The importance of practicing sila (virtue) cannot be understated. To me it is the cornerstone of our practice as lay people. It is as important to practice sila as it is to meditate regularly. In fact, I would venture to say that in order to practice meditation with any great success, one is required to practice sila. In reading the Kimattha Sutta, I found the Buddha's words resonated within me. The key to putting the Dhamma into practice is to eliminate remorse. Remorse clings to the past, makes the mind restless and impossible to concentrate. To eliminate remorse makes possible all the benefits of the Dhamma.
The way we as lay people can practice sila, is by observing the Five Precepts. Quite often, people mistakenly (in my opinion) view the Five Precepts as a set of commandments. This is not so. They are a practice, just as sitting meditation is a practice. If sila is practiced rigorously, it can give one much benefit. On this page, I will create links to internet resources on sila. Read them and then try it. I think you will be pleasantly surprised by the difference it will make to the rest of your practice.
Cetana Sutta (AN XI.2) An Act of Will
The Healing Power of the Precepts by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
Nourishing the Roots by Bhikkhu Bodhi
If you are discouraged by your conduct, read this Sutta. The Lord Buddha reminds us it is never too late to begin our training.
by Ajahn Mun
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