28 Feb Explanation of the Title: Prajna Paramita Heart Sutra, Part 98
The Perfection of Compliance with Moral Precepts
Continuing the explanation of the Six Paramitas last time we explained the first one, the Perfection of Generosity (Dana- Paramita) as the (practice of giving). In fact, the most essential key to the practice of giving is to throw away all afflictions, the other way to the practice of giving is to do it in accordance with your circumstances and ability. Today we continue with the Perfection of compliance with Moral Precept (Sila-Paramita).
It is an interesting matter to talk about the compliance with moral precept. In this modern era, neither the academic programs explain moral precepts or through Sutra explaining, It is rarely discussed. For instance, only the experienced practitioners are here today as we explain the moral precepts and none of the new attendees are here.
Is this extremely strange? This is the chain of cause and effect. It shows that moral precepts no longer exist in our modern society.
Master Hong-Yi devoted his lifetime to advance and enrich the moral-precepts and previously mentioned that he followed Great Master Ou-yi (弘一大師)in a statement:
He said: “There are no more Bhiksu (Buddhist monks) after the Southern Song dynasty”.
“There are no more Bhiksu” means that there are no more Bhiksu who comply with the 250 precepts of Bhiksu. They have all vanished. Why have they vanished? There is no one who has attained the 4th stages of Arhat. No one has even attained the 1st stage of Saintship of Srotapanna; there is none.
To initiate the novice (Buddhist monkhood), it requires that one has already confirmed enlightenment to the Buddha truth to initiate the novice (monkhood or nun-hood). After the initiation ceremony, then you can obtain these precepts. The term “obtaining” means one has attained the “essence of precepts (after one accepts the precepts and will have continuous effect psychologically to prevent one from doing things that violate the precepts)” would pass it on to a person who has received the precepts. Nowadays, it is hard to obtain the “essence of precept” because no one has attained the Buddha truth. Those manifestations of Buddha or Bodhisattva do not count. Nowadays there is already not a common person who cultivates oneself in right practice to attain the Buddha truth.
“Precepts” as the name implies, is a kind of phenomena that guards against incorrectness and prohibits evil. There are many kinds of precepts from the shallow level of the “Five Precepts, the Ten Wholesomeness”, and there are also more which we have frequently mentioned such as the “Precepts for Bodhisattva (about the Brahmajala Sutra), Precepts for Buddhist Monks, Precepts for Buddhist Nuns, Precepts for Lay Buddhists, Precepts for Upasaka, and Precepts for Upasika”, and many kinds of moral precepts.
Today’s society when we talk about precepts, whether monks or nuns, or lay practitioners, or non-religious believers, with regards to precepts they all have the feeling of distance, and some even feel rejection. Why? It is the concept of our modern people that constantly considers the precepts as the standard for religious confines, article of the law, or as a form of enforcement. This kind of situation has of course occurred in ancient times; however, it was not that common. In general, ancient people all had the concept of self-discipline, especially the concept of traditional morality. But this kind of concept rarely exists in our modern society and it has gradually faded away.
If you only talk from the perspective of a Buddhist monk or nun:
Can one obtain the essence of the precept at the “Three Precept Platforms for Receiving the Complete Precepts”?
Can they correctly pass on the knowledge of the “Three Refuges, namely the Buddha, Dharma (Buddha teaching) and Sangha” and “Five Precepts – against killing, stealing, excessive lust, lying and intoxicating of liquors”?
This is very difficult to achieve because we need to speak about the reality phenomena and not just talk about it superficially.
Today we converse about the moral precepts, it is also very important.
What is the phenomenon of the moral precepts itself? The “moral precept” itself is inherently possessed within the luminous self-nature referred to as:
One who can follow the wish of one’s mind without crossing over the established standard (e.g., well-behaved).
The established standard is the “moral precept”, the specification phenomena of our inherent self-nature knows what we can do and what we cannot do. What ends abstinence? Which precepts for faults require special restraint? How to strictly comply with the precepts? What offends or breaks the precepts? Our luminous self-nature knows it all. But now after having the unenlightened condition, we degenerate continuously and decline to now, even not realizing and not knowing the moral precept.
Explaining this superficially, the “moral precepts” are precisely the conscience. As we often say, “A person would know he did something wrong through his conscience.” When his conscience discovers that things are not right, this is the moral precept. The “moral precept” is not a standard set by someone or religious dogma specifications; no, it is not. We must be clear with this concept, otherwise there is no way for us to comply with precepts.
卷(七 ) 持戒波羅蜜
一生弘揚「戒律」，屬弘一大師。弘一大師以前也講過他是依照蕅益大師講的。他說：「南宋以後就沒有比丘。」所謂沒有比丘，就是沒有比丘再得「比丘戒」 – 比丘二百五十戒已經沒有了，消失了。為什麼消失？沒有人證果證到四果 – 阿羅漢。就算初果 – 須陀洹也沒有人證，沒有。