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➥ sīla: Virtue, morality. The quality of ethical and moral purity that prevents one from falling away from the eightfold path. Also, the training precepts that restrain one from performing unskillful actions. Sila is the second theme in the gradual training (see ānupubbī-kathā), one of the ten pāramīs, the second of the seven treasures (see dhana), and the first of the three grounds for meritorious action (see dāna and bhāvanā). [ more ]
by late Ven. Nyanatiloka Thera:
➥ sīla:1) 'morality', 'virtue', is a mode of mind and volition (see cetanā) manifested in speech or bodily action (see kamma). It is the foundation of the whole Buddhist practice, and therewith the first of the 3 kinds of training (see sikkhā) that form the 3-fold division of the 8-fold Path (see magga), i.e. morality, concentration and wisdom.
Buddhist morality is not, as it may appear from the negative formulations in the Sutta-texts, something negative. And it does not consist in the mere not committing of evil actions, but is in each instance the clearly conscious and intentional restraint from the bad actions in question and corresponds to the simultaneously arising volition.
Morality of the 8-fold Path, namely, right speech, right action and right livelihood, is called 'genuine or natural morality' pakatisīla), as distinguished from the external rules for monks or laymen, the so-called 'prescribed morality' (see paṇṇatti-sīla), which, as such, is kammically neutral.
“What now is kammically wholesome morality (kusala-sīla)? It is the wholesome bodily action (kāya-kamma, see kamma), wholesome verbal action (vacī-kamma, see kamma), and also the purity with regard to livelihood which I call morality” MN 78
Cf. magga, 3-5.
The 4 kinds of morality consisting of purification (Catupārisuddhi-sīla) are:
(1) Restraint with regard to the Disciplinary Code (Pātimokkha-saṁvara-sīla).
“Here the monk is restrained in accordance with the monks' Disciplinary Code, is perfect in conduct and behaviour, and perceiving danger even in the least offences, he trains himself in the rules he has taken upon him” AN 5.87,AN 5.109, AN 5.114, etc.
(2) Restraint of the senses (indriya-saṁvara-sīla).
“Whenever the monk perceives a form with the eye, a sound with the ear, an odour with the nose, a taste with the tongue, an impression with the body, an object with the mind, he neither adheres to the appearance as a whole, nor to its parts. And he strives to ward off that through which evil and unwholesome things, greed and sorrow, would arise, if he remained with unguarded senses; and he watches over his senses, restrains his senses” MN 38
(3) Purification of livelihood (ājīva-pārisuddhi-sīla). It consists therein that the monk does not acquire his livelihood in a way unbefitting to a monk.
(4) Morality with regard to the 4 rcquisites (paccaya-sannissita-sīla).
It consists therein that the monk is guided by the right mental attitude when making use of the 4 requisites: robes, almsfood, dwelling and medicine.
“Wisely reflecting he makes use of his robes … merely to protect himself against cold and heat, etc. Wisely reflecting he makes use of his almsfood… merely as a prop and support to this body…. Wisely reflecting he makes use of his dwelling… merely to keep off the dangers of weather and to enjoy solitude…. Wisely rerlecting he makes use of the necessary medicines, merely to suppress feelings of sickness that arise, and to reach perfect freedom from suffering” Cf. MN 2
About these 4 kinds of morality, Visuddhi Magga I gives a detailed exposition.
by the Pali Text Society:
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by Ven. Thanissaro Maha Thera:
Suttas and Dhammadesanā