Moral Discipline in the NKT …….. and me
October 3, 2008
In the commentary to Shantideva’s Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life, moral discipline is defined as the intention to abandon all faults, downfalls and non-virtue. I definitely want to abandon all the above so have become interested in moral discipline particularly in practising the moral discipline of restraint. In Joyful Path of Good Fortune (pg 455 The Moral Discipline of Restraint) Geshe Kelsang Gyatso says “ This is the moral discipline of abstaining from non-virtue. To practice this moral discipline we need to understand the dangers of committing negative actions, make a promise or vow to abandon them, and then keep that promise or vow. Thus we cannot be said to be practising the moral discipline of restraint if we unknowingly avoid committing negative actions, since even babies can do this.”
I like doing the practice of precepts (occasionally). I don’t do it as often as I would like, which is ridiculous really, but one reason for this is – I try to make my day special and meaningful when I have taken precepts. So I use the day to study and meditate to the best of my ability. As I don’t use my days in this way normally, it becomes much more special. I don’t take precepts on days when I have to go to work or engage in other things that would completely distract me. Is this right? or maybe I should be doing precepts more often and ensuring I transform my other activities? I don’t know…. I think I benefit more from keeping the days I do precepts free, although maybe I should be challenging myself and my ordinary life more. I worry that if I did take precepts on a work day all moral discipline would just be gradually lost to overly diluted practice.
In addition to the practice of precepts what I have started doing is being more aware of practising the Moral Discipline of Restraint on a daily basis. I have been doing this from time to time in the morning, by making a particular promise in front of my shrine to the Buddhas, promising to abandon a particular action for a specified period of time (generally a day). This totally helps me to remain mindful of the practise of moral discipline at times when I would almost definitely have not given it a second thought. I don’t promise the earth or anything (I am anything but hasty these days in my Dharma Practice, mores the pity!) …. things such as for the day not to be critical of others verbally or mentally. Or perhaps to give up something I am particularly attached to for the day. Again I know this is no mammoth act but this is working for me at the moment and helping to make me more aware of the practice of moral discipline and guarding alertness.