The grave precepts in Buddhism are ten recommendations for ethical conduct. Although they are often compared to Christian commandments, they are very different. When a person receives the precepts, this person takes up these recommendations as they relate directly to their life.
It’s been a while since I thought about them in any formal way, but as I went through my selection of images from my archives, I noticed that the precepts inform the photographs that I make. Applying the precepts in a way that directly affects your life and the way you want to live it, makes them very powerful guides. They are huge and impossible, but great to aspire to.
Until now, I didn’t realize how much photography is a part of my spiritual practice. My aim is not to attempt to photograph an idea, but rather a feeling of gratitude for all that life presents. Although, not represented here, even the sad and grotesque serve as teachers.
The precepts all seem to overlap and weave through each other. Taking up the way of not stealing can mean literally not taking things that do not belong to you. But it can also mean not taking another person’s energy. When there is a lack of gratitude that is a form of stealing. Each of the precepts is like this.
These images are not literal representations of the ten precepts. They are an expression of the precepts – my precepts…very personal.
I take up the way of not killing and to cherish all life.
I take up the way of not stealing and to respect the possessions and life of others.
I take up the way of not to misuse sexual energy and to be honest and respectful.
I take up the way of not telling lies.
I take up the way of keeping the mind clear.
I take up the way of not talking about others’ errors or faults.
I take up the way of not elevating myself by criticizing others.
I take up the way of not withholding aid, but to give it freely when needed.
I take up the way of no animosity…not to vent anger, but to seek its source.
I take up the way of not speaking ill of the Three Treasures, but to cherish them.