Nice post on the practice of moral discipline and the Fall Festival in Portugal. Moral discipline is one of those topics a lot of people don’t want to hear or think about, especially if they came from a religion that pushed a lot of rules on it’s followers, but it’s really more than just a list of do’s and don’t’s.
To practice moral discipline means to abandon negative actions having understood their dangers. Although there are some negative actions that we cannot abandon immediately due to our strong negative habits of mind, there are some that we can definitely discontinue right now. We need to train our mind gently and steadily, first dealing with the non-virtuous actions we can abandon easily, and then gradually building up the determination, courage, and skill we need to eliminate even our most stubborn bad habits.
Geshe Kelsang Gyatso - “Joyful Path of Good Fortune”
With regard to any Dharma practice, if our concentration is clear and strong it is very easy to make progress. Normally, distraction is the main obstacle to our Dharma practice. The practice of moral discipline prevents gross distractions, and concentration prevents subtle distractions; together they give rise to quick results in our Dharma practice.
For the Buddhist, the concept of moral discipline does not arise from superstitious subscription to the whims and laws of mythical gods and heavenly tyrants. It is not something that arises from fear. It is motivated by the generation of bodhicitta.
The perfection of moral discipline is a proactive decision to abstain from non-virtuous actions, thoughts and conditions. The key to successfully engaging the practice involves mindfulness and awareness. The perfection is achieved by the threefold avoidance of non-virtuous actions, the discipline of keeping the Dharma and the discipline of performing acts which benefit others.
“Once a man came unto me and denounced me on account of my observing the Way and practicing great loving- kindness. But I kept silent and did not answer him. The
denunciation ceased. Then I asked him. ‘If you bring a present to your neighbour and he accepts it not; does the present come back to you?’ He replied, ‘It will.’ I said, ‘You denounce me now, but as I accept it not, you must take the wrong deed back on your own person. It is like echo succeeding sound, it is like shadow following object; you never escape the effect of your own evil deeds. Be therefore mindful, and cease from doing evil.”