From Precepts To Commitments

During this talk, Peter provided some background regarding the development of Buddhist precepts, in that in the Buddha’s time, ethical behavior involved following the dictates of one’s clan; the Buddha said that what makes a person “noble” involved an ethics supported by kindness, compassion, generosity and equanimity/tolerance.  In current culture, the term “precept” doesn’t have the clarity or usefulness as an alternate term, “commitment”.  Peter revised the “five precepts” into commitments that cover the same ethical concerns as the precepts, with additional focus on cultivating daily mindfulness practice and an increased sensitivity to how our behaviors impact the ecological balance of the biosphere.

Here are the notes prepared for this discussion:  Revisiting Buddhist Precepts

Here is the handout presented that list the commitments suggested and a brief explanation of how each commitment is applied:  COMMITMENTS FOR AWAKENING

Benevolent Effort

This dialogue initiates several discussions of the practice of Right Effort on the Eightfold Path.  During this talk, Peter described the classical rendering of the Four Noble Efforts, placed into the context of 21st century neuroscience.  He quoted the statements of Dr. Dan Siegal, who describes the importance of integrating different neural pathways-emotional, cognitive and behavioral-in the process of transforming “energy into information”.  Peter then described the characteristics of the five hindrances of classical Buddhist teachings in the context of neural “dys-integration” as a way to understand the nature of suffering.  Next week’s planned dialogue focuses on revisiting the Buddhist precepts with contemporary terms such as “commitment”.

First Night: Precepts and Retreat Perspectives

During this first Dhamma talk of the one-week retreat, Robert reviewed the five Precepts: Avoiding hurting others, avoiding hurtful speech, avoiding dishonesty and theft, avoiding hurtful speech avoiding hurtful sexual behavior, and avoiding dulling the mind with intoxicants.  He also talked of the three Refuges: Buddha (the potential for all of us to wake up from our delusions), Dhamma (the ways and means for waking up) and Sangha (the supportive community of like-minded people).  Then Peter talked of the progressive course of training during the week, that is, increasing concentration and tranquility, then the practice of vipassana, often called insight.  He also described two stages of development: first, that of the integration of self-states, then, when the personality is more integrated, the development of spiritual transcendence.

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Life With The Buddha’s Teachings

During this dialogue, Tommy reflected back over the last two dhamma dialogue topics, relating them specifically to his practice of realizing them in his daily life.  He shared his appreciation for how the teachings supported him during a recent family medical crisis, while also expressing gratitude for the medical personnel who attended to his son, who was quite ill.  He also shared some of his “reminder notes” that he uses to reflect on the precepts, the remembrances, and other sayings that inspire his practice.

During next week’s dialogue, Peter will speak about the core practice concepts and principles in the Four Noble Truths discourse that remain relevant in our era.

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Empirical Ethics

Peter continues discussion on “evidence-based” precepts. The Kalama Sutta reminds us that in order for the precepts to have an impact on our life, they must be validated within our personal experience. Peter encourages us to look closer at the concept of “doing harm” within our daily routine.