V 3-40 Discussion about the Precepts of Buddhism 谈学佛的戒律
Disclaimer: The translations are not official nor endorsed by 2OR, so please just treat it as a ‘fan-based’ translation. The Buddha-Dharma is profound. No matter how you convey it, it won’t be completely perfect. Because the Buddha-Dharma is an experience, it’s an awakening 【佛法深奥无比，怎么写，都不会是究竟圆满。佛法是一种悟】. Please enjoy, and I hope it serves as a good filler until the official English version comes out.
Master expounds about some of the most severe sins. You must take note of these as offenders of these will descend into hell. These include killing or severely hurting somebody, or scolding at a very meritorious virtuous person, or killing one’s parents or monks. Or if you slander or defame a venerable monk or a good spiritual mentor, then that is akin to ending countless wisdom-lives. That’s because a venerable monk initiated on behalf of countless wisdom-lives, where they want to liberate countless lives. That’s why they are all counted as severe sins. Typically karmic retribution happens in the current lifetime, just look at whether or not there’s a lot of misfortune happening to them.
These kinds of people will go to hell. Go and investigate why monks don’t dare to criticise or badmouth others. It’s because they understand karma. To illustrate this with an example, in the past, the emperor of China would delegate an imperial envoy to a city to improve the lives of its inhabitants. If somebody scolded or rebuked them, they would be beheaded. Master won’t expound any further; it’s okay if you understand. If somebody dared to commit deeds of verbal malice, this is a sin that could induce one to hell. If you scold a greatly meritorious venerable monk, then it’s akin to hurting countless meritorious people because they are here to save and create countless meritorious people potentially.
Next, Master expounds about the subject of ‘theft’. He’s not talking about taking petty advantages or petty things, but about public goods. Not public goods outside, but for example, the public goods inside a Buddhist temple and monastery. An example is that if in your head, you think that there should be a lot of offerings in the Guan Yin Temple and you want to secretly take some of it with you. Alright, aren’t you afraid of the Dharma protectors? Aren’t you afraid that Guan Yin Bodhisattva would notice?
Only when you frankly speak your mind that you want to take some of the fruit offerings to eat when you return home would you have peace of mind. If you do something secretly, think about what kind of image you’re creating. When you pass away and is brought to the Underworld, your actions would be broadcasted out like a movie for you to see, and from what’s seen, you are sentenced to a destination accordingly. ‘Theft’ is a serious sin because you stole in front of the Bodhisattvas. It’s the same as committing a crime in front of the police. That’s why anybody who privately takes any offerings or any things related to the Buddha-Dharma is regarded as a very serious sin. You could’ve been a morally-upright person, why must your sneakily do things in secret?
Next, Master expounds about the subject of ‘sexual misconduct’. It’s a sin if you try to entice a cultivator. If you tempt them to have sex with you, that’s doubly guilty. Master will not comment about other kinds of sexual misconduct that occurs in one’s daily life. But if you entice a monk or a nun to commit sexual misconduct, then you will definitely descend to hell. On the same note, if you try to entice the male and female visitors and practitioners in Guan Yin Temple, that is equally sinful, and you will descend to hell. Master wants to make this clear. For elderly people, especially old men, please behave yourself. Never try to get too close to a young lady, for example, offering her a ride somewhere, inviting her to dinner etc. That’s because the young lady came to Guan Yin Temple to learn Buddhism, she’s a Buddhist. If we view Guan Yin Temple as a monastery, then she’s the same as a nun, as she’s observing the precepts and cultivating her mind. Don’t you know that you will go to hell when you go to monasteries and attract the women there?
Do you dare to have these kinds of thoughts? You are too gutsy. Master is just sounding the alarms. It’s not a joke. It’s very dangerous as it’s a grave sin. If you are looking for a girl outside, even if you commit some minor sexual misconduct, you could still eliminate a lot of negative karma by reciting sutras. But if you did that in the Guan Yin Temple, then you’re in serious trouble. Think about it. If somebody performed many meritorious deeds in the Guan Yin Temple but was sentenced to be punished in hell, could you imagine how Master would feel? Wouldn’t he feel very upset? He has to witness them dying before him, and since he’s in hell, he has to ask others to recite and offer Little Houses for the person. You must understand that once you’re in hell, it’s very difficult to get back out. Do you understand? That’s why Master tells others to properly behave. Older men should have less contact with younger girls. They should only approach each other in an orderly and upright way when practising Buddhism.
Next, deceiving or cheating one’s master is also a serious sin. If you deceive your master, it’s the same as deceiving your teacher. Did we dare to deceive our teacher when we were little? If you frequently lie to Master, that is a serious sin. If you bluff in social events, that’s a trivial matter. If you deceive your master, then that isn’t cheating in a secular environment, but in a Buddhist environment. For example, if your master asked you whether you had recited X amount of sutras and performed meritorious deeds and you said you have but didn’t, then that is deceiving your master, and it’s a serious sin. That’s why Master has told you not to fool around and respect your master. If you don’t understand something yet recklessly speak as if you do, this is visible to all the spiritual beings. So if you do descend to hell, the spiritual beings won’t pity you. Do you understand? Master is very anxious. Deceit in money matters is the same. What Master expounds today are all the great sins that induce one to descend into hell. Don’t treat it as a joke.
It’s also a serious sin if you sow discord between fellow Buddhists causing conflicts. If you don’t want to learn Buddhism anymore and walk away, that is fine as it’s your own choice and it doesn’t affect anybody. But if you start to spread rumours and cause division within the Buddhist practitioner group, then all of this is a serious sin. Don’t do it. You don’t understand this; it’s very strict. As a Buddhist, one mustn’t recklessly speak, spread rumours and sow discord. If somebody scolds very badly and starts defaming and slandering their ancestors, that’s also a very serious sin. Do you understand? If somebody hasn’t done something, but you accuse and insist that they have, that is regarded as slander. In the world of the living, slander is a crime. In the Underworld, that is also a serious sin. If somebody hasn’t done something yet you accuse them of doing it; it is, in fact, a very immoral thing to do.
Reflect on it. Many of you are already past your 50s, while many others are already close to the end of their lives. How many unwholesome deeds did you commit, how many people have you badmouthed or slandered? Master tells you, if the Bodhisattvas or Dharma protectors were here in front of you, every one of you would dig a hole and hide inside it. You must completely reform yourself and tell the Bodhisattvas that you’ll never do it again. “Guan Yin Bodhisattva, please forgive me, I was ignorant when I was badmouthing and slandering others. I was truly ignorant.”
It’s really hard. If one isn’t careful, then they will go to hell, do you understand? If you make sexual, lewd or crude jokes in front of a good lady, that is considered as loose speech. That is also unacceptable. In reality, that’s also considered as enticing somebody. Take note; a morally upright man would never say these kinds of things? Master once saw a Korean couple who were very pure and never argued with each other in their whole life. Isn’t there a saying that couples fight at home but look lovey-dovey in public? But they are real inside and outside the house. They’re pure.
People must really be pure, not like acting one way in private and acting in another way in public. These people are hypocrites. Master is very strict and has high expectations of you. After you have formally become his disciple, you must be a vegetarian. If you can’t even do that, then you’re not qualified. If you want to become a disciple and can’t do that, then sorry, if you aren’t willing to change your habit of eating meat, it means that you lack compassion. Then you won’t receive Guan Yin Bodhisattva’s blessings and protection.
Take note; you’ll go to hell if you desire to take money offered to the Buddha, Dharma and the Sangha. Many people dare to do so. What about you? Do you dare to take money offered to Guan Yin Bodhisattva, offered to monks or money used for propagating the Dharma? These are all sins that cause one to go to hell. Master isn’t trying to scare you; it’s the truth. But you don’t have to be too nervous, that’s because you’re cultivating and are in the process of reforming yourself. Guan Yin Bodhisattva will always give you a chance. But if you keep making the same mistakes you did in the past, then you can’t escape punishment. Many people don’t understand. If you commit the same sin you did before; then it indicates a problem with you. That’s because when you vow to the Bodhisattva that you won’t do it again and the Bodhisattvas forgive, and you do it again, isn’t that the same as lying to the Bodhisattvas?
Why are Buddhists so orderly? Why do Buddhists refrain from taking money when they see it? Why do Buddhists refrain themselves when they meet the opposite gender? It’s because they’re Buddhists, and they’re observing precepts. But how many people can truly keep the precepts? Don’t think that you could hide things from Master, you can’t, but he doesn’t even want to know. In reality, you’re only ruining yourself. Do you think that others don’t know if you’re doing something behind their back? In reality, how could the Bodhisattvas and the Dharma protectors not know about it? Even ghosts know about it.
‘One who is unjust is doomed to destruction’. If you do too many unwholesome things, even ghosts will come to drag you away. That’s why those who have a deep understanding of Buddhism don’t dare to do unwholesome things. It’s those who have just begun to learn Buddhism who are insolent, and think that they can get away by repenting or talking about it in front of the Bodhisattvas. What awaits them is a great calamity. Many other great sins include, for example, embezzling money used to print Buddhist sutras. That's why you must properly repent. If you don’t, then eventually you’ll develop some serious illnesses. When you do, you may think why you have this illness if you had constantly been reciting the Great Compassion Mantra daily. That’s because your negative karma is greater than the merit-virtues you have accumulated.
Master adds that if you don’t want to get out of samsara, if you don’t want to get rid of your affliction, in other words, you don’t care, you’re fine with reincarnating in the next life, you’re indifferent if your afflictions increase, then do you know? That is also a sin. If you don’t improve, that’s also a sin; it’s called the sin of disobedience. To Buddhists, it’s a sin of unawakenment. That’s because unawakened people sin. Because they’re unawakened, they can’t differentiate what’s good and bad, and so they will definitely sin. Think about it; every time Master publishes an article on his blog; many people would say that they’ve been cleansed. “Master has helped me to cleanse my soul again.” Everybody is defiled, and always thinking about the worse in others. How many people are there can make you think favourably?
Whenever others do something, you always think of them negatively first. ‘They’re fake; they’re liars and hypocrites.’; Can’t you think positively about them first? If Buddhists can remain wholesome in their minds, then they will always view others positively, If you keep viewing others in a negative light, it indicates that you’re someone who’s always thinking of unwholesome things. You must understand that it’s a sin. It’s because you’re unawakened, so you’re guilty. That’s why from the perspective of Buddhists, you have committed the sin of unawakenment. In reality, it’s called ignorance. Because you’re ignorant of the principles, you have already sinned on a mental level, so it’s a mental sin.
Every one of us has deviated and unwholesome views, that’s why we’ll complain why the Bodhisattvas aren’t efficacious. In Master’s radio programme, if there’s anybody saying that they aren’t efficacious, then he will immediately warn them not to speak recklessly. That’s protecting the Dharma. Sometimes, the caller would say that they’ve recited X amount of Little Houses yet it’s still not efficacious. Then Master would not let them speak any further because the ghosts would get offended when they hear this. Do you know that? That’s protecting the Dharma. Master is helping you protect the Dharma. That’s why don’t speak ill of the Buddha. When somebody asked me whether Master Chin Kung is good or someone is good, Master would always reply that they’re all good.
Why must you keep insisting that somebody is bad? When you badmouth others, it doesn’t mean that you’re good. If you’re good and others badmouth you, you’re still good. If you’re capable, then continue doing what you’re doing. If others badmouth you, that’s their problem as they’re committing deeds of verbal misconduct. When you do the same to them, then you’re the same. Why must you badmouth others? It’s the most foolish thing to do. Firstly, you’re sowing discord. Secondly, you’re slandering. Thirdly, you’re committing deeds of verbal misconduct. Fourthly, you’re creating a justification for others to retaliate or attack you. So aren’t you creating problems for yourself?
You can improve, but why must you complain about this or that being bad? When you lack wisdom, much of what you say will be verbal misconduct. If you’re awakened, even if what you say may not be totally correct, but if your mind is upright, the Bodhisattvas won’t blame you. It’s because your mind isn’t upright, and when you complain in front of Master, he knows that you speak out of selfishness. It’s because many of you have people you like or dislike. That’s why when you’re in contact with the people you dislike, although you seem to be directing to the matter and not to a particular person, in fact, you are directing to that particular person and not the matter.
At the Guan Yin Temple, you have learnt the Buddha-Dharma from Master for many years. If you harbour any selfish and distracting thoughts when you’re organising and doing work, that’s called being reckless and wasting time. You must keep the public interests in mind. It’s because you’re not putting an act for Master or yourself to see. The Bodhisattvas in heaven and the ghosts in the Underworld all know. So the person you’re deceiving, in the end, is nobody else but yourself. Master knows that you occasionally have these thoughts, so he’ll just laugh and won’t comment further. But you must understand, can you deceive the Bodhisattvas in heaven? Can you deceive the ghosts in the Underworld? You won’t even be able to gain any merit-virtues. That is why those who had accumulated merit-virtues, why do they still lose it? It’s because it’s just like a hole in your purse, every coin that you put inside it gets dropped out of the hole. So in the end, merit-virtues go in one way and out the other way. That’s why one must observe the precepts. The precepts are the foundation for all Dharma.