Support in following the 8 precepts

Buddhist ethical conduct including the Five Precepts (Pañcasikkhāpada), and Eightfold Ethical Conduct (Aṭṭhasīla).
Post Reply
philosopher
Posts: 110
Joined: Tue Jan 29, 2013 3:48 pm

Support in following the 8 precepts

Post by philosopher » Thu Dec 15, 2016 5:38 am

My aspiration over the last couple of years has been to follow the 8 precepts perfectly, but I find it difficult without the support or camaraderie of anyone else. The members of my local sangha (parisa, to be precise) do not seem, for the most part, to be very devoted practitioners (at least, the ones who are the most vocal during meetings). They bash the precepts and some even take personal offense to the suggestion that breaking them is not conducive to serious practice.

Does anyone have any suggestions for practicing the 8 precepts all the time in lay life? Obviously I'm very careful about what media I consume, and the beauty of the precepts is that they force mindfuless since one cannot escape difficult feelings with music, food, etc. But because they run so counter to mainstream society, it'd be great to have a "support group" of sorts. Any suggestions? I try to just read as much dhamma as I can since this helps a lot. And over the years, seeing the negative effects of breaking them and how doing so disturbs blissful states of peace has also been helpful.

:anjali:

Faelig
Posts: 36
Joined: Tue Nov 10, 2015 5:41 pm

Re: Support in following the 8 precepts

Post by Faelig » Thu Dec 15, 2016 5:21 pm

Hi Philosopher,

I am pondering these questions as well right now... and, like you, I found that reading the suttas daily helps me a lot!
I feel that I would benefit from being part of a group of persons following the same precepts or practices (eg: uposatha), which is not the case yet.

Regarding music I have no problems not listening to music anymore, but I've never been into it too much anyway so maybe that's why this one was easy. One thing that might help is deleting all the digital music on your computer (if you have some) since this is often illegal downloading - and once the music is not on the computer then it's easier not to be tempted.

It is a bit harder with fictional movies or series but for now I managed to maintain it. Reminding myself how much time I save by not watching stuff helps me a lot I think (it was the same trick that got me out of video games, I spent so much time on that Oo) - I am pleased that I can spend time on more valuable goals such as work, sutta study or family/friends.

I tried not too have food in the evening but I could not manage that one... that's the one I would need help from other people doing the same thing I think. That's a tough one for me.

Good luck with your practice!

Faelig

User avatar
Goofaholix
Posts: 2934
Joined: Sun Nov 15, 2009 3:49 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: Support in following the 8 precepts

Post by Goofaholix » Thu Dec 15, 2016 6:48 pm

Do it while living in a monastery or retreat centre, that's what they're designed for.
“Peace is within oneself to be found in the same place as agitation and suffering. It is not found in a forest or on a hilltop, nor is it given by a teacher. Where you experience suffering, you can also find freedom from suffering. Trying to run away from suffering is actually to run toward it.” ― Ajahn Chah

SarathW
Posts: 8068
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2012 2:49 am

Re: Support in following the 8 precepts

Post by SarathW » Thu Dec 15, 2016 8:42 pm

Does anyone have any suggestions for practicing the 8 precepts all the time in lay life?
It is possible to practice 8 precepts as lay person all time in his/her life.
If you have a partner then practicing celibacy could be a problem unless your partner support it.
If you do hard labour work you may need some regular sustenance.
Your job may be a hindrance to your practice.
This is the reason why lay people observe eight precepts only once a month in Uposata days.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

befriend
Posts: 1082
Joined: Thu Jun 09, 2011 11:39 am

Re: Support in following the 8 precepts

Post by befriend » Fri Dec 16, 2016 1:35 pm

In the course of Buddhist history has there ever been an 8 precept community of practitioners?
nothing can destroy a man who has lived a pure life

User avatar
DC2R
Posts: 286
Joined: Sun Jan 10, 2016 9:54 pm
Location: United States

Re: Support in following the 8 precepts

Post by DC2R » Sat Dec 17, 2016 5:58 pm

I try to follow the eight precepts, but it is difficult. So far, I have done away with music and entertainment as well as beautification. However, eating between sunrise and noon is a challenge for someone who does a lot of physical work and must conform to other people's schedules. I find it best to observe the eight precepts once per week, say, on Sunday. If you can actually follow the Uposatha calendar, that is even better. Overall, I have found that the most practical path for lay people is to observe the five precepts all the time, and the eight precepts on special observance days. That being said, I abstain from things such as music all the time anyway, which I suppose is beneficial to maintaining a peaceful mind.
May the blessings of the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha always be firmly established in your hearts.

http://txti.es/theravada

User avatar
manas
Posts: 2251
Joined: Thu Jul 22, 2010 3:04 am
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: Support in following the 8 precepts

Post by manas » Sun Apr 09, 2017 11:44 pm

Goofaholix wrote:Do it while living in a monastery or retreat centre, that's what they're designed for.
So long as practising eight precepts does not inconvenience anyone else (for example, if not consuming food after midday leaves someone too tired to work, or care for dependents), then I can't see why ANY layperson should not undertake them, so long as doing so improves their practice of the dhamma. Why not?
Then the Blessed One, picking up a tiny bit of dust with the tip of his fingernail, said to the monk, "There isn't even this much form...feeling...
perception...fabrications...consciousness that is constant, lasting, eternal, not subject to change, that will stay just as it is as long as eternity."

(SN 22.97)

R1111
Posts: 1019
Joined: Thu Nov 12, 2015 4:17 am

Re: Support in following the 8 precepts

Post by R1111 » Mon Apr 10, 2017 12:33 am

Contemplating and coming to agreement is helpful, contemplating body, contemplating sensuality, contemplating death, studying and remembering helps. Not seeing women,not talking to women helps alot. Not visiting people inclined on breaking those precepts helps alot as well.
Not worrying about breaking precepts helps, so does not building up tension in regards to keeping the precepts. Not giving rise to feelings of exaltation (conceit) because of keeping precepts helps. Reflecting on intentions helps, reflecting on benefits of abstaining helps. Meditation helps, seclusion helps and mindfulness is always helpful. Association with good friends helps.

User avatar
manas
Posts: 2251
Joined: Thu Jul 22, 2010 3:04 am
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: Support in following the 8 precepts

Post by manas » Mon Apr 10, 2017 2:15 am

R1111 wrote:Contemplating and coming to agreement is helpful, contemplating body, contemplating sensuality, contemplating death, studying and remembering helps. Not seeing women,not talking to women helps alot. Not visiting people inclined on breaking those precepts helps alot as well.
Not worrying about breaking precepts helps, so does not building up tension in regards to keeping the precepts. Not giving rise to feelings of exaltation (conceit) because of keeping precepts helps. Reflecting on intentions helps, reflecting on benefits of abstaining helps. Meditation helps, seclusion helps and mindfulness is always helpful. Association with good friends helps.
:goodpost:

Regarding not seeing women, well as a layman there will be times when that is unavoidable, however I wonder if this: "On seeing a form with the eye, he does not grasp at any theme or details by which — if he were to dwell without restraint over the faculty of the eye — evil, unskillful qualities such as greed or distress might assail him" means, it's not that we must necessarily look away from a woman (since that behaviour could cause offense, if she is simply trying to communicate in an ordinary way with us), but rather, not grasping at / focussing on her attractive features (?) - for example, focus simply on completing the necessary interaction, on her as a human being who, like ourselves, has a body composed of unattractive internal parts, ie keep one's focus of awareness pure as one can. A challenge yes, but as a layman, well this might be more courteous than say, just looking at the floor (i mean, where can one look to avoid seeing them in this situation without appearing odd?) every time a member of the opposite sex has something to say to us? (i'm open to any correction of what I have written, or advice on this issue also). :anjali:
Sense Restraint
"And how does a monk guard the doors of his senses? On seeing a form with the eye, he does not grasp at any theme or details by which — if he were to dwell without restraint over the faculty of the eye — evil, unskillful qualities such as greed or distress might assail him. On hearing a sound with the ear... On smelling an odor with the nose... On tasting a flavor with the tongue... On touching a tactile sensation with the body... On cognizing an idea with the intellect, he does not grasp at any theme or details by which — if he were to dwell without restraint over the faculty of the intellect — evil, unskillful qualities such as greed or distress might assail him. Endowed with this noble restraint over the sense faculties, he is inwardly sensitive to the pleasure of being blameless. This is how a monk guards the doors of his senses. (source: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html)
Then the Blessed One, picking up a tiny bit of dust with the tip of his fingernail, said to the monk, "There isn't even this much form...feeling...
perception...fabrications...consciousness that is constant, lasting, eternal, not subject to change, that will stay just as it is as long as eternity."

(SN 22.97)

User avatar
Goofaholix
Posts: 2934
Joined: Sun Nov 15, 2009 3:49 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: Support in following the 8 precepts

Post by Goofaholix » Mon Apr 10, 2017 2:56 am

manas wrote:So long as practising eight precepts does not inconvenience anyone else (for example, if not consuming food after midday leaves someone too tired to work, or care for dependents), then I can't see why ANY layperson should not undertake them, so long as doing so improves their practice of the dhamma. Why not?
Because it will probably inconvenience other people and probably won't make much difference to your dhamma practice, in my opinion.

If you prefer to not eat dinner then just don't eat dinner, if you prefer to sleep on hard beds and not watch tv and not wear makeup or jewelry and not have sex then just don't do those things, there is no need to be all religious about it and pretend like you're a monastic. It then follows that there'll be no need to beat yourself up about it if you need to compromise at times as it's not about morality but simplifying your life.
“Peace is within oneself to be found in the same place as agitation and suffering. It is not found in a forest or on a hilltop, nor is it given by a teacher. Where you experience suffering, you can also find freedom from suffering. Trying to run away from suffering is actually to run toward it.” ― Ajahn Chah

R1111
Posts: 1019
Joined: Thu Nov 12, 2015 4:17 am

Re: Support in following the 8 precepts

Post by R1111 » Mon Apr 10, 2017 7:11 am

Guarding senses refers to the armor of mindfulnes at the Six Sense Doors. Noting seeing rather than grasping at particulars, if liking arises noting that as well, same with feelings associated with grasping and other Satipatthanas. It is going to be difficult/impossible in practice, especially in regards to women.
"Lord, what course should we follow with regard to womenfolk?""Not-seeing, Ananda""But when there is seeing, lord, what course should be followed?""Not-addressing, Ananda.""But when we are addressed, what course should be followed?""Mindfulness should be established, Ananda."
Another thing that is helpful is not eating much, avoiding excess energy and foods that entice lust, garlic and onions i heard are such foods ie.

User avatar
Bhikkhu Pesala
Posts: 3670
Joined: Thu Jan 29, 2009 8:17 pm

Re: Support in following the 8 precepts

Post by Bhikkhu Pesala » Mon Apr 10, 2017 1:53 pm

Goofaholix wrote:If you prefer to not eat dinner then just don't eat dinner, if you prefer to sleep on hard beds and not watch tv and not wear makeup or jewelry and not have sex then just don't do those things, there is no need to be all religious about it and pretend like you're a monastic. It then follows that there'll be no need to beat yourself up about it if you need to compromise at times as it's not about morality but simplifying your life.
This comment is unhelpful.

Some lay meditators may want to refine their morality to aid the development of concentration and insight. The last thing that they need is people telling them it is not helpful to strive harder to develop the Path. Whether one takes five precepts, eight, or ten, it is sure to develop some tension in an ordinary person. Precepts set boundaries that stem the current of desire. The defilements are highlighted where they can be observed more clearly. Eating after midday is not a need at all, and entertainments are simply a distraction from the truth of suffering.

The morality that is observed only when you find it convenient is ineffective. It is the Uposatha of the Jains.
AIM ForumsPāli FontsIn This Very LifeBuddhist ChroniclesSoftware (Upasampadā: 24th June, 1979)

User avatar
Goofaholix
Posts: 2934
Joined: Sun Nov 15, 2009 3:49 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: Support in following the 8 precepts

Post by Goofaholix » Mon Apr 10, 2017 8:38 pm

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:This comment is unhelpful.

Some lay meditators may want to refine their morality to aid the development of concentration and insight.
I think it is, the five precepts are about morality the additional in the eight precepts are about simplifying your life, there is nothing immoral about eating in the afternoon and clearly as the OP is finding it difficult they are not simplifying his/her life. The eight precepts simplify your life while living in the monastery because that's what everyone else is doing, that doesn't mean it's going to simplify your life when living at home and working every day etc, in fact depending on how it affects those that you live and work with it may complicate your life.

Instead of rigidly applying rules that may not be appropriate in the circumstances (possibly Silabbatupadana) I think it's better to look at intelligent ways to simplify your life appropriate to your circumstances.
“Peace is within oneself to be found in the same place as agitation and suffering. It is not found in a forest or on a hilltop, nor is it given by a teacher. Where you experience suffering, you can also find freedom from suffering. Trying to run away from suffering is actually to run toward it.” ― Ajahn Chah

R1111
Posts: 1019
Joined: Thu Nov 12, 2015 4:17 am

Re: Support in following the 8 precepts

Post by R1111 » Mon Apr 10, 2017 11:50 pm

Abstaining from the evening meal because one is dieting or is not hungry is very diffrent from Abstaining from eating because it has been proclaimed as conducive to Enlightenment. Same with Singing and dancing, these are completely immoral because they are not conducive to Enlightenment and Awakening to the Truth, rather conducive to Craving, partiality, cultivating greed(craving), anger(boredom) and even delusion sometimes.

Getting hooked on Entertainment and one will cultivate inability to sit still and will get bored faster, in turn wasting time not meditating or contemplating because one's priorities are all messed up. We all might die within 5 minutes from now and might not be reborn human or better for billions and billions of years. Singing and dancing is negligent, reckless and irresponsible behavior.

It is ok not to keep these precepts in the world but only if one doesnt want to achieve Nibbana in this life. In that case it's alright as they are not the Five Fearful Animosities and even God's enjoy their Song and Dance but holding view that these are not immoral acts is wrong view .

If we have the Highest Goal in mind and comprehend Impermanence of even Brahma Realms, we will see that these seemingly innocent pleasures will corrupt us and lead to great suffering. Compared to Nibbana these joys are truly nothing, of no substance for having been they cease, as joy they bring is tainted, short lived, of little benefit and even conducive to suffering.

User avatar
ganegaar
Posts: 140
Joined: Fri Dec 23, 2016 8:01 am
Location: Stockholm

Re: Support in following the 8 precepts

Post by ganegaar » Tue Apr 11, 2017 9:28 am

About not eating after noon:
The actual pali word to the precept is "vicala bojanan...", which has literal meaning, "no eating at in-appropriate times", or practically, "not eating on times that are not 'eating times'". Then, in the monastic practice, there are only two eating times, just breakfast and lunch, and a finish time for lunch is specifically set to "before solar noon"., starting time of breakfast is set to "after sunrise".

May be in our daily practice as lay people, we should be a little practical with the "after sunrise, before solar noon" rule, instead stick to the literal meaning of the paali word, and limit to two meals a day., but not violate "before solar noon" by larger margins. We would usually take Lunch between say 11:30 and 14:30, and once we take that meal that we call "Lunch", then it is time to stop eating anything, until the meal what we call "Breakfast", whenever that time may be.
So, the main focus would be, two meals, no eating in-between meals, but a little flexible on timing. Wonder what other practitioners would think of this?
Sīlepatiṭṭhāya naro sapañño, cittaṃ paññañca bhāvayaṃ;
Ātāpī nipako bhikkhu, so imaṃ vijaṭaye jaṭanti.

R1111
Posts: 1019
Joined: Thu Nov 12, 2015 4:17 am

Re: Support in following the 8 precepts

Post by R1111 » Tue Apr 11, 2017 11:51 am

ganegaar wrote:...
Thanks for the post,
I actually meant abstaining from evening meal as in abstaining from overeating/eating at inappropriate times and reason. Seemed really obvious to me that the point of moderating food is to avoid overeating as well as not eating for putting on bulk nor for beautification or for the sake of taste or other kind indulgence. Rather eating just enough of appropriate foods to adequately sustain bodily functions necessary for meditation and doing one's chores.

User avatar
Goofaholix
Posts: 2934
Joined: Sun Nov 15, 2009 3:49 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: Support in following the 8 precepts

Post by Goofaholix » Tue Apr 11, 2017 8:12 pm

ganegaar wrote:The actual pali word to the precept is "vicala bojanan...", which has literal meaning, "no eating at in-appropriate times", or practically, "not eating on times that are not 'eating times'". . Wonder what other practitioners would think of this?
For monastics not eating at inappropriate times is in part about not bothering lay people for alms food multiple times a day. For monastics as well as lay people meal times are community times, and since often the evening meal is usually the most important social time for laypeople it's obviously not an inappropriate time for lay people.

I think the most obvious way for laypeople to observe the spirit of the precept when not staying in a monastery is by not snacking, there's a lot to be said for not snacking it's a good way to develop self discipline without excluding yourself from social interaction.
“Peace is within oneself to be found in the same place as agitation and suffering. It is not found in a forest or on a hilltop, nor is it given by a teacher. Where you experience suffering, you can also find freedom from suffering. Trying to run away from suffering is actually to run toward it.” ― Ajahn Chah

User avatar
Anagarika
Posts: 914
Joined: Thu Sep 22, 2011 11:25 pm

Re: Support in following the 8 precepts

Post by Anagarika » Thu Apr 13, 2017 11:15 am

philosopher wrote:My aspiration over the last couple of years has been to follow the 8 precepts perfectly, but I find it difficult without the support or camaraderie of anyone else. But because they run so counter to mainstream society, it'd be great to have a "support group" of sorts. Any suggestions? I try to just read as much dhamma as I can since this helps a lot. And over the years, seeing the negative effects of breaking them and how doing so disturbs blissful states of peace has also been helpful.
Your suggestion is a good one, Philosopher. I decided a few years ago to make the committment to ordain with the 8 precepts. I can say that the first year was difficult, in some ways, with adapting to the eating schedule, but over time the body adapts. Taking onboard the brahmacariya and excluding the possibility of intimacy was maybe even more difficult; the mind is used to the idea of partnering, intimacy, and the emotional benefits of having a joyous and loving partner. Once that is removed, at least for me, I went through a kind of grieving process, mindful that I was separating from what I had known for all of my adult life. Today, I'm just very equanimous about it, and don't miss day to day the natural quest for intimacy and partnership. I feel a freedom to perceive women as "sisters' in a sense, and not as possible partners. Letting go of these patterns truly frees one to go deeper into the practice in many ways.

The other aspects of the 8 precepts really do cultivate the mindfulness of the path. Living a minimalist life, and removing from the radar entertainments, intoxicants, adornments, and having a simple approach to sleep habits again, frees and settles the mind to focus on the Dhamma and the practice. There are still awkward moments, as unless one is living in a wat, you're constantly confronting situations that place you in opposition to the lay world around you. I turned down an offer of a lunch seminar, for example, as it starts at noon through 130, and that is past the midday. I find myself excusing myself from things like this at times, and it can be awkward as I don't broadcast my practice to others. In other cases, I attend the function, and I just don't eat, having eaten silently earlier at 11 am, from the simple, inexpensive meals that I prepare for each day. No big deal, usually.

Wisely reflecting, I use this food not for fun, not for pleasure, not for fattening, not for beautification, but only for the maintenance and nourishment of this body, for keeping it healthy, for helping with the Spiritual Life;
Thinking thus, I will allay hunger without overeating, so that I may continue to live blamelessly and at ease.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 5 guests