The seventh point explains that we should not only refrain from killing, but also protect and liberate beings and resolve to cease creating evil karma and to practice all good karma in the future. What should we do about all the bad karma we created in the past? We should repent. Repentance can mitigate our past evil karma, nurture our compassion, and get rid of anger. This is mentioned later on page 168.
We must counteract anger with compassion, as anger is the greatest enemy of compassion. Why do we kill? Our bad temper drives us to do it. We should understand that the cycle of vengeance never ends. No matter how bad and mean your enemy is, he will die one day even if you don't kill him. The characters in those martial arts stories are really pitiful; they practice kung-fu for ten or twenty years in order to take revenge on their enemies, only to find that their enemies have already died by the time they perfect their kung-fu.
We can see the environmental factors on the right side of the table.
Now let's look at the next table for body and mouth karma. First, we should not use abusive language to scold and punish others. We have already discussed beating others for material gain and raising domestic animals.
The third point concerns abortion. In Buddhism, abortion is considered a violation of the precept against killing. If you have received the precept against killing either in the Five Precepts or the Lay Bodhisattva Precepts, you may not get an abortion yourself, perform abortions, or advise others to get abortions.
Fourth, we should not water plants with water that contains bugs, nor use such water for other purposes. We discussed this earlier.
Fifth, we should encourage others to liberate and protect living beings. All of us should participate more in the ceremony of liberating life in order to nurture our compassion.
The sixth is that out of compassion, we should not eat the flesh of living beings. Recipients of the Bodhisattva Precepts should become lifelong vegetarians. This was pointed out on the registration form when you registered to receive the Lay Bodhisattva Precepts. There are a lot more conditions we have discussed.
Buddhism stresses the aspect of compassion rather than health [as the compulsion for being vegetarian]. Worldly Dharma differs from Buddhism in that it focuses on health. We human beings only see the present state of our physical bodies, but the Buddhadharma looks beyond this life to limitless lives in the future. In essence, the Buddhadharma focuses on compassion as the ultimate virtue.
The seventh is that we need to care for the aging and the sick. We practice the Bodhisattva Precepts in order to be compassionate and benefit living beings, especially the ill and the elderly. They are close to death, and if we do not help them, they will die even sooner. We should take special care of these people.
The ninth is to avoid using pesticide; we can use alternative methods to make pests leave by themselves.
The tenth is to be extra careful when driving or walking and to be constantly mindful of the Buddha. We should be properly mindful in order to benefit self and others.
In terms of environmental factors, we should generally avoid places of violence and commotion, such as arenas for cock-, bull-, and dog-fighting. We should also avoid watching activities such as wrestling and fighting. If we watch videos of those types of activities, sooner or later we will be just like the people on those shows, fighting both on-stage and off.
The second precaution is not to own or trade weapons and not to read books, watch movies or surf web pages of a violent nature. Nowadays movies without violence and obscenity are extremely rare. As this is the Dharma-ending age, evil karma prevails everywhere. Thus, we should avoid the internet. All this violence will be stored in our eighth consciousness if we continue to see it and read it, and as a result, we can become agitated and violent and easily give rise to thoughts of killing. Instead, we should read sutras frequently to develop our compassion. All the sutras are based on compassion and guide us to do good deeds.
Thirdly, we should recite the precepts regularly so as to maintain proper views. The Dharma protecting spirits will accompany us if we recite the precepts. Therefore, it is very good to recite the precepts regularly. Page 178 gives a straightforward description of how to recite the precepts. There are two methods, namely "Formally Reciting them in a Group" and "Reciting by Oneself." With these methods, we can cultivate based upon our faith, understanding, and practice so as to realize the perfect precept substance and be free from error in terms of exceptions, upholding, and transgression of the precepts.
This five-day lecture series is very short. We can only provide some guidance and direction. The rest depends on your own daily cultivation of the precepts.
To be continued