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Buddhadharma : Winter 2007
winter 2007| 80 |buddhadharma for frustration. But recall for a moment how it feels to be in the supermarket, faced with having to choose from a selec- tion of fifty different types of breakfast cereal. imagine how good it would feel to be clearly decisive, not just in super- markets or when browsing eBay, but in every moment. since most of our indeci- sion results from misunderstanding the drama of senses, it follows that training in renunciation is very beneficial. The traditional training for the monas- tic sangha is contained within its hundreds of precepts. For laypeople, the spirit of renunciation is contained in the eight pre- cepts, which are observed during periods of intensive meditation practice and on lunar observance days. here the usual five moral precepts are expanded by changing one and adding three more. The third pre- cept about refraining from irresponsible sexuality changes to total restraint from all intentional erotic activity. Then there is the sixth precept of not eating solid food between midday and the following dawn; the seventh is refraining from dis- traction in the form of games, music, and cosmetics; and finally, the eighth is non- indulgence in sleep. as westerners, when we read the above we easily confuse training in renun- ciation with guidelines for ethical behav- iour. Refraining from eating a meal in the evening or giving up listening to music are not ethical matters. The encourage- ment to give up these activities for a time is intended to increase the intensity and focus in our practice. since the time of the Buddha, lay practitioners have been encouraged to formally take up the eight precepts on the new moon and full moon days. On these days, the lay and monastic sangha would meet and spend time in for- mal meditation and dhamma discussion. Today, the good fortune of such read- ily available dhamma friends is rare. and most people cannot get the day off work just because it is the full moon! however, we can adjust and create our own forms. But whatever practices we develop, it is worth holding in heart and mind the Bud- dha’s words (as recorded in the Dham- mapada, verse 290): “it is wisdom that enables letting go of a lesser happiness in pursuit of a happiness which is greater.” This mindful and skillful cultivation of let- ting go bares the fruit of selfless bliss.