Sila—ethical conduct, or integrity—is the second parami. We are invited to do no harm through wise speech, wise action, and wise livelihood. We resolve to act, and do act, in wholesome and skillful ways, consciously choosing to refrain from behavior that causes fear, confusion and suffering. The Buddha said such ethics have freedom from remorse as their purpose. Imagine a life without remorse!
Speech is a strong conditioning force in our lives. The Buddha cautioned against four unskillful ways of speaking: false speech or lying, angry or aggressive speech, gossip, and frivolous or useless talk. That covers a lot of what is said in modern life! Words have tremendous power to harm and to heal. We can communicate in a way that facilitates openness and freedom rather than constriction and suffering. Wise Action is synonymous with the Five Precepts, which are to refrain from killing, stealing, sexual harm, harsh speech and intoxicants. Of Wise Livelihood, the Buddha said: “These five trades should not be taken up: trading in weapons, living beings, meat, intoxicants, poisons.” These guidelines are for practice—to infuse our words, actions and work with integrity. We will reflect on them over the coming weeks.
This week, strengthen by practice your intention for acting from a wise and compassionate mind-heart. With mindfulness, practice carefully, to know the motivation before acting and to refrain until grounded in integrity (I acknowledge this is often complex and sometimes difficult). Steadfastness takes practice and patience with incremental rather than wholesale change. You can do it!