In Buddhism, Precepts (Sila), Concentration (Samadhi) and Wisdom (Prajna) are likened to a tripod that helps Buddhists firmly walk on the path of practice. These are the three aspects of practice based on Noble Eightfold Path, the eight means to help one firmly walk on the path of perfecting personality, towards enlightenment and liberation.
Personality is a person’s dignity including their way of thinking, behavior, and behavior towards themselves and society. Training ourselves according to the Precepts, Concentration and Wisdom will help us gradually improve our own personality, in accordance with the ethical standards according to the Buddha’s teachings, to become a good person – bringing many benefits to our family and society.
The Importance of Upholding The Precepts
The Precepts in Sanskrit are “Sila”, are moral things that help people to correct themselves, cultivate virtue. For example, in Five Precepts of lay Buddhists: Not to kill, not to steal, not to commit adultery, not to lie, not to drink alcohol.
These five virtues not only prevent Buddhists from doing wrong, but also lead lay Buddhists to progress on the path to liberation, bringing joy and peace to their families and society. Those who strictly follow the Five Precepts can perfect their own character – the benefit to themselves and to others is unspeakable. Keeping the precepts pure is the first step on the path to liberation from suffering, or the starting point of concentration and the generation of wisdom.
1. Right speech (samma vaca)
It means speaking truthfully, fairly, uprightly, and tactfully to the benefit and avoid causing suffering to others. In the Dhammapada, the Buddha said: “Do not speak rudely. Those who are rudely spoken to will answer rudely. Malicious words are painful. Arguing will hurt each other.”
Buddha said to Moggallāna: “We should not argue, because that only makes us talk a lot, makes us excited, makes us lose our balance, and makes it difficult to concentrate in meditation…” Practicing Right Speech helps us to create an authentic personality.
2. Right action (samma kammanta)
It means righteous actions and deeds, consistent with cause and effect, and beneficial to all sentient beings. When teaching about Right Action, the Buddha reminded the following:
“Not for yourself, not for others, not for your children, not for your possessions, not for your career, not for the throne to do evil. Nor to find success by unrighteous means. Such a person is the real people who are virtuous, wisdom and follow the Buddha’s teachings.”
The Buddha said in the Dhammapada: “Whoever lives in this world, murders, plunders, commits adultery, lies, and indulges in such passions, in this present life, has dug himself up the roots of his personality.”
When advising sentient beings to give up evil deeds and do good, he taught:
“Whoever does evil, but then knows how to do good to erase the evil, he makes his life shine like the moon out of the clouds.
Before we act, we must examine and reason carefully: If this action is harmful to us or to others, or both, it is unwholesome. This action brings affliction and suffering and should be avoided.”
Righteous actions and deeds when practicing Right Action help Buddhists gradually improve their good character in society.
3. Right livelihood (samma ajiva)
It means living righteously with an honest profession. People who practice Right Livelihood live an honest life without deception, do not get rich on the sweat and tears of others, do not make people and things suffer because of their actions.
In the Sangha Sutra, the Buddha always encourages lay Buddhists to do wealth-creating by righteous means: “Whoever is lawfully rich through diligence, talent, and virtue, creates wealth and uses it for himself, family, and helps others, that person has lived in accordance with Right Livelihood and Right Action.”
The Importance of Upholding The Concentration
Concentration in Sanskrit is “Samadhi”. Concentration helps people achieve a state of balance. When our mind is balanced, we will perceive things happening clearly, and because of that, we will have the right solutions. The right resolution means through the right behavior and conduct. Concentration includes: Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, Right Concentration.
1. Right Effort (samma vayama)
Right Effort is diligently doing righteous deeds for the benefit of oneself as well as for people and things. People who follow Right Effort are always first of all eager to change themselves, resolutely eliminating bad things, determined to develop all good actions.
- Efforts to prevent bad things that have not yet arisen
- Efforts to eliminate the bad things that have arisen
- Efforts to develop the undeveloped good
- Diligence continues to develop the good things that have grown
The Bodhisattva Way teaches that: “Knowing self-control, courage, equal consideration of oneself and others, eliminating selfishness to benefit others, these are the conditions of right effort.”
Good deeds are difficult to do because human beings are inherently selfish, so in order to do good things for ourselves and for others, we must make the right effort to correct ourselves.
2. Right Mindfulness (samma sati)
Mindfulness is remembering the right things, the things that benefit ourselves and others. When our mind abides in Right Mindfulness, we will clearly perceive the true principles, from which we will orient ourselves to a right mind, not letting the mind go astray into unwholesome things.
In the Majjhima Nikaya, the Buddha explained: “By not recollecting, not paying attention to unwholesome things: greed, hatred and delusion, those unwholesome things are destroyed. And the destruction of unwholesome things has helped for the mind to be calm and peaceful.”
When the mind remains calm, wisdom will flourish. Wisdom is the key to helping people to properly perceive the events going on around them, from which to come up with solutions in accordance with the law of cause and effect.
3. Right Concentration (samma samadhi)
Right Concentration is the concentration of thoughts on a legitimate issue, true to the truth, beneficial to oneself and others. Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh explains Concentration as a natural, effortless resting of the mind. For example, a glass of water does not need to use a filter, but the dust particles in the water naturally slowly settle to the bottom of the glass.
The Buddha said: “Mind is at the head of all Dharmas, so when the mind is calm and still, peace arises.” Mental stability helps people develop wisdom. Wisdom helps people to gain insight into problems, and to deal with them wisely.
Awareness of the world around you and yourself in order to take right actions is all thanks to Right Concentration. From there, we can perfect our own personality.
The Importance of Upholding The Wisdom
Wisdom in Sanskrit is “Prajna”. When people have wisdom, people can eliminate selfish habits, prejudices, misconceptions… Wisdom is a talented leader who helps us realize what is true happiness, from That is to practice towards a virtuous life.
In the Upasaka Sutra, the Buddha said: “Man is superior to all animals in wisdom.” It is thanks to wisdom that people have the ability to judge, think about what they do, and take responsibility for their own behavior.
Wisdom includes: Right View and Right Intention.
1. Right View (samma dhitti)
Right View is seeing, hearing, and knowing in an upright, just, and objective manner. This person’s comments are not obstructed or falsified by custom, prejudice, or lust. A person with Right View knows to distinguish between what is false and what is real, and is not obscured by all things.
To achieve objectivity and fairness in all matters, we must go through a process of fact testing or contemplation through wisdom. Right View includes both aspects: understanding and perception through actual experience.
If we don’t really experience reality but only use our limited thinking and assume that we know the issues well, then our knowledge will be lame. Wrong perception causes bad effects on the process of perfecting human personality.
Thanks to Right View, we know what is wrong to avoid and what is right to be promoted. That is one of the factors to perfect the personality.
In the Kalama Sutta the Buddha said: “Only those things which we have carefully examined are true, only those things that bring happiness to ourselves and to all sentient beings. Those things we must accept and act according to them.”
Practicing Right View helps us to perceive and distinguish between good and bad to have the right attitude and behavior in dealing with people. Right understanding will increase human value.
2. Right Intention (samma sankappa)
Right Intention is right thinking, right thought. People who practice Right Intention know how to consider wrong actions, bad thoughts to repent.
The Buddha once taught Rahula: “If in reasoning, you decide that ‘now this action that I have done is unwholesome,’ you must repent and speak to your teacher or friends in the Sangha.
If you have repented, you must leave it, not to do it again in the future … so you must try to train, always think to keep all actions with body, speech, and mind clean.”
People who live according to the Right Intention always think of good things to grow, and think of bad things to give up. They are always careful before every action and word.
We need to practice Right Intention to see things clearly, see our life as it is, and then we will have the right solution to improve our life, enhance our own personality value.
Practicing Precepts, Concentration and Wisdom is not step by step, but aspects must be trained and developed together. Without wisdom, we will not have the correct and profound perception… that wisdom arises through the practice of concentration.
The practice of Right Concentration is successful because we keep clean from words, actions, deeds and daily mindfulness of goodness. If we practice properly according to the Precepts, Concentration and Wisdom that the Shakyamuni Buddha taught, our personality will be perfected, and that is the greatest peace and happiness that anyone can achieve.
Lotus Buddhas – Refer: Human Personality in the Philosophy of the Eightfold Path of Buddhism