What to do when a precept is broken

Buddhist ethical conduct including the Five Precepts (Pañcasikkhāpada), and Eightfold Ethical Conduct (Aṭṭhasīla).
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jackson
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What to do when a precept is broken

Post by jackson » Fri Jul 15, 2016 9:16 pm

Hi everyone,
Did the Buddha give advice for what to do when we break a precept? And if not, what is the proper way to discipline ourselves and also not end up beating ourselves up over it?
Thank you for your replies,
Jackson
"The heart of the path is quite easy. There’s no need to explain anything at length. Let go of love and hate and let things be. That’s all that I do in my own practice." - Ajahn Chah

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Ben
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Re: What to do when a precept is broken

Post by Ben » Fri Jul 15, 2016 10:36 pm

jackson wrote:Hi everyone,
Did the Buddha give advice for what to do when we break a precept? And if not, what is the proper way to discipline ourselves and also not end up beating ourselves up over it?
Thank you for your replies,
Jackson
Retake your precepts. Preferably in front of a monk or if not, with your Buddhist friends or in front of a shrine. If you don't have access to those, then reaffirming the precepts by reciting them on your own, so long as you have the intention to keep them, is enough.
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

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Modus.Ponens
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Re: What to do when a precept is broken

Post by Modus.Ponens » Fri Jul 15, 2016 10:47 pm

I'd also add Ajahn Brahm's advice on how to deal with mistakes and guilt.

His advice is AFL. Aknowledge. Forgive. Learn. So in this case, I'd say if you break a precept, aknowledge that you broke it. Forgive yourself, because guilt is paralising and of little use in and of itself. And learn the lesson from that mistake. Try to learn why abiding by precepts is good.

AFL

Anjali
He turns his mind away from those phenomena, and having done so, inclines his mind to the property of deathlessness: 'This is peace, this is exquisite — the resolution of all fabrications; the relinquishment of all acquisitions; the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; Unbinding.'
(Jhana Sutta - Thanissaro Bhikkhu translation)

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bodom
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Re: What to do when a precept is broken

Post by bodom » Fri Jul 15, 2016 11:32 pm

jackson wrote:Hi everyone,
Did the Buddha give advice for what to do when we break a precept? And if not, what is the proper way to discipline ourselves and also not end up beating ourselves up over it?
Thank you for your replies,
Jackson
I'm working my way through the Samyutta Nikaya and just read this sutta today:
"A disciple has faith in that teacher and reflects: 'The Blessed One in a variety of ways criticizes & censures the taking of life, and says, "Abstain from taking life." There are living beings that I have killed, to a greater or lesser extent. That was not right. That was not good. But if I become remorseful for that reason, that evil deed of mine will not be undone.' So, reflecting thus, he abandons right then the taking of life, and in the future refrains from taking life. This is how there comes to be the abandoning of that evil deed. This is how there comes to be the transcending of that evil deed.

"[He reflects:] 'The Blessed One in a variety of ways criticizes & censures stealing... indulging in illicit sex... the telling of lies, and says, "Abstain from the telling of lies." There are lies that I have told, to a greater or lesser extent. That was not right. That was not good. But if I become remorseful for that reason, that evil deed of mine will not be undone.' So, reflecting thus, he abandons right then the telling of lies, and in the future refrains from telling lies. This is how there comes to be the abandoning of that evil deed. This is how there comes to be the transcending of that evil deed.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

:namaste:
To study is to know the texts,
To practice is to know your defilements,
To attain the goal is to know and let go.

- Ajahn Lee Dhammadharo


With mindfulness immersed in the body
well established, restrained
with regard to the six media of contact,
always centered, the monk
can know Unbinding for himself.

- Ud 3.5


"Dont send the mind outside. Watch the mind right at the mind."

- Ajahn Dune Atulo

jackson
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Re: What to do when a precept is broken

Post by jackson » Sat Jul 16, 2016 1:14 am

Thank you for the replies, they've all been helpful.
:anjali:
"The heart of the path is quite easy. There’s no need to explain anything at length. Let go of love and hate and let things be. That’s all that I do in my own practice." - Ajahn Chah

Cormac Brown
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Re: What to do when a precept is broken

Post by Cormac Brown » Sun Jul 17, 2016 6:46 pm

bodom wrote:
jackson wrote:Hi everyone,
Did the Buddha give advice for what to do when we break a precept? And if not, what is the proper way to discipline ourselves and also not end up beating ourselves up over it?
Thank you for your replies,
Jackson
I'm working my way through the Samyutta Nikaya and just read this sutta today:
"A disciple has faith in that teacher and reflects: 'The Blessed One in a variety of ways criticizes & censures the taking of life, and says, "Abstain from taking life." There are living beings that I have killed, to a greater or lesser extent. That was not right. That was not good. But if I become remorseful for that reason, that evil deed of mine will not be undone.' So, reflecting thus, he abandons right then the taking of life, and in the future refrains from taking life. This is how there comes to be the abandoning of that evil deed. This is how there comes to be the transcending of that evil deed.

"[He reflects:] 'The Blessed One in a variety of ways criticizes & censures stealing... indulging in illicit sex... the telling of lies, and says, "Abstain from the telling of lies." There are lies that I have told, to a greater or lesser extent. That was not right. That was not good. But if I become remorseful for that reason, that evil deed of mine will not be undone.' So, reflecting thus, he abandons right then the telling of lies, and in the future refrains from telling lies. This is how there comes to be the abandoning of that evil deed. This is how there comes to be the transcending of that evil deed.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

:namaste:
Yes. Great sutta.

There's also the Instructions to Rahula:
"Having done a bodily action, you should reflect on it: 'This bodily action I have done — did it lead to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both? Was it an unskillful bodily action, with painful consequences, painful results?' If, on reflection, you know that it led to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both; it was an unskillful bodily action with painful consequences, painful results, then you should confess it, reveal it, lay it open to the Teacher or to a knowledgeable companion in the holy life. Having confessed it... you should exercise restraint in the future.

MN 61 trans. Ven. Thanissaro

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
'fessing up to a wise friend can really help.
“I in the present who am a worthy one, rightly self-awakened, am a
teacher of action, a teacher of activity, a teacher of persistence. But the
worthless man Makkhali contradicts even me, (saying,) ‘There is no
action. There is no activity. There is no persistence.’ "
AN 3.138, trans. Ven. Thanissaro

denise
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Re: What to do when a precept is broken

Post by denise » Mon Jul 18, 2016 12:26 am

confession is good ....feels good...do it quickly...just sayin :hug:

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ihrjordan
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Re: What to do when a precept is broken

Post by ihrjordan » Mon Jul 18, 2016 12:47 am

Make a determination to abstain from such action in the future; send loving kindness to yourself and anyone you may have harmed and lastly, reflect on your generosity so as to reaffirm to yourself that you are indeed worthy to walk this path.

Garrib
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Re: What to do when a precept is broken

Post by Garrib » Thu Sep 22, 2016 4:05 am

bodom wrote:
jackson wrote:Hi everyone,
Did the Buddha give advice for what to do when we break a precept? And if not, what is the proper way to discipline ourselves and also not end up beating ourselves up over it?
Thank you for your replies,
Jackson
I'm working my way through the Samyutta Nikaya and just read this sutta today:
"A disciple has faith in that teacher and reflects: 'The Blessed One in a variety of ways criticizes & censures the taking of life, and says, "Abstain from taking life." There are living beings that I have killed, to a greater or lesser extent. That was not right. That was not good. But if I become remorseful for that reason, that evil deed of mine will not be undone.' So, reflecting thus, he abandons right then the taking of life, and in the future refrains from taking life. This is how there comes to be the abandoning of that evil deed. This is how there comes to be the transcending of that evil deed.

"[He reflects:] 'The Blessed One in a variety of ways criticizes & censures stealing... indulging in illicit sex... the telling of lies, and says, "Abstain from the telling of lies." There are lies that I have told, to a greater or lesser extent. That was not right. That was not good. But if I become remorseful for that reason, that evil deed of mine will not be undone.' So, reflecting thus, he abandons right then the telling of lies, and in the future refrains from telling lies. This is how there comes to be the abandoning of that evil deed. This is how there comes to be the transcending of that evil deed.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

:namaste:
Hello everyone,

So this might be a silly question, but in the above sutta where it says "But if I become remorseful for that reason, that evil deed of mine will not be undone": Does this mean that the quality of remorse will prevent the evil deed from losing its karmic potency, or is it simply a reflection on the fact that the past is the past, and the painful feeling of remorse can't change that. Either way, it seems to be advocating the letting go of remorse, but I would still like to understand this better. Thank you!

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robertk
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Re: What to do when a precept is broken

Post by robertk » Thu Sep 22, 2016 5:07 am

is it simply a reflection on the fact that the past is the past, and the painful feeling of remorse can't change that
Yes :)

It is simply adding more akusala..

Garrib
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Re: What to do when a precept is broken

Post by Garrib » Sat Sep 24, 2016 1:01 am

Yes :)

It is simply adding more akusala..
Thank you! :buddha1:

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JMGinPDX
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Re: What to do when a precept is broken

Post by JMGinPDX » Sun Sep 25, 2016 2:01 pm

This question has been well-answered, but if you scroll ahead to 1:03:45 in the video linked below, Luang Por Pasanno gives an excellent response to this type of question, which echoes comments already posted:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B5gXwtf ... x3MdfN9eKh

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Laurens
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Re: What to do when a precept is broken

Post by Laurens » Tue Nov 22, 2016 7:43 pm

Don't think of precepts like most people think of the Ten Commandments.

As you progress along your path you will be a moral person because you will have uprooted the causes of immorality.

Think of it like a garden. The precepts are not a sign post with the words "absolutely no weeds allowed". Viewing it as such will lead to you attacking the weeds with a pair of scissors, wondering why they keep coming back. What you ought to do, is uproot the weeds whilst you cultivate the soil, and plant seeds that will flourish in place of the weeds. Approach the precepts like a gardener who is aware that weeds are undesirable, but knows how to get rid of them properly.

Following rules blindly will lead to confusion, and worry. You will forever be thinking "uh oh what if I just broke a precept" or "does so and so violate the precepts". So far as I am concerned they aren't mean to be taken on in that fashion, but rather like the knowledge that weeds are undesirable. A rough guide for you to work on whilst you develop the means to uproot negative behaviour.

Focus on developing kindness, compassion, wisdom, and concentration, follow the precepts as best you can without worrying too much. We all have moments where we do or say unwholesome things, forgive yourself and work on the roots instead of worrying about each little weed.
"For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring."

Carl Sagan

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