Sunday, 10 November 2013

Keeping the Five Precepts on retreat

Quite honestly, keeping most of the precepts was a piece of cake.

Sexual misconduct?  No problem: the people I was with were wonderful and no doubt if I weren't married I'd have been all over them like the rash that was all over me after the carrying-nettles-wearing-only-a-T-shirt incident, but somehow - somehow - I managed to control myself.

Don't take what is not offered?  This one was dead easy because everything in the Barn was offered to us.  However, I should like to point out that not only did I not take what was not offered, I shared food.  That's right, I put Brunch Bars and biscuits into the communal food supplies.  This had nothing to do with the fact that, deprived of coffee and e-cigarettes, I was munching through them like a woman on a mission to dissolve her teeth and pop her bra hooks.  OK, it totally was because of that, but still.  I shared.  I kept that precept good and proper.

Don't use mind-altering substances?  There were no such substances within a three-mile radius, so that wasn't much of a challenge.

False/harsh speech?  Admittedly, a couple of 'fucks' did escape my mouth, but they were delivered while empathising with a fellow retreatant about the hideousness of unrequited love, so I claim mitigating circumstances on that one.

The one that was really difficult?  Not taking life.  Man, I was a serial slaughterer on retreat!   Not being a gardener, I was unaware of the relentless killing it involves.  And this was an organic farm so it's not like I was using pesticide.  No, I was just merrily putting my spade through centipedes, then apologising profusely and hoping I hadn't deprived a family of its breadwinner.

I am not good at killing.  Never have been.  Seriously, I tear up if I tread on an ant.  The most traumatic incidents occurred while I was preparing freshly-picked salad for lunch. 

I found a tiny slug at the bottom of my colander.  Having successfully manoeuvred him* onto a leaf, I put him out of the window.  Alas!  He tumbled off his leaf, bounced on the windowsill and fell.  If I didn't outright kill him, I at least gave him a terrible headache.  Distraught, I returned to my colander, only to spot a money spider rummaging in the radicchio.  "Come here, foolish arachnid!" I cried, as I attempted to usher him onto a piece of lettuce.  Alas!  He ran into a water droplet and drowned.

In my defence, I did not intend to kill any of these beasties.  All the same, I inadvertently assassinated quite a lot of critters over the course of the week.

In conclusion, then, other than being a massive death machine, my behaviour on retreat was exemplary.

*Slugs are hermaphrodites, but referring to the slug as "it" feels disrespectful.  Why yes, I do have a tendency to anthropomorphise.  Does it show?

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