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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






這些形容詞都告訴我們,如杲你不能受持殺戒的話 - -接下來其他的戒也是一樣,我們就會變成又臭又下賤,又骯髒,是惡業結集的優婆塞或優婆夷。




第一個。若犯中下品纏犯重。什麼叫中下品呢?就是你不是故意的,或者是你有點懷疑,並不是有意犯戒。如果不小心把螞蟻踩死了,不但沒有慚愧心,還覺得「不錯嘛!少了好多害蟲。」「不錯嘛!眼不見為淨。」還覺得很好,有功德,那你犯上品纏犯了,意思就等於犯根本罪了- -圖表上第一條重罪。如果你不生慚愧心,還覺得不錯的話,你就等於破戒了,因為你沒有真正愛護眾生,不殺害眾生的心。雖然當時你並沒有有心要犯,但是事後你沒有慚愧心,反而生出來愛樂。這一點我們要瞭解。





What does Upasaka mean? It means a man who draws near to and serves the Triple Jewel. People who have received the precepts should draw near to the Way-place and serve the Triple Jewel. You should not come here and say, "Why doesn't the Triple Jewel provide something good to me?" That would mean that the Triple Jewel is serving you. On the other hand, it should not be that once you have received the Precepts, then you don't draw near to the Triple Jewel. Thus, an Upasaka is one who draws near to and serves the Triple Jewel.

"Such a person cannot attain even the Dharma of the Level of Heat." The Dharma of the Level of Heat refers to the first basic position of the Four Aiding Practices of a Buddhist practioner. "Heat" is the state of the first step in cultivation; it is analogous to warming up the engine when we want to start the car. It is a feeling of light ease when you first start to cultivate; it is a minor state.

Shrotaapana is the first fruition and Anagamin is the third fruition of Arhatship. Why do we speak of the third fruition? Generally speaking, for laypeople, certifying to the third fruition is considered to be the highest stage. In order to certify to the fourth fruition, one needs to leave home and cultivate completely pure conduct. Therefore here the text only mentions the first fruition of Shrotaapana through the third fruition of Anagamin.

Such a person is called a Precept-breaking Upasaka/Upasika. The precept substance that we received will be destroyed like a popped balloon. All the faith and understanding that we gained through cultivation will be destroyed as well. Everybody wants to be fragrant, not smelly However, we don't encourage people to use perfumes, especially when you take the Eight Precepts. We should uphold precepts and become permeated with their fragrance. If we don't uphold precepts, we will lose our inherent precept fragrance and become smelly.

A despicable Upasaka/Upasika. "Despicable" is literally dandala, which refers to mean, violent people who work as butchers. They are the lowest caste in India. A defiled Upasaka/Upasika. "Defilement" refers to anything that defiles our self-nature. An Upasaka/Upasika in bondage. "Bondage" refers to the accumulation of all kinds of evil karma.

These adjectives tell us that if we don't uphold the precept against killing— and the same applies to the other precepts that follow--we will become a smelly, despicable, defiled Upasaka/Upasika who amasses evil karma. This is a simple explanation of the first precept against killing

A short while ago, we discussed how if we don't have the intention to kill, then we are not violating the precept. Sometimes we step on ants or kill cockroaches by accident. If you don't have the intent to kill, you are not breaking the precept. However, it would be wrong to think of them as noxious insects that are meant to be killed, or to you run over someone while driving and think, "He was my enemy! I'm glad I killed him." If instead of feeling remorseful you consider what you did pretty good, you have basically broken the precept.

Page 192 says: "Repentance: The Essential Way to Extinguish Suffering." This method of repentance according to the Bodhisattva Precepts is excerpted from the "Outline for Receiving and Following the Bodhisattva Precepts" compiled by Great Master Hong Yi.

First, "if one repeatedly commits severe breaches of the major precepts... " "Severe breaches" are transgressions done unintentionally or with doubts; they are not committed deliberately However, if you step on ants accidentally and instead of feeling remorseful you think, "Hey, not bad! I've gotten rid of a lot of bothersome bugs," or, "It's okay, I'm not guilty since I didn't see them." If you feel good and consider your act meritorious, your offense will be considered a "most severe breach." That's the same as the basic offense of the first major precept. You break the precept if you feel good instead of remorseful, since you lack the attitude of caring about and not killing living beings. Even though you didn't mean to violate the precept, you break it because you feel happy instead of remorseful afterwards. We should understand this.

Now we will discuss the Tenth Minor Precept: The Precept against Drinking Water that Contains Bugs.

"If an Upasaka/Upasika who has received and should be upholding this precept deliberately drinks water that he/she suspects contains bugs, he/she thereby commits an offense through negligence. Failure to repent and reform will lead to a fall, caused by such impure behavior."

There is a very important point in this precept in the word "suspects". If you have a doubt and cannot be certain if there are bugs, then your offense is considered a minor. But suppose you are certain that there are bugs in the water and you think, "Oh, very good! I should drink it to fortify my body" The previous section said, "It is not permissible to kill even an ant." Since you are aware of the presence of bugs and you drink the water, you have committed a major violation, not a minor one. Therefore, everyone should be clear about the precept mark; the difference between a major and a minor violation lies your state of mind at the time of the violation.

To be continued


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