Knowing the Path
Recently, I was browsing through some torrent sites. It’s a truth of life in the UK that the various attempts at filtering things are ineffective, for all the government might try. Of course my own views on this are that it’s Orwellian, but more of that another time. So, there I was looking at the site and fighting the urge to grab the latest TV when the urge lost and I decided not to bother. This led to a moment or two of introspection, when I realised I was stopping myself because I knew it to be wrong. Not because of an anti-piracy campaign, not because of a law or a commandment. It was because of the effects of a precept.
This comes down to what I’ve been saying for a while about the difference between a commandment and precept. It also comes down to why I think that precepts are a far better way to go. The Buddhist precepts are rules that are voluntarily assumed, not commands that you’re forced to follow. This means that it’s not enough to simply obey, you must understand why, you have to know the path not merely follow the signs. Accepting the precepts means you begin to slowly internalise them, eventually, you may even grok them. This comes back to a comment in Buddhism about the teachings being a raft and the individual eventually having to leave them behind. This process seems to me to be a wholly natural and unforced releasing of the raft. Not so much that you have to force yourself to stop clinging to the teachings, but that eventually you will grow to the point that you simply release them naturally.