The Buddha encouraged householders to dedicate certain days, known as Uposatha days, to deepening commitment to dharma practice. Uposatha days occur four times each month, roughly a week apart, in conjunction with the lunar calendar (full moon, half moon, etc.). On Uposatha days householders practice meditation, listen to the dharma and observe the eight precepts.
The eight precepts include guidelines for ethical conduct and for practicing renunciation.
The eight precepts:
1-To refrain from taking the life of any living creature.
2-To refrain from stealing.
3-To refrain from sexual activity.
4-To refrain from harmful speech.
5-To refrain from consuming intoxicants that cause heedlessness.
6-To refrain from eating outside the time (12pm).
7-To refrain from dancing, singing, music, going to see entertainments, wearing garlands, using perfumes, and beautifying the body with cosmetics.
8-To refrain from lying on a high or luxurious sleeping place.
In Downtown Meditation Community many students observe the eight precepts on Uposatha days. It’s very important that on Uposatha days students practice together. Practicing renunciation can be difficult. We may experience resistance. But if we share the practice with each other, support each other, it’s not quite as difficult.
The fact is, it’s nearly impossible to maintain a strong dharma practice without support. It’s especially difficult to practice renunciation without the support of teachers and dharma friends. Most students find that when they observe the eight precepts together, they’re more able to stay with the practice. They’re more able to practice skillfully, with an open heart. They find, in fact, that it’s joyful when they do it with others. It’s joyful to go through it together.
(from The Skill of Living)
Read the section on “Uposatha” from The Skill of Living.
Read a talk by Ajaan Lee.