From last issue: The Paramita of Giving has ten advantages.
Now let's talk about precepts. Precepts serve to stop evil and guard against errors. To stop evil means to do no evil. To guard against errors is to practice all good deeds. If you can do no evil and practice all good deeds, you are truly holding the precepts. Suppose you cannot do no evil, and you say: "My little faults aren't that important. They're just minor mistakes, anyway. They probably won't hurt my cultivation." You should know that a hair is very fine, but if a lot of them are put together, it becomes a thick bunch. You shouldn't think it doesn't matter if you don't correct your small imperfections. The smaller the fault, the more important it is to change it.
"Does that mean the large faults don't need to be changed, and I can just change the small ones?"
If you change your small faults, the big ones will naturally disappear. Your big faults are just an aggregation of small faults. On a mountain, even though a particular dust mote is tiny, that doesn't mean it's not needed. You should know that the mountain is composed of dust motes. Even though dust motes are tiny, they can form a mountain. Our faults work the same way.
"Does practicing good deeds mean I do good deeds only on a large scale and ignore small good deeds?" No. You should proceed from the small to the great, from the near to the distant, from the shallow to the deep. If you do small good deeds, your big good deeds will naturally be accomplished. Doing a lot of small good deeds just amounts to doing good on a large scale. So we say, "Do not think a good deed is small and thereby fail to do it. Do not consider an evil deed to be small and go ahead and do it." You should not consider a good deed to be trivial and fail to do it. Nor should you consider an evil deed to be insignificant and do it. That is the meaning of precepts.
Those who hold the precepts gain ten advantages. If you can do no evil and practice all good deeds, you will derive ten advantages. They are:
1. One will perfect All-Wisdom. You can perfect all of your wisdom. If you keep the precepts well, you can perfect All-Wisdom. This is the first advantage.
2. One will study after the manner of the Buddha. One will study the same things as the Buddha. The Buddha took the precepts as his teacher. Therefore, the "Vajra bright jeweled precepts" are said to be the original source of all the Buddhas. All Buddhas arise from the precepts. Therefore, "to study after the manner of the Buddha" is the second advantage.
3. What is the third advantage? Those with wisdom will not find faults with one. Only stupid, senseless people will speak ill of you and try to ruin you. If you keep the precepts, wise people will never try to ruin you or find fault with you. Wise people will not slander you. Ignorant people will speak recklessly, of course. Even if you are good, they will say you're bad. If you are not good, they will say you are good. Why? Because they have no wisdom. People without wisdom have wrong and right all mixed up. They don't distinguish between black and white. That's how stupid people act. If you keep the precepts, wise people will not speak ill of you. Not only will they refuse to speak ill of you, but they will even praise you! This is the third advantage.
If you want people to praise you, you must not compete to be number one. Don't try to take that position by force. The things you do have to be number one, that is, they have to be good. They have to be the best. Whoever does the best, is naturally number one. If you aren't that good, then even if you are nominally number one, it's false and useless. In the movies, there are kings and queens, but they are just playing a false role. A person may look like a king, but people say, "Oh, that's just a movie king!" He's just a king in the movies, not of much use. Movie queens aren't real, either. How did he turn out to be a king in the movies? How did she get to be a queen in the movies? In former lives they craved empty fame and glory. They liked to have false fame. They didn't do any real work, but just engaged in phony deeds. He thought he would like to be a king, so he became a king in the movies. She fancied being a queen, so she got to be a queen in the movies. But they were just playing a role in a movie, nothing more.
To be continued