This morning a group of my dear noble friends will be taking the Precepts.. 5 vow’s of ethical conduct.  I won’t be with them this year physically but I am with them every step of the way in every way possible.

Several preceptors this year have had so many, What does it really mean to make these vows?  What do I need to do?  Am I now being asked to officially become a Buddhist?  and if I am, what does it mean to be a good Buddhist?”

I’ve tried to answer some but I don’t think the answers exist.  I don’t consider myself a Buddhist at all, although I can’t find any objection with the wisdom and it does significantly navigate my life.   I just hate labels and it feels so personal and I refuse to fit this wisdom into packaged words when I know for sure it belongs free.

However.  If I was willing to set aside my desire to be controversial and unidentified for a moment, the generalized label of “Buddhist” certainly fits me like a glove and the answer to “how to be a good Buddhist” is actually a very easy one to answer:

How to be a good Buddhist

Come home, finally, to yourself, Decide to stop running from difficult or uncomfortable experiences. This means you may have to experience grief, loss, fear, disappointment, terror or loneliness.

Let your armor down. You can endure it… What ever it is. It’s not personal.

Soak up what ever pleasurable experience arise with every pore and cell of your being. This moment is thoroughly unique and will never happen again. But expect that sooner than you’d like this pleasure will be replaced by a new experience. When that happens, let it go.

Know precisely what each experience is made of. Know each part.

Here’s a complete list of possible parts. Sense impressions on the eardrum, sense impressions on the retina, sense impression in the nostril, sense impression tongue, bodily touch sensation, bodily sensation of an emotional origin, internal talk, internal image and consciences.

Knowing which of these parts is present in any given experience diminishes the allure of the experience and the tendency to make the parts into a “thing”. The experience is empty, don’t get involved.

Understand that you are not defined by any of these experiences and that none of them last. Understand that each experience arises out of the conditions that proceed it and can not exist independent of those conditions.

You must develope the capacity to be present for whatever arises in your experience weather you like it, dislike it, or it bores you.

Understand (and this is critical)…understand and accept on the deepest level that no matter what “it” is…it’s never “quite right”. Never.

Nevertheless love what is!

Forgive everyone for everything! Including yourself.

Love indiscriminately. Starting with yourself.

Don’t give it all away. Just most of it.

Speaking of giving it away…Renounce whatever hinders you from doin all of the above, understand that renunciation is not about depravation. It’s about freedom.

But it’s not like the American brand of freedom we’re used to. You should not be so much concerned with the freedom to” as you are with the “freedom from”. One last thing.

Welcome home! Now, never abandon yourself again.

~By Pablo Das, translated by me imperfectly I am certain as I scribbled it on pages while he spoke, realizing in the moment I was listening to some of the purest Dharma ever shared.