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Daily Practice – Day 4

27 Mar

954

Day 4 – After my sitting period I read the remainder of the 14 Mindfulness Trainings, in the Order of Interbeing.  I formally received the 14 Mindfulness Trainings in 2007 in a ceremony by Thich Nhat Hanh but seldom read through them.  I often read through the 5 Mindfulness Trainings and it is often said that the 5 are in the 14 and the 14 are in the 5.  So when I am reading one set I am also reading both sets.  The mindfulness trainings are a set of buddhist ethics that we can cultivate in our daily lives in order to live a more awakened, mindful and compassionate life.  They are not religious in nature and therefore many people from differing backgrounds opt to formally receive the 5 Trainings in a ceremony with the support of a dharma teacher and the sangha (community).  At most local retreats here in the states, based in the Thich Nhat Hanh tradition, there is an opportunity at the end of each retreat to formally receive the 5 Mindfulness Trainings from the dharma teacher who is leading the retreat.  It is a wonderful practice to personally commit to a more holistic and skillful path.

The First Mindfulness Training: Reverence For Life

Aware of the suffering caused by the destruction of life, I am committed to cultivating the insight of interbeing and compassion and learning ways to protect the lives of people, animals, plants, and minerals. I am determined not to kill, not to let others kill, and not to support any act of killing in the world, in my thinking, or in my way of life. Seeing that harmful actions arise from anger, fear, greed, and intolerance, which in turn come from dualistic and discriminative thinking, I will cultivate openness, non-discrimination, and non-attachment to views in order to transform violence, fanaticism, and dogmatism in myself and in the world.
 
The Second Mindfulness Training: True Happiness
Aware of the suffering caused by exploitation, social injustice, stealing, and oppression, I am committed to practicing generosity in my thinking, speaking, and acting. I am determined not to steal and not to possess anything that should belong to others; and I will share my time, energy, and material resources with those who are in need. I will practice looking deeply to see that the happiness and suffering of others are not separate from my own happiness and suffering; that true happiness is not possible without understanding and compassion; and that running after wealth, fame, power and sensual pleasures can bring much suffering and despair. I am aware that happiness depends on my mental attitude and not on external conditions, and that I can live happily in the present moment simply by remembering that I already have more than enough conditions to be happy. I am committed to practicing Right Livelihood so that I can help reduce the suffering of living beings on Earth and reverse the process of global warming.

The Third Mindfulness Training: True Love
Aware of the suffering caused by sexual misconduct, I am committed to cultivating responsibility and learning ways to protect the safety and integrity of individuals, couples, families, and society. Knowing that sexual desire is not love, and that sexual activity motivated by craving always harms myself as well as others, I am determined not to engage in sexual relations without true love and a deep, long-term commitment made known to my family and friends. I will do everything in my power to protect children from sexual abuse and to prevent couples and families from being broken by sexual misconduct. Seeing that body and mind are one, I am committed to learning appropriate ways to take care of my sexual energy and cultivating loving kindness, compassion, joy and inclusiveness – which are the four basic elements of true love – for my greater happiness and the greater happiness of others. Practicing true love, we know that we will continue beautifully into the future.

The Fourth Mindfulness Training: Loving Speech and Deep Listening
Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful speech and the inability to listen to others, I am committed to cultivating loving speech and compassionate listening in order to relieve suffering and to promote reconciliation and peace in myself and among other people, ethnic and religious groups, and nations. Knowing that words can create happiness or suffering, I am committed to speaking truthfully using words that inspire confidence, joy, and hope. When anger is manifesting in me, I am determined not to speak. I will practice mindful breathing and walking in order to recognize and to look deeply into my anger. I know that the roots of anger can be found in my wrong perceptions and lack of understanding of the suffering in myself and in the other person. I will speak and listen in a way that can help myself and the other person to transform suffering and see the way out of difficult situations. I am determined not to spread news that I do not know to be certain and not to utter words that can cause division or discord. I will practice Right Diligence to nourish my capacity for understanding, love, joy, and inclusiveness, and gradually transform anger, violence, and fear that lie deep in my consciousness.

The Fifth Mindfulness Training: Nourishment and Healing
Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful consumption, I am committed to cultivating good health, both physical and mental, for myself, my family, and my society by practicing mindful eating, drinking, and consuming. I will practice looking deeply into how I consume the Four Kinds of Nutriments, namely edible foods, sense impressions, volition, and consciousness. I am determined not to gamble, or to use alcohol, drugs, or any other products which contain toxins, such as certain websites, electronic games, TV programs, films, magazines, books, and conversations. I will practice coming back to the present moment to be in touch with the refreshing, healing and nourishing elements in me and around me, not letting regrets and sorrow drag me back into the past nor letting anxieties, fear, or craving pull me out of the present moment. I am determined not to try to cover up loneliness, anxiety, or other suffering by losing myself in consumption. I will contemplate interbeing and consume in a way that preserves peace, joy, and well-being in my body and consciousness, and in the collective body and consciousness of my family, my society and the Earth.
 
Gandhi-Be-the-Change-Dove
Before my sit I was reading through a book I recently got called The Bodhi Tree Grows in L.A by Bhante Walpola Piyananda, a buddhist monk from Sri Lanka.  I wanted to share a passage that I enjoyed:
“Socrates, the famous Greek philosopher, had a wonderful test for gossip.  One day an acquaintance ran up to him and excitedly said, ‘Socrates, do you know what I just heard about one of your students?’
“‘Wait a minute,’ Socrates replied.  ‘Before you tell me, I’d like you to take a little test. It’s called the Triple Filter Test.’
“‘Triple Filter?’ asked the man.
“‘Yes, that’s right,’ continued Socrates. ‘Before you tell me about my student, let’s take a moment to filter what you’re going to say.  The first filter is Truth.  Have you made absolutely sure that what you are about to tell me is true?’
“‘No,’ said the man, ‘actually I just heard about this and – ‘
“‘All right, so you don’t really know if it’s true,’ said Socrates.  ‘Next, let’s try the second filter, the filter of Goodness.  Is what you are about to tell me about my student something good?’
“‘No, on the contrary – ‘ the man started to say.
“‘So, you want to tell me something bad about him, even though you are not certain that it is even true.’ The man shrugged, looking down, embarrassed.
“‘Well, you may still pass the test,’ Socrates said.  ‘There is still the third filter – the filter of Usefulness.  Is what you want to tell me about my student going to be useful to me?’
“‘No, not really…’ mumbled the man.
“‘Well, if what you want to tell me is neither true nor good nor useful, why tell it to me at all? asked Socrates.”
Mindful speech can be a difficult practice.  How much less would we say in a day if we were to filter our words using Socrate’s Triple Filter Test?  I think I do pretty well with True and am fairly skilled at sharing what’s Good but how often is what I say Useful?  The middle path is important to keep in mind.  It is easy to set ourselves up with lofty ambitions and impossible goals.  So if you take this on as a practice, please be gentle with yourselves and remember that there are no small acts.  Every step we take towards a more awakened life is a step in the direction of cultivating peace.  May your journey be fruitful!
lotus_flower_by_philichino
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