Precepts

A forum for discussion of Buddhist ethics.

Precepts

Postby Will » Mon Jun 17, 2013 10:14 pm

If a mod could move this link below to this new Ethical Conduct forum, then there would be one thread here at least.

viewtopic.php?f=39&t=12994
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Re: Precepts

Postby Will » Tue Jun 18, 2013 2:33 pm

As our future buddha was about to leave the Tushita realm and be born in our world, he taught the devas 108 Dharma doors. Here is how they begin:

• Faith, my friends, is a gateway to the light of Dharma, for with it one’s mind is
unshakable.
• Inspiration is a gateway to the light of the Dharma, for with it the mind is divested
of impurities.
• Supreme joy is a gateway to the light of the Dharma, for with it the body becomes
extremely pliable.
• Contentment is a gateway to the light of the Dharma, for with it the mind becomes
pure.
• Physical restraint is a gateway to the light of the Dharma, for with it the three
physical faults are purified.
• Verbal restraint is a gateway to the light of the Dharma, for with it the four verbal
faults are relinquished.
• Mental restraint is a gateway to the light of the Dharma, for with it covetousness,
malice, and misguided views are abandoned. [F.20.a]
• Recollection of the Buddha is a gateway to the light of the Dharma, for it leads to
the pure perception of the Buddha.
• Recollection of the Dharma is a gateway to the light of the Dharma, for it leads to
the pure teaching of the Dharma.
• Recollection of the Saṅgha is a gateway to the light of the Dharma, for it stops
one from transgressing the rules.
• Recollection of giving is a gateway to the light of the Dharma, for it leads one to
let go of all material things.
• Recollection of discipline is a gateway to the light of the Dharma, for it leads to
the fulfillment of aspirations.
• Recollection of the divine is a gateway to the light of the Dharma, for it leads to a
vast mindset.
• Love is a gateway to the light of the Dharma, for it surpasses all things created by
merit based on material things.
• Compassion is a gateway to the light of the Dharma, for it leads one to take up
nonviolence.
• Joy is a gateway to the light of the Dharma, for it clears away all displeasure.
• Equanimity is a gateway to the light of the Dharma, for it leads to contempt for
desire.


Lalitavistara Sutra, ch. 4
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Re: Precepts

Postby Will » Thu Jun 20, 2013 4:18 pm

A sutra on the Ten Good Karmas:

http://www.sutrasmantras.info/sutra27.html
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Re: Precepts

Postby Will » Sat Jun 22, 2013 2:43 pm

There are many ethical precepts, for Sila is the essential foundation for any Dharma path. Here are the basic precepts as Bhikkhu Bodhi sees them:

http://enlight.lib.ntu.edu.tw/FULLTEXT/ ... n87760.pdf
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Re: on devotion to parents

Postby Will » Sun Jun 23, 2013 7:58 pm

Venerable Master Hua's Talks on Dharma, Vol. 8, pp. 67-73

Should One Practice Filiality?

by the Venerable Master Hsüan Hua

If cultivators can let go of their parents and im­merse themselves in cultivation, they are on the right track. But if one neither cultivates nor is filial to one's parents, one is on the wrong path.

Today, let's investigate the question: should one be filial to one's parents, and why? There are two sides to this ques­tion.

From the viewpoint of world‑transcending Dharma, we shouldn't be filial to our parents. I believe that anyone listening to this is shocked, because this idea is unheard of. You know that one should be filial to one's parents; you have never heard of a view stating that one shouldn't practice filiality. That's why you are surprised. Yet, if we speak according to true principle, this view is correct. But from the worldly point of view, of course we should be filial to our parents. The worldly point of view says that just as a tree has its roots and a stream has its source, we also have our roots and we should pay attention to them. We should always carefully attend to the funeral rites of our parents and to the worship of our ancestors. We should be filial towards our parents, and respectful towards our teachers and elders. All this is a matter of course.

However, according to world‑transcending Dharma, if we cultivate diligently, work hard at learning, and bring forth a great Bodhi mind, this is great filiality, not small filiality. How is that? When you have accomplishment in cultivation, you can rescue your parents from your past seven lives and help them to be reborn in the heavens. It is said, "When one child becomes a Buddha, Ancestors of the past nine lives Ascend to the heavens." This is great filiality.

There are four types of filiality: great, small, distant, and close. Great filiality means repaying the kindness of one's parents, teachers, and elders from all lives. Small filiality is filiality towards one's parents of this present life, making them happy, providing food and shelter for them, and giving them peace of mind. It means respecting one's par­ents and providing for them. Distant filiality refers to re­specting and being filial to the ancient sages and worthy ones, taking them as models and emulating their words and conduct . Close filiality is, in addition to being filial to one's own parents, also being filial to other people's parents. It is to "take care of your own elders and extend the same care to others." This is how we should think and behave.

True world‑transcending Dharma surpasses filiality. That's why I say, "Don't get attached to filiality." If you're at­tached to filiality, you are still caught up in love and emo­tion. You're always thinking of your parents. How can you cultivate this way? Therefore, according to true principle one should not be filial to one's parents. Some of you may understand the principle I'm talking about, and others may not. So we need to investigate further.

At present, people's minds are getting worse day by day, and their behavior is getting daily more wicked. It is said, "People's minds are no longer like the minds of the ancients." People ought to be filial to their parents but they aren't. They think filiality is an outdated idea, and they think raising children is the parents' obligation. So then, if a person doesn't practice filiality, does that mean they are cultivating? Of course not. If a person could truly cultivate, even if he didn't provide for his parents, he would still be considered filial. This is great filial piety, helping one's parents be reborn in the heavens. If a person neither prac­tices filiality nor cultivates, but only creates all kinds of evil karma, then he will definitely fall into the three evil paths. There is no question about it.

You can see present‑day young men and women learning despicable behavior. If it's not killing and arson, then it's robbery and promiscuity. They do every evil thing there is to do, and they call their lack of restraint, "freedom." They think that not being filial to one's parents means one should learn to be bad. This kind of thinking is absolutely wrong. Even though we cannot generalize, many people have this fault.

A cultivator, although he can't be filial to his parents, can save his parents from the sea of suffering and help them to ascend to the heavens. However, some people neither prac­tice filiality nor do they cultivate. They only commit im­moral acts, which ruin families and disrupt society, causing there to be no peace in the nation. Such behavior is a losing business: the more you lose, the less capital you have left, and your future is doomed. People who act this stupidly are inexcusable offenders.

On the other hand, if one is like the cultivator mentioned above and can let go of one's parents and immerse oneself in cultivation, then one is on the right track. But if one neither cultivates nor is filial to one's parents, one is on the wrong path. You should be clear about this. It is said,

"Lust is the worst of all evils. Filiality is the foremost of all virtues."

A talk given on July 29,1983, at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas
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Re: Precepts

Postby Will » Sun Jun 23, 2013 8:14 pm

From Nagarjuna's Letter from a Friend:

10
If a person treats his father and mother with filial respect
And, with utmost sincerity, exhaustively makes offerings to them
This serves as a gateway into reverence for the teachings
And brings about inclusion in the superior clan of the purity heavens.
One’s reputation spreads far and wide
And, when one relinquishes this body, he is born in the heavens.
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Re: Precepts

Postby JKhedrup » Mon Jun 24, 2013 6:52 am

The basis of a practice of morality in Buddhism according to the presentation I am familiar with is through avoiding the ten non-virtues. On the basis of this practice, one then takes further precepts such as monastic, bodhisattva and tantric vows which create even more powerful imprints for virtue within the mindstream.

http://www.rigpawiki.org/index.php?titl ... me_actions

taking life
taking what is not given
sexual misconduct
lying
sowing discord
harsh speech
idle gossip (or worthless chatter)
covetousness
ill will (or wishing harm on others)
wrong views
Effects

Effects Similar to the Cause
The Precious Garland says:
By taking life, we will be short-lived.
Violence will bring us lots of harm.
Through stealing, we will lack possessions.
Through adultery, we will face rivals.
Through speaking falsely, we’ll face slander.
Divisive talk will separate us from our friends.
Harsh speech will mean hearing unpleasant words.
Gossip will cause our speech to lack nobility.
Covetousness will destroy our hopes.
Malice will bring us many fears.
And wrong view will bring inferior beliefs.


An easy way to remember them is by dividing them according to the three doors- 3 of body, 4 of speech and 3 of mind. If one practices the avoidance of the 10 non-virtuous actions then it becomes much easier to receive and maintain additional precepts.

My opinion is that unfortunately ethics does not get enough emphasis especially in the practice of Western Buddhism. I guess that is because restraining from negative actions is not as sexy a prospect as some of the other practices of Buddhism. But in terms of the presentation of the three higher trainings ethics come first, and are the basis for developing concentration and wisdom. If we are not willing to sacrifice some of our bad habits, how can we reasonably expect to make any type of progress in our spiritual development?
In order to ensure my mind never comes under the power of the self-cherishing attitude,
I must obtain control over my own mind.
Therefore, amongst all empowerments, the empowerment that gives me control over my mind is the best,
and I have received the most profound empowerment with this teaching.
-Atisha Dipamkara
brtsal ba'i bkhra drin
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Re: Precepts

Postby dude » Mon Jun 24, 2013 1:53 pm

Buddhism is a practice. 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
To practice meditation and then go around doing whatever one pleases is like praying for peace and then starting a war.
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Re: Precepts

Postby Will » Mon Jun 24, 2013 8:16 pm

JKhedrup: My opinion is that unfortunately ethics does not get enough emphasis especially in the practice of Western Buddhism. I guess that is because restraining from negative actions is not as sexy a prospect as some of the other practices of Buddhism. But in terms of the presentation of the three higher trainings ethics come first, and are the basis for developing concentration and wisdom. If we are not willing to sacrifice some of our bad habits, how can we reasonably expect to make any type of progress in our spiritual development?


Not just an opinion, but a sorry fact, which is why a forum on Dharma ethics may help.

dude, you are also right on the point!
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Re: Precepts

Postby Will » Wed Jun 26, 2013 5:20 pm

Nagarjuna's Letter is a solid source that makes clear the essential need for pure ethics. This is an extract from Berzin's translation; but there are several other versions, with commentaries that are very good. The Padmakara one, in pdf, is online at Scribd.

(4) The Triumphant has proclaimed six (objects)
for continual mindfulness:
The Buddhas, the Dharma, the Sangha,
Generous giving, ethical discipline, and the gods.
Be continually mindful of the mass of good qualities of these.
(5) Always entrust yourself, with body, speech, and mind,
To the ten pathways of constructive karma;
Turn away from intoxicants, and likewise
Delight as well in livelihoods that are constructive.
(6) Having realized that possessions are transient
and lack any essence,
Be generous, in a proper manner, toward
Monks, brahmins, the poor, and your kin;
For the hereafter, there's no better friend besides generosity.
(7) You must entrust yourself to ethical disciplines
that are not compromised,
Not debased, not corrupted, and not transferred.
It's been said that ethical discipline is the foundation
for all good qualities,
As is the earth for everything moving or unmoving.
(8) Generosity, discipline, patience, perseverance, mental stability,
And likewise discriminating awareness
are the immeasurable far-reaching attitudes.
Expand them and make yourself into a Powerful Lord
of the Triumphant
Who has reached the far shore of the ocean of compulsive existence.
(9) Any family in which the father and mother are honored
Will be together with Brahma and together with teachers;
They'll become renowned for honoring them
And afterwards, as well, will attain rebirths of higher status.
(10) When one gives up causing harm, thieving, sexual activity, lying,
Alcohol, and attachment to eating when it's not time,
Delight in high beds and seats,
Songs, dance, and all sorts of jewelry,
(11) And takes on these eight branches that emulate
The ethical discipline of liberated arhats,
(These) one-day precepts will bestow on men and on women
An attractive body of a desire-realm god.
(12) View as enemies stinginess, guile, pretense,
Attachment, lethargy, false pride,
Lust, hatred, and conceit over greatness of caste,
Physique, education, youth, or power.
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Re: Precepts

Postby kirtu » Wed Jun 26, 2013 5:36 pm

Will wrote:
JKhedrup: My opinion is that unfortunately ethics does not get enough emphasis especially in the practice of Western Buddhism....But in terms of the presentation of the three higher trainings ethics come first, and are the basis for developing concentration and wisdom. If we are not willing to sacrifice some of our bad habits, how can we reasonably expect to make any type of progress in our spiritual development?


Not just an opinion, but a sorry fact, which is why a forum on Dharma ethics may help.

dude, you are also right on the point!


Unfortunately so (ethics doesn't get enough attention). But many people are coming from experiences where the only thing available to them was superficial ethics. One can begin meditation training without paying much attention to ethics but them as one progresses they begin taking a closer look at ethics if only to learn how to keep from harming others more they currently are (since most people don't kill others most people are probably not aware that they are harming others through other activities).

However getting started with just a small observation of ethics is permitted when taking refuge vows: one takes at least the vow to not kill beings at least for a day.

Just last night I was reading Shabkar where he gives advice to the village of Ngari Dzong, a place that he had been told was "evil" - so he starts most lines with "Even if you can't practice the best way, at least do them partially, Dzongka folk".

Even if you can't abandon all ten unvirtuous actions,
At least don't slaughter animals for food, Dzongka folk.


although Shabkar is crafty:

Even if you don't know how to meditate on wisdom and emptiness,
At least remain aware of the law of cause and effect, Dzongka folk.


Kirt
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"Only you can make your mind beautiful."
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Re: Precepts

Postby JKhedrup » Fri Jun 28, 2013 9:32 am

Shabkar is an interesting case and one ofmy favourite Tibetan religious figures. This is because he demonstrated that the path of a tantrika and monastic could be followed simultaneously. He rejected not only rigid monastic institutionalism but also the hedonism of some unscrupulous ngakpas who were not so serious about cultivation.

He was a radical free thinker who maintained perfectly his precepts while at the same time practicing an "engaged Buddhism", helping settle violent conflicts on several occasions. In Tibet he was also one of the great promoters of a vegetarian diet. A perfect example as to how the tantric and monastic paths are not necessarily incompatible.
In order to ensure my mind never comes under the power of the self-cherishing attitude,
I must obtain control over my own mind.
Therefore, amongst all empowerments, the empowerment that gives me control over my mind is the best,
and I have received the most profound empowerment with this teaching.
-Atisha Dipamkara
brtsal ba'i bkhra drin
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Re: Precepts

Postby pemachophel » Fri Jun 28, 2013 4:09 pm

I whole-heartedly agree with Khedrup that every Buddhist should be able to recite without hesitation the 10 non-virtuous actions and their opposites. IME, few Western Tibetan Buddhists can do this. To me, it's a bit of a disgrace.

Of course, even more important is putting this teaching into practice 24/7/365.
Pema Chophel པདྨ་ཆོས་འཕེལ
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Re: Precepts

Postby Nilasarasvati » Fri Jun 28, 2013 5:56 pm

Praise Lama Thupten that he drilled these in my head! :woohoo:
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Re: roots of virtue

Postby Will » Mon Jul 01, 2013 4:09 pm

Bhikkhu Bodhi gives us an excellent article on the roots of virtue needed for a happy & successful Dharma practice:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... el259.html
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Re: roots of virtue

Postby Will » Mon Jul 01, 2013 5:30 pm

Will wrote:Bhikkhu Bodhi gives us an excellent article on the roots of virtue needed for a happy & successful Dharma practice:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... el259.html


This how he begins:

The course of spiritual training taught by the Buddha is a double process of self-transformation
and self-transcendence issuing in complete emancipation from suffering. The process of self-transformation
involves the elimination of unwholesome mental dispositions and their
replacement by pure dispositions conducing to the benefit of oneself and others; the process of
self-transcendence focuses on the abandoning of egocentric notions by seeing with direct insight
the essenceless nature of the bodily and mental processes we normally take to be “I” and
“mine.” When this double process is brought to its culmination, suffering is extinguished, for
with the awakening of wisdom the basic root of suffering—craving backed by blinding
ignorance—falls away never to rise again.

Because the unwholesome tendencies and selfish clinging spring from seeds buried deep in
the bottom-most strata of the mind, to eradicate these sources of affliction and nurture the
growth of the liberating vision of reality the Buddha presents his teaching in the form of a
gradual training. Buddhist discipline involves gradual practice and gradual attainment. It does
not burst into completeness at a stroke, but like a tree or any other living organism, it unfolds
organically, as a sequence of stages in which each stage rests upon its predecessor as its
indispensable foundation and gives rise to its successor as its natural consequence. The
principal stages of this gradual training are three: the training in sīla or virtue, the training in
samādhi or concentration, and the training in paññā or wisdom. If we follow through the
comparison of the Buddhist discipline to a tree, faith (saddha) would be the seed, for it is faith
that provides the initial impulse through which the training is taken up, and faith again that
nourishes the training through every phase of its development. Virtue would be the roots, for it
is virtue that gives grounding to our spiritual endeavours just as the roots give grounding to a
tree. Concentration would be the trunk, the symbol of strength, non-vacillation, and stability.
And wisdom would be the branches, which yield the flowers of enlightenment and the fruits of
deliverance.

The vigour of the spiritual life, like the vigour of a tree, depends upon healthy roots. Just as a
tree with weak and shallow roots cannot flourish but will grow up stunted, withered and
barren, so a spiritual life devoid of strong roots will also have a stunted growth incapable of
bearing fruit. To attempt to scale the higher stages of the path it is essential at the outset to
nourish the proper roots of the path; otherwise the result will be frustration, disillusionment,
and perhaps even danger. The roots of the path are the constituents of sīla, the factors of moral
virtue. These are the basis for meditation, the ground for all wisdom and higher achievement.
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Re: Precepts

Postby Will » Tue Jul 02, 2013 6:57 pm

Bodhisattva Precepts for Laypeople is a booklet that outlines the much more extensive precepts for layfolk. It is based on the Upasakasila Sutra. Scribd has an online copy or Rulu has her translation online or BDK has a translation.

Master Hua's group (and other Chinese-based centers) periodically give the vow taking ritual for those who are interested and qualified.

Here is the list of lay precepts; the sutra or the booklet mentioned above will give more details:

http://files.meetup.com/1443816/The%20B ... nglish.pdf
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Re: Precepts

Postby Will » Wed Jul 03, 2013 5:59 pm

Dana or giving is one of the vital virtues that Buddha suggested we practice. Here is how to give food, as a bodhisattva - from the Avatamsaka Sutra, ch. 25:

When he gives supremely fine foods to beings, his mind is pure, he is free of any covetousness, free of any attachment, and free of any sort of miserly regretfulness as he completely fulfills the practice of giving, praying that all beings will succeed in acquiring the food of wisdom and in developing minds that are unimpeded.
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Re: Precepts

Postby Will » Fri Jul 05, 2013 4:09 pm

This seminal work by Asanga, with commentary by Je Tsongkhapa gives an authoritative view of Mahayana ethics. If someone knows of a non-Scribd online source let us all know, for the actual book is $140.

http://www.scribd.com/doc/96904086/Asan ... ong-Kha-Pa
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Re: Precepts

Postby Will » Wed Jul 10, 2013 8:19 pm

Here is how Asanga begins:

What is ethics for the bodhisattvas? It has nine aspects: the essence of ethics, complete ethics, difficult ethics, universal gateway ethics, the ethics of a holy person, ethics as all modes, ethics as distress and wish­ing, ethics as well-being here and there, and purified ethics.

What is the essence of ethics ? Briefly, to possess four qualities constitutes the essence of the ethics of the bodhisattva. What are the four? To correctly receive it from someone else, to have a quite purified intention, to make correction after failure, and to avoid failure by generating respect and remaining mindful of that.
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