MASTER SHEN-LONG | Explanation of the Title: Prajna Paramita Heart Sutra, Part 100
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Explanation of the Title: Prajna Paramita Heart Sutra, Part 100

(Last week we ended with, “Regarding the “Bodhisattva Precepts”, many lay practitioners had vowed to follow in the past. Has anyone truly obtained “the embodiment of the Bodhisattva precepts in one’s mind”? Without a doubt, there is none.”)

To vow and follow the “Bodhisattva Precepts” genuinely, honestly speaking, one must go through several phases:

  1. The “Three Refuges” and “Five Precepts”, observing it wholly complete.
  2. Observe the “Ten wholesomeness” wholly complete.
  3. Observe the Eight Prohibitory or Fasting Precepts* gradually.
  4. Accept the Precepts of the Lay Practitioner as an Upasaka (laymen) or Upasika (laywomen).

* The Eight Prohibitory or Fasting Precepts – 1. Refrain from causing harm and taking life (both human and non-human), 2. Refrain from taking what is not given, 3. Refrain from sexual activity, 4. Refrain from false statements, 5. Refrain from using intoxicating drinks and drugs that lead to carelessness, 6. Refrain from eating at the wrong time, 7. Refrain from singing, dancing, playing music, attending entertainment performances, wearing perfume and using cosmetics and garlands (decorative accessories), 8. Refrain from luxury places for sitting or sleeping and overindulging in sleep.

Honestly speaking, even though you have observed the “Three Refuges, Five Precepts and the Ten Wholesomeness”, there is one more to observe and it is up to what do you major in? Either you study the Precepts of Hinayana or the Precepts of Mahayana.

Hinayana Precepts judge the action and do not judge the intention.

       Mahayana Precepts judge one’s intention and does not judge the action.

This is very important. If you observe Hinayana precepts, for instance, to determine if one has violated killing action, the Hinayana precepts state that if you did not do it, one has not violated the precepts. Only having the thought arise in the mind, it is not considered as precept violation. The Precepts of Mahayana is different, if you activate the thought to kill, this means that there is precept violation.

  1. To observe wholly complete of Precepts of Laymen (Upasaka) or Laywomen (Upasika).
  2. If you decide to become a monk or nun, you need to observe the 250 Precepts of a monk or 500 Precepts of a nun in perfection. Until then you can observe the Precepts of Bodhisattva.
  3. The Precepts of Bodhisattva can be used by those who leave home and become a monk, nun, or lay practitioners. However, the Precepts for Monks (Bhiksu) or Nuns (Bhiksuni) are not used by lay practitioners; only a monk or nun can observe.

In that case, the Buddhist Moral Discipline (Pratimoska) and Precepts (Vinaya), honestly speaking, the Patriarch lectured that the general lay practitioner is not allowed to read them. In other words, if members of the general public read it, when the moment comes, they will hold it in contempt. They will judge the monks or nuns who have not done things in accordance with this precept or attain that phase. This is no good. The Precepts for Monks like the Four-Division Vinaya are not suitable for the lay practitioner to read. Of course, if you are studying the Buddha teaching or doing research on Buddhism, then to dip into it will be fine. The mind has not purified of defiling illusion to criticize monks or nuns, it is not so good.

You ought to think as we just talked about: “The Three Refuges, Five Precepts, the Bodhisattva Precepts, the Bhiksu (monk) Precepts, the Bhiksuni (nuns) Precepts”,  if we have not eradicated the unenlightened condition and have not ceased our own afflictions, there is no way we can observe them. The fundamental problems are “greediness, aversion and ignorance”; to have “no greediness” is entirely unable to observe. Today, 90% of the monks and nuns have problems to observe the precept of no greediness.

Great Master Ou-Yi (蕅益大師)during the time he was ordained and vowed to follow “the Three Precept Platforms for the Complete Precepts” which includes “the Male Religious Novice Precepts, the Monk Precepts of Hinayana and the Bodhisattva Precepts of Mahayana”, after that he withdrew from the last two levels and only observed “the Male Religious Novice Precepts”. His disciple, Master Cheng-Shi (成時法師)also stated: “I observe the Five Precepts only.” Also, Master Hong-Yi (弘一大師) followed the same way and observed wholly complete the “Five Precepts”.

The Patriarch and the most virtuous are all modest like this; of course, they are not ordinary people. However, they know that conscious beings in the period of degeneration and extinction Buddha teaching will have problems to remember the teaching of Buddha. This is precisely the reason why the Buddha teaching of today has decayed. Why? Moral precept is the fundamental principle; if you do not have a purified mind of defiling illusion, there is no way you can observe the moral precepts.

For example, only ordinary greediness, for instance: When we go out shopping and if there is a big sale of 75% off, then everyone will rush to buy it.

There are very few people who will do inner introspection and ask oneself:

Do I need this?

Do I truly observe the precepts?

Do I understand what the precepts are?

It is very difficult; in reality, it truly is very difficult. All phenomena are derived from “greed”, if one’s greed cannot be satisfied one becomes angry, it is called “aversion”—that is having anger. The anger phenomenon leads you to the Wretched Worlds. One with a superficial level one goes to the “animal world”, one with a bit serious level goes to the “hungry ghost world”, and one with the more serious level goes to the “hell world”.

“Greed” itself, is the figment of one’s imagination.

>>Click here to read the full series of Master Shen-Long expounding on Explanation of the Title: Prajna Paramita Heart Sutra


( ) 持戒波羅蜜

(上星期講到: 「菩薩戒」這事情,很多在家居士都受。有沒有真正得到「菩薩戒」的「戒體」?當然是沒有。)


(一) 「 三皈、五戒」,守圓滿。

(二) 要好好的把「十善業道」,再守圓滿,


(四)再接受居士的戒 – 優婆塞戒、優婆夷戒 – 優婆塞是男居士,優婆夷是女居士,這居士的「戒律」。

說老實話,雖然守   「三皈、五戒、十善業道」,都守,還要守一個,看你學什麼?你是學小乘戒,還是大乘戒。

「小乘戒」是論事不論心,「大乘戒」是論心不論事,這個很重要。如果你能夠守「小乘戒」,譬如舉個例:「小乘」講事情上有沒有犯 – 譬如:殺人,小乘戒律是你沒有做,那不叫犯,心裡起心、動念,不叫犯戒。「大乘戒」不是。「大乘戒」是你心裡動個念,要殺人,這個犯戒。

(五) 優婆塞、優婆夷的戒能守到滿分了,

(六) 如果你出家還要守「比丘戒」- 兩百五十戒,「比丘尼戒」- 五百戒,守圓滿了以後,才能守「菩薩戒」。


那《戒本》、「戒律」,老實說一般在家人,都不可以去看的。這是祖師講過,就是說一般人看了,到時候會有譏嫌。他們去看出家人,說你都沒做到那一條,那一個現象。這不太好。所以一般來講,比丘的「戒律」 – 像《四分律》這些,在家人是不方便去看。當然你如果研究佛法的話,研究佛學,那涉獵可以。一般來講心不清淨,看到出家人批評,不太好。






>>Click here to read the full series of Master Shen-Long expounding on Explanation of the Title: Prajna Paramita Heart Sutra