illustration (attribution, if any possible, is at the end of the article)
The core skill of meditation is
The core skill of meditation is remembering what's important (not letting mere lusts and aversions along the way dictate one's life, by unhelpful distractions highjacking our wiser choices).
If we see "the core skill of meditation" this way, then we see how an ethical life supports, and complements, a meditative practice: presented thus, "the core skill of meditation" also is "the core skill of ethical living!"
Ethics is not in merely showing up. It is necessary —since the silence of good men is all it takes for evil to triumph— but criminals "show up" too… so, clearly, it is necessary but not enough!
Ethics is not in getting it right the first time either (falling into complacency or depression if it didn't work out?). Reality will regularly fall short of expectations, no matter how virtuous one's intentions were (gplus.wallez.name/PHZNG4GzDrM)!
Ethical living is in trying, in creatively engaging, again and again refocusing on what matters most, not counting the adjustments needed along the way, not counting the setbacks… while aiming for what is most constructive: a solution as beneficial for all as possible ;-)
If we see "the core skill of meditation" this way, then we might also see how the precepts (i.e. a particular form of training towards ethical living) relate to meditative practice (gplus.wallez.name/j3NCnYkQVPW).
This is intended as an 'echo' to Bodhipaksa's recent auto-quote (plus.google.com/+Wildmind/posts/f6ADtcKRUsu). While I agree with his statement, my own instructions usually insist on "coming back" and I thought the contrast of these instructions might be of interest to some practitioners, but —for the avoidance of doubt— this is not a criticism of Wildmind's courses! It takes ignorant dualism to consider that various approaches automatically 'oppose' each other, when they may perfectly 'complement' each other!
Neither 'again' nor 'afresh' is possible if one doesn't "show up"!