Monthly Archives: October 2016

Vipassana – Five Precepts

This is in some sense a continuation of the last blog – this time I want to talk about the five precepts. Before we get into that let’s talk about Sila, Samadhi and Panna.

vipassana

The picture above depicts the three groups of the Noble Eightfold Path – Don’t worry this is not going to be a in-depth analysis of the concepts mentioned in the picture above [Maybe another blog…]

Let’s talk about Sila – Morality.  The premise is that you need to have a strong Sila to get established and continue on the path. And in order for that you have to undertake five precepts in the beginning which are:

  1. to abstain from killing any being;
  2. to abstain from stealing;
  3. to abstain from all sexual activity;
  4. to abstain from telling lies;
  5. to abstain from all intoxicants.

1#, 2#, 5# are easy and very clear. For #3 – For householders it means “To stay celibate until they get married and limit themselves to one partner afterwards.

#4: is the one that I find the most hard. As a student in a 10-day course you are silent throughout the course so there’s no way to break this Sila. However, as a server on the course it’s very difficult. In order to understand why we need to know what we mean by Right Speech. When speaking, servers must practice Right Speech, refraining from:

  • Speaking lies or anything less than the truth.
  • Harsh language or rude words. Someone practicing Dhamma should always be polite and soft-spoken.
  • Slander or backbiting. There should be no criticism of others arising from one’s own negative feelings. A problem should be brought to the attention of the person concerned or to the assistant teachers or center management.
  • Idle gossip, singing, whistling or humming.

I admit that while having conversations I sometimes get carried away – For example: the story about when I splashed ink on a classmate in 3rd standard turns into me emptying the ink bottle on her. It’s difficult for me not to embellish my stories a little bit. There are tons of other instances where I genuinely don’t remember, for example: if I had send the report in an email or in the meeting invite.

I know, this is being too pedantic so let’s move onto the other aspects of the Right Speech – I am guilty of all other three. I know they are not good things to engage in but I still lack the will/strength to abstain from them. For example: if you are talking about a common friend A with another friend B – are you engaging in slander or backbiting? If you have a chat with work colleague over coffee about others is that Idle Gossip?

What is the right answer? Srikumar Rao – who taught us Creativity and Personal Mastery in London Business School had said “In this plane, you cannot find the answer and outside this plan there’s no one to ask this question.” or Sometimes you have to live the question long enough to start living the answer.

Why does it matter to me?

In a setting like a 10-day Vipassana Course it’s a lot easier to stick to the five precepts as everybody on the path. I am trying to maintain these in my daily life too because I believe they make me a better human being and they may lead to enlightenment but when I follow five precepts I Feel Good – end of story.

Leaving you with a words of Buddha

Whoever destroys living beings,
     speaks false words, who in the world
     takes that which is not given to him,
     or goes too with another's wife,
     or takes distilled, fermented drinks --
     whatever man indulges thus
     extirpates the roots of himself
     even here in this very world.

                        (Dhp. 246-7)

 

Vipassana – Meditation Musings

I just got back from serving at a 10-day Vipassana Meditation Retreat. Vipassana means to “See things as they are” and it’s one of the many ways to reach enlightenment or at least get started on the journey. It was bought to India by S.N.Goenka to whom I am very grateful.

gji-sittingbw

There are lots of things that come to mind when I think about Vipassana but today I am going to talk about Paramis. Paramis are ten qualities which when attained completely result in enlightenment. At this point I want to clarify that I am not enlightened [Ehrm! obviously] hence cannot guarantee as I don’t have the personal experience but regardless of the final goal these are good qualities to have.

What are these Paramis then?

1. Dana: Generosity
May I be generous and helpful

2. Sila: Morality
May I be well-disciplined and refined in manners.
May I be pure and clean in all my dealings.
May my thoughts, words and deeds be pure.

3. Nekkhama: Renunciation
May I not be selfish and self-possessive, but selfless and disinterested.
May I be able to sacrifice my pleasure for the sake of others.

4. Panna: Wisdom
May I be wise and able to see things as they truly are.
May I see the light of truth and lead others from darkness to light.
May I be enlightened and be able to enlighten others.

5. Viriya: Energy
May I be energetic, vigorous and persevering.
May I strive diligently until I achieve my goal.
May I be fearless in facing dangers and courageously surmount all obstacles.
May I be able to serve others to the best of my ability.

6. Khanti: Patience
May I ever be patient.
May I be able to bear and forbear the wrongs of others.
May I ever be tolerant and see the good and beautiful in all.

7. Sacca: Truthfulness
May I ever be truthful and honest.
May I not swerve from the path of truth.

8. Adhitthana: Determination
May I be firm and resolute and have an iron will.
May I be soft as a flower and firm as a rock.
May I ever be high-principled.

9. Metta: Loving Kindness
May I ever be kind, friendly and compassionate.
May I be able to regard all as my brothers and sisters and be and be one with all.

10. Upekkha: Equanimity
May I ever be calm, serene, unruffled and peaceful.
May I gain a balanced mind.
May I have perfect equanimity

How do I use them? Let’s take an example: I am at work and in a conversation with this person who just wants to talk and talk and talk. And I have only one thing to say and there are still 25 minutes left in the meeting – instead of getting annoyed I practice Khanti -patience [whenever I remember] and focus on my breath. This is one small way of looking at issues in your life and turning them around for your own personal growth.

Imagine these to be Ten Jars and size of the Jars vary depending on your previous Karmas – and if we put in one pebble/coin in one Jar everyday it definitely makes us a better human being and who knows might take us to enlightenment too!

May all beings be Happy!