Dharma Talk

Fundamentals of the Dharma: Sila

We usually approach ethical conduct (sila) from either righteousness (morality) or idealism (I must never harm any living thing!) but not often from stability and unification of heart. From the heart we just see what is appropriate to do and do it within the context of connection and nonharm. When we transgress we learn and move on and never expect anything miraculous or perfect in any way. We simply live within the fullness of our humanity, and that is enough.

For Your Contemplation

Depending on how you use them, the precepts can either aid or inhibit your spiritual growth. Do they foster a greater sense of connectedness or add to your unworthiness and guilt?  Do they encourage a new way of viewing the world or hold you fast to your old self-image? Do the precepts lighten your sense of paranoia and general heaviness of mind or leave you feeling more shameful?

Pick an unskillful behavior that you live with such as being manipulative, sneaky, or deceitful. First watch the pattern unfold from beginning to end without trying to change it. What are the rewards of the action, and what are its limitations? Second, establish the intention not to harm and reflect on the behavior in relationship to this intention. The next time you feel the need to deceive, pause and consider this intention. Who am I harming and why? At what point will I be finished with this if not now?