Sila, sila, sila

Sila means Morality. The 8 precepts of Sila are

  • to abstain from killing any being
  • to abstain from stealing
  • to abstain from all sexual activity
  • to abstain from telling lies
  • to abstain from all intoxicants
  • to abstain from eating after midday
  • to abstain from sensual entertainment and bodily decorations
  • to abstain from using high or luxurious beds

The last 3 precepts are for old students only. Sila is the foundation of your Samadhi. In fact, take any religion known and it should definitely be preaching Sila. I am back from Igatpuri after a 22 day period and have realized its importance. Go to any Vipassana centre and one will notice that automatically Samadhi is very good. People say that its because the environment, vibrations etc are such. But since the vipassic way is to delve deeper and look within, I see that the difference is in the practice of Sila. In the outside world its so easy to break Sila. Some of the common things that I do and end up breaking my Sila are

  • "I will be there in 10-15 mins" - (Usually, I might have just left my place to reach where ever I am going)
  • "Almost 50% is complete, I am on schedule" - (I might have not even started work on it)
  • "I am working on it" - (I have definitely not even looked at the work)
  • "I am very busy today" - (I dont want to meet you)

and etc, etc, etc. Its so easy to break Sila. In addition to all this there is stuff like

  • thinking of ways to pay as little tax as possible which is also known as "tax planning"
  • try to extract as much money from the client
  • gossip: talking ill of others behind their backs
  • exaggerate during talking either to satisfy my ego or disrupt someone else's image

and many more. From the above, almost all the Sila that get broken by me is due to speech. At the centre, observing Noble Silence puts one right on track and automatically Samadhi becomes deeper. To put this to test, after coming back, I have been quite miserly while speaking and have tried to maintain Right speech in addition to all the other precepts( except the eating after midday one :) ). The results sure are something to be experienced. Please try this experiment out yourself. Observe the above precepts and you will definitely find Samadhi to be much deeper. One might think that observing the above precepts is quite simple but it is not. Definitely not!

For example, no killing means that you don't kill any being which includes mosquitoes, ants, worms, insects anything. Our minds habit pattern is so strong that the moment it experiences a bite from a mosquito our hands automatically try to slap it in an attempt to kill it.
And when it comes to speech, unless one is constantly aware, it becomes difficult to even figure out that you have broken Sila. We have to be constantly asking ourselves, "whatever I said was it a lie? did it hurt anybody? did I speak ill of others?". Take an example, I happen to read some filmi article which says "Actor X is a flirt". Then I start talking to somebody about it and very confidently state "Actor X is a flirt". One might ask, so what's wrong, the newspaper says so. But we have not even met the actor to make such a statement! How can we be so sure that the news is right? So does that mean we don't talk about it? Ideally, yes but then we will hardly be talking then! So then what do we do? I stumbled upon the solution while doing some reading. It is said that the teachings of the Buddha was recorded by a group of 500 Arhants who compiled together the teachings in form of suttas( discourses ) and each of those discourses that were written started with the line
Evam me suta
which means "Thus have I heard". Hence, in the above example, we should state "According to newspaper A, Actor X is a flirt". By directly stating "Actor X is a flirt" we almost start taking ownership of the statement and tend to unnecessarily get into arguments with other people who disagree. By prefixing "According to newspaper A", we stay more detached in a certain sense. In terms of speech, examples like these are endless.
Then, there are intoxicants which one needs to stay away from which may be very difficult too. Sexual misconduct, again something which is so difficult to refrain from.

All in all not an easy task (at least for me)! I have ignored Sila for quite long without understanding its importance, the time has come to put it into practice.