The zen center I belong to is going through precepts study at the moment, so I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about them lately. During this study period you are supposed read them every morning and then the idea is that the wisdom bubbles up into your daily life. The reading of them in the morning, to be completely honest, feels like such a chore. But it totally works. The wisdom bubbles up to the surface in all sorts of interesting ways.
This past week I’ve been thinking a lot about this precept:
Don’t be mean with dharma or weath – share understanding, give freely of self.
In the genuine, all pervading dharma, being jealous of nothing is the precept of not being mean with dharma or weath. One phrase, one verse – that is the ten thousand things and one hundred grasses; one dharma, one realization – that is all buddhas and dharma ancestors. From the beginning, not one thing has been begrudged.
On the surface, it seems pretty straightforward. But then when you start thinking about it, it’s like WTF is this about. Then thousand things? huh? One hundred grasses? My mind kind of stops working at that point.
So this part of it is completely nonsensical to me right now. However, this morning I replaced the world “dharma” with the word “kindness” and it all makes much more sense. Do not be mean (or stingy) with kindness. Share understanding and give freely of self.
Give freely of self.
I feel like this is the key to understanding this precept. If you can give kindness, then give kindness.
For me, right now, being kind not only applies to others, but it also applies to myself. I think, culturally, we are programmed to be kind to others, which is good. But are we programmed to be kind to ourselves? Not really. I have been working really hard on programing my brain to be kind to myself.
An example of this is that I’ve been thinking about different versions of myself. Specifically “future Monica.” Or “Past Monica.” When I, for example, do the dishes before going to bed I’ve been thinking about it as being kind to “future Monica.” And, indeed, when I wake up and the dishes are done and the kitchen is clean I am super stoked. It makes my day start out on a good note. And then I can be grateful for “Past Monica” for being kind to the me in the present.