A daily practice of meditative inner listening is fundamental to maintaining a reliable foundation of receptive awareness that supports us in living our life authentically in a world that relentlessly sabotages this basic, healthy yearning. A helpful ally has been the regular morning practice of mindfully reciting and striving to fulfill the Ten Precepts, the Bodhisattva vow, and the Six Paramitas. These are basic rules for living and aspiration that are part of Buddhist training.
The Ten Precepts and the Bodhisattva Vow
The Ten Precepts (Zen tradition)
I undertake the rule of training not to kill but to cherish all life.
I undertake the rule of training not to take what is not given, but to respect the things of others.
I undertake the rule of training not to lie but to speak the truth.
I undertake the rule of training not to engage in improper sexuality but to practice purity of mind and self-restraint.
I undertake the rule of training not to cause others to use liquors or drugs which engender slothfulness, which confuse or weaken the mind, nor to do so myself, but to keep my mind clear.
I undertake the rule of training not to praise myself, nor to condemn others, but to overcome my own shortcomings.
I undertake the rule of training not to speak of the misdeeds of others but to be understanding and sympathetic.
I undertake the rule of training not to withhold spiritual or material aid, but to give it freely where needed.
I undertake the rule of training not to become angry, but to exercise loving kindness and compassion.
I undertake the rule of training not to defame the Three Treasures—the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha—but to cherish and uphold them.
The Bodhisattva Vow (Version by Lama Anagarika Govinda)
Whatever be the highest perfection of the human mind, may I realize it for the benefit of all living beings. Even though I may have to take upon myself all the sufferings of the world, I will not forsake my aim and my fellow creatures in order to win salvation for myself only.
The Six Paramitas (I find this format of one for each day of the week helpful. My wording here.)
Monday, The Day of Giving: Dana Paramita.
Let us have all-pervading love, not only for people but for all sentient beings, and give of ourselves and our possessions freely and without regret, with a heart of loving kindness. Let our giving be rooted in transcendent awareness, knowing the three elements involved are of one essence. Finally, let us remember that the teachings contain no greater wisdom than the wisdom of letting go. This is also called Dana. (Note: the three elements mentioned here are giver, gift, and receiver.)
Tuesday, The Day of Ethics: Sila Paramita.
Let us maintain standards of discipline, etiquette, and decorum so that our actions are honorable in every situation, and thinking of others always, let us be careful not to harm them in any way. Let us cultivate the natural integrity, diligence, and straightforwardness that fundamental aspects of clear seeing and real virtue.
Wednesday, The Day of Patience: Kshanti Paramita.
Let us treat all beings as the Buddha, seeing through the spell of appearance to the essential reality in which there is no fundamentally separate self. Let us remember that patience is humility, a basic acceptance of this present moment as the perfect unfoldment of life and love, and that it is also an accurate mirror of our present state of mind, and thus continuously bears great opportunities to grow in wisdom and compassion.
Thursday, the Day of Zealous Effort: Virya Paramita.
Whatever is appropriate, let us perform it diligently and persistently push forward. Let us be aware of the Source of all energy and activity, and live in harmony with it.
Friday, the Day of Stillness and Stability of Mind: Dhyana Paramita.
Let us function in tranquil one-pointedness of mind, free from agitation arising through the senses, and dualistic conceptions of this and that, self and other. Let us let go of tension and separateness, and realize the equanimity that is born of awakening to the truth underlying phenomena.
Saturday, the Day of Wisdom: Prajna Paramita.
Let us act so that the mind is always pure and bright, and behave so that we are never uncertain about the rightness of our actions. By the brightness of inherent wisdom, let us dispel the delusion of separateness, and greed and hatred, which spring from ignorance about the real nature of sense objects.
Sunday, the Day of Service: Simultaneous Practice of all the Paramitas.
Let us put all forms of wholesome action into practice, by rendering service to others and practicing generosity, loving speech, beneficial action, and cooperativeness. May loving kindness and compassion emanate from our every thought, word, and deed, and bless all sentient beings, and may they all realize the original brightness of their minds and be instantly reborn in the Pure Land of clear seeing.