Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A world of wonder: entering into the precepts

Recalling that the Simple Mind practice is one in which we come to a more clear understanding of the words of Practice Principles through experience:

Caught in a dream of self--only suffering.
Holding on to self-centered thoughts--exactly the dream.
each moment, life as it is--the only Teacher.
Being just this moment--compassion's way.

--Practice Principles

The order of the precepts Diane Rizzetto gives may vary from other traditions, however she states that "the order I have chosen is that which most accurately reflects one most commonly discovered by my students." In other words she finds that her students' practice usually follows this pattern or order. In addition, she notes that there are in fact 10 precepts traditionally given; however she feels that the two omitted are dealt with indirectly within the others. The complete study of the 10 precepts is included in her study therefore.

Precepts "encourage us to go beyond the just don't do it. They invite us to willingly grapple with the slipperiness [or messiness] of what's the best action to take given the circumstances of any given situation." They direct our focus to conditions here and now, presently. Precepts help light the way through the more muddy times, and times when we're not so certain.
Does then taking up the precepts, the Way, mean that we never have a mean or jealous thought, that we're not afraid? Of course not. these are natural, human things that at one time or another we experience.

The Self

In some traditions the self is spoken about as something to be parted with, as a suffering in itself. However in the simple mind, it is a continuation of the classic teaching that 'all life arises out of and continues forth as a vast, fathomless, pure and clear empty mind, or Dharma.
As Dharma, it is constant, unutterable, flawless, selfless and undifferentiated. Dharma is then, the unnameable source of all life and living. It includes our everyday simple minds. And Dharma is even more. It is the realization of a mutual dependency, the knowledge that nothing comes about on its own. Following Dharma is to take action that is in harmony or addresses the common good with relation to all things. Yet this is not to say that you, me, the neighbor, be without individuality. Clearly we are perhaps 99 per cent alike, but the one per cent, differentiates us from another;even so, Dharma shows us to be finally one part of the whole.

To study the self is to forget the self.
This means that I am this, but not only this. The core of our practice with the precepts and Dharma is to challenge ourselves to look carefully, closely, and question our assumptions about what it is that makes the world real to us; focusing us on the awareness that assumptions of permanence are exactly that, an assumption.
By working with the precepts, the Dharma, sitting quietly in practice, we can train our mind to be less reactionary, less stressed and more focused on the now, this moment. Dismantling our habitual reactions, questioning our beliefs can lead to real peace, joy and just this moment.

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