In awareness practice, we invite ourselves into more and more sensitivity to life–to the aliveness within us and our interrelatedness with all life around us. We cultivate this sensitivity by becoming very simple, slowing down and being willing to see things as they are at the level of simply being alive. From clear seeing, our acts need not be contrived to be “good” or “virtuous,” because the acts that naturally flow from a mind of clear seeing will be compassionate and wise.
“To refrain from killing or harming” is the first of the five precepts taught by the Buddha. This precept teaches us to have respect for all of life and the interconnectedness of all beings. Many monks in Asia sweep insects and worms from the path as they walk. What they’re doing is wholeheartedly training themselves to preserve, cherish and respect all life. If we are able to consistently act on the belief that even the smallest insect is precious and deserving of our protection, we are reminded of the degree of effort, awareness and love such a practice demands. Yet, issues that arise from this precept such as euthanasia and abortion demand not simplistic, monolithic answers but profound thoughtfulness and compassion.
To practice this precept, each of us must reach into our hearts and search for the wisest, most compassionate, caring and reverent attitude to life. We develop an attitude of cherishing life when we learn to yield, give in, let go and soften our hearts towards every being in any state. We can begin now.