What is meant by an offense due to negligence? Negligence means that you violated the precept out of carelessness; you were not on guard and were not mindful and careful enough. You did not commit a major offense, but you still need to repent. However, if you had the intention to violate the precept at the time, then your offense is a major one. Therefore, the difference between a major and minor offense lies right here.
Failure to repent and reform will lead to a fall, caused by such an impure behavior. If you have no wish to repent, you will fall into the three evil paths. Impure behavior means one is not pure, having outflows of evil karma. If we are not repentant, we will fall into lower realms and undergo all kinds of evil retribution. This is the tenth precept against drinking water that contains bugs.
The eighteenth minor precept: The Precept Against Failure to Look for Pure Water to Irrigate the Crops when Engaged in Agricultural Work
“If an Upasaka/Upasika who has received and should be upholding this Precept needs to engage in agricultural work as a means to earn a livelihood, but fails to look for pure water to irrigate the crops, he/she thereby commits an offense through negligence. Failure to repent and reform will lead to a fall, caused by such impure behavior.”
We have just finished speaking of drinking water. Now we will talk about irrigating crops. When Buddha was young, he saw that when the land was tilled by oxen and the soil was flipped over, small birds would eat the earthworms and big birds would eat the small birds. The Buddha witnessed this and reflected on the pitiable state of living beings mutually devouring each other and transmigrating in this world full of suffering.
An Upasaka or Upasika who "needs to engage in agricultural work" refers to a person who performs this work as a means to earn a livelihood. Such a person needs to minimize the chance of harming or killing living beings. Take, for instance, the planting of fruit trees or vegetables. When we water the plants, we need to be certain that the water does not contain any bugs. Water that contains bugs is not pure water. If you sprinkle that water on the ground, the bugs are taken out of their natural environment. Without water, they will dry up and die. Therefore, we need to be compassionate and pay attention to this point. Even though we have no intention of killing, we still need to guard against violating this precept and not create the any cause for the retribution of taking life.
It is said that Bodhisattvas fear causes, but living beings fear results; even though we have no intent to kill, there is still a retribution.
The Eleventh Minor Precept: The Precept against Traveling Alone through Dangerous Places
"If an Upasaka/Upasika who has received and should be upholding this Precept travels without a companion through dangerous places, he/she thereby commits an offense through negligence. Failure to repent and reform will lead to a fall, caused by such impure behavior."
In our earlier discussion, we talked about the precept of not killing other living beings. However, we should also protect ourselves from being harmed or killed. Thus, this precept is specifically intended to protect ourselves. If we do not care for our lives, it is essentially not respecting our parents. There is a saying, "Our body, hair and skin are given by our parents; we should never harm them in any way." We should not just think of ourselves, but also consider those who care for us. Nevertheless, there are exceptions in certain circumstances. The exceptions apply if we practice the Bodhisattva Mahasattvas' practice of saving beings and enduring innumerable difficulties while traveling alone through dangerous places.
'Dangerous places' in this context includes "places that are inherently dangerous" - for instance, we should try to avoid places inhabited by poisonous snakes, mountains prone to serious landslides, or places where infectious diseases are present. Another context to avoid is "places with manmade dangers" - for example, places where war is going on. There are also "places that are dangerous to pure conduct." Cultivators of pure conduct should pay attention to this. They should avoid places that are impure. If you go to those places, you can easily be caught up in love and emotion, and it is easy to get into trouble when love turns into hatred. We should know however much love there is, there will be just as much hatred and it can cause a lot of trouble.
To be continued
The series "Lectures on Tao Yuanming's Poems" was temporarily discontinued for this issue.