|The omniscience eyes of all the Buddhas. Image taken from here|
The training in ethics is the basis for any success in any kind of spiritual practice. In fact ethics are a necessity if one wants to cultivate the fundamental ground, from which he can grow and hold on during his lifespan, a virtue way of conduct within the body, speech and mind.
Likewise the eightfold path in Yoga Science, commonly known as ‘Ashtanga Yoga’ , begins with the Yamas and Niyamas. It is so interesting to see how my perception for Yamas and Niyamas , are actually ripen in my mind stream through my Buddhist practice. Before it was merely words and simple thinking through my daily asana practice. But in fact the training in ethics can bring limitless benefit for : oneself, the community one’s live in and as well for the whole universe!
Commentary on the Yamas disciplines:
Ahimsa, a very famous word that originates from the ancient mother India.
|Drolma Karmo in tibetan ( White Tara )|
What does Ahimsa means? It means no violence. It means to cease any inner conflict. From where inner conflict arise? From our self cherishing mind, which always wants to be pleased and happy, but have we really wonder that we are actually only one person compared to the billions other human beings in this world and furthermore if we look the infinite amount of sentient beings ?! Why only us and not the others? Situations are constantly changing and what maybe before was favorable, will become an object of hatred and vice versa. So where we can rely on? On a mind that is aware of the impermanence of all phenomena, on a mind that abides in equanimity by keeping the thought “ that everyone else exactly like me, just wants to be happy and be free of suffering “ and on a mind that abandons all non-virtues actions of body, speech and mind. This mind is like a beautiful lotus flower that one can see in many images of Buddhas and Bodhisatvas. The Lotus flower is a symbol of non violence, symbol of the unsurpassable unstained qualities of the Buddhas. All Buddhas stopped all the afflicted emotions because they are the Perfect Ones, who go beyond and established the Root Virtue (Bodhicitta) and dispelled the Ignorance for once and for all (Wisdom ) – as ignorance is the only one root that need to be cut off in order all the 84.000 various disturbing emotions can be stopped-
Therefore for a modern yogi practitioner – using as an example –
His own achievements on the yoga mat and on his meditation cushion are result due to his previous Karma but as well all his present intentions, attitudes and practices will create the furthermore expand of his inner psychic towards happiness or suffering in this very life and in future lives.
It is really up to us, here and now, to abandon or not the various kinds of violence either we are on our yoga mat or off. If we focus to develop the perfection on asana part without undertake a higher training in ethics , then we are deluded. Without a pure perfect clean clear mind there is no such thing as perfect asana. Asana is a posture that can be hold with ease an steadiness by its definition. But how we can be comfortable when our mind is full of afflictions and the feeling by habit reverting more quickly towards negative rather than positive ? How we can be steady when our concentration is like a thin leaf on a big tree, ready to fell by any small movement of wind? Therefore Ahimsa level is prerequisite for the further development of our spiritual practice.
Satya . The commitment of the practice of truthfulness through the body, speech and mind. Many of us we have strong tendencies to untruthful reactions such as telling lies so easily; sometimes small lies , sometimes big lies, sometimes without even a reason! In other cases we create scenarios in order to bring the favorable conditions to our life and in fact we live a whole life inside these scenarios!
Again this is a result due to its causes and conditions, but is very important to try to avoid nihilism or extreme thoughts such as “there is nothing we can do about these tendencies “ and simply surrender to them and continue to act with the same attitude as before or on the other extreme, we deny all and seeing everything pointless and of no worth of practice to change. If we recognize the pattern, with the previous commentary on Ahimsa, is the self –cherishing mind. This type of mind, out of fear, desire or ignorance, creates all these untruthful attitudes. In short be mindful and abandon immediately any action that will bring benefit to someone and suffering to someone else at the same time. It is the least we can do!
Asteya. The commitment of not stealing. We are an accumulation of causes and conditions, which brought us again and again into the cyclic existence of Suffering. For eons we have tried to practice and free ourselves and each time we fail to reach Moksha (Liberation ) . But Why? Because we are attached to the pleasures of our samsaric lives and the life itself and because we haven’t understand the method and the means to attain the complete liberation. Therefore our life is devoid from the virtuous act of generosity. And so we feel the need to accumulate wealth, sometimes by stealing material things, sometimes stealing ideas, sometimes stealing the time of other beings in order be benefit and so forth. Be mindful and take nothing that has not been given to you and being generous at any possible way. Offer your wealth, offer your time, offer your self-practice, offer your help to harmonize arising unfavorable conditions. In general offerings both actually or mentally transformed, and the supreme offering of the meditation practice on the nature of reality, will reduce any tendencies of stealing of any kind, as more contentment of what one already has, arise.
Brahmacharya. Traditionally referred to a sexual celibacy or self control practice of the sexual energy. In my understanding this is not the complete case. Brahmacharya is a state of self-sufficient wholeness through the commitment to avoid any sexual misconducts. Sexual energy is very strong instinct, and gives us many hinders on our spiritual practice. Until we learn the method how to utilize this energy by the skilful means of the Tantrayana Path, until we reach that level of practice, we need to be mindful of how sexual energy is manifested in a daily basis by keeping moral ethics on our conduct.
Physical misconduct from Buddhist aspect refers to :
Improper parts of body ( anus, mouth )
Improper place ( close to spiritual master, in gathering of people , in a monastery …)
Improper time ( during retreat, during pregnancy, during daytime …)
Improper number ( more than 5 )
Improper behavior ( such as beating the partner …)
Misconduct also consider when one is sexually involved with persons who are protected by family or by the ‘owner’. Meaning with ones mother or sister , father or brother and so forth or with one’s husband or wife.
Aparigraha. The commitment of non-attachment. This practice is partly related to Asteya, as the way to be cultivated is to be train through the art of generosity in order to subdue any kind of cravings. The offerings, training the mind in order not to create more needs of what actually are needed at any given time. A further step of practice is to be able one to abandon anything that increases his/her attachments to a daily basis.
In the Buddhist text, The Thirty-Seven Practices of Bodhisattvas By Ngülchu Thogme Zangpo it is mention in the second verse:
[The mind of] attachment to loved ones wavers like water.
[The mind of] hatred of enemies burns like fire.
[The mind of] ignorance that forgets what to adopt and what to discard is greatly obscured.
Abandoning one’s homeland is the bodhisattvas’ practice.
Since we are ruled by the 3 poisons of desire, anger and ignorance we need to let go of any environment, situation or people (one’s ‘homeland’) that are the causes of further development of the 3 poisons. In short abandon immediately anything that is not supportive and conductive to your spiritual practice.
This last discipline is very difficult to practice as in the conventional world of the 21rst century this practice can be seeing as a countercultural act! We are in a disposition where we lack of perfect wisdom and we are fully confused. So any attempt to find a way to balance between our spiritual practices with the illusionary clouds of our world, it will not work, because these 2 parts currently are separate from the true nature of things and how they really exist. Without renunciation of the worldly existence, the proper aspirations in order to maintain our spiritual practice cannot be developed. First example given by the Noble Perfect One Buddha Shakyamuni , who had everything and renounce everything. He left his kingdom and his wealth, his wife and his son in order to become the sovereign of his mind!
Practitioners of any Noble Path utilize this precious human life in its fullest and become what you fear of. The Absolute Truth.