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Lectures on the Lay Bodhisattva Precepts at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas
The Precept Against Killing (continued)

A lecture by Bhikshu Heng Lyu Shi in the morning of Thursday, August 31, 2000, during the Lay Bodhisattva Precepts Class
*黃果心英譯 English translation by Upasika Tam Huynh












The fourth retribution is to be constantly afflicted. The fifth retribution is to have many enemies. The sixth retribution is to be prone to anger. Anger makes people lose their appetite and suffer from insomnia. Their hearts are as if on fire, so this is a kind of bad retribution.   

The seventh retribution is to have nightmares. The eighth retribution is to be disturbed by ghosts and spirits. Here is an example of this kind of retribution. The Handbook of Bodhisattva Precepts for Laypeople is taken from the Upasaka Precept Sutra. I will now introduce the causes and conditions of the Upasaka Precept Sutra.  

Dharma Master Dharmakshema of the Northern Liang Dynasty translated this Sutra during the time of Emperor Meng Xun, in addition to other Sutras. Dharma Master Dharmakshema was a native of India. He was well- versed in both the Tripitaka and all worldly dharmas. He was an extremely intelligent person and had a thorough knowledge of literature, the arts, astronomy, even the art of warfare. When he went to the China during the Northern Dynasty, he was very well-received by the emperor at the time who was Emperor Meng Xun. The emperor bowed to Dharma Master Dharmakshema as his Master and gave him support in translating the Sutras. Dharma Master Dharmaskhema was a Great Vehicle Dharma Master, he not only sought for his own understanding but wished to also bring the entirety of the Buddhadharma to China. However, due to the difference in languages between Chinese and Sanskrit, translation was needed.     

When he started to translate the Nirvana Sutra, he discovered that the Sanskrit verson of the Nirvana Sutra that existed in China was not complete, so he decided to go back to India to request the second half and then once again return to China to work with the Chinese Dharma Masters to translate the complete version of the Nirvana Sutra. However, he also knew his own causes and conditions from the past and was aware that he would be killed by the emperor. China was in a state of chaos at that time. All the feudal states had their own governments and soldiers, the state of Northern Liang was one of them. Emperor Meng Xun knew his teacher, Dharma Master Dharmakshema, understood the art of warfare. Since the Master had been in his country for quite some time and knew his army defenses, the Emperor was afraid if the Master were captured and used by other feudal states, all his secrets would be divulged and they could come to attack the emperor.   

Therefore, the emperor made a big show of giving Dharma Master Dharmakshema a lot of precious jewels. However, he sent assassins to kill the Master on his way to India. Dharma Master Dharmakshema knew that this was his retribution, so he calmly accepted it. However, after Emperor Meng Xun killed his Master and took his money, every day the emperor would see a ghost with a sword who tried to kill him. He lived in fright everyday, and died of insanity less than six months later. This was because he lost his proper mindfulness and created killing karma, and so no Dharma protectors or good spirits came to guard him. This is the eighth retribution of being disturbed by ghosts and spirits.   

The ninth retribution is to die in an accident. The tenth retribution is to fall into the three evil paths. On the other hand, if we refrain from killing, we will have a long life. Instead of being sick, one will be healthy.   

With respect to this precept, the one who upheld it the best was one of the Buddha's disciple. He observed the precept against killing so well that neither water nor fire could kill him; this is because in the past he kept this precept perfectly.   

Everyone can see that by not killing and not having these kinds of offenses, you can obtain good retributions such as these. Now we will introduce the first major precept, the precept against killing. We will together recite the precept text. Please put your palms together.  

The First Major Precept: The Precept Against Killing  

"Good man! In accordance with the Upasaka/Upasika Precepts, even for the sake of one's body or life, one should refrain from any form of killing, up to and including killing an ant. If, after having received this Precept, one encourages or verbally instructs others to kill, kills, or commits suicide, one thereupon loses this Upasaka/Upasika Precept.  Such a person cannot even attain the Dharma of the Level of Heat, much less the fruition of Shrotaapanna, up to and including the Fruition of Anagamin.

 "Such a person is called a Precept-breaking Upasaka/Upasika, a despicable Upasaka/Upasika, an outcast, a defiled Upasaka/Upasika, and an Upasaka/Upasika in bondage. This is the First Major Precept."  

The Sutra text very clearly states that you cannot kill even an ant. Then is it acceptable for you to tell others to kill? No. You cannot say, "I have already received the precepts; you go and kill it." "Kills or commits suicide means you personally kill another being, or you commit suicide, neither of which is permissible because you are counted among living beings. If you transgress the killing precept, you lose this Upasaka precept.

To be continued


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