Who can observe precepts with the Triple Gem of the North?
Any friend in the “Triple Gem of the North” who practices more than one year can take precepts. Those with less than one year of practice must have the approval of their Dhamma teacher. Please talk with Bhante Sathi.
Why take the precepts?
It is important for us to understand the reality of life. What is its meaning and purpose? What is our relationship to other living beings and the physical environment? Is there an individual self that survives through the cycle of successive lives? Peace, love and happiness form the basis for the true meaning of human life. Therefore, in order to make our lives meaningful and enriching we must discover peace, love and happiness in our everyday lives. The purpose of human life is to realize that all beings are an interconnected and interrelated whole, and to enter the non-dual gate of inconceivable liberation.
Traditional Buddhist practice points out a clear direction and provides guidance and support for those who set out on this journey of discovery. The Buddhist journey always begins by taking refuge in the Three Jewels and the Five Precepts. The Three Jewels (Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha) provide a spiritual focus while the Five Precepts furnish us with moral guidelines.
Most importantly, we need confidence. With practice we open our self to reality, then become inspired by our own understanding. This confidence spurs a deeper search for the truth and brings us to know Buddha and his Dhamma.
In Buddhism it is considered that we are endowed with Buddha-nature and therefore, despite the habits and defilements that cause us to suffer, our original mind is pure, untainted and completely free from duality. In other words, Enlightenment and Liberation are inherent in us all. For this reason alone, the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas among us constantly urge us to discover our true nature Right Now.
It is the Buddhist understanding that we can always help ourselves spiritually, no matter what our life is like. If we refuse to do so it is not because of past karmic hindrances, but lack of trust in ourselves. We do not believe that we are originally Buddhas. It is as though we question the existence of the sun on a cloudy day, because we cannot see the sunlight. Once the clouds scatter, we realize that the sunshine and Blue Mountains have always been there. Likewise, once we gain wisdom, we know that we have been Buddhas all along.
Often people do not take precepts because they may break them later. Nevertheless, Buddhist teachers urge them to take precepts. The reason is because there is a difference between people who commit wrongdoings after taking precepts and those who do so without taking precepts. People who commit wrongdoings after taking precepts are more aware of their mistakes and know to renew their precepts and start again. For those who commit wrongdoings without taking precepts there is no such awareness. Often they don’t even think about their wrongdoings, and continue to harm themselves and others.
People who are afraid or reluctant to take five or eight precepts can take the first precept first. The first precept is Ahimsa or non-violence. You renounce violence and all harmful and abusive acts. If you adhere to the spirit of the first precept and learn to be skillful you will find that the rest of the five precepts are already present within the first precept in spirit. We must renounce violence in our life in order to build a peaceful and enlightened society.
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