Wise Action is where the rubber hits the road in our spiritual life. Put simply, we can ask, “Do our actions find alignment within Wise View?” Are we acting in ways that create suffering for ourselves and others? Or are we acting in ways that promote connection and harmony?
The Buddha framed Wise Action in terms of five training precepts:
- The training to refrain from taking life.
- The training to refrain from taking that which is not freely given.
- The training to refrain from sexual misconduct.
- The training to refrain from false speech.
- The training to refrain from intoxicants that cloud the mind.
On one level, these may seem like a short-list of the Ten Commandments: behavioral mandates that one must adhere to. But a closer reading shows these precepts to be voluntary practices that promote well-being for ourselves and others.
As practices, the precepts encourage greater awareness around the intentions behind our actions. Working with the precepts strengthens mindfulness!
And on a deeper level, these practices free us from having to relive the karmic pain that inevitably follows unskillful behavior. Liberated from regret and remorse, it becomes much easier for the mind to develop concentration and stability.
Sila (moral virtue) supports samadhi(steadiness of mind). Samadhi then gives rise to panna (clear seeing and wisdom). So Wise View and Wise Action mutually reinforce each other in increasingly subtle ways.
Much, much more could be said about Wise Action….. and my minute is up!
Points for Practice:
- Take just one of the precepts listed above and work with it for one week. Rather than trying to seek a black and white interpretation of what the precept means, use the precept as a lens for examining your relationship to behavior in that particular realm. Is the behavior leading to peace and contentment or not? Find an interpretation that is congruent with your inner-sense of virtue.
- Here’s a talk on Wise View that you can download and listen to.
Originally published on November 11, 2010