10. On Storing Deadly Weapons
A disciple of the Buddha should not store weapons such as knives, clubs, bows, arrows, spears, axes or any other weapons, nor may he keep nets, traps or any such devices used in destroying life.(53)
As a disciple of the Buddha, he must not even avenge the death of his parents -- let alone kill sentient beings!(54)
He should not store any weapons or devices that can be used to kill sentient beings. If he deliberately does so, he commits a secondary offense.
The first ten secondary precepts have just been described. Disciples of the Buddha should study and respectfully observe them. They are explained in detail in the six chapters [now lost] following these precepts.
53. Not looking after the sick (Minor precept No. 9) is to fail to save lives, while storing weapons is to create the conditions for actually destroying life. Both go against the Mind of Compassion of a Bodhisattva.
54. A Bodhisattva disciple should not avenge even the death of his parents because this would be killing the parents of a past lifetime to avenge the parents of the current lifetime. Such action goes counter to the spirit of compassion -- the very marrow of Buddhism. Note in this regard the concept of filiality in Note 16.
During the Ch'ing Dynasty in China, in Yang Chou, there was a person named Ch'eng Pai Lin. One day he had a dream in which Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva told him, "Tomorrow the Ch'ing army will arrive. Out of the seventeen people in your household, sixteen will survive. But you cannot escape your fate. Tomorrow Wang Ma Tze will kill you, because in a past life you stabbed him twenty-six times and killed him." Then Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva added, "There is still an expedient method that may work. Prepare a fine feast tomorrow, and when he comes, invite him to eat with you. Afterwards, allow him to kill you. Perhaps that will change things."
The dream was vivid and when Ch'eng Pai Lin awoke the following morning, he went out and bought wine and vegetables, brought them back, and had a feast prepared. Then noontime came, someone knocked at the door. He opened the door and said, "Are you Wang Ma Tze?" "How strange," said the man at the door, "I'm from the north, how did you know my name?" His host invited him in and said, "... You're welcome; I've prepared a feast for you. Won't you join me?" Then he related the dream he'd had the night before. "Last life I killed you with twenty-six stabs of a knife, and so this life you have come to kill me. After we've finished this meal, you can do it." Wang Ma Tze pondered over this and said, "But if you killed me last life, and I kill you this life, won't you kill me again next life? It will just go on and on. No, I won't kill you." Then he took his knife and scratched twenty-six marks on his host's back to represent that the debt had been repaid. Not only did Wang Ma Tze not kill his host, but afterwards they became very good friends. Wang said to his host, "The Ch'ing army is following en masse. They are not reasonable, so the best would be for you and your family to go to Su Chou. It's safe there." So that is what Ch'eng Pai Lin did. This is a case of turning grievance into friendship and reversing the retribution that is due one. From this you can see that it's possible to alter one's fate. (Master Hui Seng)
In Buddhism, the more offenses a person commits and the heavier these offenses are, the more a Bodhisattva should have compassion for him. Buddhism exists because there are people who commit infractions and offenses. Thus, the most revered and most popular Bodhisattvas of the Mahayana always live in places of great turmoil and suffering.
11. On Serving as an Emissary
A disciple of the Buddha shall not, out of personal benefit or evil intentions, act as a country's emissary to foster military confrontation and war causing the slaughter of countless sentient beings. As a disciple of the Buddha, he should not be involved in military affairs, or serve as a courier between armies, much less act as a willing catalyst for war. If he deliberately does so, he commits a secondary offense.(55)
55. A Bodhisattva should not act as a country's emissary for the purpose of spying or fostering war. However, if he were to do so to put an end to war or military confrontation, he would be acting in a spirit of compassion. The key words in this precept are for personal benefit or evil intention.
12. On Unlawful Business Undertakings
A disciple of the Buddha must not deliberately trade in slaves or sell anyone into servitude, nor should he trade in domestic animals, coffins or wood for caskets. He cannot engage in these types of business himself much less encourage others to do so. Otherwise, he commits a secondary offense.(56)
56. To sell human beings and domestic animals is to make one's living off the life of others; to sell coffins and products connected with the disposal of corpses is to make one's living off the death of others. Unconsciously, if not consciously, one is happy to see others die, since one's livelihood is dependent on the number of deaths. The offense can be subtle -- in the rejoicing mind -- or not so subtle, as demonstrated by periodic exposures of questionable practices in the funeral industry. (See US News and World Report, March 23, 1998.) To make one's living off the life and death of others is to lack compassion, the very essence of Mahayana Buddhism. Therefore, all professions or trades connected with the above are forbidden to aspiring Bodhisattvas.
29. On Improper Livelihoods
A disciple of the Buddha should not, for the sake of gain or with evil intentions, engage in the business of prostitution, selling the wiles and charms of men and women. (76) He must also not cook for himself, milling and pounding grain. Neither may he act as a fortune-teller predicting the gender of children, reading dreams and the like. Nor shall he practice sorcery, work as a trainer of falcons or hunting dogs, nor make a living concocting hundreds and thousands of poisons from deadly snakes, insects, or from gold and silver. Such occupations lack mercy, compassion, and filial piety [toward sentient beings]. Therefore, if a Bodhisattva intentionally engages in these occupations, he commits a secondary offense.
76. Prostitution: This is probably an injunction against the ancient Indian custom of temple prostitutes (devadasi).
In general, an improper livelihood is any occupation that is contrary to the spirit of compassion toward sentient beings. Such occupations include not only traditional ones like fisherman and hunter but also working in slaughter houses or ammunition factories. In the sutras, the Buddha even forbade monks and nuns from tilling the soil, planting crops, or pressing seeds to get oil because such actions often result in the killing of small animals and insects. (Laymen, being subject to a lesser standard of morality, are not prohibited from engaging in such activities. Moreover, they may even be given the opportunity to earn merit and virtue through service to the clergy. Monks and nuns, relieved of daily chores, can then concentrate on their main calling -- practicing the Dharma for the benefit of all.)
30. On Handling Business Affairs for the Laity
A disciple of the Buddha must not, with evil intentions, slander the Triple Jewel while pretending to be their close adherent -- preaching the Truth of Emptiness while his actions are in the realm of Existence. Furthermore, he must not handle worldly affairs for the laity, acting as a go-between or matchmaker (77) -- creating the karma of attachment. Moreover, during the six days of fasting each month and the three months of fasting each year, (78) a disciple should strictly observe all precepts, particularly against killing, stealing and the rules against breaking the fast. Otherwise, the disciple commits a secondary offense. (79) A Bodhisattva should respectfully study and observe the ten preceding precepts. They are explained in detail in the Chapter on "Prohibitions".(80)
77. Matchmaking is singled out in this precept because it creates the karma of attachment, the very cause of endless births and rebirths within Samsara. A Bodhisattva, motivated by compassion for the suffering of all sentient beings in the cycle of existence, cannot be a party to the creation of such karma. (See also note 28.)
78. Six days of fasting, three months of fasting. Fasting in this context means not eating after noontime.
In popular Buddhism, the special days and months of fasting are explained as special times when the celestial rulers of this galaxy go on their inspection trips to assess the compliance of human beings with the basic moral tenets. Therefore, people watch themselves during those times and are on their best behavior by abstaining from all offenses! On a deeper level, this is an expedient means of bringing practitioners gradually to a pure style of living all year.
79. This precept deals with offenses from the point of view of timing. From that perspective, killing or stealing at particular times (fasting days) constitutes a minor offense, on top of the major offense.
80. This Chapter was not transmitted outside of India -- see Introduction.
32. On Harming Sentient Beings
A disciple of the Buddha must not sell knives, clubs, bows, arrows, other life-taking devices, nor keep altered scales or measuring devices. He should not abuse his governmental position to confiscate people's possessions, nor should he, with malice at heart, restrain or imprison others or sabotage their success.(82)
In addition, he should not raise cats, dogs, foxes, pigs and other such animals. (83) If he intentionally does such things, he commits a secondary offense.
82. A Bodhisattva should not sell knives. The Bodhisattva precepts are the precepts of the Mind-Nature. Thus, if one were to store knives and clubs to kill and maim, it would be against the spirit of compassion inherent in the Mind-Nature and therefore against the precepts. However, if knives are stored as kitchen utensils, such action does not go against the spirit of compassion, and therefore is not against the precepts.
Confiscation of possessions: As theft, confiscation of property is a major offense. However, in this context, the emphasis is on the abuse of power, which constitutes a secondary offense.
83. A Bodhisattva should not raise cats, dogs. There are several reasons for this. One is compassion: cats eat other sentient beings, while pigs are raised to be eaten themselves and foxes for their skins or for medicinal purposes. Secondly, raising domestic animals gives rise to feelings of attachment, which is precisely what the cultivator seeks to avoid. It also takes time and effort, which would better be devoted to the "great matter of Birth and Death." Yet, there are exceptions to this rule: to give temporary shelter to a starving cat in the middle of winter is clearly the right thing for a Bodhisattva disciple to do.
Note: Under this precept, to keep a dog to watch over one's property is not considered an offense for a lay Bodhisattva.
41. Teaching for the Sake of Profit
If a disciple of the Buddha, when teaching others and developing their faith in the Mahayana, should discover that a particular person wishes to receive the Bodhisattva precepts, he should act as a teaching master and instruct that person to seek out two Masters, a Dharma Master and a Precept Master.
These two Masters should ask the Precept candidate whether he has committed any of the Seven Cardinal Sins in this life. If he has, he cannot receive the precepts. If not, he may receive the precepts.
If he has broken any of the Ten Major Precepts, he should be instructed to repent before the statues of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. He should do so six times a day and recite the Ten Major and Forty-eight Minor Precepts, paying respect with utter sincerity to the Buddhas of the Three Periods of Time. He should continue in this manner until he receives an auspicious response, which could occur after seven days, fourteen days, twenty-one days, or even a year. Examples of auspicious signs include: experiencing the Buddhas rub the crown of one's head, or seeing lights, halos, flowers and other such rare phenomena.
The witnessing of an auspicious sign indicates that the candidate's karma has been dissipated. Otherwise, although he has repented, it was of no avail. He still has not received the precepts. However, the merits accrued will increase his chances of receiving the precepts in a future lifetime.
Unlike the case of a major Bodhisattva precept, if a candidate has violated any of the Forty-eight Secondary Precepts, he can confess his infraction and sincerely repent before Bodhisattva-monks or nuns. After that, his offense will be eradicated.
The officiating Master, however, must fully understand the Mahayana sutras and moral codes, the secondary as well as the major Bodhisattva precepts, what constitutes an offense and what does not, the truth of Primary Meaning, as well as the various Bodhisattva cultivation stages -- the Ten Dwellings, the Ten Practices, the Ten Dedications, the Ten Grounds, and Equal and Wonderful Enlightenment.
He should also know the type and degree of contemplation required for entering and exiting these stages and be familiar with the Ten Limbs of Enlightenment as well as a variety of other contemplations.
If he is not familiar with the above and, out of greed for fame, disciples or offerings, he makes a pretense of understanding the sutras and moral codes, he is deceiving himself as well as others. Hence, if he intentionally acts as Precept Master, transmitting the precepts to others, he commits a secondary offense.