29 SEPTEMBER 2020
VIRTUE & ETHICS EFFECTS FUTURE REBIRTHS
By Mike DiMeo
“And what is accomplishment in ethics?
Katamā ca, byagghapajja, sīlasampadā?
It’s when a gentleman doesn’t kill living creatures, steal, commit sexual misconduct, lie, or consume alcoholic drinks that cause negligence.
Idha, byagghapajja, kulaputto pāṇātipātā paṭivirato hoti … pe … surāmerayamajjapamādaṭṭhānā paṭivirato hoti.
This is called accomplishment in ethics.
Ayaṃ vuccati, byagghapajja, sīlasampadā. (2: 6)”
VIPASSANA (Main Insight)
As lay people, we need to cultivate sila and virtue in order to live happy lives in this lifetime and in future lifetimes. Cultivating sila and virtue is necessary for people who want to practice the Dhamma. By understanding the Buddha’s teachings and practicing the Dhamma, we as lay people can live virtuous lives and positively influence our kamma and future rebirths.
In order to be virtuous, we need to cultivate skillful qualities and abandon unskillful qualities. We need to remain mindful all throughout the day.We should train our mind to have loving-kindness for all beings instead of killing. This can be done by practicing metta in our daily life.
We should not waste our money on sensual pleasures and we should earn our money by virtuous means instead of stealing. Instead of drinking, gambling, and womanizing, we should share our money with our family and the Sangha and spend our time with wise and noble Dhamma friends. We need to be honest and tell the truth instead of lying. We should speak to other people in a way that is kind and compassionate, not harsh and rude. Let us train our mind so that our actions can be skillful.
Find a comfortable place to meditate. It should be quiet, secluded, and dark. It should also not be too hot or too cold. Sit in lotus position with your legs crossed. You can also sit in a chair if you are unable to sit down on the ground. Place your hands in your lap and close your eyes.
Let’s start our meditation practice today by radiating metta towards ourselves and all other beings. Say to yourself “may all beings be well, happy and peaceful”. Say this several times. After that, recite the words “may I be well, may I be happy and peaceful”. Say this several times as well. Then, spend the next few minutes alternating between these two recitations.
Bring your attention to your nostrils, lungs, or abdomen. Notice the air going in and out of your nostrils or lungs or your abdomen expanding and contracting. Note “rising” in your mind every time the air goes into your nostrils or lungs or every time your abdomen expands and “falling” in your mind every time the air comes out of your nostrils or lungs or every time your abdomen contracts. Keep your attention here. Do not let your mind wander here and there. Remain concentrated on your breath.
You will begin to notice your body and mind calm down and relax. Observe the rhythm of your breath. At the beginning of your meditation practice, it may be faster. As your body and mind calm down and relax, your breath will become calmer and more subtle.
When your mind begins to calm down and your breath begins to become more subtle, your body will begin to relax. The Buddha teaches us the truth of Anatta (not self). It’s important that we get rid of our belief in a self. To do this, briefly observe your head hair, body hair, nails, teeth, or skin. Understand it’s function (i.e. to help you chew food or to protect you from sun rays), and then remember how skin color changes and gets darker or pale depending on the seasons and how your skin wrinkles as you grow older, how head hair becomes white and falls out as you age, how body hair falls out frequently, how nails can fall out and change size all on their own, and how teeth can fall out, break, and rot all on their own.
This practice will give us insight into the impermanence of the body, and then we will be able to see it as “rupa”, meaning form, and not self.
Even as your mind calms down, your breath becomes more subtle, and your body relaxes, your mind stays active, thinking about this and that. When thoughts arise, try not to follow them. Just observe them as they come and go. Try to keep your mind concentrated on the breath. If you follow your thoughts, they will stay in your mind and you will become distracted. If unskillful thoughts remain in your mind, reflect upon their origin. You will find that unskillful thoughts arise from attachment. What are you clinging to? Reflect upon this and let go.
Reflect upon the impermanence of life, wealth, and sensuality. Is it worth it to spend our money on indulgence in sensual pleasures, or rather with our family and the Sangha?
Craving for sensual pleasures can lead us to squander our wealth and become heedless in our actions. Drinking, gambling, and womanizing can lead to ruin for us as lay people. We can destroy our health, mindfulness, wealth, and family if we indulge in these things. What’s more important? Having quick fixes that only satisfy us temporarily, or lasting peace in our lives? Reflect on this.
We train our minds even as lay people so that we can live happy and peaceful lives. The Buddha taught us to restrain our senses for a reason. By practicing sense restraint as lay people, we can develop the wisdom to overcome addictions that lead to our ruin. The Buddha encouraged us to only associate with wise and noble friends, since these friends can encourage us to stay on the path and not fall into heedlessness.
By living our lives according to the Dhamma, we reduce our suffering as lay people and positively influence our kamma, which allows us to have a more fortunate rebirth. Having a sense of urgency to practice the Dhamma as lay people can allow us to live happy and wholesome lives with no regrets. Reflect on these things. Then return your attention to the breath.