It’s official. I have failed as a Buddhist.
This sad but true revelation came the other day while shifting through old papers around the house. I found this short leaflet of Buddhist teachings, which began with “The Buddhist Precept.” And, just my luck, it was in ENGLISH! Meaning I didn’t have to guess (usually wrongly) at the periodic characters I am too lazy to look up in the Chinese dictionary.
It’s really short and comprised only of 5 basic principles. So I thought that it ought to be quite easy to do for I grew up in a (more or less) Buddhist household. Shaolin monks were my childhood action heroes!!!
Well, you can imagine how dismayed I was (utterly heartbroken!) to discover it just wasn’t meant to be.
You’ll understand by reading the 5 pledges yourself…
The Buddhist Precept
We pledge not to kill living things. Nope can do, what about bees? House ants? And, pesky gnats? That whole gnats thing is especially unfair—I mean really, it’s not my fault the idiots run into my shirt and die!!! The most I can do is pledge not to kill those living things which don’t first encroach on my territory or personal vicinity. Oh wait, what about fishing? And, eating fish! Am I really to go without spicy chicken kabobs? No more baby back ribs!? …shoot, I forgot that true Buddhists are vegetarians, aren’t they?
We pledge not to greedily take what has not been given. Yes! I can do that! After a shaky start, all is not lost. I’ll even be an overachiever and add to it: I pledge to appreciate what has been given, regardless of whether or not I’ve accepted it. Gee, I hope that makes up for my carnivorous tendencies.
We pledge not to indulge ourselves in licentious acts. HAHA. I’ll be an impertinent sass by claiming morals vary by individual and that it’s not only better but practical that I pledge not to perpetually OVER-indulge. Don’t worry, I’ve already pledged to have good judgment! ;)
We pledge not to speak untruths. Tough. Those Buddhist monks are tricky, making everything so black and white—what if a girl happens to take pleasure in her safer grey shades? Fine, I’ll say it all depends but shall vouch to be compromising and tactful. I can, however, pledge wholeheartedly not to ever deny the truth (you might think this part sounds easy, but it’s not! Take me for example, obviously am a non-Buddhist in denial here, but try to keep that on the d.L. will ya?).
We pledge not to drink intoxicants that lead to delusion. You mean no wine and no fun mixed drinks? Oh, hell no. Say it ain’t so, I’m about to turn 21 very soon! You Buddhist monks are cruel, cruel, cruel.
So, you see? I believe that amounted to only…um, 1.75(?) out of 5.
In words, that pitiful number equals not good. Not good at all! I mean, even the question mark itself seems rather dubious.
If my grandmother gets wing of this, she’ll promptly disown the no longer beloved yours truly. And, my fourth aunt will revive her fervor to convert me to Christianity completely by sending me yet another copy of The Divine Purpose Living.
Ah, the future is bleak.
However, I managed to swiftly overcome my tragic and merciless heartbreak. And, I started to wonder… Is it possible to give these ancient guidelines a make-over?
You know, entirely for modernity’s sake, of course.
The (Jo-lightened) Version for the Laidback Buddhist
Life is short—we pledge not to take things so seriously. Newly added, this is the most important one.
We pledge to eat a diverse array of meat and seafood so that we fairly treat all living things EQUALLY. Oh, and we pledge to kill gnats, too.
We pledge to take only what has been given. Appreciation gets you brownie points.
We pledge not to perpetually over-indulge. Of course, inherent good judgment implied.
We pledge to speak the truth, albeit tactfully. Overcoming denial is the first step to accepting we’re all crazy.
We pledge to drink (moderately, of course) for good health and to even better living. This is personal favorite.
Now surely, I’ve found my branch of Buddhism—for most of all, I pledge to be happy.
(Okay, okay! Permission to dub yours truly a lazy Buddhist. Am guilty as charged.)