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September 23, 2010


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A certain master of the Precepts School asked Bankei: “Doesn’t you Reverance observe precepts?”
The Master said: “Originally what people call the precepts were all for wicked monks who broke the rules; for the man who abides in the Unborn Buddha Mind, there’s no need for precepts. The precepts were taught to help sentient beings-they weren’t taught to help buddhas! What everyone has from his parents innately in the Unborn Buddha Mind alone, so abide in the Unborn Buddha Mind. When you abide in the Unborn Buddha Mind, your a living Buddha here today, and that living Buddha certainly isn’t going to concoct anything like taking precepts, so there aren’t any precepts for him to take. To concoct anything like taking the precepts is not what’s meant by the Unborn Buddha Mind. When you abide in the Unborn Buddha Mind, there is no way you can violate the precepts. From the standpoint of the Unborn, the precepts too are secondary, peripheral concerns, in the place of the Unborn, there’s really no such thing as precepts…...

Petteri Sulonen

But did he? We know that it's said that the Buddha said that, but it's not possible to be certain that that's true. Nor can we be certain about the context in which he said it, if he said it. Perhaps he did say it, and perhaps he did intend it as an unqualified, categorical statement. If so, perhaps he was mistaken.

Or perhaps he didn't say it, or perhaps he did say it but meant them as general guidelines, or perhaps he intended them as something to be aspired to.

Whatever the case may be, each of us has to figure it out for ourselves. No?


Interesting, Barry. On Tuesday evening, we recited the Five MT's (handy acronym) in the revised version. There's a considerable amount of concern expressed in the TNH sanghas about the new wordings. One of our sangha members summarized it as "more is not less." There were also concerns that in, in trying to keep the Trainings relevant to 21st c. sensibilities and challenges, the authors/editors (and who the hell knows who they were) went overboard on many issues, ironically creating a document that is more judgemental and proscriptive than is intended by the concepts of "Mindfulness Trainings." We voted to go back to the old version, which you have in this post. Less is best - in verbiage and practice. :-)


In the Shobogenzo, referring to the Universal Precept of the Seven Buddhas, Dogen says "At the beginning, the sound of it is 'Do not commit wrongs.' If it does not sound like 'Do not commit wrongs,' it is not the Buddha's right Dharma." But even this simple precept becomes complex when we try to define what "wrong" is. My sense is that "wrong" is 'sensed' moment-by-moment intuitively, and is very specific to circumstances. Intuitive 'sensing' only works for Buudhas and those with a deeply rooted practice though... But more precepts only give an illusion of following 'do not commit wrongs.' To me, breaking precepts seems unavoidable.. In any moment of living, we are making a choice about which precept to give priority to. By allowing myself to exist I am taking life, for example. Its all a matter of our definitions and choices.


i.e., we need to "keep on our toes", I think, to keep our practice, and our ability to remain open and 'sense' what 'wrong' is, as good as it can be. It's likely never perfect, but we have to try.


"Not to do evil, to cultivate the good, and to purify the mind. This is the teaching of all the Buddhas."

- Dhammapada verse 183


I think keeping the precepts, like your post, is a work in progress. And we never have to hit "save", we can always change what we're doing.

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