If We Don’t Uphold the Precepts, It Becomes the Dharma-ending Age

After we receive the precepts, if we can accord with the spirit of “stopping evil and guarding against transgressions, doing no evil and practicing all good deeds,” then we are upholding the precepts.


After we receive the precepts, we must uphold them. Precepts help us to do no evil and practice all good deeds. They are a means of stopping evil and guarding against transgressions. If we can accord with the spirit of “stopping evil and guarding against transgressions, doing no evil and practicing all good deeds,” then we are upholding the precepts. In our behavior and thinking, we should do our best to stop evil, do good deeds, and help others. We should guard ourselves from thinking or doing things that do not accord with principle or with the Dharma. That’s the meaning of the precepts. Buddhists who uphold the precepts should pay attention to this and see if you can follow it.  

After you take refuge with the Triple Jewel, you should respect the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sanhga at all times. Since everything is made from the mind, if the mind always respects the Triple Jewel, after a while it will naturally unite with the Triple Jewel and become the Buddha Jewel, the Dharma Jewel, the Sangha Jewel, and the Precepts Jewel. After we take refuge with the Buddha, we should bow respectfully whenever we see a Buddha image. All Buddhist Sutras should be placed respectfully and neatly in a clean place higher than worldly books, not in places such as by the stairs where the traffic is heavy. We should always respect the Buddha, the Dharma, the Sangha, and the precepts and never treat them lightly.  

When we uphold the precepts, we purify our own nature by sweeping out the dismal darkness that was there. When the precepts are not upheld, the dark clouds accumulate layer upon layer. The less we observe the precepts, the more the dark clouds gather. When people fail to uphold the precepts, defiling dark clouds form in their own nature. If you don‘t uphold the precepts, no one gets hurt but yourself--your own nature. Therefore, it’s essential to sternly uphold the precepts. When the precepts are upheld, the Proper Dharma exists. When they aren‘t, it becomes the Dharma-ending Age.  

When we listen to the Buddhadharma, we should not be greedy to hear a lot. The most important thing is to stop evil and guard against transgressions, and to put into practice whatever we know. It is enough if we can "Do no evil and practice all good deeds." When the Buddha was about to enter the Nirvana, the Venerable Ananda asked the Buddha about four matters. One of them was: “The Buddha is our teacher when he is in the world; whom should we take as our teacher after Buddha enters the Nirvana?” At that time, the Buddha solemnly told the left home and lay disciples, "Take the precepts as your teacher." Therefore, when we recite the refuges, we also take refuge with the precepts. That‘s how we take the precepts as our teacher. If you truly want to learn Buddhism, you must take the precepts as your teacher. Precepts are not something you pay lipservice to; you must actually keep and uphold them in your mind.  

If you do not violate the five precepts, your mind will be bright. If someone has violated the precepts, you can tell from the way they talk that they have a ghost inside; they aren‘t able to speak in a frank and righteous manner. They always seem to have a string pulling them from behind. It’s as if a ghost were pulling their tail, making them afraid.  

Though I don't carry a gun, bullets, or any other weapons, for some reason that I can‘t figure out, wherever I go, certain types of people who are kind of suspicious and shifty are always scared of me. Some are so frightened that they don’t even dare to talk to me or look at me. Let me tell you why this is. It’s because they don‘t observe precepts, so it’s as if they‘re living in dark clouds--hiding in the dark--and unable to see light.  

Failure to observe the precepts is a sign of the Dharma-ending Age. If you want to protect the Proper Dharma, you must uphold the precepts. Upholding the precepts means upholding them yourself, not telling others to uphold them. If we don‘t uphold the precepts, our own nature will get hurt. When our nature gets hurt, that means it becomes defiled and dark, like a mirror getting covered with dust so that it can’t reflect a person‘s image anymore. Our own nature is as bright as a mirror. We are originally endowed with the Great Perfect Mirror Wisdom, the Wisdom of Accomplishment, the Wonderful Contemplative Wisdom, and the Wisdom of Equality. Our own nature is limitlessly bright, but because we don’t uphold the precepts, that light cannot manifest. And so our memories become poor, along with everything else. Why are people ignorant? Because they don‘t uphold the precepts. There are some retarded children who, because of not observing precepts in their previous lives, are no smarter than horses and oxen. Though they have human bodies, they lack human intelligence and are deluded as well as foolish.  

For example, today someone came and asked me what stage of Bodhisattvahood he was on. Basically, he doesn‘t even know what a Bodhisattva is, yet he asked such a question. Wouldn’t you say that‘s pathetic? He’s the type of person who didn‘t observe the precepts and consequently became mentally insane.  

The Buddha is one with great wisdom. Who has great wisdom will be just like the Buddha. If one cannot become a Buddha, it’s because one has not upheld the precepts. The Buddha upheld the precepts in every life and never committed the slightest transgression. Therefore, he realized the Buddha body and came to have the Three Bodies, the Four Kinds of Wisdom, the Five Eyes, and the Six Penetrations. If everyone can "do no evil and practice all good deeds," they will be upholding the precepts.

A talk given on September 3, 1986



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