Hi, it was really good to hear from all of you. I think we are each trying to be more conscious in our lives aren't we. The vow when we take refuge in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha is not to harm. When we take the 5 lay vows it brings this first vow of not harming to the forefront if our practice and as we work with the vows they become more and more subtle. First we may begin with not lying, but as we meet the challenge of holding that one, we may begin to work on the more subtle (or not so subtle levels) of our speech which includes not gossiping, using harsh language, etc. I find it interesting that one of the main benefits of holding the vows is that it creates a mind that can meditate peacefully. It makes sense doesn't it, that if we do all sorts of harmful things to others, we really harm ourselves and one of these repercussions is that our mind becomes agitated, guilty and worried and preoccupied with our wrong doings, so we end up not being able to meditate. If we can't sit, can we attain enlightenment. Don't think so! Insight arises from meditation and we certainly need insight and wisdom. What we're talking about here are are the Four Noble Truths and how holding vows are incapsulated in them. However, if we're just naturally a very perfect person, you many think that we don't need to hold vows- but maybe there's an argument for that- holding vows is a means to gain merit and merit is needed for us to meet the dharma and progress along the path until we reach enlightenment. My teacher said about merit that even the Buddha's ability to benefit beings depends on the accumulation of merit. So may we all create tons of merit so that we can become beautiful Buddhas who help limitless sentient beings!
Thank you Claire for reminding us of the 4 noble truths and the 5 precepts. If we keep these in our minds as we go about our daily lives we would all be physically, emotionally and spiritually healthier and happier people.
"For as long as space endures, and for as long as living beings remain, until then may I, too, abide to dispel the misery of the world." - The Dalai Lama.
I haven't been avoiding alcohol either. I don't drink that much. I've only had 2 1/2 Smirnoff's since New Year's. Before then it was a Burbon and Coke and a Smirnoff for all of last year and the year before.
I haven't murdered anyone either. I am a vegetarian.
I could work on stealing. I could have said I don't steal. Some people consider picking up things that people leave behind for 3 days as not stealing. But then I'd be lying and that would be wrong.
I don't lie. Very truthful. Always have been. If I even try I can't even begin to talk. I mumble and stutter.
I think I'm concious about sexuality. I don't go having it just for the fun of it. It serves a purpose.
I know part of my problem is that during a certain, very stressful time in my life I was so messed up and confused. I had left Buddhism a few years before and I was struggling with a lot of things. Stealing was a big thing with me.
"I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be." Douglas Adams *~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
I think it would be great to keep this thread of 4 Noble Truths alive because it was the basis for this team and it seems to have slipped in our minds a bit. I've been reflecting on the 4 Noble Truths and how they relate to taking vows/pledges and how this relates to our wish to be fit. So, I invite any comments, feedback and additions to what I write here. The first of the NT's is suffering, the 2nd-the cause of suffering, 3rd-the cessation of suffering 4-the path away from suffering. Very simply, suffering is caused from our ignorance, the lack of insight into our enlightened nature, the cessation of suffering/ignorance arises when we recognized our awakened nature and the path is composed the of teachings and application of the remedy to suffering. When we reflect and look at what in our lives causes suffering and we make the intention to eliminate that we find that taking vows or making pledges help us to contain our actions of body, speech and mind. The lay vows are five; to avoid killing, to avoid stealing, to avoid lying, to avoid sexual misconduct, to avoid alcohol. To take a vow (one in the beginning is best- so that there is deep attention paid to it), helps us to begin to reduce our experience of suffering, to develop mindful awareness and to support meditation- which is often called the path to enlightenment. So, here's a link (please add more) between the 4NT's, vows and SP: in our wish to reduce the physical suffering of our bodies and to endeavor in bringing the body to a better state of fitness we enhance our physical and mental capacities by reducing the suffering that we experience being in an uncared for body. Through our basic caring of our bodies, we support our spiritual unfolding with more clarity and enthusiasm and confidence. Some of us start with the spiritual path and end in caring for the body, some of us begin with caring for the body and find our spiritual path developing. Our care/love for ourselves is not separate from our spiritual path. If we can't love ourselves, how can we truly love another? Thing is, if we only care for our bodies and don't develop our spiritual insights, we end up having only temporarily eliminated a bit of the suffering of the body, but not stepped onto the path of enlightenment by working with the 4NT's, so it seems very important to put it all together!
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