Posted by: Upāsaka | 09/22/2014

Using Good Words | Abhaya-cariya

I undertake the training rule to never disparage or deride but to use my words only to encourage and uplift.

Sometimes I feel as if I’ve bitten off more than I can chew with the formulation of these rules but then again the point really is to stretch myself. If these rules were so easy to follow there wouldn’t be any development of character so even in failing there is yet much gained.

So how often my words encouraging and uplifting? How often are they negative and derisive? I can think of forms of recent examples of the former and not even one occasion when my words uplifted or encouraged. May I take my life,  speech and actions seriously looking that my barbed words will act as hooks dragging me down to hell.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 09/21/2014

Giving One’s Word | Abhaya-cariya

I undertake the training rule to regard my word as a sacred oath; not to give it lightly but, once given, strive to honor it under all circumstances.

In my almost 40 years of life I feel that my track record of holding to my word is, at best, shoddy. I have always been good at keeping my word when it has come to work obligations but when it has come to things like calling friends or meeting up…well, let’s just say I have been known to flake out.  Why this is I’m not certain but it seems that, when money is not involved, I let things slide even though it is these relationships that should take primacy.

As such, I will undertake to honor my word when it is given and refrain from giving it when I do not feel capable of following through. May I watch my speech closely and may I train my moth, heart and mind n line with the Dhamma.


Posted by: Upāsaka | 09/19/2014

Idle Chatter | Abhaya-cariya

I undertake the training rule to refrain from useless or meaningless conversation.

When it comes right down to it I have to admit that almost everything I say could be considered idle chatter. Nowhere is this more true than at work where I feel the need to be the funny man, offering commentary on everything and everyone. This is likely exacerbated by the fact that I’m boss so rather than being put in my place I meet with laughter and approval.

In some ways I feel that I am perhaps being a bit harsh but that is really the crux of it isn’t it? When it comes down to it I just don’t know the impact I’m having on others so tbe smartest thing to do may just be to keep my trap shut except when necessary.

Which brings me to my final worry: even if I am strong enough to keep a lid on useless speech won’t I alienate everyone by not engaging in my usual, “friendly” banter? I have an inkling that if I could just practice all of these training rules regarding speech that wouldn’t be a problem at all since what words I did say would be pleasing to the ear and useful. May I redouble my efforts and learn to train my mind through my mouth.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 09/18/2014

Avoiding Harsh Speech | Abhaya-cariya

I undertake the training rule to refrain from using harsh or abusive speech.

I still feel somewhat shaken from yesterday’s bout of rage but it serves as a great teaching for me about the true danger of anger. It had become crystal clear that once the genie is out of the bottle it is difficult to put it back. Worse yet, until it is reigned in, it contaminates every perception, every thought. May I keep a closer watch on the mind and not allow it to tread that path again.

In a very real way, refraining from harsh and abusive speech addresses the same concern albeit on a more surface level.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 09/17/2014

A Terrifying Rage

Today began like so many others: I cleaned up the inbox, put out fires, sat in meditation and made my formal aspirations for the day. But as the morning drew on the sharp twinge of anger and irritation began to dominate my field of awareness like a shard of glass that has worked its way into the soft flesh of the hand. And before I was able to stop it in its tracks it had turned all beings in the world into demons. It got so bad that at one point during the bus ride from our apartment to Union Square I noticed a young kid who kept staring at my son when he would accidentally rub his rub against him due to the cramped quarters. Luckily I didn’t say a word but I stared him down with what felt like murderous rage.

I confess this now to all of you out of shame and in the hope that it will aid me in overcoming anger in the future. What scares me is that such violence could arise from seemingly nowhere as a result of nothing. Luckily that was where it ended but in a few scant seconds I could have easily committed myself to the depths of hell.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 09/16/2014

Gossip | Abhaya-cariya

I undertake the training rule to refrain from backbiting, gossip and malicious speech.

All oc the training rules that concern Right Speech have been profoundly difficult for me to observe spotlessly ane have uncovered and brought to life truths about my character that I had never seen before. Whether this is simply the function of the precepts or is especially true of those dealing with language I don’t know but it is clear that there is much work to be done.

I never considered myself a gossip or a tale bearer, which may be part of the problem, but as I have observed myself over the years I have come to see just how much petty pleasure I can derive from speaking about the faults of others. Fortunately, through long practice I have rea hed the point where I often, though not always, can feel a sense of constriction and dis-ease as the thought of gossiping arises which is usually enough to hold me back. Usually but not always. May I do better.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 09/15/2014

Refraining from False Speech | Abhaya-cariya

I undertake the training rule to refrain from false and harmful speech.

I used to think the precept to refrain from false speech was pretty easy; a simple cut and dry affair. How difficult could it be to simply refrain from speaking falsehoods right? Turns out, for me at least, that the deeper I go into this practice the harder it seems for me to be faithful in my adherence to the precept.

But why is that? Shouldn’t I be getting better at this whole thing as I practice longer and more ardently? In one sense, yes, I certainly should so it may speak to a lack of rightly directed effort but, in another sense, I have become aware of and sensitive to ways of speaking that I never would have considered to be false speech before. It is as if my practice has shone a light on things that were covered up by the darkness of ignorance and now, like it or not, I need to deal with them. What are jokes that take liberties with the truth? What is sarcasm? Are these examples of false speech or are they to be condoned simply because we all do them?

There are dozens of other examples that fall into this category s the best I can do is try to see them as the arise and watch where they lead when they are followed and when they are not.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 09/13/2014

Sisters and Mothers in Suffering | Abhaya-cariya

I undertake the training rule to view all members of the opposite sex except my partner as my children, parents and siblings and to cultivate a heart of concern and care for them.

As I walk the streets and ride the trains through the city I constantly find my darting this way and that looking for pleasing female forms. What is particularly irritating about this deeply conditioned habit is that I know it serves no purpose other than to destoy my peace of mind. This is especially true for me as a married man practicing a spiritual discipline: there is simply nothing to be gained from it. But, unless I literally gouge out my eyes, there’s no way to avoid seeing roughly fifty percent of NYC’s adult population everyday. Besides even if I had a way of shielding them from view that would do nothing to uproot the latent tendencies within.

May I learn, through the gate of compassion,  to view all women as my sisters, mothers and daughters each one suffering and looking for respite.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 09/10/2014

Propriety | Abhaya-cariya

I undertake the training rule to refrain from being alone with a member of the opposite sex who is not my partner.

Despite the fact that all of the training rules are voluntary I am probably the most ambivalent about this one and yet I would not have included it if I did not feel it had value. For me not only does the rule to refrain from being alone with a member of the opposite sex (a lthough it would apply just as well to another male if that were the slant of my desire) aid my mindfulness but it is also a protection of my reputation. All of which is fo say that I am not so concerned that I would act improperly if I were left alone with a beautiful woman but that, by avoiding th situation entirely, there will never be a question of impropriety.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 09/09/2014

Appropriate Attention | Abhaya-cariya

I undertake the training rule to refrain from intentionally viewing any images or otherwise exposing myself to any media that inflame lust.

I don’t think it would be a stretch to say that we are inundated with media whose sole purpose is to create desire. In our consumer society this desire is usually ordered to the acquisition of goods but regardless of its purpose it is safe to say we live in a state of near constant inflammation and excitation. Sex sells they say and at no time in history has the allure of it been more pervasive and readily available than it is now. Television, internet, billboards, magazines, streaming video and more colonize our consciousness and we become slaves to the freedom of desire.

As a result, I can think of few training rules more important for my own spiritual growth than a precept to guaed the mind and never intentionally steer it towards lust. May we all find true peace.

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