful etc. (see by Thanissaro Bhikkhu).

The precepts are for the purpose of concentration and freedom from remorse which naturally leads step by step to Awakening (See )

I am memorizing the : By a Snake which is a metta chant to ward off dangerous creatures. I'm confident this will reduce the risk of getting headlice.

I thinking I'm worrying too much about hypothetical situations. Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote in to set up the intention to keep the precepts and then be alert to actions that go against that intent. This would include mental actions like aversion for headlice.

A Tibetan teacher said that the prerequisite for human rebirth is good moral discipline saying it is almost a miracle that we've received it given how hard it is. I interpreted her as referring to perfect sila. I am a bit of a perfectionist.

Thanks for listening,

With metta / dhammapal

PS I just had a brilliant thought! I can sincerely undertake the rule of training to refrain from killing living creatures because it might not be for many years into the future that I have the misfortune of getting headlice by which time I might have successfully trained to become more like a Bodhisatta.






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Cittasanto
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Re: Must your sila be perfect to sincerely take 5 precepts?

Postby Cittasanto » Fri Apr 20, 2012 7:10 pm

Hi Dhammapal,
Please do not confuse the monastic precept "punishment" for the severity of the breach of a precept.

the monastic precepts are dealing with a number of things not suited for lay people, some being the spiritual danger, the appearance it has, or the social expectations at the time of the rule, the precepts for lay people and novices (dasasila) are worded in quite a general way and can be informed by the patimokkha, but should not be confused with the patimokkha clasification or severity of "punishment".

you do seam to be mixing with mahayana, so have you asked this question on Dharma Wheel?

Just to note I am using punishment as a better word escapes me at present.


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.

dhammapal
Posts: 1562
Joined: Sun Nov 01, 2009 9:23 am
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: Must your sila be perfect to sincerely take 5 precepts?

Postby dhammapal » Mon May 07, 2012 9:17 am








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