Last blog we explored the first of ten 'misdeeds' of the body. Lama Marut succinctly puts this first one as .......
1. Don't kill/Protect and honour life
He says that these ten precepts give us a handbook for life, the rules of the game, that can allow us to avoid major undesirable future worries and create the causes for contentment and peace.
This is because of karma. Put simply, karma or causality can be thought of as 'what goes around comes around'. So, if we put positive deeds of body, speech and mind out in the world we will create the perception of seeing them come back to us. And the converse is also true, when we perform misdeeds these too will boomerang back to us. When we understand this we are more motivated to let these ten guidelines guide our behaviour to create the life we want.
This first one is all about practicing non-violence, not killing or physically harming others, including ourselves. What is important is our intention to practice non-harm, respecting and caring for the lives of others as best we can. But as we know this is not always possible even despite our best intentions and we slip up. We are all human and make 'so called' mistakes.
A practice that really helps me when I slip up and create harm is the 'Four Forces' purification or conscious clearing practice. I am often tempted to bash myself up or feel guilty when I do harm or any other misdeed. This is creating more harm and is certainly not kind to myself or others! So, Instead I find it really useful to do a 'Four Forces' on the misdeed. So a little recap on the practice, as best as understand it .......
Go for refuge in your understanding of karma, 'what goes around comes around'. So if I do harm, harm will come back to me at some time in the future. (unless I do a Four Forces purification')
Truly Regret doing that particular harm, understanding it has hurt others and you.
Decide on a realistic time frame you can refrain from doing this particular harm.
This is a make up activity you plan to do to make amends. This can involve an apology or an action you decide on to make amends for what you have done. You are your own judge and jury so you get to decide what is appropriate to do and whether to involve the other person or just leave it to your mind.
A really powerful example of this practice related to harm was a story I heard many years ago. I will try and recall it as best I can. There was a Tibetan Buddhist living and working in the USA. He was drafted into the army during the Vietnam war. He practiced these precepts and wanted to honour not killing and honouring and protecting life, which was very difficult under the circumstances. During his time in Vietnam he had fired shots into scrub and while not being sure he had killed anyone, this remained a possibility in his mind, which troubled him greatly. When he returned home his teacher gave him this creative use of this practice.
He certainly understood that 'what goes around comes around' and wanted to make amends for possibly killing people.
He certainly regretted any possible harm he could have caused
He felt he could restrain from taking life for the rest of his life.
His 'make-up' activity was to take care of the life of a sheep for its natural life. So he cared for a sheep in his suburban backyard until it passed away of old age.
Having done this he had cleared any negative consequences of possible killing.
Now of course maybe we don't have to be so elaborate or big with our recompense. Something meaningful and appropriate to you is all that is required. Once this make up activity is done you can have a clear conscience and peace of mind. A long time ago I wrote a blog about doing this practice in relation to a driving misdeed when I cut someone off in traffic. I went for refuge in my understanding of the consequences, I regretted it, I thought I could restrain for the whole of the car trip and my make up activity was to let someone into the traffic. Although the opportunity to do this took til I was nearly home, once done I could relax with a clear conscience.
We'll take a look at the second of these misdeeds related to the body next blog.
With love, appreciation and very best well wishes to us all