Advice on my practice of discipline & transitioning from the 5 to 8 precepts

Buddhist ethical conduct including the Five Precepts (Pañcasikkhāpada), and Eightfold Ethical Conduct (Aṭṭhasīla).
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maranadhammomhi
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Advice on my practice of discipline & transitioning from the 5 to 8 precepts

Post by maranadhammomhi » Mon Apr 17, 2017 9:44 pm

Hello. I am a 20y/o theravādin. I have been Buddhist since 17. My practice has gotten progressively more serious over the past year & a half, especially as some major changes have happened in my life. I am now out of school working to pay off the debt I accumulated in 2.5 years of university so that I can ordain. I finally have a stable meditation practice & want to stabilize my ethical conduct to really give myself a solid foundation. A few concerns:

1) I am not sure how well I keep the 4th precept. I do not intentionally deceive anyone. I speak falsehood as jokes semi-frequently out of habit & lack of mindfulness/restraint - I immediately catch myself & feel guilty afterwards, which is admittedly a recent improvement, but I've yet to be able to cut off or intercept the initial tendency to speak in this way. It is never the case, however, that I speak in such a way that my audience will believe the falsehood...I make it clear it is not true...regardless they are really silly & foolish jokes & as the Buddha advised Rāhula, "you should train yourself, 'I will not tell a deliberate lie even in jest'". The degree to which these are deliberate & false is unclear to me due to the lack of deception - I want to abstain regardless, but clarification on where I stand with this precept would be appreciated.

2) I am not sure if this is a good idea while I still have the former problem to deal with, but I have been working towards developing the 8 precepts. I recently started observing uposatha after finding a good app to track moon phases & try to observe atthasila beyond that as well. The current state of this endeavor:

Successes:
-I sleep on the bare floor, have done this for sometime, it is extremely easy.
-No jewelry, music, tv, or movies...again this is very easy for me I have no interest at all.

The problematic precepts:
-Abstaining from sex is easy, I've done it for over a year now & there are deep experiences I've had that make me certain I will not go back to it or to romance in this life. Abstaining from masturbation is hard. I really wish I could stop masturbating, I do not think I do it so much in order to indulge in the (extremely fleeting) pleasure of it but because I get overwhelmed with arousal & can't ignore it yet want it to go away. Obviously that just reinforces it but in the moment I do not yet have the strength to think that way.
-Eating at the right time is hard. I have engaged in fasting for up to 3 days, it is an extremely fruitful practice for me, but I have a long history of struggling with food & self-control. I can go a few days, maybe even a week or more, exercising very firm discipline over how much & when I eat but eventually I break, react very emotionally to that failure, then fall even further to indulging excessively in food. As of now I am doing well, I am on my 2nd day of eating solely between dawn & noon & I did a fast the day before that other than eating some ginger candies. But just before that I was at the opposite end of the spectrum, verging on binge-eating.

So these are my concerns. I lack the discernment & 'self'-awareness to identify what course of action to pursue, what will lead to my success, what is currently leading to my failure...I am not sure if I should focus on one thing at a time & set the others aside or develop them all gradually to the best of my ability & be patient with the difficulty of that. I very much want to develop this discipline & am aware that my lack of restraint with regard to speech, sexual activity, & food is a barrier in my meditative development, but I struggle with focusing on such long-term goals as this & find myself craving here-&-now gratification whether it be in regard to my practice or sensuality.

Sorry if tl;dr, typing it out helps me even if no one responds, but if so it is much appreciated.

:anjali:
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SarathW
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Re: Advice on my practice of discipline & transitioning from the 5 to 8 precepts

Post by SarathW » Mon Apr 17, 2017 9:47 pm

Buddhist lay people are expected to observe the eight precepts only on Uposata days unless you have a plan to become a monk in the future.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

maranadhammomhi
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Re: Advice on my practice of discipline & transitioning from the 5 to 8 precepts

Post by maranadhammomhi » Mon Apr 17, 2017 10:47 pm

SarathW wrote:Buddhist lay people are expected to observe the eight precepts only on Uposata days unless you have a plan to become a monk in the future.
I plan on ordaining in the near future, yes. It says that near the beginning of the post.

I would question the idea that Buddhist lay people should not aspire to upholding the 8 precepts beyond uposatha, though, e.g. anagārika
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perkele
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Re: Advice on my practice of discipline & transitioning from the 5 to 8 precepts

Post by perkele » Mon Apr 17, 2017 11:30 pm

I could not have the same determination to help me with self-discipline as you do, to become a monastic in this life. But I had times like this. And so I can relate to some extent.

In my experience, it is good to have someone to look up to. Someone who embodies the virtues that you want to develop. See AN 8.2. I think that is the single most conducive factor to developing virtue oneself.

I think that is about the best little piece of advice that I can come up with now.

Other than that, I can only say that I can totally relate, and I wish you all the strength and confidence necessary to live up to your aspiration.

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Re: Advice on my practice of discipline & transitioning from the 5 to 8 precepts

Post by c.smith » Tue Apr 18, 2017 5:10 am

From my experience, a strong meditative routine helped counter the sexual urges. Quite simply, they fell away. Masturbation is simply a craving. Try to see it as nothing more than that.

Do you have someone to guide your meditative practices? You have stated that you have a stable meditative practice, but are you getting the results that are expected? Perhaps investing more in yourself first via the practice would be beneficial until more stability has been gained.

Just a couple of things from my perspective to look at.

Wishing you the best.

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Mr Man
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Re: Advice on my practice of discipline & transitioning from the 5 to 8 precepts

Post by Mr Man » Tue Apr 18, 2017 7:27 am

Hi maranadhammomhi
Reflecting on intention and benefit may be helpful.

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Re: Advice on my practice of discipline & transitioning from the 5 to 8 precepts

Post by ryanM » Tue Apr 18, 2017 8:51 am

Progression from the 5 to 8 precepts should be quite natural, I think. Too much force just means that basic sila still needs to be developed/perfected. I'm in the latter category but am happy to know where I need to focus in my practice. Obviously, sometimes it is good to push yourself and experience some discomfort. Again, the middle way. Wishing you all the best.


Ryan
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R1111
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Re: Advice on my practice of discipline & transitioning from the 5 to 8 precepts

Post by R1111 » Tue Apr 18, 2017 9:21 am

Hi OP :hello:
Sadhu for your aspirations and forgive poor articulation and appearance of the post!
Abstaining from masturbation is hard. I really wish I could stop masturbating
Is it hard or is it practically impossible at this point? Thing is that you have to realize that it is not up to you, if it was up to you then you would not have this problem, there is conditioning and there is volition to the conditioning. Liking is conditioned, craving is conditioned. So i can hardly blame u for this.
Whenever you want to fap just be aware of the wanting, try and notice where wanting turns into a determination, observe the craving, desire, decision making, hestitation, observe feelings. So when you do fap, do it mindfully, note "stroking, stroking", touching, feeling, seeing, hearing, or "liking, liking" or "up, down" as it seems to you int the process, note the orgasm too, also notice the calm that is gained after orgasm, just do the whole thing mindfully, note all Four Satipatthanas. Observe what happens when you forget about it or get carried away, note fantasies and mental images too, liking etc, ill repeat myself again and again here note all Four Satipatthanas:)
By doing this you will gradually recondition and reevaluate your liking of it. Note the guilt when you feel it and disappointment if it comes up. Also be mindful of wanting to abandon.

There is a video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W5Lg9P-VekA feel rather stupid typing it all out in hindsight, couldve just linked you that one.

Another thing is that if you were to ordain it would be easier to deal with because you would not see women much and you would likely be able to stop even if you broke the precept and had to confess a few times, you could train Asubha and all the factors would contribute to rewire you rather quickly.
There is also the "peer pressure" factor for lack of a better word, where when nobody around u faps and are happy it will have an effect on you as well in regards to affecting your behavior.
Eating at the right time is hard.
Same thing basically. Desire is blameworthy but not as much as Anger and takes long time to get rid of, be patient, establish Sati. There is not much else you can do.
Fasting is not the way either, although it can trigger some positive things. There is a Sutta which i cant recall atm but there the Buddha pointed out that it is rather dumb (as i interperet it) to abandon something just to later gain it back as in abstaining from food just to later having to eat alot to make up for it(loss of strength). If you develope Sati that is enough.
what will lead to my success, what is currently leading to my failure
Nava Sutta: The Ship
At Savatthi. There the Blessed One said, "I tell you, monks: It is for one who knows & sees that there is the ending of the effluents. For one who knows what & sees what is there the ending of the effluents? 'Such is form, such its origination, such its passing away. Such is feeling... Such is perception... Such are fabrications... Such is consciousness, such its origination, such its passing away.' It is for one who knows & sees in this way that there is the ending of the effluents.

"Even though this wish may occur to a monk who dwells without devoting himself to development — 'O that my mind might be released from effluents through lack of clinging!' — still his mind is not released from the effluents through lack of clinging. Why is that? From lack of developing, it should be said. Lack of developing what? The four frames of reference, the four right exertions, the four bases of power, the five faculties, the five strengths, the seven factors for Awakening, the noble eightfold path.

"Suppose a hen has eight, ten, or twelve eggs: If she doesn't cover them rightly, warm them rightly, or incubate them rightly, then even though this wish may occur to her — 'O that my chicks might break through the egg shells with their spiked claws or beaks and hatch out safely!' — still it is not possible that the chicks will break through the egg shells with their spiked claws or beaks and hatch out safely. Why is that? Because the hen has not covered them rightly, warmed them rightly, or incubated them rightly. In the same way, even though this wish may occur to a monk who dwells without devoting himself to development — 'O that my mind might be released from effluents through lack of clinging!' — still his mind is not released from the effluents through lack of clinging. Why is that? From lack of developing, it should be said. Lack of developing what? The four frames of reference, the four right exertions, the four bases of power, the five faculties, the five strengths, the seven factors for Awakening, the noble eightfold path.

"Even though this wish may not occur to a monk who dwells devoting himself to development — 'O that my mind might be released from effluents through lack of clinging!' — still his mind is released from the effluents through lack of clinging. Why is that? From developing, it should be said. Developing what? The four frames of reference, the four right exertions, the four bases of power, the five faculties, the five strengths, the seven factors for Awakening, the noble eightfold path.

"Suppose a hen has eight, ten, or twelve eggs that she covers rightly, warms rightly, & incubates rightly: Even though this wish may not occur to her — 'O that my chicks might break through the egg shells with their spiked claws or beaks and hatch out safely!' — still it is possible that the chicks will break through the egg shells with their spiked claws or beaks and hatch out safely. Why is that? Because the hen has covered them, warmed them, & incubated them rightly. In the same way, even though this wish may not occur to a monk who dwells devoting himself to development — 'O that my mind might be released from effluents through lack of clinging!' — still his mind is released from the effluents through lack of clinging. Why is that? From developing, it should be said. Developing what? The four frames of reference, the four right exertions, the four bases of power, the five faculties, the five strengths, the seven factors for Awakening, the noble eightfold path.

"Just as when a carpenter or carpenter's apprentice sees the marks of his fingers or thumb on the handle of his adze but does not know, 'Today my adze handle wore down this much, or yesterday it wore down that much, or the day before yesterday it wore down this much,' still he knows it is worn through when it is worn through. In the same way, when a monk dwells devoting himself to development, he does not know, 'Today my effluents wore down this much, or yesterday they wore down that much, or the day before yesterday they wore down this much,' still he knows they are worn through when they are worn through.

"Just as when an ocean-going ship, rigged with masts & stays, after six months on the water, is left on shore for the winter: Its stays, weathered by the heat & wind, moistened by the clouds of the rainy season, easily wither & rot away. In the same way, when a monk dwells devoting himself to development, his fetters easily wither & rot away."
formal meditation practise is most effection for developement of Sati, for this exertion is needed, for exertion contemplating is needed, for contemplating desire is needed, for desire poundering and coming to agreement with the teaching. Listen to the Dhamma, remember, think about it, study and penetrate the meaning. source: MN 95

gl:)

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Re: Advice on my practice of discipline & transitioning from the 5 to 8 precepts

Post by SarathW » Tue Apr 18, 2017 12:20 pm

maranadhammomhi wrote:
SarathW wrote:Buddhist lay people are expected to observe the eight precepts only on Uposata days unless you have a plan to become a monk in the future.
I plan on ordaining in the near future, yes. It says that near the beginning of the post.

I would question the idea that Buddhist lay people should not aspire to upholding the 8 precepts beyond uposatha, though, e.g. anagārika
Good luck and please keep us up to date with the progress.
e.g. anagārika
Agree.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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Re: Advice on my practice of discipline & transitioning from the 5 to 8 precepts

Post by R1111 » Tue Apr 18, 2017 12:24 pm

I think if a person wants to become Ariya in this life and not go to Heavens first, having set his mind on attaining the Deathless, he should strive to keep 8 and more, striving for perfection in Sila no matter what state, Lay or Monastic because to be fair Death may come Tomorrow or today, maybe in 5 minutes one of us will die, some of us may not live to be ordained.
Last edited by R1111 on Tue Apr 18, 2017 4:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.

maranadhammomhi
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Re: Advice on my practice of discipline & transitioning from the 5 to 8 precepts

Post by maranadhammomhi » Tue Apr 18, 2017 1:15 pm

SarathW wrote:Good luck and please keep us up to date with the progress.
Thank you, I will be sure to do so.
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maranadhammomhi
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Re: Advice on my practice of discipline & transitioning from the 5 to 8 precepts

Post by maranadhammomhi » Tue Apr 18, 2017 1:20 pm

These are very helpful responses & I want to give thanks to everyone who replied.
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Re: Advice on my practice of discipline & transitioning from the 5 to 8 precepts

Post by ganegaar » Wed Apr 19, 2017 12:11 am

So wonderful that you try, may all our merits be with you and may you succeed!.

The ability to restrain oneself and be established in any precept requires certain amount of courage, a certain amount of determination. What I found about myself is, at times the courage and determination are so great, at times so weak, however over time, the ability to retrain do have improved.
So,
keep trying, you are bound to be successful! (not my words, it is Goenka G, who used to say so!)
Sīlepatiṭṭhāya naro sapañño, cittaṃ paññañca bhāvayaṃ;
Ātāpī nipako bhikkhu, so imaṃ vijaṭaye jaṭanti.

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Re: Advice on my practice of discipline & transitioning from the 5 to 8 precepts

Post by DC2R » Sat Apr 29, 2017 8:03 pm

maranadhammomhi wrote:Abstaining from masturbation is hard. I really wish I could stop masturbating, I do not think I do it so much in order to indulge in the (extremely fleeting) pleasure of it but because I get overwhelmed with arousal & can't ignore it yet want it to go away. Obviously that just reinforces it but in the moment I do not yet have the strength to think that way.
Some practical advice is to limit yourself to masturbating once a week, for example. Once you are okay with once a week, increase the timeframe to once a month. After a while, you will be able to stop completely and experience few cravings in the future, if any at all.
May the blessings of the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha always be firmly established in your hearts.

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Re: Advice on my practice of discipline & transitioning from the 5 to 8 precepts

Post by Lonely upasaka » Sat Apr 29, 2017 9:50 pm

MN 10 Sati­paṭṭhā­na­sutta:
this is the direct path for the purification of
beings, for the surmounting of sorrow and lamentation, for
the disappearance of pain and grief, for the attainment of the
true way, for the realisation of Nibbāna—namely, the four foun-
dations of mindfulness.
Mindfulness directed to the body, the perception of impermanence, the perception of non-self, the perception of unattractiveness is very helpful for dealing with masturbation.
Impermanent are all formations;
Their nature is to arise and vanish.
Having arisen, they cease:
Their appeasement is blissful.

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