8 Precepts - 90 Day challenge

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  1. Paraeinstein

    Paraeinstein Fapstronaut

    I was considering doing 90 days of 8 Precepts and being NoFap, this also includes abstaining from all sexual activity (including sexual stimulation).

    At the moment I am on day 17 with 8 precepts and hope to continue upto 90 days.

    Here are the 8 Precepts -

    1. Refrain from destroying living creatures.

    2. Refrain from taking that which is not given. (Refrain from stealing).

    3. Refrain from all types of sexual activity (including self-stimulation).

    4. Refrain from incorrect speech. (abstain from lying, offensive/harsh speech, divisive speech/tale bearing, idle speech).

    5. Refrain from intoxicating drinks and drugs which lead to carelessness (and not refrain from becoming intoxicated).

    6. Refrain from eating at the forbidden time (i.e., after noon). (Can be one meal or two meals a day before noon time).

    7. Refrain from dancing, singing, music, going to see entertainments, wearing garlands, using perfumes, and beautifying the body with cosmetics.

    8. Refrain from lying on a high or luxurious sleeping place.

    The real way to follow the 8 preceprs is to follow them by body, speech and mind.

    Is anyone up for this?
     
  2. capdindass

    capdindass Fapstronaut

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    Papsy,

    I have always been interested. However, I find the 6th precept to be rather troublesome with working and other social obligations.

    As an intermediate, I am avoiding PMO and entertainment (social media, reddit, youtube, etc.). Can you tell me some about how you deal with the urges? I feel as though this is something I need to take the dive with all at once.

    I'm tried of the suffering. It feels as if giving in to any sensual pleasure just furthers my conditioning -- and I believe this to be the truth. I can see it, but not fully stop it to an extent. I think I'm ok with that, but my mindfulness slips way during these activities
     
  3. Paraeinstein

    Paraeinstein Fapstronaut

    Hi Capdindas,

    Thanks for the reply.

    As for the 6th precept, if you find it difficult to finish eating before midday then just avoid meals after having lunch. So this means one will only limit their daily meals for only having breakfast and lunch. As for me, by the time I have my second meal, on some days it can get late as even 3pm. I know this is not ideal but its still better than just breaking the precept by eating dinner (as in taking the 3rd meal for the day).

    It is great that you are avoiding social media and video platforms. As for me I am still using social media and watch YouTube during my time in 8 Precepts. As for watching videos I watch if it is for gaining knowledge and not for entertainment (such as avoiding watching music videos, dancing and other things which I know which are specifically made for entertainment purposes).

    As for the 8th Precept, currently I am not doing anything different compared to what I already did back when I was following 5 Precepts - I still sleep in my bed and do sit in sofas. I might consider taking out my sleeping bag to follow this precept in a more appropriate manner.

    As for letting mindfulness slip, it happens to me too. But these days I am reading literature on Brahmacharya (spiritually oriented celibacy) and it keeps me on the ball. There are not from Buddhist sources and whiles reading I have to filter out a lot of content which is inconsistent with Buddhism and take in what is compatible.

    I say you can be flexible and follow the precepts to the best possible extent within your limitations.
     
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  4. capdindass

    capdindass Fapstronaut

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    Hi Papsy,

    I think that is the stage I will progress too. At this point I need a complete reboot from it, so that I have the mindefulness to avoid these things, as I'm using the tools that are youtube and social media.

    I've studied Brahmacharya and I find it to be very interesting. Currently, I'm studying satipattana type meditation and reading Nagarjuna.

    Looking forward to see how your practice develops
     
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  5. Paraeinstein

    Paraeinstein Fapstronaut

    Remember, when done correctly, this will tick a lot of the criteria which constitutes the Monk Mode of NoFap (which is higher than the Hard Mode). Monk Mode is the most challenging it will ever get in NoFap.

     
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  6. capdindass

    capdindass Fapstronaut

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    There have been some hard times, my friend Papsy. I've been reading "The Manual of Insight" by Mahasi Sayadaw, so I've been mentally noting these cravings. I went to a rave last night and would note "looking looking", "craving craving", "wanting wanting", "thinking thinking", as there are many scantly clad people. I've found that my actual mindfulness without noting would devolve into contemplation on the dharma. While that is good, it is not necessarily the most beneficial way to proceed.

    How is your challenge going?
     
  7. Paraeinstein

    Paraeinstein Fapstronaut

    This NoFap streak is by far the most successful but I don't want to speak too soon. The urges I get are less frequent and when they do arise they are less intense than in the past, but I would not still see this as a permanent change yet where I am still vulnerable to be tempted or fall from the standards.

    As for the 8 Precepts, I am following them in a 'less than ideal' manner. I did listen to small parts of songs (just to get a kick on inspiration), although no entire songs. As for eating, sometimes I have the second meal afternoon (which is breaking this precept because I am supposed to finish eating before the sun starts to descend). I did sleep in a bed after coming from the monastery but now I got rid of the bed and just sleep on a mattress. I still sit on the sofa so I need to start sitting on a chair or maybe the floor.

    Still, I feel trying to make an effort to follow the 8 Precepts in a less than ideal manner is still better than the standard 5 Precepts. Whiles, I am going on, I will be making further improvements to the way I follow the 8 Precepts (such as trying to follow them in all body, speech, and mind) and even upgrade to one meal a day even.

    Why do you say that capdindass? I like to know why.
     
  8. capdindass

    capdindass Fapstronaut

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    That is wonderful to hear Papsy. I think as long as you are watching your true intentions and staying ever vigilant, you will succeed. I've started eating on the floor and I noticed that I wasn't mindful on a deep level when sitting in a chair. I would have sub-processes going on. I think that would be a next good (and relatively easy) step to go.

    Beautiful. This is really the point of the practice in my mind. It's so easy to get caught up in the mental restraint, but in the end we are doing this to further our practice and understand the mind.


    Well, it's just like the Thai Ajahns say. Contemplation isn't practice in a sense. It's just more ideas. Unfortunately, I have given away my copy of "Food for the Heart", but therein contains a story about a monk who knows all of the philosophical teachings of the Buddha. It turns out that he really "knows" nothing at all, so he goes to learn from a novice monk.

    The biggest clinging in which I have is clinging to my identity as a Buddhist. "Oh, I'm a good Buddhist. I shouldn't be mean to this person, or I shouldn't do this." These are just more views and stories to tell ourselves.

    One can contemplate on the Dharma endlessly, but prajna is only developed through practice. After a certain point, contemplation is just fodder for the mind. There is a fantastic early Mahayana text on this title "Chao lun" by Sengzhao (https://terebess.hu/zen/Liebenthal-Walter-1968-Chao-Lun-The-Treatises-of-Seng-Chao.pdf). It is rather dense, but the insights are deep if one studies it. Mahasi Sayadaw also speaks on this in "Manual of Insight"

    This isn't to say that contemplation has no point, but for myself I have contemplated dhamma and philosophy endlessly and I don't think it's beneficial to always do that.
     
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  9. Paraeinstein

    Paraeinstein Fapstronaut

    Thanks capdindass for these insights.

    As for engaging with precepts at the level of the mind (and pretty much as many aspects that are contrary to Buddhism at the level of the mind), I am trying to shift the way I deal with urges from the usual 'thought-blocking' to the approach that is more in line with the Buddhist way; to observe and then let go by being on the present moment, with equanimity whiles reflecting on the three characteristics (tilakkhana) of the mental object that occupies the mind. But still, out of habit, there is a tendency to go to the extremes of indulging in thoughts of sensual desire or to block it out completely - both of which are not in line with the Buddhist way.

    Yes, it's a tricky one. I personally think that contemplation is just like 're-wiring' process of the mind so that we respond differently than our usual habitual ways. Such as contemplation of the 32 body parts, contemplation of a dead corpse and its stages of decay, and even loving-kindness meditation. I like to see it as a method which we can make use of even though nowhere near as a panacea for all poisons of the mind.

    Yes this is there in me as well. I try to use it as a way of preventing other types of identities springing up in the mind (such as the identity based on nationality, ethnicity or gender). But I always keep in my mind that one of the main benefits of Buddhism is that it is meant to free us from the illusion of our perceived limited sense of self-identity which means that if I grasp onto the identity of a Buddhist then its becomes an obstacle within the Buddhist path itself. From a Theravada point of view till one reaches stream-entry (sotapanna) there will be some form of taking up of a self-identity, so I feel there is nothing much to be concerned about in this respect. As I am a Vajrayana Buddhist it doesnt specifically teach about the stream-entry and other subsequent steps, but overall in all types of Buddhism, one of the main characteristics of enlightenment is that the illusion of a sense of limited self-identity is overcome.

    Thanks for sending me that ebook from Terebess. Its been a long time since I visited that website. Hope to get back to it. It had quite a number of resources on Zen literature and lives of Zen masters.

    Yes I remember this in Food for the Heart, I read it as part of the Collected Teachings of Ajahn Chah which also included Bodhinyana. This is about Pothila who knew Buddhism in theory and he felt accomplished because of that. But the Buddha rebuked him, so he went to a novice monk to learn and this acceptance meant that he was honestly into becoming enlightened without giving his ego any kind of importance.
     
  10. Merry Terry

    Merry Terry Fapstronaut

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    I do want to try this at some point, but I'm still a bit afraid of it being too hardcore for me at the moment. So I'm first gonna do a 3 month regular streak, then I'll try to add some of the Precepts. We did the 8 one time at a retreat that I was in and I thought there was something really powerful to it. But abstaining from music is very, very hard for me at the moment. I guess that's my next addiction I'll have to work on. Waaay stronger than my porn addiction, that one...
     
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  11. Paraeinstein

    Paraeinstein Fapstronaut

    As for me, I haven't been 100% with the precepts. Some days I did listen to some music and on two days I did watch films. But on all 60 odd days, I have not had any meals after lunch even though sometimes it was a bit late when I had lunch.
     
  12. RightEffort

    RightEffort Fapstronaut

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    I love that you're doing this. It is very similar to my intention,

    I am now becoming curious as to why no singing and music. I am scheduled to do my yearly 10-day retreat (Goenka teaching) and have been making my practice more sincere - I do most of the precepts except the music one and the fasting has been a very challenging one! :)

    I find it really challenging to not eat more than 2 meals - especially as I am an athlete and me workout and work all day. But again I know nothing is impossible and I would be happy with stopping eating by 3pm - this way I get to sleep hungry.
     
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  13. Paraeinstein

    Paraeinstein Fapstronaut

    Yes RightEffort,

    I have following these 8 precepts the best way I could but in a less than ideal manner. For example, on some days I did listen to music and watched films. Almost everyday I couldn’t start eating my second meal before noon time.

    The 8 Precepts are there for lay Buddhist so that on those days they have less obstacles to deal with in relation to meditation practice. Typical meditation activity is mostly to be with silencing the mind, because it is within this silent mind which transcendental states in meditation usually appear. Therefore the silent mind is an essential prerequisite for spiritual progress on the Buddhist path.

    I want to stress that not all 8 Precepts are to do with ethics or virtue in the strict sense of the meaning of such words. The precepts which are directly do do with ethical conduct abstaining from killing/harming, abstaining from stealing, avoiding sexual misconduct and avoiding false speech (lying).

    As for the precept on alcohol it’s that we can’t really say how much is too much. The consumption of alcoholic beverages itself is not a non-virtue per se but when one becomes mindless as a result of alcohol consumption then this compromises important aspects of the N8FP such as Samma Sati (Right Mindfulness) and Samma Samadhi (Right Concentration). Also not being in a state of sobriety means that one is more likely to break the rest of the other precepts. There is divided opinion on the 5th Precept whether this is refraining from intoxicants or refraining from becoming intoxicated. As for me personally, growing up in a Buddhist country during my childhood and early teenage years, we are told to abstain from all types of intoxicants regardless of whether we follow the 5 Precepts or 8 Precepts. You may note in Goenkaji’s recording that he will mention that the 5th Precept means to abstain from all intoxicants instead of just refraining from becoming intoxicated. Other teachers may say different and be in favour of the interpretation of just refraining from intoxication.

    As for the precept on celibacy/chastity or abstaining from all forms of sexual activity, once again this does not imply that sexual activity in inherently non-virtuous. Sexual activity when done between mutually consenting partners which does not involve harming anyone is does not carry any bad karma. It’s just that when taking 8 Precepts that is usually done as a supportive foundation for meditation activity. Sexual activity can become a distraction, and thoughts of sexual desire can become a major distraction for meditation.

    As for the 6th Precept on avoiding meals after midday (when the sun reaches the highest point in the sky), is that eating in excess is not non-virtuous. However, being in a state of silence of mind as well as being engaged in meditation activity means one’s life is sedentary for the most part being a resident of a monastery. Eating in the evening can also lead to mental dullness which would hinder meditation. This may be difficult during the early days but with time one’s gut adapts to eating two meals a day with no snacks in between meals. As for you being an athlete you may be aware of the benefits of only eating both within a limited period of time such as less than 6 hours. During times when meals are not permitted, one can drink water or tea. Milk, smoothies and soups are considered to be foods so they also have to be avoided after midday. Monasteries may vary in their standards. Some of them may allow the consumption of cheese or cocoa based products (such as chocolates) but not in small amounts. I do not do this and just drink water only after lunch. You may find it important to drink more water during the evening to help the stomach wash away the acid to prevent gastritis from affecting the stomach later on, given that most of us lay people’s minds and bodies are conditioned to eat foods at night because we have been doing that for most of our life.

    As for the 7th Precept which is to do with abstaining from entertainment and self-adorning it is about making the mind accustomed to a simply life like the way monastics live in the monastery. Entertainment just adds more baggage to the mind which means the mind is in states of thought and less involved with silence. The mind gets stained with all sorts of colours and flavours which makes silent present focus more difficult. As for self-adornment this is more of a challenge to lay Buddhist girls/women than Buddhist boys/men. There are exceptions where girls/women who have earrings are not obliged to remove them in long retreats in some monasteries given that the ear lobe will heal itself and occlude the hole through which the earrings go through. Some women might find it difficult to remove other types of piercings that they have on them which are of a ‘permanent’ nature such as tongue rings, belly button rings or nose rings. So these may be excused. Make-up, lipstick, nail varnish, artificial eye lashes, using contact lenses with various colours will not be allowed. Wearing shoes with stiletto heals can also come under this given that the function of such foot wear is not to do with keeping the soles of the feet clean or keep them protected when walking outdoors but instead it is to do with giving the female body a different shape to make them look more attractive. As for dyed or highlighted hair this maybe okay if already done, given that our normal colour of our hair is not the sort of thing which arises instantly where fake dyes can’t be washed away. However in long retreats one will be discouraged from dying or highlighting their hair. As for tattoos this is okay, given that tattoos tend to be permanent so one will not be required to bleach them. Spending time on straightening one’s hair or using devices to make one’s hair appear in a certain shape such as trying to make the hair wavy or curly will not be permitted. Overall, whether it is entertainment or self-adornment, the characteristic that is similar to both of them is that even though they are fun to do, they are also extravagant as they are not essential for our survival and well-being. Given that the Buddhist view of the world considers that the true source of happiness is the mind, based on this we can let go of them.

    In Ancient India, those who were of higher social status had the privilege to sit on chairs with rests or sleep on high beds. The common people slept on the mats on the floor and either sat on stools or on the floor. Even looking at meaning of words such as ‘chairman’ in historical times it was a leader of a meeting that sat on a chair while the others sat on stools or elongated benches. So this Precept is more about humbleness and humility. To give this Precept some form of relevance some monasteries add meanings to it such as avoiding overindulgence in sleep.

    To sum it all up, out of the basic 5 precepts only the first 4 of them are to do with avoiding bad karma whiles the 5th Precept itself is more about avoiding a circumstance where the rest of the other precepts as well as meditation could get compromised. As for the 8 precepts, the 3rd Precept changes and get upgraded to full celibacy. 6th, 7th and 8th Precepts are more to do with developing a mind that is inclined towards renunciation. Because meditation tends to thrive in a mind that has renounced desires.

    After your retreat you can either let go of the precepts or you could stay under the 5 precepts. But you are also free to stay with the 8 precepts for as long as you like. It’s good to spend sometime with the 8 precepts and experience the with them.

    Even though I am a Mahayana Buddhist I follow the Theravada version of the 8 Precepts. There are some minor yet important differences between the Mahayana 8 Precepts and the Theravada 8 Precepts. When it comes to the 6th Precept, in Theravada one can eat breakfast and lunch, but in Mahayana this is only one meal before midday. Also in the Mahayana 8 Precepts it specifically mentions that the bed one sleeps in should not be higher than the length of one’s elbow and fist, but this is more like a general yardstick as opposed to being a hard and fast rule. Also when using items it prohibits use of chairs or beds covered in animal skins (such as leather).
     
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  14. RightEffort

    RightEffort Fapstronaut

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    That was a very thorough answer I am very grateful for you taking the time to share this.
    (on a side note I feel like you are a good writer or perhaps you are a writer already :) )

    when i hear you say celibacy and living simply I have this inner urge to go for a year full of freedom from all the stuff and the bells and whistles of life but i'm also aware of the strength of the karma and mental volitions that goes crazy when i make too many changes.

    Ill be doing the best I can in the mean time. Thank you again :)
     
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  15. Paraeinstein

    Paraeinstein Fapstronaut

    Hi RightEffort,

    Thanks for complements. Yes I try to explain in detail as much as possible in such a way that I try to pre-empt any possible questions and then explain the answers in advance when explaining. It can be easy to say something in a few sentences and let the reader interpret things for herself or himself but I don’t think that this is good use of a communication tool. So I try to give vivid expositions to minimise any possible misunderstandings, and sometimes that involves giving comprehensive overarching explanations behind what is questioned.

    As for making changes yes, there has to be a balance. Taking too much on our plate could make us bend out of shape, while making too few changes means we are likely to relapse before hitting the 90 day target. As for me, I have been under 8 Precepts during different times in my live, in retreats as well as in normal lay life. I did experiment with the precepts and after going through cycles of failure I became more accustomed them. I still don’t follow them in an ideal manner but I am about to stay in a Buddhist monastery for three months starting from the end of this this month. So this attempt at trying to keep the 8 precepts seems like a good transition phase instead of making a sudden quantum leap from the 5 precepts in lay life to the 8 precepts for a prolonged duration of 3 months in the monastic environment.

    As for setting up a goal of 1 year duration of NoFap, I say this is a very good choice. I know that some recommend to take things one day at a time (which has some truth in it) but however we have to aim at a greater distance so we can either reach our full potential or if not then at least land somewhere in the middle which is still better compared to where we started. As for me I hope to do another 90 days as my goal is to reach effortless perfect celibacy. I was told by an experienced well-seasoned fapstranaut that I may have to be either in Hard Mode/Monk Mode for two years to reach this. So this will be my primary goal which I remind myself on a regular basis. But also I have a safety net, in case when there are times I feel no desire to maintain long-term celibacy when I remind myself of the next best thing which is to be in a sexual relationship with sexual continence within the ethical boundaries of Buddhism. When looking at this secondary goal I later switch back to the celibacy goal. In bodily actions I am not doing anything different, it’s just that I use the motive of sexual continence as a stepping stone, to later immediately come back to the celibacy. Because sometimes when we have just the main goals without the secondary goals then we are likely to hit the floor when our motivation towards our primary goal is lost. The secondary goal is not the main focus, but it is just there to catch you when in case you fall from the primary goal which you set up so you won’t have to jump up too high to step back to your primary goal.

    I also say, that part of NoFap is to accept change given that if we keep doing the same thing which we have always done, then we will keep getting the what we always had (as in going back to the sad life of PMO).

    As for mental volition, I can’t think of a better way of minimising them other than meditation. It’s a bit rich coming from me as I haven't done as much I should but there was a time in the past when I did at least 1 hour of sitting meditation a day. Just being in the present moment with equanimity and silence without the distractions of past, future, preference or inner speech means that mental volition are kept to a minimum, even within the post-meditation state. I try to always remind myself what Ajahn Chah said about this; that our meditation practice doesn’t end when we stand up from the sitting posture but to only consider standing up from sitting as just a change in posture where the mind is kept in mindfulness in the best possible way in the meditation break.

    At the end of the day NoFap is not even about avoiding PMO, and Buddhism is not even about abstaining from alcohol, entertainment and pleasure. These are just external superficial aspects only. They are more to do with the underlying mentality than underpins all of these behaviours. It’s about developing that mentality on letting go of instant pleasures and gratification to take the long road to ultimate happiness.
     
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  16. RightEffort

    RightEffort Fapstronaut

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    Thank you for your reflections I enjoyed them :)
     
  17. Merry Terry

    Merry Terry Fapstronaut

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    Yes, these two pieces are so important. Thanks for reminding us!
     
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