Wholesome Living via the Five Mindfulness Trainings

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Wholesome Living? Why Bother?

Why bother living wholesomely? I’m sure at one point in my life I would have chuckled at this thought. I want to LIVE life and have fun and “wholesomeness” certainly doesn’t sound fun does it?

Growing up within conservative Christian beliefs, I was brought up with a guidance for living wholesomely under the Christian values I was being taught from my parents, the church we went to, and of course the bible stories I was taught. Like any independent kid I often asked why and challenged concepts, rules, and laws. Why must I do this? Why are these the rules? Why? Why? Why? I continually asked just like a toddler.

My purpose in life is to challenge people to become innovative leaders so that we can change the world together. So as you can see my life is all about challenging things, ideas, and people. In my twenties I started challenging all sorts of things living a life of debauchery (excessive indulgence in sensual pleasures). Was this fun? You bet! Was it healthy? Not so much, at least not longterm.

Over time and after much exploration or digging deep into non-wholesome living, I started realizing that this lifestyle was no longer serving me well and so I started exploring different ideas and concepts. In my late 30s I went back to a church community and realized there was value in exploring wholesome living in a community. I read the bible several times studying these ideas of religious based wholesome living, and there were many things I struggled with. Mostly the hypocrisy I saw out in the world related to Christianity. My close community (friends and family) were pretty solid, but there was a whole outside community that was ultra conservative and that had a righteous tone that really tainted organized religion or Christianity for me. I still practice, but my heart is not in it like it once was. For me the biggest take away from my Christian life and learning was live your life as close as possible to the way Jesus lived his. And so that is what I started doing. I fail often, but it’s a good basis.

This life wasn’t religious per se and I never pushed religion but I did try to inspire others to walk this walk through living a more wholesome lifestyle, because I found honesty, and decency, and trust, and love were powerful ideas. 

To this day, I still learn valuable lessons from my religious community and leaders but I moved on from Christianity alone, serving me. I felt I needed to dig deeper. This lead me to other sources like Taoism and Buddhism. Adding these ideas served me and helped me move closer to a wholesome walk and honestly helped me find more peace, love and respect for the world at large and myself. I found that I could replace a lot of the cravings I had in my early days with a more “wholesome” walk. I am a flawed individual and screw up all the time and I am no better than any other person or being, but this walk currently serves me. Let me share the Buddhist philosophy on ethics and wholesome living via the Five Mindfulness Trainings from the Order of Interbeing inspired by Thich Nhat Hanh. One thing I noticed was my internal activist ideas like… working towards leaving the earth better than I found it, honesty, building community, and justice and equality all aligned with some of these practices. This built on the ideas I already had and added new ones that were more practical for me to live everyday.

The Five Mindfulness Trainings

Thich Nhat Hanh - walking meditation with Plum Village - living the Five Mindfulness Trainings

Here is how Plum Village (the first monastic community founded by Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh) describes the Five Mindfulness Trainings…

The Five Mindfulness Trainings have their root in the Five Precepts offered by the Buddha. They have been expanded and updated so that they represent a way to bring mindfulness into every area of life. Rather than hard and fast rules, they offer as a framework to reflect on our actionsspeech and thinking so we can create more happiness for ourself and for the world around us.

The Five Mindfulness Trainings are one of the most concrete ways to practice mindfulness. They are nonsectarian, and their nature is universal. They are true practices of compassion and understanding. All spiritual traditions have their equivalent to the Five Mindfulness Trainings.

First Mindfulness Training: Reverence For Life

Aware of the suffering caused by the destruction of life, I am committed to cultivating the insight of interbeing and compassion and learning ways to protect the lives of people, animals, plants, and minerals. I am determined not to kill, not to let others kill, and not to support any act of killing in the world, in my thinking, or in my way of life. Seeing that harmful actions arise from anger, fear, greed, and intolerance, which in turn come from dualistic and discriminative thinking, I will cultivate openness, non-discrimination, and non-attachment to views in order to transform violence, fanaticism, and dogmatism in myself and in the world.

Second MINDFULNESS TRAINING: True Happiness

Aware of the suffering caused by exploitation, social injustice, stealing, and oppression, I am committed to practicing generosity in my thinking, speaking, and acting. I am determined not to steal and not to possess anything that should belong to others; and I will share my time, energy, and material resources with those who are in need. I will practice looking deeply to see that the happiness and suffering of others are not separate from my own happiness and suffering; that true happiness is not possible without understanding and compassion; and that running after wealth, fame, power and sensual pleasures can bring much suffering and despair. I am aware that happiness depends on my mental attitude and not on external conditions, and that I can live happily in the present moment simply by remembering that I already have more than enough conditions to be happy. I am committed to practicing Right Livelihood so that I can help reduce the suffering of living beings on Earth and reverse the process of global warming.

Third MINDFULNESS TRAINING: True Love

Aware of the suffering caused by sexual misconduct, I am committed to cultivating responsibility and learning ways to protect the safety and integrity of individuals, couples, families, and society. Knowing that sexual desire is not love, and that sexual activity motivated by craving always harms myself as well as others, I am determined not to engage in sexual relations without true love and a deep, long-term commitment made known to my family and friends. I will do everything in my power to protect children from sexual abuse and to prevent couples and families from being broken by sexual misconduct. Seeing that body and mind are one, I am committed to learning appropriate ways to take care of my sexual energy and cultivating loving kindness, compassion, joy and inclusiveness – which are the four basic elements of true love – for my greater happiness and the greater happiness of others. Practicing true love, we know that we will continue beautifully into the future.

Fourth MINDFULNESS TRAINING: Loving Speech and Deep Listening

Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful speech and the inability to listen to others, I am committed to cultivating loving speech and compassionate listening in order to relieve suffering and to promote reconciliation and peace in myself and among other people, ethnic and religious groups, and nations. Knowing that words can create happiness or suffering, I am committed to speaking truthfully using words that inspire confidence, joy, and hope. When anger is manifesting in me, I am determined not to speak. I will practice mindful breathing and walking in order to recognize and to look deeply into my anger. I know that the roots of anger can be found in my wrong perceptions and lack of understanding of the suffering in myself and in the other person. I will speak and listen in a way that can help myself and the other person to transform suffering and see the way out of difficult situations. I am determined not to spread news that I do not know to be certain and not to utter words that can cause division or discord. I will practice Right Diligence to nourish my capacity for understanding, love, joy, and inclusiveness, and gradually transform anger, violence, and fear that lie deep in my consciousness.

Fifth MINDFULNESS TRAINING: Nourishment and Healing

Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful consumption, I am committed to cultivating good health, both physical and mental, for myself, my family, and my society by practicing mindful eating, drinking, and consuming. I will practice looking deeply into how I consume the Four Kinds of Nutriments, namely edible foods, sense impressions, volition, and consciousness. I am determined not to gamble, or to use alcohol, drugs, or any other products which contain toxins, such as certain websites, electronic games, TV programs, films, magazines, books, and conversations. I will practice coming back to the present moment to be in touch with the refreshing, healing and nourishing elements in me and around me, not letting regrets and sorrow drag me back into the past nor letting anxieties, fear, or craving pull me out of the present moment. I am determined not to try to cover up loneliness, anxiety, or other suffering by losing myself in consumption. I will contemplate interbeing and consume in a way that preserves peace, joy, and well-being in my body and consciousness, and in the collective body and consciousness of my family, my society and the Earth.

The Five Mindfulness Trainings Recited by Plum Village

Plum Village recommends reading and reflecting on these ideas monthly and here is one of their videos reciting these Five Mindfulness Trainings.

Why do I share these trainings?

I share these five mindfulness trainings as I think they are very powerful concepts. I also share them because these are areas I strive to implement in my walk and on my journey. Am I perfect? Of course not! Do I continually work towards living them better and better and reflect on the regularly? Yes.

I also share them because any person religious or not could live these ideas and find guidance to walk a more wholesome walk theirselves.

I also share them as a basis for understanding where I am coming from with much of my work under the Hellagood Life brand. These are some of the foundations I try to live by and inspire others to explore and live by if these ideas resonate with them.

On June 21, 2020 I actually took the Five Mindfulness Trainings virtually. I was a part of the first virtual training done by a Plum Village Sangha (actually by the Sugarplum Sangha). Through this process you also get a Dharma name in the graduation ceremony. My Dharma name is Collaborative Continuation of the Heart. And now I am practicing these concepts as well as possible and regularly reflecting on them.

Here are some photos of the ceremony…

Five Mindfulness Trainings – The First Virtual Zoom Training on June 21, 2020 by The Sugarplum Sangha

Image of Thay for the 5 Mindfulness Virtual Training

If you found any of this interesting, why not try adding some of the ideas to your journey

These ideas are created as a way to end suffering in our lives. We all have or will experience suffering in our lives and often when we do, we let these struggles overflow on to others in our life. If we want to make the world a little better, minimizing how often we harm others by our own suffering is one step to create that perfect world we all want. Do not stress out about perfection or applying all the ideas if some feel to daunting. Apply what works for you as every little idea we practice does ripple out and improve the world.

Thanks for reading and being open to hear my thoughts on ethics and wholesome living. As I said earlier, I am no saint and make mistakes all the time, but I try to live as ethically as possible and I hope you’ll join me on this journey.

If the Five Mindfulness Trainings are a bit much for you right now, maybe practicing gratitude is more in alignment with where you’re at today. Feel free to try my free Grateful Living: 5-Day Gratitude Challenge. It is set up as 5 different email lessons and exercises allowing you to learn and practice gratitude for 5-10 minutes a day via 5 daily emails delivered right to your inbox. Oh and join the private Facebook Group for accountability and further discussions on the gratitude challenge. Just click the image/button below to get started!

Peace, Love, and Respect to you my friends!

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