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There are many techniques to practice meditation but how exactly do you practice Sila?

Are there any methods or techniques mentioned in the Suttas or by Buddhist Teachers to practice Sila. Exactly what are you doing when you say you are "practicing sila"?

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Sila means ethics, or morality. There are many Suttas that describe how Sila is practiced. The most basic way for a layperson to practice Sila is to keep the five precepts.

  1. Panatipata veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami I undertake the precept to refrain from destroying living creatures.
  2. Adinnadana veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami I undertake the precept to refrain from taking that which is not given.
  3. Kamesu micchacara veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami I undertake the precept to refrain from sexual misconduct.
  4. Musavada veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami I undertake the precept to refrain from incorrect speech.
  5. Suramerayamajja pamadatthana veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami I undertake the precept to refrain from intoxicating drinks and drugs which lead to carelessness.

(http://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/dhamma/sila/pancasila.html)

After that there are the eight precepts, the ten precepts, and the monastic precepts.

One thing to bear in mind however is that these precepts shouldn't be looked on as just being rules given to us to follow. We should look on them not as restrictions put on us by our religion, but as greatly beneficial spiritual practices we take on because they benefit both ourselves and others.

Also it is important to remember that the five precepts are only a basic summary of morality. Just because something isn't technically covered by the precepts doesn't mean that it is totally ok to do. One should always consider the effects of ones actions on one's self and on others.

One of the most practical Suttas giving a description of how to discern right from wrong is the very famous Instructions to Rahula at Mango Stone. It explains how one should contemplate and reflect on one's actions and character in order to develop Sila. (http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.061.than.html)

  • Is it true to say that these precepts are an exhaustive, comprehensive list: that if an action doesn't violate one of the precepts, then it's not unethical? What about Right Speech, Action, and Livelihood? What about generosity or charity? Should (for example) the advice for householders given in the Sigalovada Sutta be considered "Sila"? – ChrisW Jan 30 '15 at 19:42
  • The five precepts are not exhaustive. There are things that don't fit into the precepts in a technical sense, but are obviously against the spirit of the precepts. For example, if you take the first precept literally, it only covers killing but not beating someone up. But that doesn't mean that it is ok to beat people up. That's what I mean by the precepts being a basic summary of morality rather than the whole thing. – Bakmoon Jan 30 '15 at 19:59
  • In some Suttas the precepts are explained in terms of positive principles, so in the Samanaphala Sutta the Buddha talks about how one should keep the first precept having laid down the rod and having compassion for all living beings, so the precepts are more than just staying within the boundaries of a rule. They also encompass positive action, and this includes acts of generosity towards others. – Bakmoon Jan 30 '15 at 20:02

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