The rules of living

There are a lot of rules in the Pali Canon – 227 major rules for bhikkhus and 311 major rules for bhikkhunis, to be exact. I mean, let’s all face it, that’s a hell of a lot of rules. Modern Buddhism isn’t too big on rules. Most focus on the 5 precepts and the noble 8-fold path, at most. Americans like basics and bullet points, apparently. I know I do, as long as it isn’t on a Powerpoint slide.

A lot of newbie Dharma revolves around ways to incorporate the rules of Buddhist living into your everyday life. It’s very inspiring to read stories of austere monasteries and virtuous monks, but once you get on the highway or talk to your mother-in-law, you’re an asshole again. This can lead to a dangerously delusional interpretation of how to practice with Buddhist morality. It’s all the time, every day, not just on the cushion or during Dharma talks. That doesn’t mean you’re a perfect person every second of the day, though. It just means being aware of your intentions, and every time that awareness gives you pause, when it gives you a choice instead of a gut reaction, you make the decision that’s in line with the Dharma. You make the decision that doesn’t harm, delude, or obfuscate.

So what are some ways that you can bring this newbie friendly awareness into your life? What are Dharmacore values on a radically mundane level? All I can speak to are the ways I’ve created my own traditions based on those ancient rules.

Daily:
Waking – know your intention for the day. Begin with the wish not to harm others in any way.
Eating – moderation, and gratefulness.
Speaking – does it need to be said? is it hurtful? is it truthful? is it helpful? is it necessary?
Consuming – what am I watching? what am I reading? how is it affecting me?
Contributing – how have I helped my wife today? have I missed an opportunity to help a stranger?
Participating – Buddhist communities and forums online, plus this blog.

Long term:
Vassa observance – Starting in July, this will be my 3rd Vassa. No alcohol during this time, less TV, more Dharma books and audio talks
Uposatha observance – Rice and milk for breakfast, signifying the Buddha’s symbolic meal. Precepts, no alcohol.
Classes – Local and online classes whenever possible.

These are a few really simple, really personal interpretations of some Buddhist traditions. As you can tell, they’re not strictly denominational or strictly anything. They’re just ways that I remind myself of what it is I’m doing.

How do you remind yourself of your practice?

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2 Responses to “The rules of living”

  1. Allison Says:

    I sleep on my right side. When I wake in the morning, and when I go to bed at night, I see Tara and Buddha staring at me from the wall directly opposite. I have dharma books and magazines strewn throughout my home. My meditation place is the landing on the stairs (old house with a good landing nook) so that every time I walk by, I see my cushion. I have a Kuan Yin figurine in my kitchen – right next to the fridge. I have multiple friends who live dharma and we check in weekly. I put my head to the floor at least once per day, in gratitude.

  2. I try to briefly review my day at the end of the day to see what I might do better the next

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