Sunday, February 16, 2014

Full Moon Buddhist Observance (meditation)

Amber Larson, CC Liu, Dhr. Seven, Pat Macpherson, Wisdom Quarterly; LA Buddhist Vihara
FREE monthly full moon observance, Los Angeles Buddhist Vihara, Pasadena
Meditation bowl (dojo-zen-de-paris/flickr)
We rushed to the Los Angeles Buddhist Temple in Pasadena to be there in time.

Today was the full moon, the lunar observance day to fulfill the Eight Precepts.

The Buddhist island tradition in Sri Lanka, once known as Serendipity just off the southern tip of India, holds that those who wish dress in white, arrive early, and begin a day of meditation, island food, Dharma talks and study holding true to three additional restraints.

We practice the Five Precepts everyday, even in America, even in the city, even in the biggest bawdiest megalopolis in all the land. Hollywood is not so far away. Distractions abound. It's cold, there's a drought, Valentine's Day just reminded us that we suck, the chemtrails cause a disturbing haze, and all the nights' parties pile into one heap in our heads.

The Eight Precepts
These are voluntary observances for lay Buddhists who wish to practice Buddhism more intensely on special lunar days. The Five Precepts are daily practice, humane karma that leads to rebirth on this plane and the lower celestial worlds of good fortune. The eight focus both on abstaining from morally unskillful behavior, as do the Five Precepts, and on practicing in a way more conducive to concentration and fast meditative progress.
In Theravada Buddhist countries -- such as Sri Lanka, Thailand, Burma, and Cambodia -- Buddhists often spend one day a week (uposatha days: the new moon, first-quarter moon, full moon, and last-quarter moon days) visiting a Buddhist monastic complex (vihara) and practicing the full complement of Eight Precepts.
The Buddha gave this instruction, encouraging ordinary people to regularly take up eight precepts and practicing them with diligence:
  1. Abstain from injuring or depriving any living being of life (whether human or non-human).
  2. Abstain from taking what is not given (e.g., stealing, misappropriating, moving things that may cause misunderstandings).
  3. Abstain from all sexual misconduct and activity. (See comic below).
  4. Abstain from all false speech (perjury, deceiving others, manipulating others, using hurtful or divisive words, chatter).
  5. Abstain from using all intoxicating substances, which can lead to carelessness.
  6. Abstain from eating at inappropriate times (the appropriate time being after sunrise but before noon).
  7. Abstain from singing, dancing, playing music, attending entertainment performances, wearing perfumes, and using cosmetics or garlands (decorative accessories).
  8. Abstain from high and luxurious seats and beds and overindulging in sleep.
Sex? Can I go a whole day without my erotic thoughts, words, actions? Can I even go an hour? Binky finds out the answers to these life questions ("Life in Hell," Matt Groening)

Why would anyone in his or her right mind undertake to practice these for a day? It is the way the Buddha practiced his entire career as a world teacher. It is the way monastics practice today. Undertaken for the right reason, avoiding extremes and keeping to tradition established by the Buddha himself as explained in the sutras and discipline (vinaya), they free one from distractions. And an undistracted heart/mind inclines to quick concentration, absorption, and liberating-insight.

Mudra (
If what we want is enlightenment or just peace of mind, spiritual knowledge and vision or just stress management, psychic powers or self-control, complete equanimity or a heart overflowing with compassion, successful meditation leads us to our goals.

What if our meditation does not succeed? The Buddha gave many aids to success (such as the Factors of Absorption) and antidotes to obstacles (such as the Five Hindrances). The Eight Precepts, which can be practiced alone or in the company of others interested in striving, are tools to help that we as humans are lucky enough to be able to learn and practice. Of course, there are Hollywood parties and endless distractions if we prefer.

No comments: