The Original Teacher Shakyamuni Buddha looking into the sky and seeing the morning star attained enlightenment over 2.500 years ago. After attaining enlightenment Shakyamuni Buddha widely helped sentient beings suffering in delusion. Shakyamuni Buddha explained the Four Noble Truths and the Middle Way, preaching the Dharma for the sake of all people.

At that time, novices of the Buddhist Way came to Shakyamuni Buddha and asked. ‘What precepts should be practiced?"

Shakyamuni Buddha replied, "First, you should associate with good people, with virtuous people. Second, you should listen to the Dharma, listen to the teaching. Third, you should seek enlightenment through practice. Fourth, you should practice virtue." This was the advice of Shakyamuni Buddha to the novices. Shakyamuni Buddha then said, ‘Should you have any doubts concerning your habits of life, you should observe the Buddhist precepts.

Observing the precepts, we guard against doing wrong. The precepts which originated from Shakyamuni Buddha have been transmitted by the Buddhas and Patriarchs, and were introduced into China by Great Master Bodhidharma. The precepts were passed down to the Honourable Sixth Patriarch Hui Neng and continued in Korea, and Japan. and various countries. The precepts have been handed down to us and are still living in the present day.

Before receiving the precepts. normally, incense is offered and prostrations are made. Then the verse of the Three Refuges is recited.

I take refuge in the Buddha
I take refuge in the Dharma
I take refuge in the Sangha.
First, we take refuge in the Buddha, the Honourable Teacher.
Then, we take refuge in the Dharma, free from worldly dust.
Third, we take refuge in the Sangha, the harmonious community.

Following the three refuges, we receive the Three Pure Precepts.

The Three Pure Precepts are:
First, to refrain from all evil.
Second, to do all that is good.
Third, to benefit sentient beings.

After receiving the Three Pure Precepts we then receive the Buddhist precepts. It is taught that DHYANA (Zen or Ch’an) and the precepts are one. DHYANA (meditation) and the precepts are one. They are like two wheels of a cart, both are essential. The Precepts help to keep us from error, and they promote goodwill for others, and benefit oneself. The precepts serve as guidelines for our practice, and as principles for our life, as it is not just any easy or simple matter to exist in this world.

The ten Buddhist precepts are as follows:

  1. Do not kill. Of course we should not kill. In Buddhism it is taught that we should give life to others. And within the Buddhist community it is taught that we should treat other people and things with the same importance as we treat our own eyes.
  2. Do not steal. Of course we should not take what is not ours. Being diligent in our life, and being content with our circumstances, we should not steal.
  3. Do not engage in improper sexual conduct. We should maintain our integrity according to time, place, and our function or position.
  4. Do not lie. We should not deceive other people for selfish reasons.
  5. Do not indulge in intoxication substances. Without indulging in intoxicating substances, we should do our best each and every day. Pitifully, there are people who have not heard of this precept, and indulging in intoxicating substances cause themselves unnecessary hardships on top of the hardships that accompany our existence. And at times causing other people hardship also. It is my sincere wish that this precept will become widely known so that people firmly practicing the Buddhist Way can blossom or flower in life.
  6. Do not speak ill of others. To really live at peace with other people and ourselves, we should not speak ill of others.
  7. Do not be proud of yourself and devalue others. We should be able to see the virtues of other people. We should be able to work together with other people. Each person earnestly fulfilling their function, putting our strengths and abilities together.
  8. Do not Covet. We should not be carried away or turned around by greed. It is important to be content with what one has, and to live within ones means.
  9. Do not give way to anger. A person once asked Shakyamuni Buddha. "What is the sharpest spear?" This person was asking, what hurts other people the most? Shakyamuni Buddha replied. "One word of anger." We have to he careful with our anger. However, anger does arise, and at times it is possible to use our anger. To use our anger positively. When anger does arise, without unnecessarily getting angry at other people, it is possible to use this anger. To use this anger, this emotion or energy as a stimulus to progress in a right direction in life. It is possible to put all this energy into doing our best each and every day so that our life can improve.
  10. Do not defame the Buddha, the Dharma the Sangha. Do not defame the teacher, the teacher, the teaching, and the community of followers. Together, the teacher, the teaching, and the Buddhist community are known as the Three Treasures. The Three Treasures widely benefit people. And it is important that they continue to do so. For this reason we should not defame the Three Treasures.

These are the ten precepts which can help people seeking the Buddhist Way. The precepts serve as a reference in our life, to keep us free from error. Buddhism teaches the Middle Way for the sake of all sentient beings.