By Jeanine C. Cogan Aware of the suffering caused by the destruction of life, I am committed to cultivating compassion and learning ways to protect the lives of people, animals, plants, and minerals. I am determiend not to kill, not to let others kill, and not to support any act of killing in the world, in my thinking, and in my way of life.
My understanding of the first Mindfulness Training was very literal until recently. It meant do not kill. Period. On one retreat, however, I heard this wonderful man from Australia talk about this training in a new way. "In addition to 'do not kill,'" he said, "this precept means to interact with others in such a way that you do not kill the spirit, inspiration, joy, or confidence in another person. The way you speak to and treat another person can instill joy and happiness, or it can instill fear and insecurity. The latter is a form of killing, because something in that person gets shut down—and contributes to what we might call the 'living dead.'" I was really struck by that interpretation of the first training.
Now, I can no longer check this precept off my list in a confident, "Yup, I got that one down" manner. My practice of this precept has deepened greatly.
Jeanine C. Cogan is a Consultant for Research, Policy & Action in Washington, D.C.