Exploration 03 - 2009.04.02

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    The following is the weekly homework, the first in a series of practices exploring Ethics using the traditional Buddhist lay precepts:

    Stim Morane: So ... I'm not proposing to ask you to be "good" in some simplistic sense. :)
    Stim Morane: But I will want to try using a simple set of traditional lay precepts as the basis for some experiments. Here's the traditional set, as stated by the historical Buddha:
    Stim Morane: Whoever destroys living beings,
    speaks false words, takes that which is not given to him/her, or goes with another's spouse, or takes distilled, fermented drinks — whatever person indulges thus extirpates the roots of him/her-self even here in this very world.

    Stim Morane: Put somewhat differently: no killing or violence, no lies, stealing, misuse of sexuality, or intoxication ... these are the traditional five precepts.
    Stim Morane: I propose working with only four: we can skip the one concerning sex, since that subject is seen in such a different way nowadays, and is also so controversial.
    Stim Morane: And of course you can always still have a drink here in the cafe, or the pub ...
    Stim Morane: All that I ask is that at least some of you make a serious commitment for one week to keep a particular precept from this list.
    Stim Morane: And I think we should start with the one about speech. So that would mean that starting today, for the next seven days, you commit to "no lies".
    Stim Morane: The point here is not just to avoid something (lies). It's to use that commitment as a way to notice what actually happens, and with what consequences. There are many levels in such an investigation ... what some schools called "inner, outer, and secret". And I look forward to discussing them with you, based on your own insights and experientially-based reports.
    Stim Morane: Success in keeping this commitment may or may not be revealing... but your resistance to it and your lapses in keeping it almost certainly will be. So it's extremely important not to simply become discouraged or "down on yourself" if you make a misstep. Rather, try to see what happened --- what sort of mind was present there? What type of sense of self? What view?
    Stim Morane: It's an experiment. All the data counts. So take a few notes, without editing or picking and choosing.
    Stim Morane: Comments?
    Stim Morane: As Storm pointed out previously, there are various forms of lies ... some, for instance, would be "to one's self"
    Stim Morane: If this experiment seems too easy to you, or unlikely to yield traction in some ways, you can make it a little more challenging: a related precept in the tradition extends the interpretation of "false speech" to include frivolous or out-of-control speech, or speech that is harsh or disturbing or discordant to no good purpose.
    Stim Morane: So if you want to commit to that version, great.
    Stim Morane: You'll trip the alarm more times, and thus get more data
    Stim Morane: Our discussion will be based primarily on what you bring back

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