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Lions Roar : January 2017
The Ten Grave Precepts The ten grave precepts are traditionally framed in terms of “refraining from”: refraining from killing, stealing, misusing sex, lying, using intoxicants, speaking of others’ errors and faults, praising oneself and putting down others, being stingy, harboring ill will, and defaming the Buddha, dharma, and sangha. Some Zen schools also include a positive formulation alongside them, such as affirming life, being giving, honoring the body, and so on. I find it helpful to think of the ten grave precepts as advice rather than commandments. They are a distillation of what generations of Buddhist masters have found to be helpful in their navigation of this thorny, muddy business of being human. I imagine the great Buddhist teachers of the past saying to me, “You know, Josh, you may find in your own life, as we have in ours, that you will create and experience less suffering if you don’t kill, steal, lie, and so on.” Some Values Based on the Ten Grave Precepts • I value affirming life and honoring the reality of interdepen- dence; I value attending to the impact of privilege and nonpriv- ilege. • I value cultivating a sense of enoughness with regard to mate- rial, relational, and spiritual attainments; I value entrusting to the universe what belongs to the universe and not arrogating it for myself. • I value mutuality and commitment in relationships, remem- bering the support and stability that loving relationships bring; I value attending to issues of gender oppression and equality. • I value listening fully and speaking openly, remembering that truth is vastly larger than what arises in my mind and that “I don’t know” is often the actual fact of the matter. • I value clarity of mind and turning toward my life; and I value the enoughness of the dharma and my experience as it is. • I value the perspective that life is one continuous mistake, and that even mistakes are grace. • I value meeting others on equal ground, connecting to the good in everyone and recalling that I am exceptional neither in my wholeness nor my brokenness. • I value making use of the entirety of my life and circum- stances, sharing all that I find useful, even if that makes me feel less special. • I value finding a way to work with my mind even amid painful conditions, both inner and outer. • I value the specificity of my life as the only conduit through which I can actualize my values, while remembering that there are other values and other paths that are equally valued and valuable.