Understanding the True Nature of Human Beings through the Precepts

All living things on earth cherish their life and strive for a peaceful existence. The human mind realizes that if we all love ourselves dearly and desire happiness and safety in our lives, others living creatures would surely share the same disposition. This will become more apparent as we explore further the concept of precepts, or moral discipline.

1. Abstaining from taking the life of any living creatures.  Naturally, human beings never wish to be harmed or killed by anyone. Since everyone holds this belief, we should never harm or destroy any living things. By abiding to this precept, we protect the right to life of all living creatures.

2. Abstaining from taking that which is not given. Naturally, human beings never wish to have their belongings stolen or things taken without permission. For this reason, we should never steal because human beings uphold the principle of ownership — this item belongs to someone else and this belongs to me. By abiding to this precept, we safeguard other people’s property.

3. Abstaining from committing sexual misconduct. Naturally, human beings never wish to have their loved ones taken away from them, whether it is one’s husband, wife, or child. Therefore, we should never commit misconduct of this nature with other people’s loved ones. By abiding to this precept, we honor every family with respect and security.

4. Abstaining from lying, using offensive language, slander, and senseless talk. Naturally, human beings never wish to be deceived or verbally abused. Therefore, we should be sincere with everyone by not telling lies and using foul language, slander, and endless chatter. By abiding to this precept, we give everyone our honesty and sincerity.

5. Abstaining from intoxicants – the primary cause of negligence.  Normally, human beings have the awareness to maintain control of their body, speech, and mind. However, when people consume intoxicants, mindfulness and self-restraint are compromised and they are capable of committing every possible offense. Therefore, this is the most important precept to adhere to because individuals without mindfulness are extremely dangerous. By abstaining from intoxicants, we ensure the safety of every being and thin  g around us.

All problems in our society take root from people who violate the 5 Sila. Therefore, the 5 Sila can be used as standard for goodness and badness too.

Upholding the precepts has many other benefits, such as:

1.       Respectability

2.       Great health

3.       Loving family

4.       Reputation

5.       Dignity

When we uphold the 5 Sila, avoiding all evilness, safety in our life, our asset and our family structure is ensured. We would also be acting on sincerity, so that, our society would be suspicion-free and peaceful.

Safeguarding Our Mind through Meditation

In our daily lives, an array of problems of varying degrees correlating to our family circumstance, profession, education, and responsibilities can arise. When faced with problems, the methods people employed to solve them may differ according to their experience and familiarity, and with outcomes that are never predictable. However, if we are trained to examine problems with a still mind, we will be able to clearly identify their origin. This skill can be developed through the practice of meditation.

Meditation refers to stopping one’s mind. An unrest mind is a weak mind. When a mind is at rest, it becomes powerful, like how a focus of sunlight can ignite a flame. Meditation is for humans of all nationalities, languages, genders and generations. Everyone can meditate.

whether we work at an office or are self-employed; our status – a housewife or a student; and our religious affiliation. Meditation is not limited to age or gender and can be easily practiced by any individual.

We all have 2 important components which are  bodies and minds. To have strong and powerful bodies, we need to move or exercise. To have powerful minds, we need to stop and be still. When our bodies are tired, we need to relax it by sleeping, while when our minds are nervous or sensitive, we need to relax  it by meditation.

Simple meditation instructions can be divided into 6 steps

1.    Sit in a relaxing position, with the right leg on the left leg and right hand on the left hand. The index finger of your right hand should just touch your left thumb. Close your eyes gently like how you would fall asleep while keeping your back up straight.

2.    Examine parts of your body. Make sure that no part is being too stressed. If you feel so, move your body slightly so that your circulation is good. That way, we would not feel any ache.

3.    Adjust your feelings so that you feel relaxing and clear. You may think of nature, river, mountains, sky or cloud, or imagine that you are alone in the space with no humans, animals or things surrounding you. You have no bonds or worries, be it, education, family, works or any other thing.

4.    Visualize a crystal ball, the sun, the moon or any other star in the middle of your stomach so that your mind lingers there and not wandering elsewhere. Suppose you have two strings, pull one string tightly from the navel straight through to the back of your body. Now pull the other string across from your right side straight through to your left side such that both strings intersect at the middle of your body. The point of intersection is the size of the end of a pin. Now suppose you place two fingers one on top of the other at the intersection, this is then the location of the Seventh Base. For those who feel stressed when you visualize, you can just skip this process. Instead, just bring your mind to stop at the 7th base of the mind or in the middle of your body.

5. Repeat the mantra, “Samma Arahan” to yourself. Samma means correctness while Arahan means purity. Feel as if the sound comes from the 7th base of your mind.

6. Protect your mind, so that it is mindful and relaxing all the time. It should be neutral, empty, clear, still and indifferent. There should be no rush at all. You should feel satisfied with such emotion and in no time, you would attain the real inner happiness.

When the water is still, all dust that is in there would settle at the bottom. When your mind is still, it would become clear and pure. Be at present and your mind will be powerful.

Benefits of Meditation

The benefits gained from practicing meditation regularly:

1. A radiant, pure, clean and calm mind, which aids in gaining a more peaceful sleep and one devoid of nightmares.

2. Enhanced personality – becoming more energetic and refined, and gaining more confident and self-control, which are applicable for any situation.

3. Reduction of stress that disrupts our thoughts. When we are not feeling tense, our body naturally releases chemicals that increase our happiness and improve our overall health by fortifying our immune system and slowing the aging process.

4. Suppression of anger and tempers as the mind becomes calmer and still longer through the practice of meditation. When the mind is stable and tranquil, it will have the power to restrain actions of body, speech and mind.

5. Diligent practitioners will have improved memory and analytical skills, giving rise to higher aptitude when performing various tasks. They will also have greater proficiency in learning and working, and experience profound levels of inner happiness and wisdom.

Appropriate time for meditation

1.    5-10 minutes after waking up to get yourself ready for the day

2.    5-10 minutes before going to bed to revisit the good moments during the day

3.    Apart from those, 15-60 minutes during any pre-set time of the day

Meditation should be practiced regularly. It should be treated like a necessary and important activity in life. When you do so, you would face with happiness and success in life. When you are the center of happiness, peace would be expanded to others in your family, society, country, and eventually creating world peace.

Giving, a Practice of Generosity

Human beings subsist in this world by giving and sharing. When we first entered the world, we didn’t arrive with anything. If we didn’t have parents or benefactors to provide us love, kindness, and care, we would never have survived from infancy to this day. The value received from the act of giving is incomparable for both the giver and the receiver; however, it is even more significant for the ones who give persistently, for their generosity will improve their lives immensely.

Giving is the act of sharing wholeheartedly for the benefit of others. The more we give, the more we get. It is comparable to how water flows back when we push it forward. The water that surrounds us flows towards us. Givers are well loved by all. Great reputation would be spread around.

Giving can be categorized into four types:

1. Giving of material things means giving things, and it can be categorized in to ten types, which are rice, water, vehicles, clothes, flowers, scented items, toiletries, mattresses, accommodations, and candles. The greatest giving of all is called Sangha-dana, which is giving to an unspecified recipient monk.

2. Giving of kindness means protecting the lives of all living beings and involves the complete removal of anger from one’s heart, elimination of vengefulness, and being forgiving.

3. Giving of knowledge means offering knowledge and wise guidance that benefit people’s lives.

4. Giving of wisdom means sharing knowledge about the truth of life. This includes educating people on wholesome and unwholesome deeds, advising them to avoid misdeeds and to perform good deeds, and encouraging them to practice meditation to purify their mind. These are all paths of purification for one’s body, speech, and mind.

Factors that make any giving lead to greatest results are

1) Pure object. The object being offered must be rightfully owned. It must not be stolen goods.

2) Pure agents. Both givers and recipients must be virtuous.

3) Pure intention. Giving was completed with good intention, before, during and after the action.

Benefits of Sharing

1. The giver is beloved and admired by a multitude of people.

2. Virtuous people are eager to associate with the giver.

3. The giver’s exemplary reputation becomes well known.

4. The giver possesses confidence at all social gatherings.

Those who give cherished items would receive cherished items.

Those who give great objects would receive great objects.

Those who give good objects would receive good objects.

Those who give excellent objects would receive excellent objects.

Making Resolutions

Having goals in life is very important. If we have goals, our daily actions, speech, and thoughts would go towards achieving those goals.

People in general regard the making of resolutions as a process of lamenting our suffering to something sacred and asking for things we want or for life to proceed smoothly and effortlessly towards our goals without hindrances. Many tend to view individuals who make resolutions as foolish and illogical. Therefore, we should first clarify that making resolutions is not about ‘asking’ for something.

Making resolution is a way to stay locked in to our goals until they’re achieved. It is a compass for our life and mind and it strengthen our mental fortitude. It’s a way to prepare ourselves and to live life in order to achieve our goals, while using merit that we have accumulated in the past as the driving force.

For example, when we plan to travel to a place far away, we must prepare the car, fuel, map, etc. To obtain these things, money is required. Money in this case can be compared to merit that can be accrued by doing good deeds, for example, giving, helping others, upholding the precepts, or meditating. We then make a resolution using our accumulated merit to help us be healthy, intelligent, and sufficiently wealthy in order to live a carefree life; a virtuous life that allows us to perform more wholesome deeds and accumulate more merit until we achieve life’s ultimate goals–eradicate defilements and attain true happiness.

Merit will give its effects when it’s time, whether we make a resolution or not. However, if we did not make a resolution and carefully design a blueprint, when the merit fruits it may not support our effort to do wholesome deeds. We may be endowed with a strong healthy body, wealth, and intelligence, but if these things are used to commit evil deeds it would go completely against our life’s goals.

Accumulate merit (Dana, Sila, Samadhi) → Make resolutions using the merit (health, wealth, intelligence) with an emphasis on life’s goals → Lead a comfortable life and be able to perform even more merit → Achieve life’s goals

Steps in making resolutions

1. Sit in a half-lotus position or comfortably in a chair. Softly close your eyes as if you are about to fall asleep. Relax every part of your body so that it is free from tension. Adjust your sitting position so that you feel relaxed.

2. Allow your mind to come to a standstill by gently letting it rest at the center of your body.

3. Reflect on the merit or images of the wholesome deeds that you performed so that your mind is radiant and relaxed.

4. Link the merit that we have accumulated in the past with what we aspire. Make sure your mind is still. Do not recite your resolutions or do it forcefully because that brings about success slowly. Instead, gently imagine what we wish to achieve like a sense deep within, similar to the way a song pops in your head naturally without effort.

5. Make resolutions using the merit as a tool to easily achieve your goals by having these three fundamental qualities: a healthy body, sufficient wealth, and great intelligence. All this so we can lead a smooth and happy life that will allow us to help others to be happy and to easily reach their goals.

After performing wholesome deeds, we should reaffirm our resolutions consistently in order to reinforce our commitment which ultimately affects our actions. This will allow us to proceed happily with our life and towards achieving our goals.