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Lay Bodhisattva Precepts

(Excerpted from ''True Buddha School to Transmit and Bestow Lay Bodhisattva Precepts'' in Grandmaster's Book 64, A Glimpse of Buddha Light)
  1. Living Buddha Lian-sheng explains the Lay Bodhisattva Precepts as follows:

    Major Precepts:
    1. Refrain from killing.
    2. Refrain from stealing.
    3. Refrain from engaging in false speech or gossip.
    4. Refrain from adultery.
    5. Refrain from intoxicants.
    6. Refrain from speech which concerns faults of the Fourfold Assembly
    Lesser Precepts:
    1. Making offerings to one's parents and teachers.
    2. Not indulging in pleasures and alcoholic intoxication.
    3. Attending those who are sick.
    4. Giving to beggars.
    5. Welcoming and giving respect to elders and members of the ordained sangha.
    6. Refraining from pride and complacency when witnessing other practitioners breaking the vows.
    7. Maintaining a vegetarian diet on the six vegetarian days of each month.
    8. Adhering to Buddhist teachings and precepts.
    9. Not using the possessions of a monk or nun.
    10. Not drinking water with insects or worms in it.
    11. Not walking alone in dangerous places.
    12. Not residing alone in a nunnery.
    13. Not physically abusing others over monetary matters.
    14. Not giving leftover food to members of the Fourfold Assembly.
    15. Not keeping cats or civets as domestic animals.
    16. Feeding domestic animals clean food.
    17. Offering robes, a bowl, and a staff to acquaintances who enter the sangha.
    18. Keeping irrigation systems clean.
    19. Being honest in business dealings.
    20. Not engaging in sexual activity at improper times and places.
    21. Not cheating on any taxes.
    22. Not breaking the laws of one's country.
    23. Not first offering any fresh food to the Triple Jewels.
    24. Not giving one's own teaching while a monk is preaching.
    25. Walking in the correct order when accompanying the members of Five Buddhist Groups.
    26. Dividing offerings equally among all monks.
    27. Not raising silkworms.
    28. Not abandoning a sick person by the roadside.
    As I stated in my book True Buddha Dharma Words: One who has committed the seven heinous crimes may not take the Lay Bodhisattva Vows because such a person has significant karmic hindrances. The seven heinous crimes are: spilling the blood of a buddha; patricide; matricide; killing a monk; killing an acharya; creating a schism in the sangha; and killing an arhat.

  2. Grandmaster's Discourse on Bodhisattva Precepts
    The Bodhisattva Precepts are significant and difficult to observe. All Buddhists should observe the five precepts. The five precepts and the sramanera precepts (for ordained novice Buddhist practitioners), together with the Bodhisattva Precepts (the most significant one of the three), constitute the Triple-platform Precepts. The Bodhisattva Precepts are precepts of an extremely high order and if one observes them, it will be very easy for one to become a bodhisattva in the future. Whereas initially receiving these precepts is easy, consistently observing them is quite difficult. Since these precepts can be difficult to observe, what should one do if one breaks them? One must repent. Bodhisattvas are very compassionate and will forgive one if one is genuinely repentant. However, one should not take advantage of their compassion and repeatedly violate precepts. One should not take these precepts lightly thinking that, anyway, bodhisattvas will forgive one. While it is true that bodhisattvas are compassionate and forgiving, one must still be very strict concerning one's behavior. One must keep the precepts in mind at all times and not easily or casually violate them. If one were to break the precepts and repent every time, every single day, not only would one embarrass oneself, bodhisattvas would grow tired of listening to one's daily confessions. It is easy to take the Bodhisattva Precepts but hard to observe them. Still, under any circumstances, one must repent when one makes a mistake. One must state which precept one has broken and recite the Bodhisattva Precepts between three and 21 times before the bodhisattvas. The Bodhisattva Precepts can be taken by any disciple. In the Certificate of Taking Bodhisattva Precepts, it is clearly stated: ''I vow to observe the Bodhisattva Precepts with utmost effort throughout my lifetime.'' In other words, during one's lifetime, one must wholeheartedly abide by the Bodhisattva Precepts and not violate them.

    Karma Acharya Buddha Shakyamuni and Precept Acharya Maitreya Bodhisattva have instructed the Holy Red Crown Vajra Master, Living Buddha Lian-sheng, to guarantee everyone will be reborn in Maha Twin Lotus Ponds. One's body and mind should radiate light. One's upholding the precepts is equivalent to one's guarding the light pearl in one's heart. One's mind will be purified when the light pearl emits light. If the pearl of light is obscured by dust, one must clean it immediately. Therefore, while cleaning one's hands and body, one must also purify one's mind. When one's mind is clean and pure, the pearl of light will shine forth. This inner jewel cannot be found outside oneself. Om Mani Padme Hum.

    Precept of not lying: One has not seen, yet claims to have seen; one has not validated, yet claims to have validated; one has no attainment yet claims to have attainment; one who is not enlightened says: ''I am enlightened.'' One has not attained fruition, but claims ''I am a bodhisattva.''

    Precept against providing alcoholic beverages: Providing alcohol means buying alcohol for other people, as when officials in mainland China say ''I will think it over. I will think it over.'' One then gifts cigarettes and alcohol to them This is what the precept is about.

    Precept against not attending the sick: One who fails to visit and help a fellow disciple or any relative who suffers a painful illness violates this precept. First in the field of blessings and merit is tending the sick. Therefore, if someone is sick, we should put ourselves in the position of that person and go visit them to help alleviate their their stress and worries.

    Precept against failure to obey eight precepts on the designated six days of each month: This precept is slightly more difficult to obey than others. However it is sufficient if one takes only morning meal.

    Precept against ignoring opportunities to hear Dharma teachings: If a reverend is discoursing the Dharma, one should go and listen to the teaching. However, what one should do if one is unsure the dharma to be preached is meaningful and relevant? Or, if the doctrine discoursed by a reverend from a different school is different from our school's, what should one do? If you know the master giving the discourse well, then you should go and listen to his discourse. If the master or reverend is from our school, then one must attend his discourse. One should attend discourses given by reverends from other schools only if one is interested.

    Precept against using the possessions of ordained sangha: If a monk or nun gives you something they own for your use, then you can use it. However, it is not permissible to take something that has not been given to you for your personal use. Also, one should not lie down on or sleep on the bed of a monk or nun.

    Precept against drinking water infested with worms or insects: This is a difficult precept to follow. It used to be that well water was infested with insects, but nowadays tap water is free of insects.

    Precept against keeping cats and civets as pets: The bodhisattva precepts emphasize ''equality of self and others'', meaning that there is equality between humans and animals. It is not permissible for one to give one's leftover food to a dog or a cat. Animals must be fed food that is fresh and clean. Since it is difficult to follow this rule, it's best not to raise them. One must not mistreat animals, and for the sake of keeping a temple clean, it's best not to keep cats, civets or dogs around because they are dirty.

    Precept against giving animals unclean food: Same as above precept.

    Precept against failure to offer robes, a bowl, and a staff to those to be ordained: One should provide a monks three robes, a bowl and a staff to a friend or relative who has become a monk or nun. Failure to make offerings to someone who is entering the ordained sangha is a violation of precepts.

    Engaging in sexual activity at improper times or places: A lay Buddhist must confine sexual activity to his own house and bed. One must not act inappropriately, such as engaging in sex beneath a tree. The wrong time for sex is during daylight hours. One should engage in sex during nighttime hours rather than during daytime.

    Precept against irrigating one's fields with someone else's water: When farming, one must not use someone else's water to irrigate one's fields. Water resources must be clean and flow freely so that the water does not become an environment for mosquitos or wild animals.

    Precept against failing to first offer fresh food to the Three Jewels: One must first offer fresh food to the Three Jewels. The Three Jewels are the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. Prior to eating a meal, one must offer it to the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. It is not a good idea to offer the food when one is already halfway through one's meal and suddenly remembers that one hasn't offered one's food yet, because the food is already contaminated with one's saliva. Prior to eating, one should perform the offering visualization, transform the offering, and recite the offering mantra. Failure to offer fresh food to the Three jewels is a violation of the precepts. Offering food that has already been tasted or leftover food is not permissible. Food which one has bought, kept in the refrigerator and not yet eaten can be offered.

    Failure to attend dharma discourses given by the sangha, but giving Dharma discourses oneself: This is when one does not attend Dharma discourses given by monks or nuns, but gives one's own dharma discourses.

    Precept to walk in front of the Fivefold Assembly: The Fourfold Assembly refers to monks, nuns, novice monks, and novice nuns. The Fivefold Assembly refers to monks (males who have received full ordination), nuns (females who have received full ordination) , female postulant [siksamana] (a female novice trainee, prior to receiving the full ordination), novice monks (monks who have taken the 10 precepts), and novice nuns (females who have taken the 10 precepts). Another definition of the Fivefold Assembly includes elder masters, monks, nuns, novice monks, and novice nuns. When one is near the Fivefold Assembly one must move to the side or a step behind if walking. However, if one is entering a Buddhist shrine, one should walk in front.

    Raising silkworms: Raising silkworms is using silkworm excretions to make silk clothing until the silkworms die. Nowadays, we don't raise silkworms.

    Precept against neglecting to tend to sick persons along the roadside: Taxi drivers often come across sick persons on the roadside, saying ''Too bad! I don't have time!'' However, it is not acceptable for one to neglect or fail to assist a sick person. If one sees a sick person by the side of the road, one must rescue them, help them get to a hospital, call other people to help, and take good care of them. If one sees a person who is seriously ill, is unconcerned about it, and just says ''Forget it!'' as if one never saw them in the first place, that's not acceptable.

    Precept concerning killing of mosquitoes and cockroaches: If one must kill mosquitos or cockroaches, one should first recite the Deliverance Mantra. After reciting the mantra, he may ''smack'' them. After all, it's not easy being a mosquito or a cockroach either. When we kill them we free them of suffering and by planting the seed of Buddhahood in them, we give them a chance at happiness and reincarnation . Prior to killing them, one must recite the Deliverance Mantra, the Manjusri Deliverance Mantra, or any regular Deliverance Mantra to help deliver them prior to killing them.
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