Friday, May 1, 2009

Commandments And Precepts VII

The last of the eight Precepts and the ninth of the ten Precepts say that one should abstain from using high (ucca) or large (maha) seats and couches. Some people are perplexed by this rule and wonder what it has to do with morality or the training of the mind. Of course it has nothing to do with morality. Only the first five Precepts pertain to moral behaviour and are kammically significant. The other Precepts, including the one about seats and couches, are ways of behaving that can assist in calming the mind and shaping character. In ancient India, and even in the modern world, sitting on an elevated or grand chair was a sign of power and status. Monarchs, judges, lecturers, managing directors, the speaker of parliament, etc, all have special high seats. To practice the eighth Precept is to relinquish, not display or take advantage of one's social status, at least for a day. Practising the eighth Precept is about modesty, diminishing the ego and refraining from `putting oneself on a pedestal.'
The picture shows a baby breaking the eighth Precept.

3 comments:

Pete Hoge said...

I don't always have time to
comment but I do enjoy your
blog.

The precepts are the core of my practice and thanks for illuminating the one about "high seats".

I sit on cushions now in my apartment, training my body to
sit for long periods without discomfort.

Pete.

Shravasti Dhammika said...

Dear Dharma Brother,
Keep sittin!

Angkor said...

Well, then - why do Theravada monks sit on high seats when they teach? I just watched that in a Burmese temple in Germany. (And don't say it's because dharma teachers are said to pray from high seats - it is still contradictory.)