Traditionally, the process of polishing beryl, a much-prized gem, consisted of three steps: first, the stone was immersed in saltwater and scoured with coarse cloth; then it was immersed in vinegar and scrubbed with woollen rags; and finally it was buffed with plain water and fine tissues. In the same way, our afflicted emotions and wrong views are removed gradually.
First, we abandon gross wrongdoing (killing, stealing, lying, sexual misconduct, intoxication), which impede peace and clarity.
The second step is the practice of virtue (generosity, morality, patience, effort, concentration, wisdom), which allows natural perfection to be glimpsed and affirmed.
Finally, the most subtle obstructions are removed through stable calm abiding and profound insight.
This is the essential formulation of the Buddha’s teaching:
Abandon wrongdoing. Practice virtue. Purify the mind.