1. I undertake the training rule to abstain from taking life.
2. I undertake the training rule to abstain from taking what is not given.
3. I undertake the training rule to abstain from sexual misconduct
4. I undertake the training rule to abstain from false speech.
5. I undertake the training rule to abstain from intoxicants that cause heedlessness.

I used to think the Buddhist precepts were something you swore to uphold, not quite like the 10 commandments, but similar. They seem like pretty good things to aspire to, and maybe if we all “did” them then the world would be a better place. Of course its explained right away in most literature that these are more suggestions than rules, in fact it is understood that there may be times when it is more proper to break a precept than to uphold it.

However, these days Ive come to a sort of realization about the precepts, and as usual I’m finding that my notions about how they ‘work’ was a bit backward.You see, in Buddhism there is the implicit understanding that we know right from wrong, we don’t really have to be threatened by divine punishment because karma isn’t some supernatural force of punishment and reward, its simply the natural effect of a natural cause. So the precepts aren’t there to teach you how to behave, they are there to show you how Buddhas behave naturally!

All of us are Buddhas, unfortunately most of us aren’t aware of it. The Buddha (literally translated as ‘the awakened one’ or ‘the enlightened one’) isn’t some mysterious or mythical persona, its me and you when we see the truth as it really is, its us when we are living honestly in each moment without the bullshit and biases.

I realised that the precepts are an example of how all of us act when we are no longer deluded by greed, aversion, or ignorance. Naturally, without having to be told! The formal precepts aren’t the Buddhist way of saying “hey you, do this OR ELSE!” rather, it is the Buddhist way of saying “See these precept things? they are the way the world works when we are at our best” You don’t need someone to tell you not to kill, you already KNOW not to kill, in fact, every fiber of your natural being tells you not to kill. It takes a lot of delusion (in the form of years of conditioning) to even be able to kill. The precept against killing  just reminds you of this fact, it isn’t there to force you to do anything.

The precepts are a way to act ‘as if’. As if you are already awakened, enlightened, whatever you choose to call it. Its a way to reconnect with that natural part of ourselves that wants to live in harmony with the rest of the universe. Once you get a little taste of the real you its damn near impossible to go back to being deluded again, by taking the precepts seriously you are giving yourself a sample of a more profound and honest part of yourself.

Categories: Buddhism and life | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “Sinless

  1. Circular

    Nice post, I sort of get what you mean.

    On the other hand… children are more often much more violent and cruel than adults, until their mom tells them not to bully other children.

    But are children any more close to Buddhas than adults after all?

  2. It was actually the big question that led Dogen to found Soto Zen buddhism in the first place. if we are all already elightened perfect beings then why ‘do’ buddhism and zazen and all that?

    What Dogen found was that, buddhas or not, children are untrained and subject to the whim of their emotions. So, it turns out, are most adults. Which is why even though the Buddha and Dogen and tons of other Buddhist dudes said we are already inherently Buddhas that we need to train ourselves to accept reality and act like it.

    Besides, those kids are violent and cruel because of their upbringing, environment, local events, etc 99% of the time. What we call ‘conditioning’, thats why you cant achieve “enlightenment’ (whatever that is) in an afternoon or even a few weeks. You took 20 or 20 or 40 years to get this conditioned, so it takes a while to get unconditioned too.

  3. I was going to comment pretty much the same way as speedyortiz. Good post againt Jason!

    I just found out that there is a term to this way of acting that I have been doing. When ever I feel, hear or see someone being in trouble, or jsut not feeling their best, I say in my mind “My dear fellow human, I wish that everything will be ok with you”. And it doesnt matter if it is a politician that I know does bad thing. If I read somewhere that they have had a accident, or something else, I allways think like that. I did it when I was in the doctors office and people were looking worried. Even if I was worried, I still managed to wish well for others. Maybe the next step will be that I wish them well and not think about it, or try to be “all highy and mighty” about it. Even if im not. But still, it offers me some sort of comfort to know, that in all of us, there is the Buddha nature. If you can say it like that. But about the concept of wishing well for others. I didnt know that there is a word for it. Mettā. Naturally I have read about being good and postive, but never about the actual concept of it, explained and specified. So in a way, that is my Buddha nature.

  4. Mike

    I am totally like a giant greedy selfish teenager. I want EVERYTHING! I want a newer, bigger, TV. I want lightning fast internet and 22 inch rims! In the long run though I realize that as long as I can afford my mortgage I will be ok without everything else.

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