Today is April’s Full Moon Uposatha, and as usual I feel like sharing a little about it. As on previous observance days, I made time for some Dhamma reading and have had a lot of “quiet time,” both speaking and actively thinking less, in a sort of “watching” mode. This involves the things around me as well as myself, but I’d say mostly just myself — physically and mentally.
Today, somewhat coincidentally, is both an Uposatha day and Good Friday. Generally on Fridays during the Lent season, my wife and family go out to a Fish Fry held at one of the local VFW halls, and today was no exception. I had decided prior that I would take this day off work and enjoy the company of my family while also observing the eight precepts.
I’d say it has gone pretty well, but it hasn’t been without it’s challenges.
Briefly, for those who are unfamiliar, the eight precepts:
- Not to kill.
- Not to steal.
- Not to engage in sexual intercourse.
- Not to speak lies.
- Not to take intoxicants.
- Not to eat food between noon and the following dawn.
- Not to sing, dance or watch entertainments, and not to use ornaments, cosmetics or perfumes.
- Not to sit or lie on a large or high seat or bed.
I do take this observance fairly seriously, mainly as a way of reinforcing the idea that I can live without all of the comforts and excess with which I am generally distracted. Most of it is fairly straightforward, and I feel like I am on the path to a solid observance on most occasions. I have my lingering issues, don’t get me wrong, but it is all on the path rather than totally outside the realm of reason. The largest challenge on this particular Uposatha has been the issue of food, quite frankly…
Normally the question of eating in the evening isn’t an issue for me. I know I’m not hungry, even as I write this. Empty stomach, yes, but not hungry. Lets be honest about it though, most of us have a harder time ignoring the “empty stomach” signal when there is a lot of food around than when we are by ourselves with no food present. Sure, I abstained from eating, but I was very curious, and somewhat amused, at how my mind kept bringing me back to the idea of eating. “Monkey Mind” was going pretty full-swing, I can say that for certain.
In spite of the “Mind vs. Food” challenge, the time out was enjoyable and I got to spend most of the time with the baby, which is itself is a reward of it’s own.
Other oddities about my observance today related to entertainment, mostly. I usually observe Uposatha without music, television, or games of any kind, but today was a little different. I don’t feel like I can impose Uposatha on the rest of my family, so I try to compromise. I don’t expect my family to sit without TV or music all day, so long as they aren’t expecting me to get too terribly engaged in it. That said, I have made note of the fact that the TV was left off and we only listened to music while out driving today. I don’t know that this has anything to do with my observance or if maybe we all just kept busy enough that they didn’t get bored, but I appreciate it regardless.
All said, I feel like today has been a really awesome day. Even if the eight precepts can be difficult to maintain, and especially so being married and keeping in regard more than one religious tradition in the home, the benefits to peace of mind are significant.
I hope you are well today, my friends. Thank you for reading, and I will post again soon.