The precepts are based upon one thing only－unselfishness. If people are selfish, they transgress the precepts; if they are unselfish, they won’t transgress them. By the same token, selfish people break the laws, while unselfish people don’t. Sometimes the law seems to treat certain people unjustly, and those people cannot get a fair trial. That’s because in their past lives they did not treat others fairly, so now they are getting unfair treatment in return.
You should open your eyes, organize your thoughts, and take a look: Selfishness drives people to break the laws. People who don’t abide by the rules are motivated by selfishness. If they weren’t selfish, they would violate neither worldly nor transcendental laws. And so, if you can truly practice the Six Guidelines of the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas－not to contend, not to be greedy, not to seek, not to be selfish, not to pursue personal advantage, and not to lie－then not only will you be a good person in the world, you can also become a sage who transcends the world. The reason the world is in such a mess is that everyone is selfish; people aren’t public-spirited. Some political parties claim that they are working in the public interest, but the things they do are all for their own benefit. That’s why the world is so messed up and people are insecure and afraid. All the fear and insecurity stems from selfishness.
We are currently studying the precepts. Once we understand the precepts, we will know how to be a person. Once we understand the basis for being a person, we will also understand the basis for being a sage. So, the study of the precepts is very important. In order to help this world, first of all we must not contend, not be greedy, not seek, not be selfish, not pursue personal advantage, and not lie. We should set an example with our own conduct and be a model for other people. In that way, the world will become more peaceful day by day. Therefore, we should be especially sincere and respectful when we study the precepts every Friday, so that we can derive benefit.