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Eight Precepts with Right Livelihood as the Eighth

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Eight Precepts with Right Livelihood as the Eighth

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AJIVATTHAMAKA SILA
(EIGHT PRECEPTS WITH RIGHT LIVELIHOOD AS THE EIGHTH)
IN BURMESE BUDDHISM


Updated 30th March 2015

Ajivatthamaka Sila (Eight Precepts with Right Livelihood as the Eighth) in Burmese Buddhism

The Ajivatthamaka Sila builds upon the framework of Panca Sila (Five Precepts) in two ways: the fourth Precept on wrong speech is expanded to include all four types of wrong speech; and an eighth Precept, Right Livelihood, is added.

1) Panatipata veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami
I undertake the Precept to refrain from killing and injuring living things

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 and excessive sensuality

4) Musavada veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami
I undertake the Precept to refrain from false and harmful speech

5) Pisunavaca veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami
I undertake the Precept to refrain from backbiting

6) Pharusavaca veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami
I undertake the Precept to refrain from using harsh or abusive speech

7) Samphappalapa veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami
I undertake the Precept to refrain from useless or meaningless conversation

8) Micchajiva veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami
I undertake the Precept to refrain from wrong means of livelihood


In this article I discuss writings on the subject of Ajivatthamaka Sila by notable Theravada Buddhist scholar-monks, either Myanmar [Burmese] or who have a connection with Myanmar [Burma]; and by Sayagyi U Chit Tin (a lay Buddhist born in Myanmar [Burma]).

The article also touches on the other Precepts mentioned by Venerable Ledi Sayadaw in his booklet, The Requisites of Enlightenment: “…sila means: Panca Sila [The Five Precepts], Ajivatthamaka Sila [morality ending with the practice of Right Livelihood], Atthangika Uposatha Sila [The Eight Uposatha Precepts] and Dasanga Sila [The Ten Precepts for Laypeople], in respect of ordinary laymen and women, and the Bhikkhu Sila [Catuparisuddhi Sila] in respect of the Bhikkhus…The Five Precepts…are basic and constitute the minimum which every man or woman must observe. They are abstention from killing, stealing, improper sexual intercourse, telling lies, and taking intoxicants…The eight Uposatha Precepts [Atthangika Uposatha Sila] are: abstention from (1) killing, (2) stealing, (3) unchastity, (4) lying, (5) intoxicants, (6) eating after midday, (7) dancing, singing, music and shows, garlands, scents, cosmetics and adornment etc, and (8) luxurious and high beds. The Ten Precepts…is the polished form of Atthangika Uposatha Sila. No. seven of the eight precepts is split into two parts, and no.10 is ‘abstinence from accepting gold and silver’… Bhikkhu Sila: the four kinds of the monk’s moral purity [Catuparisuddhi Sila] are: (1) restraint with regard to the 227 Patimokkha training rules, (2) restraint of the senses, (3) restraint with regard to one’s livelihood, and (4) morality with regard to the four requisites.” (2007 edition pages 11-12)

Venerable Rewata Dhamma Maha Thera (1929-2004)


Dr. Rewata Dhamma
Venerable Rewata Dhamma born in Myanmar [Burma], was head of the Birmingham Buddhist Vihara until his death in 2004. His book Maha Paritta: The Discourses of the Great Protection (With the Threefold Refuges, Precepts, Salutations to the Triple Gem, Dependent Origination and Metta Bhavana), gives the formula in Pali and English for requesting Ajivatthamaka Sila (The Eight Precepts with Right Livelihood as the Eighth). (pages 9-12)

Venerable Balangoda Ananda Maitreya Mahanayaka Thera Abhidhaja Maharatthaguru Agga Maha Pandita (1896-1998)

Venerable Balangoda Ananda Maitreya

Venerable Balangoda Ananda Maitreya, born in Sri Lanka, attended the Sixth Buddhist Council held in Myanmar [Burma] (1954-56). In 1956, during the third session of the Council, he served as Chairman of the Convocation for a few weeks. The Council was convened by the Myanmar [Burmese] government to prepare an authorized re-edit and reprint of the entire Tipitaka (the Pali Canon) and its commentaries. Venerable Ananda Maitreya was appointed the Sri Lankan representative on the final editing committee. The Myanmar government conferred on him the honorary title of Agga Maha Pandita (‘Chief Great Scholar’) in appreciation. The Myanmar government invited him shortly after his 100th birthday to Myanmar to receive the country’s highest title Abhidhaja Maharatthaguru (‘His Eminence the Great Spiritual Teacher of the Nation’). In March 1997 he travelled to Myanmar to receive the honour.

Venerable Balangoda Ananda Maitreya is widely regarded as the person who did the most to introduce the Ajivatthamaka Sila to the west. He explained the importance of these precepts in these terms: “The perfect moral conduct or character … can be categorised under the eight precepts called Ajivatthamaka Sila. These are, refraining from eight unwholesome ways… All the good conduct and keeping precepts or Patimokkha rules of Buddhist monks are included in these eight precepts.” (1995 page 16)
Venerable Nyanatiloka Maha Thera (1878-1957)

Venerable Nyanatiloka Maha Thera and Venerable Nyanaponika Maha Thera (1901-1994) (both born in Germany) attended the Sixth Buddhist Council in Yangon [Rangoon] in Myanmar in the 1950s. They are regarded as the first and only European Bhikkhus to attend a Council of Theravada Buddhism, assuming that no Greek Bhikkhus had been present at the Third Council in India.

Venerable Nyanatiloka, in his Buddhist Dictionary: Manual of Buddhist Terms and Doctrines, defines sila as “Morality of the Eightfold Path, namely right speech, right action, and right livelihood, is called Genuine or Natural Morality’ (pakati sila), as distinguished from the external rules for monks or laymen, the so-called ‘Prescribed Morality’ (pannatti sila)…What now is karmically wholesome morality (kusala-sila)? It is the wholesome bodily action (kaya-kamma), wholesome verbal action (vaci-kamma) and also the purity with regard to livelihood which I call morality. (Translation of Samanamandika Sutta, Majjhima Nikaya, Sutta 78)”

In the same book he has defined other versions of sila as follows:

Caritta Sila and Varitta Sila: “ ‘Morality consisting in Performance and morality consisting in Avoidance’, means ‘the performance of those moral rules which the Blessed One has ordained to be followed, and the avoidance of those things that the Blessed One has rejected as not to be followed’”.

Abhisamacarika Sila: “‘Morality consisting in good behaviour’ is a name for those moral rules other than the eight ending with right livelihood (i.e. fourfold right speech, threefold right action and right livelihood, as in the Eightfold Path.”.

Adi Brahma Cariya Sila: “‘Morality of Genuine Pure Conduct’, [which] consists in right speech, right bodily action and right livelihood, forming the 3rd, 4th and 5th links of the Eightfold Path.”

Venerable Ledi Sayadaw Maha Thera Agga Maha Pandita (1846-1923)

Venerable Ledi Sayadaw is a Buddhist scholar of importance and influence in Myanmar [Burma] and throughout the Buddhist world. (Sayadaw is derived from saya, meaning teacher, and daw, meaning great or respectable.) He helped develop interest in Buddhist meditation. He established many monasteries (education centres, meditation centres and secluded forest retreats), and helped develop associations for lay Buddhists throughout Myanmar. He was the first person to receive the honorary title of Agga Maha Pandita (Chief Great Scholar) from the British government in Burma in 1912.

Venerable Ledi Sayadaw wrote about the Ajivatthamaka Sila in Decision on Ajivatthamaka Sila, which is only available in Myanmar [Burmese] and unfortunately has not been translated into English. His works Bodhipakkiya Dipani or the Manual of the Factors Leading to Enlightenment and Magganga-Dipani: The Manual of The Constituents of the Noble Path which I discuss below, also cover Ajivatthamaka Sila in depth.

Bodhipakkiya Dipani or the Manual of the Factors Leading to Enlightenment

Bodhipakkiya Dipani or the Manual of the Factors Leading to Enlightenment was published by the BPS Buddhist Publication Society as Wheel 171-174 The Requisites of Enlightenment: Bodhipakkiya Dipani. It was later republished by the BPS as The Requisites of Enlightenment: Bodhipakkiya Dipani: A Manual by the Venerable Ledi Sayadaw (2nd edition 2007). It is also published in The Manuals of Dhamma by Mahathera Ledi Sayadaw, published in 1999 by the VRI Vipassana Research Institute in India.

Bodhipakkiya Dipani or the Manual of the Factors Leading to Enlightenment is an explanation of the thirty-seven bodhipakkhiya-dhammas [requisites of enlightenment] which constitute the essence of the teachings of the Buddha. In this work Venerable Ledi Sayadaw stresses the importance of the Ajivatthamaka Sila in the attainment of Nibbana (enlightenment). Relevant extracts are as follows:

“…sila means: Panca Sila [The Five Precepts], Ajivatthamaka SilaAtthangika Uposatha Sila [The Eight Uposatha Precepts] and Dasanga Sila [The Ten Precepts for Laypeople], in respect of ordinary laymen and women, and the Bhikkhu Sila [Catuparisuddhi Sila] in respect of the Bhikkhus.” (2007 edition page 11)

“The three constituents of the morality-group of the Eightfold Path when considered in detail become Ajivatthamaka Sila (morality ending with the practice of Right Livelihood) in the following way:
1. I will abstain from taking life.
2. I will abstain from stealing.
3. I will abstain from indulging in improper sexual intercourse and taking intoxicant drugs.
4. I will abstain from telling lies.
5. I will abstain from setting one person against another.
6. I will abstain from using rude and rough words.
7. I will abstain from frivolous talk.
8. I will abstain from improper livelihood.” (2007 edition page 11)

“The fifteen carana-dhammas [Right Conducts] are:
1. Sila (morality)
2. Indriya-samvara (guarding the sense doors)
3. Bhojane mattannuta (moderation in eating)
4. Jagariyanuyoga (wakefulness)
5-11. Saddhamma (the seven attributes of good and virtuous people)
12-15. Four jhanas (meditative absorptions)” (2007 edition page 16)

“Those persons who wish to fulfil the paths and the fruits thereof in this very life must fulfil the first eleven carana-dhammas [right conducts]…Herein, sila means Ajivatthamaka Sila (permanent practice of morality ending with right livelihood)…” (2007 edition pages 16-17)

“If the Tipitaka which contains the discourses of the Buddha…be condensed, and the essentials extracted, the thirty-seven bodhipakkhiya-dhammas (requisites of enlightenment) are obtained. These thirty-seven bodhipakkhiya-dhammas [requisites of enlightenment] constitute the essence of the Tipitaka. If these be further condensed the seven visuddhis [purifications] are obtained. If again the seven visuddhis [purifications] be condensed, they become sila [morality], samadhi [concentration], and panna (wisdom). These are called adhisila-sasana (the teaching of higher morality), adhicitta-sasana (the teaching of higher mentality), and adhipanna-sasana (the teaching of higher wisdom). They are also called the three sikkhas (trainings).” (2007 edition page 22)

“When sila is mentioned, the essential for laymen [and women] is Nicca Sila [permanent morality]. Those people who fulfil Nicca Sila [permanent morality] become endowed with carana [conduct], which with vijja, enables them to attain the paths and the fruits. If these people can add the refinement of Atthangika Uposatha Sila [The Eight Uposatha Precepts] over Nicca Sila [permanent morality], it is much better. For laymen [and women] Nicca Sila [permanent morality] means the Ajivatthamaka Sila (morality ending with Right Livelihood as the eighth precept). That sila must be properly and faithfully kept. If because they are putthujjanas (worldlings) they break the sila, it can be re-established immediately by renewing the undertaking to keep the sila for the rest of their lives. If, on a future occasion, the sila is again broken, it can be similarly cleansed, and every time this cleansing occurs, the person concerned again becomes endowed with sila. The effort is not difficult. Whenever Nicca Sila [permanent morality] is broken, it should be immediately re-established.” (2007 edition pages 22-23)

“As far as laypeople are concerned, sila means Ajivatthamaka Sila which is Nicca Sila [permanent morality] for them. The Atthangika Uposatha Sila [The Eight Uposatha Precepts] and Dasanga Sila [The Ten Precepts for Laypeople] add refinement to Nicca Sila [permanent morality]. It is a good thing to be able to observe them but it does not matter much if they cannot be observed. For those people who assume the yellow garb of Isis (hermits, recluses, rishis) the Ajivatthamaka Sila and Dasanga Sila [The Ten Precepts] constitute sila. The Atthangika Uposatha Sila [The Eight Uposatha Precepts] is included in the Dasanga Sila [The Ten Precepts]. For Bhikkhus, the Catuparisuddhi Sila [Bhikkhu Sila] constitutes morality (sila).” (2007 edition page 48)

“ …sotapannas [stream-enterers] do not transgress the Ajivatthamaka Sila (the eightfold morality ending with right livelihood) even in their dreams throughout the series of lives and world-cycles that follow until the final attainment of Parinibbana.” (2007 edition page 52)

“Foundation of supramundane concentration (the fourth constituent of stream-entry) means the ‘permanent morality ending with right livelihood as the eighth precept’ (Ajivatthamaka Sila) which can enable one to attain supramundane concentration in this very life. When that sila is unbroken and pure, it is free from the defilements of tanha [craving], mana (conceit), and ditthi (wrong view), and as such, one must understand that saddha is prominent in that sila. Inability to observe the requirements of that sila is called ‘breaking’ it. Although the sila may be technically unbroken, if it is observed amidst ordinary worldly conditions, it is said to be ‘impure’.” (2007 edition page 71)

“The Ajivatthamaka Sila that is taken and observed with the purpose of destroying the great kingdom of ditthi-anusaya (proclivity to wrong views) belongs to the path factors of the mundane morality category [lokiya Silakkhanddha-magganga]. It is also purification of virtue. That eightfold virtue ending with right livelihood (Ajivatthamaka Sila) is twofold: for layfolk, and for monks. Abstention from the threefold evil conduct in deeds [kaya-duccarita] and the fourfold in words [vaci-duccharita] comprise that virtue for layfolk. The Atthangika Uposatha Sila (The Eight Uposatha Precepts) and the Dasanga Sila (The Ten Precepts for Laypeople) are refinements of that virtue. For monks, that virtue is constituted by the observance of the 227 Vinaya rules, which cover bodily and vocal kamma. The remaining rules laid down in the Vinaya Pitaka are refinements of it.” (2007 edition page 92)

Magganga-Dipani: The Manual of The Constituents of the Noble Path

The Magganga-Dipani: The Manual of The Constituents of the Noble Path was published in English by S.S. Davidson in 1986 as Magganga-Dipani: The Manual of The Constituents of the Noble Path. It is also published in The Manuals of Dhamma by Mahathera Ledi Sayadaw, published in 1999 by the VRI Vipassana Research Institute in India.

The Magganga-Dipani: The Manual of The Constituents of the Noble Path is a description of the Noble Eightfold Path. It includes explanations of how the Ajivatthamaka Sila is an important part of this path. Relevant extracts follow.

In the section Exposition of Right Effort, the fourth kind of Right Effort is explained as “Putting forth effort in such a way as to keep unbroken the Purification of Virtue such as the Five Precepts and the Ajivatthamaka Sila which one is observing in this very life, till one attains Nibbana and to make it permanent, is the fourth kind of Right Effort.” (1986 edition page 33)

“FORMING THE NOBLE EIGHTFOLD PATH INTO THREE GROUPS

  1. Silakkandha (Morality-group) comprises Right Speech, Right Action and Right Livelihood.
    2. Sammadhikkhandha (Concentration-group) comprises Right Effort, Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration.
    3. Pannakkhandha (Wisdom-group) comprises Right Understanding and Right Thinking.” (1986 edition pages 42-43)

“The three constituents of the Morality-group, when considered in detail, become Ajivatthamaka Sila in the following manner:
1. I will abstain from taking life.
2. I will abstain from stealing.
3. I will abstain from indulging in sexual misconduct and taking intoxicants.
These three comprise Right Action.
4. I will abstain from telling lies.
5. I will abstain from setting one person against another.
6. I will abstain from using rude and rough words.
7. I will abstain from talking frivolously.
These four comprise Right Speech.
8. Samma-ajiva (Right Livelihood) means livelihood without resorting to taking lives, etc.

Thus the three constituents of the Morality-group, become Ajivatthamaka Sila.” (1986 edition page 43)

Nicca Silas (Permanent Morality), such as…[the] Five Precepts, the Ten Precepts observed by Isis (Rishis, hermits) and parabbajakas (wandering mendicants), the Ten Precepts observed by samaneras and the 227 Rules of Vinaya observed by Bhikkhus are within the domain of Ajivatthamaka Sila. And the laymen’s Eight Precepts [Atthangika Uposatha Sila (The Eight Uposatha Precepts)] are nothing but improvements on and polishing of the Five Precepts and Ajivatthamaka Sila.” (1986 edition page 43)

HOW TO ESTABLISH THE MORALITY-GROUP OF THE EIGHTFOLD PATH

“The exposition of the Eightfold Path in relation to the stages of ditthi [view]

In order to get rid of the three evil bodily actions and the four evil verbal actions, the three constituents of the Morality-group of the Eightfold Path must be established, meaning thereby that Ajivatthamaka Sila must be accepted and observed.” (1986 edition page 44)

“How to take and practise Ajivatthamaka Sila

In order to get rid of the third stage of Personality-belief, people should establish themselves in Purification of Virtue by taking, observing and practising Ajivatthamaka Sila. They can either of their own accord recite it and then observe it, or make up their mind to abstain from contravening the Eight Precepts…from that day throughout life, and successfully abstain from them accordingly. If one observes it of one’s own accord, there would be no necessity to accept it from a Bhikkhu. It is enough if one makes up one’s mind as follows:
1. From today throughout my life, I will abstain from taking life.
2. From today throughout my life, I will abstain from stealing.
3. From today throughout my life, I will abstain from indulging in sexual misconduct and also from the five kinds of intoxicants.
4. From today throughout my life, I will abstain from speaking untruth.
5. From today throughout my life, I will abstain from setting one person against another.
6. From today throughout my life, I will abstain from abusive and rude words…
7. From today throughout my life, I will abstain from speaking things which are not conducive to the well-being of the beings either in the present life, in samsara, or in the Supramundane Sphere.
8. From today throughout my life, I will abstain from improper livelihood.

The kinds of Nicca Sila (Permanent Morality)

Once it has been taken, it remains good till it is violated. Only the precept that is broken should be taken again, but if the one that is not violated is taken again, there would be nothing wrong though there is no necessity to do so. If one precept which has not been violated is taken again, it becomes strengthened thereby.

It is better to take the whole of Ajivatthamaka Sila every day. Ajivatthamaka Sila like Panca Sila is a Nicca Sila (permanent morality). It is not the kind of morality (sila) that is taken and observed on Uposatha (Fasting) days. Samaneras, Isis (Rishis, hermits) and parabbajakas (wandering mendicants) who have to observe always the Ten Precepts, and Bhikkhus who have to observe always the 227 Vinaya Rules need not specially take Ajivatthamaka Sila.

This is the end of the explanation as to how Ajivatthamaka Sila is to be taken.” (1986 edition pages 44-45)

“Ingredients of the Seven Kinds of Wrong Doing (Three-fold bodily action: killing, stealing, sexual misconduct. Four-fold verbal action: lying, slandering, rude speech, foolish babble.)

Five conditions of Panatipata
1. The being must be alive.
2. There must be the knowledge that it is a live being.
3. There must be an intention to cause death.
4. An act must be done to cause death.
5. There must be death, as the result of the said act.
If all the said conditions are fulfilled, the first precept is violated and should be taken again.

Five conditions of Adinnadana
1. The property must be in the possession of another person.
2. There must be the knowledge that the property is in the possession of another person.
3. There must be an intention to steal.
4. There must be an act done to steal.
5. By that act, the property must have been taken.
If all the said conditions are fulfilled, the second precept is violated and should be taken again.

Four conditions of Kamesu micchacara
1. It must be a man or a woman with whom it is improper to have sexual intercourse.
2. There must be an intention to have such sexual misconduct with such man or woman.
3. There must be an act done to have such intercourse.
4. There must be enjoyment of the contact of the organs.
If all the said conditions are fulfilled, the third precept is violated and should be taken again.

Four conditions of Musavada
1. The thing said must be untrue.
2. There must be an intention to deceive.
3. There must be an effort made as a result of the said intention.
4. The other must know the meaning of what is said.
If these conditions are fulfilled, the fourth precept is violated and should be taken again.

Four conditions of Pisunavaca
1. There must be persons to be disunited.
2. There must be an intention to disunite two persons.
3. There must be an effort made as a result of the said intention.
4. The other must know the meaning of the thing said.
If these conditions are fulfilled, the fifth precept is violated and should be taken again.

Three conditions of Pharusavaca
1. There must be someone to be abused.
2. There must be anger.
3. Abusive language must actually be used.
If these conditions are fulfilled, the sixth precept is violated and should be taken again.

Two conditions of Samphappalapa
1. There must be an intention to say things which bring forth no good benefits.
2. Such things must be said.
If these conditions are fulfilled, the seventh precept is violated and should be taken again…

The foregoing conditions about musavada, pisunavaca, and samphappalapa relate to violation of the respective precepts. They become conditions for Kammapatha, ie kamma which leads to rebirths in lower planes, if the following conditions are added:

Kammapatha takes place thus:
1. In the case of musavada, another person must suffer loss or damage.
2. In the case of pisunavaca, disunion must be brought about.
3. In the case of samphappalapa, others must think that the plays and novels are true stories.

And in the case of the remaining four precepts, namely panatipataadinnadanakamesu micchacara, pharusavaca, the said conditions relate not only to their violation, but also to the respective kamma amounting to kammapatha [kamma which leads to rebirth in the lower planes].

These are the conditions relating to the seven kinds of wrong doing which should be known by those who observe Ajivatthamaka Sila every day.

This is the end of a brief explanation of the way to establish the three constituents of Silakkandha (Morality-group) of the Eightfold Path.” (1986 edition pages 45-48)

A SHORT EXPLANATION OF THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE NOBLE EIGHTFOLD PATH

“Proper and full observance of Ajivatthamaka Sila constitutes the practice of the Morality-group of the Eightfold Path which comprises Right Speech, Right Action and Right Livelihood.” (1986 edition page 57)

Saddhamma Jotika Dhaja Sayagyi U Chit Tin (1919-2002)

Saddhamma Jotika Dhaja Sayagyi U Chit Tin and his wife Maha Saddhamma Jotika Dhaja Daw Mya Thwin are the eminent disciples of Saygyi U Ba Khin (1899-1971) who both learned Vipassana [insight] meditation under their teacher beginning in 1950-51. They both served their teacher from 1953 until his death in January 1971, helping and assisting in teaching…the Dhamma at the International Meditation centre (IMC), Yangon [Rangoon], Myanmar [Burma] until 1978. They left Myanmar in 1978, after being invited to teach in the West. They settled in the United Kingdom, founding IMC-UK in 1979…they have established five International Meditation Centres…

…the Sixth Buddhist Synod [Council] … [opened] in May 1954. Sayagyi U Ba Khin and U Chit Tin…were fully occupied with serving as host to all the Buddhist countries of Thailand, Sri Lanka, Cambodia and Laos. U Chit Tin was also given the duties of printing and publishing all the edited Tipitaka Pali Texts, Commentaries, and Sub-Commentaries, both in Pali and in Myanmar [Burmese] translations. He worked at this task from 1958 to 1978…retiring in..1978.

…Sayagyi U Chit Tin…was awarded the religious title of Saddhamma Jotika Dhaja in…1996 for his services in promoting and propagating the Buddha-Dhamma, which was also the primary objective and lifetime effort of his Dhamma Teacher, Sayagyi U Ba Khin.” (The Perfection of Virtue inside front cover)

Saddhamma Jotika Dhaja Sayagyi U Chit Tin wrote books and article on the Ajivatthamaka Sila. Relevant extracts follow.

Buddhist Meditation and the Factors Leading to Awakening (based on Venerable Ledi Sayadaw’s Bodhipakkhiya Dipani)

Buddhist Meditation and the Factors Leading to Awakening (based on Venerable Ledi Sayadaw’s Bodhipakkhiya Dipani), is published by The Sayagyi U Ba Khin Memorial Trust UK.

This book explains “Venerable Ledi Sayadaw gives fifteen aspects of right conduct (Carana-dhammas). The first is morality (sila). For laymen who hope to encounter the next Buddha, this means practising The Five Precepts [Panca Sila] at all times and keeping The Eight [Uposatha] Precepts [Atthangika Uposatha Sila] four times a month. Those who wish to work for the Paths and Fruition States in this lifetime should practise morality ending with the practice of right livelihood (Ajivatthamaka Sila). This is an elaboration of The Five Precepts with greater emphasis laid on abstaining from wrong speech: (1) Abstaining from taking life. (2) Abstaining from stealing. (3) Abstaining from indulging in improper sexual relations and taking intoxicants. (4) Abstaining from telling lies. (5) Abstaining from setting one person against another. (6) Abstaining from rude and rough words. (7) Abstaining from frivolous talk. (8) Abstaining from improper livelihood.” (pages 9-10)

“Laymen [and women] should keep the moral precepts with right livelihood as the eighth (Ajivatthamaka Sila). This includes abstaining from killing, stealing, from sexual misconduct and the taking of intoxicants, from telling lies, from setting one person against another, from rude and harsh words, from frivolous talk, and from wrong livelihood.” (page 31) This explains clearly that in the Ajivatthamaka Sila the third Precept includes abstaining from intoxicants.

“For…meditators on a [meditation] course…keeping at least The Five Precepts and observing…silence will result in keeping the moral precepts with right livelihood as the eighth.…When Sayagyi U Ba Khin taught Buddhist meditation…he recommended that his students observe the eight precepts ending in right livelihood (Ajivatthamaka Sila) at all times. These precepts put added emphasis on right speech. And he recommended that the students keep the Atthangika Uposatha Sila (The Eight Uposatha Precepts) on observance days [Full, New and Half Moon days] if they could.” (page 31)

“The virtue which serves as the foundation for supramundane concentration (the fourth component of Stream-entry) means the permanent virtue with right livelihood as the eighth precept’ (Ajivatthamaka Nicca Sila) which can enable one to attain supramundane concentration in this very life. When such virtue is unbroken and pure, it is free from the defilements of craving [tanha], conceit or pride [mana], and wrong view [ditthi], Faith [saddha] is prominent in such virtue [sila]. If such virtue [sila] is observed while living in ordinary worldly conditions, it is said to be ‘impure’, even though it may be technically unbroken.” (page 48)

“The eight precepts with right livelihood as the eighth (Ajivatthamaka Sila)…are the virtue that must be observed as preparation to destroying the …tendency towards wrong view (Ditthi-anusaya). This is the virtue included in right speech, right action, and right livelihood, for this set of precepts puts great emphasis on the various aspects of right speech. These eight precepts also amount to purification of virtue. For laymen, these eight precepts have two aspects: (1) abstaining from the three types of bad conduct in bodily actions (kaya-duccarita), that is, abstaining from taking life, from stealing, and from indulging in improper sexual relations or in taking intoxicants; and (2) abstaining from the four types of bad conduct through (wrong) speech (vaci-duccarita), that is, abstaining from telling lies, from setting one person against another, from using rude and rough words, and from frivolous talk. The Eight Uposatha Precepts [Atthangika Uposatha Sila] (including not eating after noontime) and The Ten Precepts for Laymen [and women] [Dasanga Sila] are simply refinements of the virtue of the eight precepts with right livelihood as the eighth.” (page 63)

“The virtue of the discourses (Suttanta-sila) for laymen and laywomen means keeping the eight precepts with right livelihood as the eighth…” (page 69)

“Lay people who are permanently confirmed in the precepts with right livelihood as the eighth and in the Triple Gem of the Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha are endowed in part with the qualities of those who have entered on the good way, the proper way.” (page 70)

“If laymen [and women] can establish themselves in the precepts with right livelihood as the eighth, they can immediately become heirs of the [Buddha] Sasana. [The Dispensation of the Buddha; Buddhist teaching, doctrine].” (page 73)

Buddhism as a Way of Life and Other Essays

Buddhism as a Way of Life and Other Essays by Sayagyi U Chit Tin is published by The Sayagyi U Ba Khin Memorial Trust UK. It contains a collection of essays some of which offer further helpful information about the importance of Ajivatthamaka Sila.

The article Buddhism as a Way of Life

The article Buddhism as a Way of Life states “The five moral precepts…must be kept at all times for there to be a moral base, but many more precepts can be added to these. As we make progress in working for the goal we will develop a desire to do so.” (page 5)

“I would like to explain in detail a set of eight precepts which is called virtuous conduct with right livelihood as the eighth kind (Ajivatthamaka Sila). This set of eight precepts is the initial stage of the life of purity consisting in the Path, according to the Venerable Ashin Buddhaghosa [author of Visuddhimagga translated by the BPS as The Path of Purification and by the PTS as The Path of Purity]. These eight precepts include three precepts for moral physical actions: (1) to abstain from killing, (2) to abstain from stealing, (3) to abstain from indulging in sexual misconduct and from taking intoxicants; four moral verbal actions: (4) to abstain from lying, (5) to abstain from malicious speech, (6) to abstain from harsh speech, and (7) to abstain from gossiping; and finally, (8) right livelihood.” (page 6)

“In these precepts the importance of right speech is made very clear. They are explained by the Buddha in a discourse given to the people of the town of Sala” (page 6)

The Saleyyaka Sutta Majjhima Nikaya Sutta 41 has been translated by Bhikkhu Bodhi [in The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha: A New Translation of the Majjhima Nikaya] as The Brahmins of Sala and by the Pali Text Society as Discourse to the People of Sala [in The Middle Length Sayings: (Majjhima-Nikaya)].

Sayagyi U Chit Tin quotes the following passage from the Pali Text Society translation:

In this case householders, a certain one, abandoning lying speech is restrained from lying speech…Thus his speech does not come to be intentional lying either for its own sake or for that of another or for the sake of some material gain or other. Abandoning slanderous speech, he is restrained from slanderous speech… Abandoning harsh speech, he is restrained from harsh speech…Abandoning frivolous chatter, he is restrained from frivolous chatter. He is one who speaks at the right time, who speaks in accordance with fact, who speaks about the goal, who speaks about the doctrine, who speaks about discipline. He utters speech that is worth treasuring, with similes at a right time, purposeful, connected with the goal.” (pages 6-7)

The article Practising the Buddha-Dhamma as Laymen

The article Practising the Buddha-Dhamma as Laymen [a talk given by U Chit Tin in 1985] also discusses The Saleyyaka-Sutta Majjhima Nikaya 41.

“The Buddha mentions three kinds of actions of the body. Unrighteous and unbalanced living means killing, stealing, and indulging in sensual pleasures…There are for kinds of speech. Unrighteous and unbalanced speech includes lies, slander, harsh speech, and frivolous chatter.” (page 212) “The right kinds of body and speech that the Buddha taught to the laymen [and women] of Sala and Veranja are included in the precepts for virtuous living followed by all true Buddhists. The minimum number or precepts, which must be respected at all times, are the five precepts. These include the four righteous actions of the body: not killing, not stealing, and abstaining from indulging in sensual pleasures, including adultery and taking intoxicants. The fifth precept is to abstain from lying. So we can see that here, the Buddha gives a more detailed explanation of the control over verbal actions. A group of eight precepts (Ajivatthamaka Sila) for laypeople includes these four types of right speech. In addition, there are the three types of right kindly actions the Buddha gave the people of Sala and Veranja and the eighth precept is right livelihood.” (pages 213-4)

The article Right Motivation and Right Action

The article Right Motivation and Right Action explains “In the Nettipakarana [translated by the Pali Text Society as The Guide page 67], the four wrong ways are said to be the unskilful roots (akusala-mula) of the ten unskilful ways of acting (akusala-kamma-patha). These ten are either intentional actions – physical and verbal acts – or mental actions. There are three bad physical actions (kaya-duccarita): Killing (panatipata), stealing (adinnadana), and sexual misconduct (kamesu micchacara). There are four bad verbal actions (vaci-duccarita): Lying (musavada), malicious talks (pisunavaca), harsh speech (pharusavaca), and frivolous chatter (samphappalapa).There are three bad mental actions (mano-duccarita): coveting other people’s property (abhijjha), malevolent thoughts (vyapada), and holding wrong beliefs (miccha-ditthi).” (page 65)

“Hatred (dosa) leads to killing, stealing, and harsh speech. Greed (lobha) leads to stealing, sexual misconduct, and lying. Ignorance (moha) leads to frivolous chatter.” (page 65)

“Wrong beliefs are the wrong path (miccha-magga, the opposite of the Noble Eightfold Path). More details of these ten unskilful ways of acting and of the opposite ten skilful ways of acting are found in several discourses in the Pali Canon. Especially of interest is the explanation of skilful and unskilful speech and mental actions.” (page 66) (In a footnote on page 66, Sayagyi U Chit Tin refers to the Cunda the Silversmith Sutta 176 of Anguttara-Nikaya, translated by the Pali Text Society as Discourse Cunda the silversmith, in The Gradual Sayings: (Anguttara-Nikaya) Volume V The Book of The Tens. This sutta explains the Ten Unwholesome Courses of Action (Dasa akusala-kamma-patha) and the Ten Wholesome Courses of Action (Dasa kusala-kamma-patha).)

“Lying refers to being a bad witness. This will be the case if a person says he heard or saw something that he did not hear or see, or if a person says he did not hear or see something he did hear or see. Intentional lying is done either for one’s own benefit, for someone else’s benefit, or for some material gain. Refraining from lying is opposed to all of this.” (page 66)

Malicious talk means that a person repeats what he has heard in order to divide other people. He sows discord among people who were in harmony and aggravates discord when it already exists. He take pleasure in discord, delights in it, it is his joy and motivates his speech. The person who abandons malicious speech does not repeat what he has heard to sow discord. He reconciles those who are divided and unites his friends. He takes pleasure in harmony, delights in it, it is his joy and motivates his speech. (page 66)

“Harsh speech is rough, hard, severe, on others, abusive of others, bordering on wrath, and is not conducive to concentration. The opposite is speech that is gentle, pleasing to the ear, affectionate, going to the heart, urbane, and pleasant to the multitude.” (page 66)

“Frivolous chatter results when a person speaks at the wrong time, saying things that do not conform to the facts – his speech is not about the goal [of Nibbana enlightenment], it is about what is not the Doctrine [Dhamma] or discipline. It is not worth treasuring. It is spoken at the wrong time and so it is incongruous, has no purpose, and is not connected with the goal. By abandoning frivolous chatter, a person speaks at the right time, in accordance with fact, about the goal, about the Doctrine [Dhamma] and discipline. His speech is worth treasuring, with timely similes that are purposeful and connected with the goal.” (page 66)

The article Being Assured of Attaining Nibbana

This article explains the importance of sila (morality) in the attainment of Paths and Fruits of Stream-Entry (Sotapatti), Once-Returner (Sakadagami), Never-Returner (Anagami) and Enlightened Person (Arahat). “In the Sotapatti Sutta of the Mahavagga of the Samyutta-nikaya, many discourses are grouped together concerning the stage of a Stream-Winner.” (page 161)

The Sotapatti Suttas of the Samyutta Nikaya have been translated by Bhikkhu Bodhi [in The Connected Discourses of the Buddha: A New Translation of the Samyutta Nikaya Volume II] as 55 Sotapattisamyutta Connected Discourses on Stream-Entry, and by the Pali Text Society as Kindred Sayings on Stream-Winning [in The Kindred Sayings: (Samyutta-Nikaya Volume V Book XI)].

“ Most of the discourses were given to laypeople…Attaining the stage of a Stream-Winner or higher is the only way a person can be completely sure that he or she is assured of escaping from the suffering of continued existence. The most complete description…is given by the Buddha to the Kosalan laymen of Veludvara…the Buddha…taught them…how to eventually attain release from all suffering.” (page 161)

The Buddha begins by teaching the villagers concerning virtuous conduct sila (morality). They should consider what causes them suffering, then abstain from such actions and encourage others to abstain from them. They should abstain from killing, stealing, adultery, lying, slander, harsh speech, and frivolous talk (Here the Buddha gives only seven points. Right livelihood is implied in the seven given here, for if they are followed, right livelihood will result. In addition to virtuous conduct, the layman [and woman] should be established in the four desirable conditions (akankhiya thana): complete confidence (aveccapasada) in the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha, and the virtues which the Noble Ones consider to be lovely (ariyakanta sila) – virtuous conduct which is unbroken, unflawed, unspotted, unblemished, liberating, praised by the wise, untarnished, and leading to concentration.” (pages 161-162)

“This second mention of virtue shows the importance of keeping the precepts at the highest level. In the Visudhimagga, [translated by the BPS as The Path of Purification and by the PTS as The Path of Purity] [Venerable] Ashin Buddhaghosa says that virtue, being pure of the defilement of misconduct, is the reason for Stream-Entry and Once-Returning. As the Buddha points, out, virtuous conduct leads to concentration (samadhi). [Venerable] Ashin Buddhaghosa says concentration means one is purified from craving and is the reason for becoming a Non-Returner. It is understanding (panna) that finally leads to Arahatship. Thus, a person who wishes to escape from suffering must first develop ordinary virtuous conduct, then go on to the higher virtue of the Noble Ones.” (page 162)

The Perfection of Virtue (Based on the Mahabuddhavamsa by Tipitakadhara Dhammabhandhagarika Ashin Vicittasarabhivamsa, Aggamahapandita Abhidhaja-Maharatthaguru)

“The three immoral physical actions are killing other living beings, stealing other’s property, and committing adultery. The four immoral verbal actions are lying, backbiting, using abusive words, and vain talk. The two kinds of immoral action or abstaining from them may be associated with earning a livelihood or dissociated from earning a livelihood.” (page 2)

“Abstaining from the three immoral physical actions when not associated with earning a livelihood is known as the abstention of right conduct (samma-kammanta-virati). Abstaining from the four immoral verbal actions when not associated with earning a living is known as abstention through right speech (samma-vaca-virati). Abstaining from these two types of immoral actions when associated with earning a livelihood, especially if the wrong types of livelihood (miccha-ajiva) mentioned for Bhikkhus are avoided, is known as abstention through right livelihood (samma-ajiva –virati).” (pages 2-3)

“The mental volition that accompanies acts of virtue as abstinence as well as the mental volition the accompanying acts done to fulfil one’s duty is known as virtue as volition.” (page 3)

U Chit Tin explains on pages 10-11 that one way virtue can be classified is as:
1) Caritta Sila
actions to be performed (for laypeople caritta includes virtue as keeping the Precepts.
2) Varitta Sila
actions to be avoided or abstained from (for laypeople varitta is abstaining from unskillful actions (for example, killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, lying, taking intoxicants) which will result in rebirth in the lower planes of existence.

“Good behaviour (Abhisamacarika Sila) and virtue that is the beginning of the life of purity (Adi-Brahma Cariya Sila). …for laymen [and women], good behaviour includes actions that indicate a positive attitude, such as showing respect for one’s elders and teachers, etc. Venerable Buddhaghosa [author of Visuddhimagga translated by the BPS as The Path of Purification and by the PTS as The Path of Purity] says that virtue with right livelihood as the eighth kind is the initial stage of the life of purity consisting in the path. Virtue with right livelihood as the eighth kind (Ajivatthamaka Sila) includes: three moral physical actions: (1) abstaining from killing, (2) from stealing, (3) from indulging in sexual misconduct and taking intoxicants; the four moral verbal actions: (4) abstaining from lying, (5) from malicious speech, (6) from harsh speech, and (7) from gossip; and finally, (8) right livelihood.” (page 13)

In terms of The Book of Discipline (Vinaya Pitaka) the rules included under virtue as the beginning of the life of purity are the 227 rules included in the Sutta-vibhanga; the rules included under good behaviour are found in the Khandhaka (subdivided into Mahavagga and Cullavahgga). (The last section, the Parivara, is a summary and classification of the rules in the other parts.) (page 14)

Virtue as abstinence (virati)…means abstaining from wrong speech, from wrong action, and from wrong livelihood. (page 14)


BIBLIOGRAPHY

See the webpage on this website:

Ajivatthamaka Sila (Eight Precepts with Right Livelihood as the Eighth) Bibliography

http://buddhistgroupofkendal.co.uk/ajivatthamka-sila-eight-precepts-with-right-livelihood-as-the-eighth-bibliography/

 



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