A commitment to ethics begins with recognizing that everything we do makes waves. These waves begin in body, speech, and mind, and ripple through our lives and the lives of those around us. Although we often think of ethics as rules, choosing an ethical way of life is also an expression of deep interconnectedness.
Patanjali, the 200 C.E. yogic sage, famously wrote that there were eight limbs of yoga practice, and the first was named the yamas. How do we get along with one another? There are five yamas, or restraints, and the practice of these yamas is the lens through which relationships can come into focus.
For six months in 2010-2011, a course was offered at the Centre of Gravity in Toronto, led by Michael Stone. It was designed for people with busy urban lives who are dedicated to exploring the foundations of deep practice. Practicing yoga postures or sitting meditation every day are only some of the tools of the dharma. We need different tools for different jobs. Do you have the right tools to address the myriad layers of your life?
Dukkha (suffering) is not just inside us – it also manifests in our relationships with people, money, sex, the body, the environment, and institutions. Taking these precepts is a practice of commit- ting to building a culture of non-harm, honesty and respect for all creatures. It’s also recognizing that we live in an imperfect culture and that we’ll fail ten thousand times in our efforts to awaken.
If formal practice can be deepened, so can the meaningful and creative day-to-day work of our lives. It’s essential that our practice links up with everything we do. It’s essential that we don’t hide in our practice or in our relational lives. Otherwise, years go by and nothing really changes. This is the heart of an engaged dharma practice.
This little book includes transcriptions of Michael’s talks, responses from the group, and supplemental materials, including a steady back beat of found poems cribbed out of the excellent books of British child psychologist Adam Phillips.
Download Preceptions (PDF)