Great learning and craft,
Well-trained in discipline,
With every utterance well-spoken;
This is the greatest blessing.
Well-trained in discipline – Bhikkhu Bodhi calls this blessing (or preparation) being well-grounded in a code of discipline (vinayo susikkhito).
What does it mean to be well-trained in discipline? In general, it means having considered and decided on wholesome guidelines for living, and trying to live according to those guidelines in a sustained and thoughtful way. The word “vinaya” is used in the Buddha’s teaching for a specific code of discipline for monks and nuns in that tradition. As it applies to laypeople, it usually means the five precepts: harmlessness, generosity, sexual uprightness, truthfulness and avoiding intoxicants. Your own code of discipline may have additional or more specific rules, but the Buddha’s five guidelines for laypeople forms a wholesome basis for pretty much anyone.
Rather than just saying, “Tick. I get that.”, please consider whether you have internalized a moral code, made it your own personal road map for everyday interactions. It’s the difference between having situational ethics and having a steady framework within which to understand your experience. It might be the ten commandments, or a specific set of “do”s and “don’t”s based on your own (sometimes painful) experiences. From my perspective, any moral code that doesn’t include a serious commitment to truthfulness, harmlessness and generosity lacks a solid foundation. Is your ethical framework complete? Do you use it every day, even while just thinking about things?