From ancient byways to modern highways, glimpses of faith are everywhere...

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Mahayana New Year: Five precepts remembered

(Photo by Gregory H. Revera)
Mahayana Buddhists begin their new year on the first full moon in January (although the schedule can vary from country to country). reports that this "is a time of cleansing from sins of the past year and resolving to make a fresh start."

It is therefore a time for particular remembrance of the Buddhist Five Precepts.  These precepts include the following:  do not kill; do not steal; do not engage in sexual misconduct; do not make false speech; and do not take intoxicants. Although simply worded, these precepts are fraught with nuanced meanings.

"Do not kill," for example, does not just refer to the
outright extinguishing of life.  According to web., the greater thrust of this precept is to
cultivate "the attitude of loving kindness to all beings" (including animals) by "wishing that they may be happy and free from harm."  This precept not only applies to those directly involved, but also fans out to a wider circle of friends and family. If a being is harmed, the circle of loved ones can't help but be negatively affected.

"Do not steal" refers to the taking "by force or by fraud" that which is not rightfully yours.  Just as "do not kill" has the "flip side" of loving kindness, "do not steal" has the counterpart of generosity.  It is also said that the best form of generosity is the "gift of the Dharma in the form of teaching it…"

"Do not engage in sexual misconduct" hinges upon respect for relationship boundaries.  One consequence of sexual misconduct is "having many enemies."  Another is "union with undesirable wives and husbands" (see National Enquirer).

"Do not lie" includes the avoidance of  half-truths, understatements, exaggerations, and false accusations.

"Do not take intoxicants" is particularly supportive of those who meditate.  Not relying upon mind-altering substances such as liquor or narcotics can promote the "awareness, attention and clarity" that meditation entails.


Copyright January 24, 2013 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

No comments:

Post a Comment