Prioritizing Precepts

It’s no longer my meditation practice that makes me feel different. I was advised to take these two hours a day more as a private personal matter, and while I was resistant to hiding this part of my life, the reality is, nothing is more personal than sitting by yourself with your eyes closed. Accepting this has helped, but still feel like I’m on a different path because of the strict precepts I carry with me. I’m no longer sure if this is a bad thing.

While I always that it was important to connect with people and make them feel comfortable, I’ve also appreciated that we all have the power to choose how we live our lives. I want to live in a way that is healthy and beneficial for both me and the people around me. Following the five precepts helps me do this. So why have I felt uncomfortable expressing my precepts to other people?

I’ve always shared the precepts as a value judgement. My tone and body language said something like, “I follow these precepts because it’s beneficial for me and the people around me. Since you’re not, you’re a bad person who is harming the people around you.” Yet I’m realizing that this isn’t what Vipassana taught. This is what I learned from Christianity as a child. “Follow these Ten Commandments or you will go to hell!” I was taught that good people follow the rules, and bad people break them, but this isn’t what Vipassana teaches at all.

Vipassana simply teaches us to observe ourselves and to learn from our observations. It doesn’t teach people to be judgemental or condescending. Instead, while we’re learning how to be accepting of our own personal realities, we’re also learning to accept other people for who they are. Vipassana doesn’t teach me to preach or force my beliefs on others. Commercialism and advertising have taught me that. Vipassana just teaches me to walk on the right path so that the environment around me naturally become healthier and more peaceful.

The more I experience the truth of Vipassana, the less concerned I am about what everyone else is doing. If I grow in my practice, I’ll naturally attract interactions, conversations, and relationships that are meaningful and supportive. Things are bound to change, and change can be uncomfortable, but by allowing the changes to happen naturally, my life is improving. Instead of forcing or hiding from my precepts, I can just live them as best I can in this moment and keep moving forward. Time to meditate.

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