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To be late without notice
for a promised appointment
subtly breaks the first precept
of abstention from taking life.

Stonepeace | Get Books

When it comes to observation of the precepts, there is the occasional question of how well are we supposed to observe them. Take for instance, the second basic precept of ‘not taking what is not given’ – i.e. to abstain from stealing. This seems basic enough… but with deeper reflection, especially in terms of the scope of theft, it can prove more challenging than usual in practice. Must the stolen pertain only to tangible objects? Could the intangible be just as important, if not invaluable? The subjects of theft need not be physical, mental, or spatial… but the temporal!

Time, although abstract, is a limited and measurable personal resource or ‘commodity’ that can be ‘stolen’ – by being late. As the Chinese saying goes, ‘An inch of time is (precious) like an inch of gold, but an inch of gold cannot buy an inch of time.’ (一寸光阴一寸金,寸金难买寸光阴) Unlike things, time taken or wasted cannot be returned or reclaimed. Though being late seems trivial, it does ‘rob’ the seconds, minutes, hours and days of others’ lives. Time is equivalent to ‘money’ for some, while it is life itself, that trickles by to all. Forcing 10 persons to wait 10 minutes due to your tardiness is to steal 100 minutes of their lives!

Some might think that to interpret the second precept to include time is ‘too creative’ a stretch, to probably not be intended even by the Buddha himself. However, the quest towards spiritual perfection means we must expand the sphere of that encompassed by moral mindfulness as widely as possible. The precepts are broadly phrased, surely, not for us to interpret as superficially as we can, but as profoundly as we should. Increasing care for the tiniest details is the key to true greatness. To embrace the fullest spirit of the precepts, their mere letters must be transcended!

To be late without notice
for a promised appointment
subtly breaks the fourth precept
of abstention from false speech.

Stonepeace | Get Books

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