----------- ---
(please click)


The Venerable Anzan Hoshin Sensei


the Wanderling

Meditation and the wisdom that in Japanese is called: Kai, jo, e. Or in Sanskrit: Sila (precepts), Samadhi (concentration), Prajna (wisdom). Call them what you will, these are the basis and the ground of healthy practice. They are also the Path itself. And the results? Well, they are also kai, jo, and e.

True practice can never even begin without a good foundation. A solid understanding of what it means to practice must be rooted in our actual living experience of what is wholesome and what is unhealthy, what is open or closed. Without this it is impossible to have the integrity and insight that will enable us to practice beyond the limits of convenience and to practice as is necessary in each moment. Beyond our fascination with intriguing whispers and dramatic rumours about Satori, beyond the exotica of subtle mental states and robes and yogic or spiritual self-imagery, beyond our romance with practice, stands practice itself.

Practice itself can sometimes mean pain, loneliness and confusion, but in any case it means honesty: honesty with our bodymind, with the pain and confusion and joy and sanity of beings. This honesty is, even without any talk of enlightenment or the Bodhisattva's path of opening to Openness, so rare, so precious that it, in itself, might justify this path. Yet even so, the Way of Awake Awareness does not stop at this, or anywhere for that matter. As this is so, it is crucial to start right and to stay right.

In traditional Buddhist cultures the mode of progress for anyone—layperson, monk, or nun—began with the precepts as a means to cultivate a simpler, less complex person and living situation. Once some of the coarser, more confusing attitudes and behaviour styles had been tamed somewhat, it was possible for the person to "cultivate samadhi" and equip him or herself with the constancy of stability and insight necessary to penetrate the roots of confusion and, through this, to actually sever the roots with wisdom.

In this culture and time, however, we distrust the idea of precepts. Our distrust might come from several perspectives: we might be reacting against what we feel to be only another form of authoritarianism or conformist dogma (such as commandments, or civil laws, or a father who wouldn't let us borrow the car so that we could go and hang out and drive aimlessly around and around and around). Or we may have intellectual notions about, or even some sense that, Awakened mind, the mind of the Buddhas, is not bound, not prone to mere conformity, being clear Suchness itself. Not quite sure what that might mean, we are nevertheless sure that precepts have absolutely nothing to do with whatever that may be.

We might look at the traditional monastic regulations of the Theravadin or Mukasarvastavadin lineages and recognize that this is another place, another time; that anyone living this way would put those around them to a great deal of trouble just to support their lifestyle. Or we might just not want to be bothered. We may be too comfortable just playing with Zen when it makes us feel good and the rest of the time just playing with whatever else makes us feel good.

Somehow however, the more we practice, the more that we see gaps between our intentions, our actions, and what practice has shown us we really are. If we are honest, we can see that our intelligence, integrity, humour and compassion bleed away through these gaps. That is why these gaps are traditionally known as asrava or "outflows". If we are honest, we can see that when we completely connect with practice, when we just sit, just walk, just eat, just work, just think, just help, just enter into dokusan with our Teacher, then no gaps are possible. The Fukanzazengi by Dogen Zenji says, "The thing is, if there is the slightest gap, sky and earth are ripped apart. If you give rise to even a flicker of like and dislike, you lose your mind in delusion".

"In no I suggesting that practices should not be done, only that there is no practitioner who is the doer behind them. This is true of every activity. ... Just because there is no practitioner (and never has been)) does not mean that practice will not take place. If it is obvious for a particular spiritual practice to occur, then it will."

Suzanne Segal, When Infinities Collide

It also says that the basics of realized-practice are found in the mind which is Before Thinking or hishiryo(See: Shikantaza). What is this mind? One answer is: I don't know. This "don't know" is itself hishiryo. "Don't know" doesn't back away from the issue, shrug its shoulders and give up. "Don't know" is being free of images. It is complete honesty and openness. It is complete penetration into the whole moment itself. It is the mind, Way and activity of the Buddhas and the lineage Ancestors. Being honest with ourselves, we see that we need to live our lives seriously, with interest and humour. Being honest with ourselves, we see that the mind of wholehearted practice is the root of the possibility of living sanely.

To know is not to know,........
Not to know is to know.

The mind of the Buddhas is present now, wearing your eyebrows. This is Buddha Nature. But this is just talk, unless we can prove it for ourselves in our own lives. The Bodhisattva Precepts are the proof.

The mind of the Buddhas is completely beyond outflows because it sees what is flowing and how, and it has no inside or outside. In this mind there is no possibility of deceit or cheating or slander or murder or sexual obsessiveness. This is the root of the Precepts, the kai. It is itself jo, samadhi. It is itself e, wisdom.



Precepts are basically ways to simplify our interactions with thoughts, emotions and situations in order to evoke a mind which can respond cleanly and clearly, free from indulgence in obsessive self-service.

Many different precept forms and lineages have developed at various times in various cultures. In Theravadin countries, there are precepts for bhikkus, for novices, five daily precepts for laypersons and eight precepts for social memorial days or intensive practice sessions. The precepts for Bhikkunis (nuns) have unfortunately long since died out in these countries, although many women practice as nuns while maintaining eight or nine precepts. Tibet, Nepal and Bhutan inherited the Mulasarvastavadin school's precepts from Kashmir. The main difference between these two lineages is found in how some precepts have been broken down into several or combined into one.

These kinds of precepts can all be considered to be what are called Hinayana or Narrow Path precepts, which deal with taming one's actions and relationships. These precepts arose as situations occurred within the monastic and lay community or sangha, purportedly in the time of the Buddha Shakyamuni. The basic precepts of non-killing, non-lying, non-stealing and so forth arose rather naturally. Others dealt mainly with monastic etiquette such as not making obnoxious sounds while eating in order to avoid offending patrons, or not covering up the goodies in your begging bowl so that you can get more goodies. However, these precepts of etiquette are not really our concern here.

Along with these sets of Pratimokka there arose the Bodhisattva Vows or Precepts. These are presented in variant forms in sutras and sastras such as the Bhramajala sutra (Bonmo-kyo). These Mahayana Precepts spread widely throughout India and the Himalayan regions and were carried to China and Korea by early translator-Teachers. From there they made their way to Japan.

In Dogen zenji's time, it was possible for a monk or nun to be trained in either or both of the Hinayana or Mahayana Precepts. As well, there were standards for C'han monasteries (shingi), said to have originated with Baizhang. In any case, ceremonies developed that transmitted the Bodhisattva Precepts to laypersons (jukai) or to monks and nuns (shukke tokudo).



When Dogen zenji translated the Precepts (both literally and culturally) from China to Japan, he did so with attention to the root of the Precepts, to Buddha Nature itself. These Precepts can be said to be beyond the Hinayana and the Mahayana and to be the Precepts of the Buddhayana. Thus the Precepts which are transmitted from Teacher to student in this lineage are not presented in terms of "do not", but as "there is no", such as "there is no killing".

To appreciate this approach, we could look at the first of the Ten Grave Precepts from three perspectives, or scopes of ability:

I. The First Viewpoint:

The first viewpoint is that of an immature practitioner. Immature, in this sense, means that one's ability to realize the Way is limited by a need to cut off certain styles of behaviour and to keep them cut. The aggressiveness and energy of this need limits the practitioner's practice. From the viewpoint of the Narrow Path, there can simply be no killing because it is wrong and this extends to all intentional acts of taking life: Do not kill.

II. The Second Viewpoint:

The second is the Mahayana or medium viewpoint. This viewpoint is a little more spacious, a bit more complete. Spacious does not mean that there is room to get away from the Precept, but rather that it includes more. Having faced that in oneself which would kill, one knows that there is no possibility for such an action to arise because the motivation has been worn through with insight. For such a person, for such a mind, there is no killing; there is only the preserving of life.

III. The Third Viewpoint:

The third viewpoint is that of Buddha Nature itself, of Realization. This does not deny or demean the first two views, but brings them into fullness. No killing, no one to kill, no one to be killed. There is only seamlessness, this Vastness and clarity where all that is arises, dwells and decays. (By the way, I thought I'd mention that this Vastness is not a place. It might be this coming and going themselves. Or maybe not. What do you think?)



Although these Precepts are beyond the Hinayana and Mahayana, they are still known as Bodhisattva Precepts. This is because the Bodhisattva is beyond yanas, standing in the Open Space, displaying his body freely throughout the ten directions and the three times. These Precepts are intimate with the mind of the Bodhisattva whether she is a monk or a layperson.

When I transmit these Precepts to formal students, I usually do so in three stages. The first stage is receiving the Precepts of the Three Jewels, traditionally called "refuge" or homelessness in the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. At this time, it is understood that you will as well keep the Precept of preserving life and that you have recognized that there can be no settling down in the buying-and-selling mind that seeks for goals, wealth, fame and gain. When you take the Precepts of the Three Jewels, you receive a Dharma name that reflects your basic nature and the medium through which your practice can complete itself.

In the second stage, you take up the rest of the Sixteen Precepts and begin to train with them. This is called jukai. Since the Meiji era, many Zen Teachers began to give rakusu to lay students who received jukai. We don't do this simply because we try to avoid too many robes and trinkets for laypersons, monks and priests altogether, and so monks and priests in the Zen Community primarily wear the rakusu, rather than the long and cumbersome wrap-robe form of kesa. Laypeople, laymonks, and postulants for monastic vows will make a simplified kesa called a wagesa as part of their preparation to receive the vows. The wagesa is a simple strip that rests on the back of the neck and falls onto the chest like a collar. This is worn by laypersons at Fusatsu.

The third stage evolves over time as your practice matures, and involves the full transmission of the Lineage of oral Teachings on the nature of the Precepts and, often, a special set of koan to deepen your ability to express the Precepts in your daily life.

In the time between your asking for the Precepts (or being asked to take them), and your receiving them, you might be asked to study certain texts, practice a number of Great Bows, chant the Four Great Vows or the Sange Mon a certain number of times and so on. As well, you are encouraged and required, as always, to ask as many questions as necessary and to encounter your own motives and states of bodymind as fully as possible.

The Precepts are not a status symbol or an achievement. They come in a person's practice at a time which is optimal for that person. Just because someone has only received Refuge, or has not even taken that, means nothing. Bow to that person as someone who has given you a chance to see your pride and expose your self-imagery.


In all there are Sixteen Precepts. These are in three categories as follows:





The Precepts of of the Three Jewels contain the other Thirteen Precepts in essence, and in essence the Three Precepts of the Three Jewels are contained in the First Precept of proclaiming (or admitting) that you are Buddha or "Awake".

Traditionally these Three Precepts are called "taking refuge," but what this really means is that all refuges have been taken away and one vows to stand exposed to experience as it is. In "taking refuge" we find our stability, our resting place, in the fact that there is no point in consoling and indulging ourselves with hope and fear. Taking refuge is a formal commitment by the student to oneself and one's Teacher that one will uncover and unfold and work with what is, rather than be motivated by and disposed towards the three klesas of passion, aggression and stupidity. There is no refuge to be found in gods, money, history, the future, entertainment or bliss-states. Instead, there is a commitment to working free from images, fully recognizing limitations and limitlessness. In this, there is already an awakened quality, a quality of standing free from dreaming and habitualness. This standing free is like a blank space in which anything can happen.

Receiving the Three Jewels, the student is expressing and recognizing his or her own nature as a Buddha, as an Awakened one; recognizing that, in this waking up, there is a freshness, a sense of possibility. If one can see this Nature exactly as it is, then this possibility would be complete in itself and unfold itself in actualizing Buddha Nature as one’s life. But since there is a gap between the possibility and the way that we tend to live our usual moments, there is a need for the Dharma, the teaching and practice which exposes this gap completely to us and allows us to transform it into spaciousness, into further Awakening. In order to be able to expose our little charade of self-image fully, we have to recognize that there are others who have been through this and can guide us, who will practice alongside us, who will feed us, who fight with us, who give birth to us, who bury us, who fill the ten directions. Sangha here means many things: monks, priests, laypersons, Teachers, but also you, me, family, strangers, rocks, trees, buildings, smoke, flesh, blood, bone, thoughts, perceptions, boredom, joy. Sangha means "harmonious community" and in taking Refuge in this we acknowledge the inter-relatedness of what we are (form, basic reactivity, symbolization, habitual patterning, consciousness) and not to create struggle and conflict within ourselves. In taking "refuge", we stand forth as whole beings, as all beings.

The First Precept of proclaiming the Buddha is aligning ourselves with our enlightened Nature and is the root of who we are and what we do. Dharma is the way to work fully with this. Sangha is whom we do it with.

Dogen zenji wrote in the Kyojukaimon: "In the Three Jewels are the three merits. The first is the true source of the Three Jewels; the second is the presence of the Buddha in the past; the third is his presence right now".

Ordinary Mind is the source. The two thousand and six hundred year old lineage of teachers and teachings as listed on the Transmission of the Light that began with Shakyamuni Buddha are the resources on which we draw in order to work on ourselves now. The Sangha is the presence of the Buddha in this spot, right now. He also writes: "The highest truth is called the Buddha-jewel, original purity is called the Dharma-jewel, harmony is the Sangha-jewel." Complete Awakening to Ordinary Mind is what is; all that is, is recognized and teaches what is; harmony is how this is lived.

From Awakened mind, Ordinary Mind, arises whatever action is necessary to the situation, and these are described by the rest of the Precepts. The Ten Grave Precepts are, once more: Wrong action does not arise. There is only the arising of benefit. There is only the benefit of all beings.

Originally, these three were transmitted in Mahayana Buddhism as, "Do not commit wrong action. Do only good. Do good for others." However, in this Lineage, as transmitted to me by Yasuda Joshu Dainen daiosho and from me to you, the dualism of strategy, of acting from the point of view of eliminating one thing and building up another, has been dropped. All that is left is the purity of the Ordinary.

In the mind of a Buddha, wrong action, that is, action that is motivated by self-grasping, simply does not arise. Action that is motivated by separateness, by convenience, by indulgence, is inappropriate to the way things are and harms ourselves and others by its pettiness and cruelty. In training, since we do not have enough experience of and confidence in Buddha Nature, wrong action does indeed arise. We are Buddhas, but we are incompetent, inattentive, sloppy Buddhas. We can, however, be strengthened in our practice by knowing that we do not have to be. We needn't be aggressive, hostile, defensive, grasping, greedy, dull, bored, unwilling. It is not an inescapable fact of human nature to be petty, manipulative, aggressive cowards. We can wake up. Every moment gives rise to a new perception, a new action, a new awareness, a new self. For a fraction of a mind-moment nothing is conditioned yet; anything is possible, everything is workable. As a situation arises and our bodymind meshes with it and within it, we can recognize that moment, that choice, that freedom.

Beyond this is the fact that, no matter how much we like or dislike, or are hurt or maimed by a thought, action or event, our attitudes do not colour the event itself, only our relationship to it. As this is so, no matter how much we stomp or shout or cajole or whine, reality is what it is. In this is sacredness and dignity.

This can extend into territory we might not be comfortable with. Our personal ambitions and dreams and hopes and fears are meaningless, just sounds that don't even find an echo in a universe that extends forever, in all directions. An earthquake that kills ten thousand people is not evil; it is just plates of rock shifting. A bullet is not evil. The universe is simply not conditioned towards our personal convenience. The person who pulls the trigger that kills the mother of three is original purity. But at the same time, we recognize that person as being evil, as being tainted or deranged. There is horror at the memory of Bergen-Belsen and Auschwitz and Hiroshima, of the fact that the molestation of a child is probably occurring somewhere at this moment. Yet even there, there is intrinsic purity. This is how it is. No one said (at least among the enlightened) that purity is necessarily what is pleasant. The fact that everything, every event, is intrinsically pure does not eliminate the fact of our responsibility. We can't just say. "Oh it's all Buddha Nature", and kick the cat. The fact is Buddha Nature, complete freedom from birth and death (Death of the Ego); the opposites of Samsara and Nirvana can both be transcended (Sunyata) right here, now, but without that realization and in fact even more so after a good glimpse of it, the issue at point is meaning, and living in a way that honours this fact.

Some of the above can be clarified or explored further by going to: What the Buddha Said.

There is a famous Koan about a Chinese Ch'an master called Nan Ch'uan (748-834), who cut a cat in two in order to teach his students about grasping. It appears as Case 14 in the Mumonkan, Case 9 in Ts'ung-jung Lu, and Case 63 in The Blue Cliff Record:

Nan Ch'uan Cuts the Cat in Two

Nan Ch'uan saw the monks of the eastern and western halls fighting over a cat. He seized the cat and told the monks: `If any of you say a good word, you can save the cat.' No one answered. So Nan Ch'uan boldly cut the cat in two pieces.

That evening Chao Chou returned and Nan Ch'uan told him about this. Chao Chou removed his sandals and, placing them on his head, walked out.

Nan Ch'uan said: "If you had been there, you could have saved the cat."

Mumon's Comment: Why did Chao Chou put his sandals on his head? If anyone answers this question, he will understand exactly how Nan Ch'uan enforced the edict. If not, he should watch his own head.

Had Chao Chou been there,
He would have enforced the edict oppositely.
Chao Chou snatches the sword
And Nan Ch'uan begs for his life

Lost in the world of the ten-thousand things, Nan Ch'uan tried to save them. Instead they passed from one nonsense to another, taking it all seriously and leaving no way out for the cat. Like playing children, interrupted by the order: "Play"; suddenly they didn't know what to do. But Chao Chou did; he would have saved the cat and them! Lost in their game, they were lost in the world; but Nan Ch'uan was at home in the world and therefore, at home in the game.

Dogen zenji saw this as an immense failure; he saw it as a Teacher with bloody hands standing before embarrassed, horrified, and confused students. He said that Nanzan may have been able to cut the cat into two, but had no realization at all of being able to cut the cat into one. Bringing together body and mind, self and other, time and space, bringing everything back into its original wholeness and bringing all that we are aware of into Awareness itself through cutting away separateness with the sword of insight, the thin blade of this moment, is cutting the cat into one.

At first Kensho, the student sees into Ordinary Mind. So what? If you can't live here, there is no point in standing outside in the flower bed, peering in between the window blinds. It is not a matter of taking some particular moment of practice and setting that up as the entirety of the path. Realization must be embodied and unfolded completely. If you refuse to take responsibility for your body, breath, speech and mind, and unfold each moment as this Original Nature itself, then get the hell out or I'll throw you out. We can't excuse ourselves from true wholehearted practice just because we have a note from our Teacher saying: "Congratulations. Here's Inka Shomei, you're a Sensei." How much more so if we have only had one or two Satoris and have read too much Alan Watts, or D. T. Suzuki out of context, or buji zen ("doesn't matter zen"). See: The Five Varieties of Zen as well as The Five Degrees of Tozan.

Great Faith is abiding in True Nature as the root of practice so that practice acts to expose us to this True Nature always and in every moment. No experiences, no attainments define or limit this Way. Everything is this Way. Great Doubt shows us the outflows in our practice clearly. Great Practice is coming back to just this, again and again.

The Ten Grave Precepts reflect this. "There is no wrong action" is followed not by "nothing matters", but by "There is only the arising of benefit". Acting fully and responsibly from Awakened Mind, from that which sees tracelessness, is the Buddhaway. From such a mind, not only can wrong action not arise, all that is becomes of benefit to all beings.

Having taken your suffering and delusion seriously, opened it to see what's inside it, you work thoroughly with everything that arises as the world in which you live. As this is so, you recognize that this suffering is true for others, that this dignity and clarity are true for others. Thus, the bodhisattva brings forth benefit clearly and with open hands. A thousand eyes and hands are one's whole body. Free from The Three Poisons of desire, hatred, and ignorance, one's action is clear and truly spontaneous—not governed by impulse (which the usual mind likes to believe is spontaneity). "There is only the benefit of all beings". The universe in which the bodhisattva lives is "all beings", he or she is "all beings", rocks and air and nostril hair are "all beings". Kannon's "thousand eyes and hands" are the whole universe itself.

This benefit is not a matter of self-congratulatory goody-two-shoed-ness, or deprecation of another's essential dignity through pity. It is simply a raw and open heart that does what needs to be done. It does not force others to be what it wants— it is only a heart, it doesn't want anything. It does not seduce or console or convert. It is simply a raw and open heart.

Traditionally, there are said to be four ways in which the Bodhisattva manifests dana paramita: material benefit; giving what each needs to promote well-being; giving freedom from fear; giving the Teachings. Actually there is no number or limit to this benefit. There is only the benefit of all beings.

The Ten Grave Precepts elaborate upon the manifestation of Awakened mind.

  1. "There is no killing."

    We've spoken of this precept earlier in terms of Hinayana, Mahayana and Buddhayana. This is how we should view all of the Precepts, but because any discussion of the Precepts can progress endlessly to unfold all of the Teachings, I'll just touch on various aspects of each of the Precepts.
    Bodhidharma: Self-nature is subtle and mysterious. In the realm of the everlasting Dharma, not giving rise to the ideal of killing is called the Precept of Not Killing.
    Dogen Zenji: The Buddha seed grows in accordance with not taking life. Transmit the life of Buddha's wisdom and do not kill.

  2. "There is no stealing."

    The Kyojukaimon says: "The mind and its object are oneness. The gate to Enlightenment stands open". There is nothing that can be held on to, nothing that can be grasped, nothing is lacking. Who is it that sees a lacking, a coveting, something to be taken?
    Bodhidharma: Self-nature is subtle and mysterious. In the realm of the unattainable Dharma, not having thoughts of gaining is called the Precept of Not Stealing.
    Dogen Zenji: The self and things of the world are just as they are. The gate of emancipation is open.

  3. "There is no sexual misconduct."

    For some, this might mean celibacy, particularly for monks of the Northern Mountain Order. In other cases, not. The point is that all is original purity and dignity. In the light of this, how can we seduce or coerce another against their will? How can we sink our awareness into obsessiveness over glands and glamour? Sexual love arises clearly and purely between two persons. It is openness and warmth and communication. How can we choose to defile such an act with pettiness? How can we take something so simple and attach to it images of coersion, dominance and power and submission (and latex and whips and hard-core)?
    Bodhidharma: Self-nature is subtle and mysterious. In the realm of the ungilded Dharma, not creating a veneer of attachment is called the Precept of Not Misusing Sex.
    Dogen Zenji: The Three Wheels are pure and clear. When you have nothing to desire, you follow the way of all Buddhas.


    The TEXT(*) only says that 'one who has gone forth from the worldly life should not indulge in sensuous pleasures'. The question, therefore, arises whether ordinary householders who remain amidst the worldly surroundings could freely pursue sensuous pleasures without any restraint. Since the gratification of sense desires is the pre-occupation of common people, it would be pointless to enjoin them from doing so. But the householder intent on practising the Noble Dharma, should advisedly avoid these pleasures to the extent necessary for the practice. Observance of The Five Precepts requires abstaining from any participation in sexual misconduct. Likewise, possession of worldly goods should not be sought through killing, theft or deceit.

    (Delivered on the 6th Waxing Day of Thadingyut, 1324, B.E)


    In Buddhism this same precept shows up over and over in a variety of "numbered" concepts, sometimes worded bluntly, sometimes with "more easier to meet wording." It is one of The Three Poisons, it is found in The Ten Fetters of Buddhism, and is listed as Number One of The Five Hindrances

    Although the overcoming or eradication of the above precept might possibly be considred in Buddhism of high import in the normal course of one's spiritual life, simply lessening any adverse impact through the understanding of potential consequences would also be of some value. For those on a spiritual quest toward Enlightenment, especially those advancing through The Eight Jhana States, unconditional elimination of the Five Hindrances is a MUST, if Enlightenment is the ultimate goal. According to the rules and guidlines as they have come down to us through the Sutras and the recorded words of the Buddha the above precept is, as stated previously, Number One of the Hindrances.

    Equally as significant if not more so, it is Number One as well of the Patimokka, the list of 227 Rules. It is one of only four, the Parajikas, that if breached incurs total exlclusion from the order. If you think Buddhism takes it lightly take some time to read Parajikas. Buddhism might not be your cup of tea.

  4. "There is no lying."

    What is, is.

    What is it?

    Bodhidharma: Self-nature is subtle and mysterious. In the realm of the inexplicable Dharma, not preaching a single word is called the Precept of Not Lying.
    Dogen Zenji: The Dharma Wheel turns from the beginning. There is neither surplus nor lack. The whole universe is moistened with nectar, and the truth is ready to harvest.

  5. "There is no trafficking in delusion."

    This precept originally referred to avoiding employment in the trading of alcohol and drugs and also to the complete abstention from their use. This can be appropriate and good, but essentially it is a question of who is using whom. Does the bottle drink you dry? Do you breathe out your clarity in a cloud of hashish smoke? Beyond that, we should be aware of the mind being numbed by too much television, reading too long at one stretch, indulging in the thick warmth of daydreams. We should also take this precept to mean that we should not delude ourselves or others in any way; we should not add to the confusion. It is our responsibility. The Kyojukaimon says: "There is nothing to be deluded about. If we realize this we are already Enlightenment".
    Bodhidharma: Self-nature is subtle and mysterious. In the realm of the intrinsically pure Dharma, not giving rise to delusions is called the Precept of Not Giving or Taking Drugs.
    Dogen Zenji: Drugs are not brought in yet. Don't let them invade. That is the great light.

    As straightforward as all of that seems, however, there are some modifications or "exceptions" to the above that show up in the sutras. In the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Chapter IV, verse 1 it is stated that the supernormal perceptual powers of Siddhis CAN be reached through the use of certain herbs, replicating on the short term a mind-strength ability similar to or equal to that of a person versed in Siddhis. (see)

    The first five precepts, above, constitute what are known as THE FIVE SILAS OF BUDDHISM. The FIRST FOUR precepts are included in the Patimokkha and are called The Four Parajikas, that is, the four major rules of conduct. If a MONK breaks even just ONE of the four rules of the Parajikas he is, not just can be, but IS, expelled from the Community for LIFE. The last of the five precepts belonging to The Ten Grave Precepts follow:

  6. "There is no slander."

    This means that one does not say what one does not actually know to be true or does not mean. Do not say anything that will cause needless harm, even if it is true. Do not create divisions between people, but foster harmony. One only affirms the Dharma which is all truths, all beings.
    Bodhidharma: Self-nature is subtle and mysterious. In the realm of the flawless Dharma, nor expounding upon error is called the Precept of Not Speaking of Faults of Others.
    Dogen Zenji: In the Buddha Dharma, there is one path, one Dharma, one realization, one practice. Don't permit fault-finding. Don't permit haphazard talk.

  7. "There is no slander for one's own benefit."

    One does not put oneself above others. Who is who? The Kyojukaimon says: "Every Buddha and every Ancestor realizes that he is the vast sky, the boundless universe. Realizing their true body, nothing is within or without. Realizing their true body, they are nowhere to be found".
    Bodhidharma: Self-nature is subtle and mysterious. In the realm of the equitable Dharma, not dwelling upon I against you is called the Precept of Not Praising Yourself while Abusing Others.
    Dogen Zenji: Buddhas and Ancestral Teachers realize the empty sky and the great earth. When they manifest the noble body, there is neither inside nor outside in emptiness. When they manifest the Dharma body, there is not even a bit of earth on the ground.

  8. "There is no miserliness."

    There is no hesitation in doing what needs to be done, in offering what needs to be offered. "There is only the benefit of all beings".

    Bodhidharma. Self-nature is subtle and mysterious. In the genuine, all-pervading Dharma, not being stingy about a single thing is called the Precept of Not Sparing the Dharma Assets.
    Dogen Zenji: One phrase, one verse--that is the ten thousand things and one hundred grasses; one Dharma, one realization--that is all Buddhas and Ancestral Teachers. Therefore, from the beginning, there has been no stinginess at all.

  9. "There is no anger."

    Bodhidharma: Self-natue is subtle and mysterious. In the realm of the selfless Dharma, not contriving reality for the self is called the Precept of Not Indulging in Anger.
    Dogen Zenji: Not advancing, not retreating, not real, not empty. There is an ocean of bright clouds. There is an ocean of solemn clouds.

  10. "There is no defilement of the Three Jewels."

    Bodhidharma said: "If the thought arises that you and the Buddhas are separate, you have violated that". We do not defile ourselves, we do not defile others. All is stainless, traceless. Trying to grasp either end, the middle falls away. There is only this Way. What is it?

    Bodhidharma: Self-nature is subtle and mysterious. In the realm of the One, nor holding nihilistic concepts of ordinary beings and sages is called the Precept of Not Defaming the Three Treasures.
    Dogen Zenji: The teisho of the actual body is the harbour and the weir. This is the most important thing in the world. Its virtue finds its home in the ocean of essential nature. It is beyond explanation. We just accept it with respect and gratitude.


As we have not entered fully into this whole moment, as we hold back and define ourselves only as students rather than fully accepting our responsibility to live as Buddhas, since we qualify ourselves as this or that, we do not allow ourselves to fully manifest the Ordinary Mind of inherent Radiance. And so we break these Precepts. Inevitably.

We get angry. We become self-indulgent. We become lustful. We engage in strategy when we practice. We get lonely. Even for someone matured in this Way, these things can arise as karma continues to unwind, as deep rooted and long-lived tendencies surface, in order to be purified and released. We cannot say that because our practice advisor appears angry and impatient, because another practitioner gets depressed or drinks too much or was unmindful, because we feel frustrated or lustful, that these people are not true to this Way. As long as these people are honest with themselves about these things, are working as fully as they can with them together with the Teacher, then the Way is fully manifest and fills the ten directions. We need condemn no one, or rationalize their actions as upaya or skilful means. We need only affirm own commitment to work fully with our own worlds.


In terms of daily practice, it is good to take one of the Ten Grave Precepts and emphasize it for a month. Each Precept contains all the other Precepts, but focuses our relationship with all that is in a particular light. So for example, take the Precept on slander. Use it as a screen on which habitual patterns of speech, thought and behaviour can play themselves out. Notice the localization and insincerity that gives rise to slanderous actions and words. Affirm the harmony within each situation. Notice the bodymind and its postural, emotional and conceptual tones as it engages in both slander and harmony. Penetrate the whole moment.



These Bodhisattva Precepts are intimate with the mind of the bodhisattva and display the intimacy of all beings. Receiving the Precepts is an acknowledgement of the complete stainlessness of your Ordinary Mind as fruition and as the means by which this stainlessness is uncovered. Receiving these Precepts completely, practising them fully, you transmit them openly.



Fundamentally, our experience as experienced is not different from the Zen master's. Where
we differ is that we place a fog, a particular kind of conceptual overlay onto that experience
and then make an emotional investment in that overlay, taking it to be "real" in and of itself.




(please click)





IN THE WAY OF ENLIGHTENMENT: The Ten Fetters of Buddhism




(please click)


White Wind Zen Community

© 1999 White Wind Zen Community. All rights reserved.