Want to improve sila

Buddhist ethical conduct including the Five Precepts (Pañcasikkhāpada), and Eightfold Ethical Conduct (Aṭṭhasīla).
Digity
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Want to improve sila

Post by Digity » Tue Nov 21, 2017 3:21 am

I want to focus on improving my sila. I was thinking of focusing on mental, verbal and bodily conduct. My plan is to pick one mental, verbal and bodily act that's positive and practice it daily. What are your thoughts on this approach and what would you personally pick for those three things?

My motivation for this is that I keep falling into these bad mental states and want to improve my mental conditions. My hope is that these daily practices will lead to such an improved state of mind and hopefully lead to improve mental states.

JohnK
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Re: Want to improve sila

Post by JohnK » Tue Nov 21, 2017 5:03 am

I think your idea is a great one for gladdening the mind.
How about a deliberate act of generosity every day, something beyond what you might routinely do? And rather than selecting one to repeat, decide to be attentive to what opportunities might present themselves in the course of the day. However, to help at first, you might consider in advance your daily routine to explore some possibilities. These acts don't have to be a big deal, the recipients might barely notice the kind word, the extra attention, (or whatever you have to offer).
Good luck.
It would be great if you let us know how this goes whatever you decide to do.
"Why is it, Master Kaccana, that ascetics fight with ascetics?"
"It is, brahmin, because of attachment to views, adherence to views, fixation on views, addiction to views, obsession with views, holding firmly to views that ascetics fight with ascetics" (AN 2: iv, 6, abridged).
Kindly eyes, not verbal daggers.

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ryanM
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Re: Want to improve sila

Post by ryanM » Tue Nov 21, 2017 5:04 am

They'll be many opportunities to practice good conduct in body, speech, and mind throughout any given day. Personally, there's a lot of mistakes made along the way, so I always try and be gentle when I do slip up.

Falling into bad mental states. There's a chance to practice good conduct right there. Make peace, be kind, be gentle. Having little quips on hand can be useful when there's a lot of confusion.

Take care and good luck to you.
sabbe dhammā nālaṃ abhinivesāya

"nothing whatsoever should be clung to"

Digity
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Re: Want to improve sila

Post by Digity » Tue Nov 21, 2017 5:05 am

What would a good daily act of generosity be?

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Crazy cloud
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Re: Want to improve sila

Post by Crazy cloud » Tue Nov 21, 2017 5:34 am

The world is created at home here and now, so a nice activity to start with is optional to the gentle heart ... - I like to have a cup of coffee at first :smile:

A pure heart and a gentle mind will always do whats best in every situation

best!
your name Mori means forest like the infinite fresh green distances of your blindness

binocular
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Re: Want to improve sila

Post by binocular » Tue Nov 21, 2017 5:54 am

Digity wrote:
Tue Nov 21, 2017 3:21 am
/.../ what would you personally pick for those three things?
On a general note: it should be activities where one can clearly measure whether one has done them or not.
For example, "be more generous" is hard to measure, but "give the cat fresh water every day" is measurable.

JohnK
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Re: Want to improve sila

Post by JohnK » Tue Nov 21, 2017 2:50 pm

Digity wrote:
Tue Nov 21, 2017 5:05 am
What would a good daily act of generosity be?
I don't know your daily routines and who you may come into contact with, but just showing interest in someone (especially someone you routinely ignore) can be an act of generosity; and you could pick a different person each day or only do the "showing interest" on Mondays and pick a different sort of thing for Tuesdays, etc. I think part of the practice is to figure out what might be a generous thing that you could do. After a while, you might not need much advance planning, you might just become more attuned and practiced in seeing opportunities and taking them.
Part of this would be for it to be a specific thing so you do know that you are doing it (vs. "be more generous").
While this may sound easy, I think the hard part is not just falling back to the habitual daily routines; I know I tend to do that -- but that is a potential benefit of this practice to -- not just falling back on auto pilot.
Good luck!
"Why is it, Master Kaccana, that ascetics fight with ascetics?"
"It is, brahmin, because of attachment to views, adherence to views, fixation on views, addiction to views, obsession with views, holding firmly to views that ascetics fight with ascetics" (AN 2: iv, 6, abridged).
Kindly eyes, not verbal daggers.

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LG2V
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Re: Want to improve sila

Post by LG2V » Tue Nov 21, 2017 6:57 pm

Try to make some sort of gamification scheme. Gamify it. Give yourself points based on good actions taken, and deduct points based on mistakes made. Add or subtract it in a text document or spreadsheet. Set goals for yourself and see if you can hit them. Here's a helpful video:

https://www.ted.com/talks/jane_mcgoniga ... rs_of_life
Here are some excellent sites for giving free Dana (Click-Based Donation):
http://freerice.comhttp://greatergood.com/www.ripple.orgwww.thenonprofits.com

binocular
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Re: Want to improve sila

Post by binocular » Tue Nov 21, 2017 8:06 pm

On another general note:
Devote a small notebook to writing down ideas for moral actions, sorting them by category.

For example:
Ideas for being more generous in physical actions:
- give the cat fresh water every day
- send my friends birthday cards on their birthdays
- go grocery shopping for a friend who has a broken leg

And so on.

When you read the forums here, when you talk to people, read books etc., you can easily come across ideas for how to be more generous. People talk about the good things they have done or the good things they have seen other people do. Take advantage of that and write it down, otherwise you might forget. Once you start a collection and write down a few items, that gives you the impetus to think of even more and to pay attention to new ones. Then make a point to read through those lists once a week, say, every Saturday. Think which of the listed actions you could do this month, this week, today, within the next few hours, and do them (or write them into your calendar).

JohnK
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Re: Want to improve sila

Post by JohnK » Wed Nov 22, 2017 1:17 am

Speaking of acts of generosity (dana), I just came across the word "abhayadana" -- giving freedom from fear.
So, with some introspection, if you think you might be a bit "scary" to some people, another possible act of generosity would be to soften the behavior that may be scary. (This may not be relevant in the current context, but I thought it was interesting and worth sharing.)
I saw the term in Ajahn Amaro's The Breakthrough.
"Why is it, Master Kaccana, that ascetics fight with ascetics?"
"It is, brahmin, because of attachment to views, adherence to views, fixation on views, addiction to views, obsession with views, holding firmly to views that ascetics fight with ascetics" (AN 2: iv, 6, abridged).
Kindly eyes, not verbal daggers.

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Zom
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Re: Want to improve sila

Post by Zom » Wed Nov 22, 2017 2:02 am

I want to focus on improving my sila. I was thinking of focusing on mental, verbal and bodily conduct. My plan is to pick one mental, verbal and bodily act that's positive and practice it daily. What are your thoughts on this approach and what would you personally pick for those three things?
Right approach is "bodily" -> "verbal" -> "mental", simply because 1st one is the most evident and gross thing and is the easiest to deal with.

Digity
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Re: Want to improve sila

Post by Digity » Wed Nov 22, 2017 5:13 am

I don't see why you can't do all three in parallel. Unless you're struggling to see the issues in your conduct then yes, maybe work on the obvious stuff first. I feel pretty aware though of my problems with mental/verbal/bodily conduct, so I feel I can approach them all at once.

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Zom
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Re: Want to improve sila

Post by Zom » Wed Nov 22, 2017 4:00 pm

Because if you can't manage with gross mental activities that lead to bodily actions, there's little chance you ll be able to do that with more subtle mental activities that lead to speech and thinking ,)

Digity
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Re: Want to improve sila

Post by Digity » Thu Nov 23, 2017 5:27 am

Zom wrote:
Wed Nov 22, 2017 4:00 pm
Because if you can't manage with gross mental activities that lead to bodily actions, there's little chance you ll be able to do that with more subtle mental activities that lead to speech and thinking ,)
Well, what I'm practicing is pretty simple. For verbal, I'm practicing greeting my coworkers in a friendly manner in the morning. For mental, I'm making sure to take a pause once a day and spend a minute reflecting on my good qualities. For bodily, I'm practicing a small act of generosity, like giving a $1 donation when getting a coffee or going out of my way to help someone. These are small acts and I don't see why they can't be done in parallel.

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L.N.
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Re: Want to improve sila

Post by L.N. » Thu Nov 23, 2017 5:57 am

Be kind to yourself too.
Sire patitthitā Buddhā
Dhammo ca tava locane
Sangho patitthitō tuiham
uresabba gunākaro


愿众佛坐在我的头顶, 佛法在我的眼中, 僧伽,功德的根源, 端坐在我的肩上。

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Zom
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Re: Want to improve sila

Post by Zom » Fri Nov 24, 2017 12:45 am

Well, what I'm practicing is pretty simple. For verbal, I'm practicing greeting my coworkers in a friendly manner in the morning. For mental, I'm making sure to take a pause once a day and spend a minute reflecting on my good qualities. For bodily, I'm practicing a small act of generosity, like giving a $1 donation when getting a coffee or going out of my way to help someone. These are small acts and I don't see why they can't be done in parallel.
They can, however, if you (generally) do bad deeds and at the same time try to speak gently from time to time - this will lead you nowhere, because you are trying first to fix things which must be fixed later.

Same with meditation. For example, yes, you can meditate 10 minutes a day - but generally this will lead you nowhere until you are proficient in previous preliminary path stages. However, once you are accomplished in that, every meditation session will give you significant boost and advancement - like it was with the Buddha himself. He was so prepared, that he just sat under the tree and accidentally entered jhana. He didn't need to meditate 8 hours every day for 30 years to make it - because other things lead you in there, not "as many sessions as possible".

This gradual approach to practice is something people poorly understand, unfortunately.

Digity
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Re: Want to improve sila

Post by Digity » Fri Nov 24, 2017 2:05 am

Zom wrote:
Fri Nov 24, 2017 12:45 am
Well, what I'm practicing is pretty simple. For verbal, I'm practicing greeting my coworkers in a friendly manner in the morning. For mental, I'm making sure to take a pause once a day and spend a minute reflecting on my good qualities. For bodily, I'm practicing a small act of generosity, like giving a $1 donation when getting a coffee or going out of my way to help someone. These are small acts and I don't see why they can't be done in parallel.
They can, however, if you (generally) do bad deeds and at the same time try to speak gently from time to time - this will lead you nowhere, because you are trying first to fix things which must be fixed later.

Same with meditation. For example, yes, you can meditate 10 minutes a day - but generally this will lead you nowhere until you are proficient in previous preliminary path stages. However, once you are accomplished in that, every meditation session will give you significant boost and advancement - like it was with the Buddha himself. He was so prepared, that he just sat under the tree and accidentally entered jhana. He didn't need to meditate 8 hours every day for 30 years to make it - because other things lead you in there, not "as many sessions as possible".

This gradual approach to practice is something people poorly understand, unfortunately.
I don't think my issue is performing bad deeds. I follow the five precepts (although, I'm breaking one currently due to carpenter ants), but generally I live a pretty moral life. No major transgressions, but in the past I've been less than nice to people.

Anyway, I think at this point in my practice this is the right thing for me. It's nothing too extreme, but it's edging my mind more and more into wholesome areas. If anything, I think I'm very much following the gradual process. I've actually give up intense meditation so that i could step back and focus on the basics and that's what I feel I'm doing here.

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Zom
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Re: Want to improve sila

Post by Zom » Fri Nov 24, 2017 12:23 pm

I don't think my issue is performing bad deeds. I follow the five precepts (although, I'm breaking one currently due to carpenter ants), but generally I live a pretty moral life. No major transgressions, but in the past I've been less than nice to people.
That was not personal, but just an example .)

Digity
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Re: Want to improve sila

Post by Digity » Sat Nov 25, 2017 4:45 pm

Zom wrote:
Fri Nov 24, 2017 12:23 pm
I don't think my issue is performing bad deeds. I follow the five precepts (although, I'm breaking one currently due to carpenter ants), but generally I live a pretty moral life. No major transgressions, but in the past I've been less than nice to people.
That was not personal, but just an example .)
Well, I've always appreciate your advice on taking the gradual path and it's helped shape my own practice. I've put the more formal meditation practice on the back burner and spend my time practicing calmness and relaxation exercises. I just had to face the hard truth that I wasn't ready to dive into the deep end. I need to spend more time in the shallow end learning the basics.

Digity
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Re: Want to improve sila

Post by Digity » Tue Nov 28, 2017 11:19 pm

Zom wrote:
Wed Nov 22, 2017 2:02 am
I want to focus on improving my sila. I was thinking of focusing on mental, verbal and bodily conduct. My plan is to pick one mental, verbal and bodily act that's positive and practice it daily. What are your thoughts on this approach and what would you personally pick for those three things?
Right approach is "bodily" -> "verbal" -> "mental", simply because 1st one is the most evident and gross thing and is the easiest to deal with.
Isn't generosity considered step 1? That'd fall under bodily, correct?

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