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?