Laypeople are exhorted by the Buddha to keep Uposatha precepts. Although it can be the case that sometimes there is this reasoning ‘I’m too busy’, what are your thoughts regarding this, in your experience is such thinking valid or not? What are the valid sutta references for this discussion?
This sutta is directed at monastics, but it might be useful for this discussion:
I tend not to think in these terms. The thinking regarding ‘validity’ is a value judgement and has no static answer. The options are not ‘good’ or ‘bad’ but each choice leads to certain consequences.
So one can ask more specifically, highlighting cause and effect, eg ‘does this behaviour increase peace and well being or not’? etc This method of questioning was a standard way the Buddha taught, and evident in many suttas. Understanding causality is fundamental for permanent change (ie going beyond mere compliance).
The full moon and new moon have a positive material effect on meditation (that’s why they were institutionalized in the first place) and those who realize will naturally take advantage of the energy to meditate. The same individual approach applies to precepts which are ‘training rules,’ and a practitioner who has experienced the benefit of the eight precepts to meditation, will already have incorporated them into their lifestyle. All this is summed up in the abandonment of the fetter ‘clinging to mere rules and rituals,’ in favour of direct experience, and knowledge of the necessary effect of sila on samadhi, in 'sila/samadhi/panna.
My personal approach to keeping the uposatha precepts has evolved through out the years since I started practicing them which was probably about 4 years ago now.
In the beginning I tried to do it ‘to the letter’ with a lot of enthusiasm and they certainly have proven to be frutiful in terms of my meditation practice.
But I’ve realised over the last couple of years that there are times when it might not be convenient to keep them especially if it falls on a certain day were it might be tricky to keep certain rules like not eating after midday depending on work constraints.
I think in these sort of cases you could just try and keep whatever rules you can given your particular circumstances.
The rule that I find trickiest is the eating between sunrise and midday. This for me can be challenging especially if I have to start work at a particular time and it may be that I have to have breakfast before sunrise etc.
In this cricumstance, even if I have to eat before sunrise and after midday, I can determine to skip dinner as an example.
Or sometimes I will practice the upostha rules on a different day, so for example maybe the uposatha day falls on a Monday but it might be challenging to keep them on that day, what I will do sometimes is practice the rules on say a Friday for example because it’s easier for me to do it on that day.
That way I don’t ‘miss out’ on a day were I’m renouncing. As I undertand the 3 extra rules that are kept on the uposatha days are more for renouncing as opposed to the 5 precepts which are a moral code.
I hope that is of some use
In addition, I have experienced times when I did not feel like doing a particular thing like maybe meditating as an example because I might be too tired, but if I pause for a few minutes, and you arouse a genuine desire to want to do it, it’s interesting that somehow the circumstances change and all of a sudden maybe your tiredness falls away and it seems as though the universe is ‘helping you out’. Strange.