I take up the way of not killing. I take up the way of being compassionate, nurturing myself, other beings and other forms of life.
This is the first precept I took during jukai. Working through to get to this iteration of the first precept, I saw just how much killing I participate in. As Aitken Roshi points out in this miniature we do go to great lengths to reinforce our delusion that we are innocent of all the killing around us.
Taking up the way of not killing means each death is a little bit of life extinguished, my life, your life, just life. It brings on sadness and should encourage us to do better.
I live in a society that tends towards violence, I work in an industry that resists universal health care, I invest in such a way as to be ignorant of what killing I support. Even closer to home, I carry in me confusion, fear and anger.
How do we breath and keep the precepts? Plenty to work with here.
~C4Chaos pointed out this little video on his twitter feed. In it, our friend Adyashanti shows us how we can be confused by our ego-centric karmic conditioning. Really, the ego is an altered state of consciousness and "enlightenment is the *unaltered* state of consciousness." Good stuff.
"What Is Enlightenment?" Adyashanti