These training rules are observed by laypeople during periods of intensive meditation practice and during uposatha (lunar observance) days. The Eight Precepts are based on the Five Precepts, with the third precept extended to prohibit all sexual activity and an additional three precepts that are especially supportive to meditation practice.
These training rules not commandments, as the Ten Commandments in other religions, butrather moral guidelines to go by so that one may maintain a healthy practice for oneself and for not harming others. As one develops in the Dhamma, one finds that the Precepts grounds your practice and that one cannot waver and purposely break any of the Precepts.
In following these rules one gradually develops a respect for the life of others, for their property, their dignity, their right to know the truth and a respect for the clarity of one’s own mind. The Buddha called the practice of these rules a consideration to others which creates love and respect and which is conducive to helpfulness, non-dispute, harmony and unity (A.III,287).
On another occasion he called virtue freedom-giving and conducive to concentration (A.III,132). He also mentioned that one of the most important benefits of practicing the Precepts is that one experiences the happiness of being blameless (D.I,70).
Precept & Practice
Every participants of a meditation seclusion during his stay in the ārāma is bound to keep eight ethical precepts:
1. to refrain from killing breathing beings
2. to refrain from taking what is not given
3. to refrain from sexuality and a misconduct concerning sense-pleasures
4. to refrain from lying and false speech
5. to refrain from alcoholic drinks or drugs that are an opportunity for heedlessness
6. to refrain from eating at the forbidden time
7. to refrain from dancing, singing, music, going to see entertainments, wearing garlands,
using perfumes, and beautifying the body with cosmetics and decorations
8. to refrain from lying on a high or luxurious bed
Then Ven. Ānanda went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, having bowed down to him, sat to one side. As he was sitting there, the Blessed One said to him, “Ānanda, every precept &practice, every life, every holy life that is followed as of essential worth: is every one of them fruitful?”
“Lord, that is not [to be answered] with a categorical answer.”
“In that case, Ānanda, give an analytical answer.”
“When - by following a life of precept & practice, a life, a holy life that is followed as of essential worth - one’s unskillful mental qualities increase while one’s skillful mental qualities decline: that sort of precept & practice, life, holy life that is followed as of essential worth is fruitless. But when - by following a life of precept & practice, a life, a holy life that is
followed as of essential worth - one’s unskillful mental qualities decline while one’s skillful mental qualities increase: that sort of precept & practice, life, holy life that is followed as of essential worth is fruitful.”
That is what Ven. Ānanda said, and the Teacher approved. Then Ven. Ānanda, (realizing,) “The Teacher approves of me,”
got up from his seat and, having bowed down to the Blessed One and circumambulating him, left.
Then not long after Ven. Ānanda had left, the Blessed One said to the monks, “Monks, Ānanda is still in training,
but it would not be easy to find his equal in discernment.”
Sīlabbata Sutta AN 3.78
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