Currently I’m considering to observe the 8. Precepts in daily life as often as I can.
But I’m really curious what you think about that, because here in Bern, Switzerland, I don’t have that much opportunities to exchange about this topic with friends in the Dhamma.
Do you think it’s a beneficial thing to do, and also possible in daily life?
And how strictly should one be with e.g. high luxurious beds?
What’s allowed to drink/eat in the after-noon (because there are several interpretations)?
Welcome to SuttaCentral Discourse! (I beat the mods to it. )
We don’t normally discuss our personal practices on this forum since the focus is on Early Buddhist Texts (EBTs) but we have had several interesting topics about keeping precepts in relation to the EBTs here. There are many ideas on lay practice, including 5 and 8 Precepts, based on the EBTs, you can find them using the search Q at the top right.
For example you can find @karl_lew’s interesting post on eating at “the right time” here.
I take the precepts as the gradual training approach, like this sutta where Gavesī slowly takes more training rules, starting with confidence in the Triple Gem and ending as a monk. Of course you don’t have to end up like a monk and can end up like Citta the Householder.
If one has perfected the 5 Precepts alone then they’re doing amazing as a Buddhist lay follower! In doing so they’ve stopped a few dangers to themself as said in AN 9.27 and so they aren’t something to sniff at alone.
This previous thread comes to mind as being relevant from a few months back regarding “high and luxurious beds”:
There seems to be a bit of leeway and differences in interpretation regarding what’s allowable after noon. I’ve seen small pieces of cheese or chocolate served in the afternoons (along with cups of tea with milk and sugar) in some Theravada/Thai forest associated retreats (while under 8 precepts) in my country, but relative strictness of interpretations may vary between different traditions! I’m not really that familiar with the the ins and outs of the rules for that!
As a lay practioner, I recently started avoiding dinner except for social occasions where it would be an awkward imposition on hosts.
More importantly, I also had to deal with constant weight loss that would have lead to self-mortification. Constant weight loss has a bad outcome in the obsession with control, rules and food avoidance. Simply put, the danger is anorexia, which is a form of self-harm and self-mortification.
Over several months I lost 8 pounds gradually. This seemed innocuous until I realized that the weight loss did not stop. It was at that point that I recognized the difference between various levels of hunger. It was also at that point I started eating small pieces of chocolate in the afternoon or evening to stay alert. The chocolate was medicine.
If you have a regular doctor, it might good to discuss intermittent fasting with them so that they can advise you on any concerns related to your personal state of health.
Other than the weight loss caveat, the only other slight downside I have noticed is a slight increase in feeling cold. The remedy has been simple. I don a jacket and hat in the house during winter.
The benefits of relinquishing dinner have been clear. I am less irritable when hungry, which makes sharing food easier. I have lost needless weight and fit into my clothes better. I can climb better since I weigh less. I sleep better without things gurgling down below. I eat whatever I wish before noon without feeling guilty (and THAT is wonderful!)
Earlier in life I lived in monasteries and it became natural to continue according to 8 precepts in lay life simply because of the mental benefits it bestowed. The most noticeable provisions to have an effect were celibacy, eating time and silence. The latter is not a precept, but I found not speaking unless absolutely necessary helped maintain mindfulness. So it is recommended to observe the effect of these provisions. The precepts are training rules, indicating they must eventually be observed according to personal experience.
All these provisions are not arbitrary impositions, they have the definite aim of breaking the bonds with conditioned reality, that being using the conditioned phenomena of sexual drive, appetite and speech skilfully as a means toward the unconditioned. To be practiced successfully they must be accompanied by a dispassion towards conditioned phenomena nourished by the study of impermanence.
Thank you all for sharing your experiences, and for your helpful words and your nice emojis aswell!
I was just wondering if there are any Suttas about the 8. Precepts apart from the ones about the Upasotha Practice?
Did the Buddha initially not intend that laypeople can observe the 8. Precepts constantly in addition to the Uposatha Days if they like to do so? With metta
One day thinking about precepts, I encountered this:
AN3.87:2.5: But they’re constant and steady in their precepts regarding the training rules that are fundamental, befitting the spiritual life. They keep the rules they’ve undertaken.
And that single verse (which is repeated at least 66 times in the EBTs) pounded into me the realization that observance of the rules chosen is far more important than the number of rules or even which rules are chosen. After reading that one verse, I now simply observe the rules I have chosen and only adopt other rules as I can rightly observe them. I stopped counting rules. And rules keep showing up unbidden for my consideration while studying EBTs or even reading wonderful discussions such as Dhamma Doodles.
That’s a lay perspective. Monastics, of course, have a steeper hill to climb.
It addresses keeping 8 precepts specifically though briefly in comments about Uposatha, and offers this:
On close scrutiny you will notice that all the precepts are meant to discipline your mind and focus your attention on the practice of the Dhamma. They are not formulated for parroting, but for putting into action. When the precepts are put into action they bring a very good discipline necessary for the practice of meditation, calming the mind, deepening the understanding of Dhamma and liberating our minds from numerous psychic irritants.
This small book includes food for thought in suttas specific to circumstances which arise during life, especially a life grounded in both the abstinences and the positive efforts of keeping precepts.