Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Keeping 8 Precepts on "Moon Days"

Ven. Khantipalo, Lay Buddhist Practice: The Shrine Room, Uposatha Day, Rains Residence (Wheel 206,; Amber Larson, Crystal Quintero (eds.), Wisdom Quarterly

The Buddha recommended that all lay followers keep the "lunar observance" (uposatha) by adopting eight rather than the ordinary Five Precepts for an entire day and night. This is usually done on the full moon day, but originally it seems to have been a weekly practice on the new, full, and quarter moon days.

The Eight Precepts
Good karma (actions) leads to welcome results+fruits.
1. I undertake the training rule to refrain from taking the lives of [any] living creatures.
2. I undertake the training rule to refrain from taking what is not given.
3. I undertake the training rule to refrain from unchaste conduct [sexual misconduct].
4. I undertake the training rule to refrain from false [i.e., perjury, harsh, divisive, idle] speech.
5. I undertake the training rule to refrain from distilled and fermented intoxicants which lead to heedlessness.
6. I undertake the training rule to refrain from eating outside the time.
7. I undertake the training rule to refrain from dancing, singing, music, base entertainments,
wearing garlands, smartening with perfumes, and beautifying with cosmetics.
8. I undertake the training rule to refrain from using a high or large sleeping-place.
In the Buddha's Words (Bhikkhu Bodhi)
It has always been understood by Buddhist lay people that if one undertakes these Eight Precepts then great efforts should be made not to break any of them. The Five Precepts represent a general measure for ordinary life and in practice people have a flexible attitude towards minor infringements of some of them.

But the Eight Precepts are a more serious commitment and should not be undertaken lightly. If one does take them on then one should feel reasonably certain, whatever one's interior and exterior circumstances, that none of the precepts will be broken.
In the case of the first precept, not only should one not kill any living being but also one should not cause anyone else to or do any sort of work which might involve one killing unintentionally, where one has no choice in the matter (work such as digging and cultivating). Even acts which are harmful in any way to others should be avoided on a lunar observance day. Few people have work which involves killing and fewer still of these people will be Buddhists, as such work must be repugnant to sincere Dharma-practitioners.
The second precept will need attention in such things as using for one's own purposes materials belonging to the firm (government, etc.) that one works for, or taking extra or surplus materials for oneself or others without permission to do so. Taking what is not given would also include such practices as adulteration of materials for sale and making others work without adequate remuneration.
The third precept is changed from the set of five. There "wrong conduct" means all kinds of sex which results in harm to others -- breaking up others' marriages, rape, and the seduction of minors, for instance. But under this precept "unchaste conduct" means that all kinds of sexual behavior are to be avoided whether they are wrong conduct or are allowable in normal lay life, whether with others or by self-stimulation. The Buddha has said:

"Do not engage in heedlessness!
Do not come near sexual joys!
The heedful and contemplative
person attains abundant bliss."
Dhammapada 27

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