Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:
So as we practice in our imperfect ways, it’s good to remind ourselves that the Buddha himself started out imperfect as well. As we make mistakes, it’s good to remind ourselves that the Buddha made mistakes, too, but he also pointed the way out of your mistakes. You can change the way you act, and it’s important that you do because your actions shape your life. The pleasure and pain you experience in life comes from your actions, not from anything you innately are
. So when you notice that there are problems in your life, look here at what you’re doing. What are your intentions? What are your actions? What can you change?
This requires that you be very honest with yourself, that you have the integrity to admit your mistakes, to see the connection between your intentions and the results of your actions, and the compassion, both for yourself and the people around you, not to want to cause harm. Once you’ve developed this integrity in your day-to-day life, then it’s a lot easier to bring the integrity into your meditation, because integrity lies at the basis of meditating well, too. This is why the precepts are so important. They develop this quality of integrity. If you can’t be honest with yourself on the blatant level, then it’s very hard to be honest with yourself on the subtle level of the practice.
So it’s good to keep reflecting on those instructions to Rahula, because they focus on the basic principle that underlies everything in the practice: Your actions are important, so be very careful. At the end of the Buddha’s teaching career, he closed with the words, “Bring your practice to completion through heedfulness.” What does it mean to be heedful? It means that you have to be very careful about what you do, because what you do does make a difference, and it does make a difference to be heedful. If everything were totally predetermined by some principle of fate or iron-clad causality, nothing would make any difference at all, and the Buddha wouldn’t have had any reason to teach. Or if your actions didn’t really make a difference, there would be no reason to be heedful. But they do
make a difference. And the care you take in looking at your intentions and looking at the results of your actions: That’s what determines whether you’ll be able to complete the path or not.
So when you’re looking for a Buddhist principle to apply in all areas, this is it:
Be careful about what you do, be heedful about what you do, because it makes an important difference in your life.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... alks_2.pdf
From: The Basic Pattern by Thanissaro Bhikkhu