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Thread: Back to the basic Three Pure Precepts

  1. #1

    Back to the basic Three Pure Precepts

    At a recent Jukai ceremony I found this surprising definition of the First Pure Precept:

    First, Ceasing from doing Harm: Abandoning self-centered ideas, entering the realm of NOT KNOWING, RECOGNIZING NO SELF.
    This is Not-harming.
    (Stopping of "self-centered thinking" shown as not doing harm surprised me: how can my indulgence on self-serving concerns and hopes and plans which generally have to do with improving the life of those around me, be of harm to others? Too much self-recognition here? It came to me that perhaps the harm is in not paying more attention to what I really need and want, and already know. Doing harm to myself extends to harming others too. The further I go in practice the less tolerance for laziness I find in me by Me, the less tolerance for roaming. I need to find a destination even if there is no such thing, give in to not knowing.)

    Second is Doing Good: Compassionately encouraging the world and bearing witness to the joy and suffering of all beings.
    This is Doing Good.
    (Keeping up a practice, a path however superficially is better than not giving a thought to the destination.)

    Third is Doing Good for Others: Keep healing and freeing yourself and all beings.
    This is Doing Good for Others (I would add: As a Way of Life.....to the best of one's ability.)
    (Is this the destination?)
    "Know that the practice of zazen is the complete path of buddha-dharma and nothing can be compared to it....it is not the practice of one or two buddhas but all the buddha ancestors practice this way."
    Dogen zenji in Bendowa






  2. #2
    Hi Ed,

    We have been reflecting on these Precepts during our ongoing preparations for Jukai in January ...

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...-PURE-PRECEPTS

    "Recognizing no self, not knowing" as not harming has something of a special meaning. I would say that, when we vow not to harm "sentient beings" that includes vowing not to harm, and to act in beneficial way, toward ourself as one of those "sentient beings". We can fill ourself with greed, anger and ignorance ... abuse our minds and bodies ... make our own lives miserable and ugly.

    But our Bodhisattva Vows direct us to put all the other "sentient beings" ahead of our own self. The traditional image is that the Bodhisattva vows to only become a Buddha after first seeing that every other sentient being in the universe has done so! We must examine our actions and make sure that they are not driven by greed, anger and ignorance toward others ... abusing them, making their lives miserable and ugly.

    Of course, the two are not mutually exclusive (self and other are 'not two', after all). It is much like the doctor or nurse who must also look after their own health and rest so to be able to help others. A sick and bed ridden doctor is of little use to anyone.

    Here "no self" means that the excess desires (greed), resentments and violence (anger), "what's the payoff for me, to heck with everyone else" judgments and selfish thoughts of the "little self" are kept in check.

    At the same time, "no self" has another special meaning in Buddhism (to be the subject of my talks during the upcoming Rohatsu retreat here at Treeleaf). The self, and self/other divide, is something of a dream to us. There is no "me" to break a Precept, no "not me others" to do harm to, no possible harm nor way to break a Precept. Such way of encountering "not knowing" and "no self" is simultaneously True too.

    Yes, you are quite correct in saying, Ed:

    (Keeping up a practice, a path however superficially is better than not giving a thought to the destination.)

    Until we are someday all perfect Buddhas who are beyond all mistake, every step by step on the path is just a chance to keep in a good direction or wander lost into the woods. We do give up thought of "destination", because the real hiking is right underfoot. However, while it is true that being "superficial" is better than not being on the path at all, I would say that we try as best we can not to be "superficial". Some Zen priests over the centuries have said that taking the Bodhisattva Precepts or the Jukai Ceremony was enough, that there is no need to try to live them seriously. I do not agree, and think they need to be lived as best we can.

    The destination is right now, and right now, and right now. Live well.

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 11-11-2013 at 12:56 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  3. #3
    Senior Member Heishu's Avatar
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    Jundo said: Some Zen priests over the centuries have said that taking the Bodhisattva Precepts or the Jukai Ceremony was enough, that there is no need to try to live them seriously. I do not agree, and think they need to be lived as best we can.
    I couldn't agree more with what you have said Jundo. A vow or a promise is not always easy to keep, but I feel that I should not make a vow or a promise if I do not, at minimum, want to do what I have said I would and work at fulfilling my promise. This business of Precept study should not be taken lightly. Not only do I benefit in following the Precepts but those who must live around me benefit as well.

    Gassho,
    Heishu


    “Blessed are the flexible, for they never get bent out of shape." Author Unknown

  4. #4
    Senior Member Oheso's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    The destination is right now, and right now, and right now.
    gassho2.gif

    -Robt
    “The snow is so beautiful, each flake lands in the same place.” - layman P'ang, 8th cen CE

  5. #5
    Jundo, these three basic precepts always seemed simplistic to me . Like the sign at the entrance saying ENTRANCE.
    This past Saturday, however, at a Jukai ceremony, I was struck by the wording of these precepts. This happened after two weeks which were also the culmination of several months of entirely too much thinking and hair-splitting. Reading these Basic Precepts, it suddenly came to me how in my trying to help those around me I was forgetting myself, neglecting my practice which really nourishes the whole family. And how they relish my altar and sitting. The ripples of a constant practice are amazing.

    The First Precept here speaks to the self-centered thinking which is not necessarily greedy, yet doesn't accept the situation as is, imposing its will on the real. This came home to me hard, as the emptiness of the worrier. I saw all my "worries" as nothing more than an attempt at adding substance to a ghost, even as these worthy worries are for people I care about and love. All, basically, more of the same I, me, mine.

    It is so connected: self-centered thinking, no self, not knowing.
    The thought of getting settled in practice, allowing it to carry me along this Precepts map to a destination which is nowhere else but right here and now became clear: stop putting heads on to of your head.

    In gassho,
    Seido.
    "Know that the practice of zazen is the complete path of buddha-dharma and nothing can be compared to it....it is not the practice of one or two buddhas but all the buddha ancestors practice this way."
    Dogen zenji in Bendowa






  6. #6
    Senior Member Clark's Avatar
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    Thank you all

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