Updated: Jun 13, 2022
Practicing with The Precepts Feels Good
The Buddha’s path to awakening is all about being happy. From the beginning of the path, with the happiness of generosity and initial letting go, to the final letting go of attachment to all things, happiness is both the final goal and what’s present in the moment. Therefore, all the teachings and practices have present and future happiness as the thing they are intended to foster. The practice with the precepts is no exception.
This is so important to begin to understand, because if the precepts are something that is handed down to us by some spiritual authority as something we need to do to be good, or are expected of us, our relationship to them will always be one of obedience. This is not a good place to do spiritual practice from!
Much better would be to have the practice come from our own sensibility of what is important to us. And what is more important to a human being than being happy? Nothing. Even when we are doing for others, we do so because of the feeling we get from doing it. It makes us happy. If we can see that non-harming and kindness toward other living beings make us happy, then we’ll want to do it. It won’t be out of obligation to some other person or system of belief. It will be because we know, from our own experience, that engaging and practicing with the Five Precepts makes us happy.
So, pay close attention when you do something kind for someone else. When you speak in a way that is truthful and non-harming. When you put your own needs aside to protect the relationships of others. What is that like? Bright? Buoyant? Look and see, because the more you feel the effects of moving through this life with care and kindness toward other beings, the more you’ll want to do it. Then practicing with the Five Precepts won’t be a burden, or a check on a self-help list. It will be a joy, because you will feel joyful.