Today I am observing my first Uposatha for 2014 and have been considering some of the challenges I will likely face as the day progresses.
The first five precepts aren’t so difficult, but the addition of three can cause certain complexities. These three are:
- to abstain from food after noon and before dawn
- to refrain from entertainments such as music, dancing, singing, etc.
- to abstain from high or luxurious sitting and resting places.
Abstaining from food isn’t so big of a deal for me… I like to eat, but I can go without. Luxurious sitting and resting places are a non-issue, too, as I have no thrones upon which to sit and my bed is very basic and low to the floor.
I think the largest issue I have pertains to entertainments… I mean, I can choose to not play computer games or listen to music, but I know better than to think that I can get others to do the same when they are around me, and there are numerous instances throughout any given day when I’m bombarded by entertainments I didn’t request (many of which I don’t particularly enjoy, even).
I have made the determination that as long as I don’t have the intention to turn on music that I am not entirely breaking the precept, but I personally feel like it is a grey area because it isn’t as if I don’t listen at all.
Often, I think my biggest problem is that I’m harder on myself than I really need to be. I’ll feel bad because I caught myself listening to (enjoying) a coworker’s music, but the reality of it seems to be that I’m not going to be able to avoid such situations unless I seclude myself entirely on Uposatha days — which will not even be a possibility for a very long time so there is no use in dwelling too much on it.
To those who observe Uposatha days as I do, please do not be too hard on yourself. Like any practice, there is work in perfecting it, and it is often enough to simply acknowledge a lapse in mindfulness and to renew one’s efforts.
I hope you are well on this auspicious day, friends!