The scope of awareness
Heightened attentiveness is not the whole of it, however. The cultivation of awareness also involves sensitivity to the moral implications of behavior, our own behavior especially.
When American baby boomers were first attracted to Buddhist practice, many accepted the traditional Buddhist precepts but did not give them much further thought. Yet Buddhism has always identified moral conduct as one of the three foundations of spiritual training, as indispensable as meditation and insight.
Historically the five cardinal precepts—guidelines to leading mindful lives on the path to awakening—have been presented as prohibitions not to:
- engage in sex improperly
- misuse intoxicants
Today the precepts are often presented as aspirations. Thich Nhat Hanh calls these precepts "mindfulness trainings" and restates them in positive terms. The above list becomes reverence for life, generosity, sexual responsibility, deep listening and loving speech, and diet for a mindful society.
There are many ways to work with the five precepts as mindfulness trainings.