The Eight Precepts is a practice developing virtue (sila) and sense restraint in order to curb desire and direct attention inwardly. This is traditional practice of lay people goes back to the time of the Buddha. It is done once a fortnight on the Uposatha Day (the full moon and new moon days), but can also be done to help direct the focus inwardly for periods of time. During meditation retreats conducted by the Buddhist Society of Western Australia, participants take the Eight Precepts for the duration of their meditation retreat in order to simplify their daily routine, not get caught up in sensual desire, and to focus inwardly on meditation.
The Eight Precepts are:
- To refrain from intentionally taking the life of any living creature.
- To refrain from taking what is not given.
- To refrain from any sexual activity: no physical contact or intimacy with the opposite sex.
- To refrain from dishonest speech.
- To refrain from using alcohol or non-medicinal drugs. (Smoking is banned in the monastery/Jhana Grove retreat centre).
- To refrain from eating after noon. (Non-milk drinks, juice, sweets, sugar & honey are allowable).
- To refrain from dancing, singing, playing music, and wearing cosmetics, perfume, and jewellery.
- To refrain from using luxurious beds and seats.