Sila and Harmlessness

อาจารย์ ชยสาโร

Sila and Harmlessness

In the “Ovada Patimokkha” the Buddha laid down the most basic and important guidelines for the samana’s path, and there we find that harmlessness is the principle he most emphasized.

Through our way of life as samanas we offer the gift of harmlessness to the world. People may be inspired by how we live our lives, they may be indifferent, or they may even be contemptuous of us, but whatever the various reactions to a Buddhist monk people might have, fear is highly unlikely to count amongst them. People see a Buddhist monk and they know that he is not dangerous to them. Animals see a Buddhist monk and they sense that he is no threat to them. This is a singular thing.

It’s very unusual, isn’t it, to be so scrupulous and so caring for even the smallest kind of creature — not just human beings, not just the cuddly lovable kinds of creatures like Shetland ponies and fluffy cats, but even poisonous centipedes, geckos and biting ants. You find that after you’ve been keeping the Vinaya precepts sincerely for a while the idea of depriving even a venomous snake or a small poisonous insect of its life becomes almost inconceivable.

With the cultivation of sila (virtuous, ethical conduct) and metta-bhavana (the development of loving kindness) it’s just no longer an option. Through our practice as samanas we are able to observe how closely the devotion to moral precepts is connected to being truly benevolent and altruistic. If we continue to harm other beings by body and speech, our expressions of metta remain hollow and cannot lead us to peace.

At the same time, if we attempt to uphold a strict level of sila without a spirit of goodwill and compassion, without a kind and forgiving heart, then we can easily fall into the traps of self righteousness, a false sense of superiority, and contempt for the unvirtuous. This is what is called losing the plot.

…The Buddha said that as all living beings desire to be happy and fear pain just as we do, then we should abstain from all actions that deprive beings of happiness or increase their pain. Sila is an offering of dana (generosity), a gift of fearlessness and protection to all sentient beings. To live our lives within the boundaries defined by the precepts, mindfulness of our commitment has to be constantly maintained; sensitivity and skill are continually called for. With wisdom and understanding of the law of kamma, we abstain from killing, harming, and hurting any sentient being through our actions and speech.

Gradually, our good intentions unbetrayed by our actions, we are able to tame our unruly minds.

This reflection by Ajahn Jayasaro is from the talk, The Beauty of Sila.

Conflict Among Desires

ฐานิสสโร ภิกขุ

Conflict Among Desires

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Mature Emotions

Ajahn Vajiro

Mature Emotions

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Love

อาจารย์ สุนทรา

Love

‘Love’ is a loaded word. I ‘love’ my sandwich. I ‘love’ my wife. There is selfless love and selfish love. The love in the Buddha’s teaching has to do with compassion. He talks about universal love. He also talks about the danger of love based on attachment. We don’t have to judge these different aspects of love. We experiment starting from our own experience in life. What is this love which is not…

Love as Undivided Attention

อาจารย์ มุนินโท

Love as Undivided Attention

What does it feel like to be loved? What does it feel like to be loving – as it is happening? To receive love from another is to receive somebody’s undivided attention. They’re not preoccupied with anybody or anything else; they have forgotten themselves and are wholeheartedly attending to us. There’s a tremendous beauty, richness and fullness in so receiving the heart of another. If we were to co…

Celibacy

อาจารย์ ชยสาโร

Celibacy

The Buddha taught that on the path to enlightenment, sexual desire can, and eventually must, be completely transcended. To this end, monks undertake an absolute form of celibacy in order to isolate and reveal the impermanent, unsatisfactory and impersonal nature of sexual desire, and thus uproot identification with it. The weight of the Discipline is thrown behind this practice by making intention…

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แม่ชีแก้ว

Transcending Conventional Distinctions

The separation of men and women has become so deeply ingrained in most cultures that it is quite natural to experience it in a religious context. But gender is transient, it comes and goes; conditioned by past karma, it is a kind of destiny. The essence of one’s being is without name and without form, and thus without characteristics of male or female. This is a fundamental tenet of Buddhism: that…

Working with Difficult Emotions

อาจารย์ วีรธัมโม

Working with Difficult Emotions

It’s not that you don’t sometimes feel negative or at least conflicting emotions towards others in monastic life or in any other type of relationship. You do feel them. However, the task is to make them conscious and see them for what they are. Experiencing difficult emotions is normal. But those emotions are not to be believed or pursued. Instead, they’re to be known for what they are: changing c…

This Is What We Do

อาจารย์ ปสันโน

This Is What We Do

The beauty of the Buddha’s teaching is that the Buddha brings us back to seeing…what we are actually doing. The goal is seeking the end of suffering. Yet we keep replicating and perpetuating it through a lack of understanding and our inability to let go of the impulses towards desire, attachment, becoming. We work to be able to pay attention, to recognize those habits and see clearly. That’s why t…

When Peace Is Worse Than Suffering

อาจารย์ สุนทรา

When Peace Is Worse Than Suffering

Perhaps we want to think of nothing, to have no thoughts, just endless bliss and perfect peace. But this is also delusion, only a more subtle form. Ajahn Chah said that being stuck in peace is a lot worse than being stuck in suffering. When we’re stuck in suffering, at least we know that we want change; at least we know we want to be free from/of it. One of the obstacles on the path of the holy li…