Zen Wisdom 101



At the end of every retreat we take the five precepts. Would Shih-fu explain in more detail what these precepts encompass? To what level should practitioners embrace the precepts? During one's practice, does the depth to which one accepts the precepts change? Also, your explanation of the five precepts has differed from retreat to retreat. Why is this so?


The five precepts are part of the Buddhist tradition and they are: no killing, no stealign, no sexual misconduct, no lying, and no alcohol or drugs. The five precepts are a protecting mechanism for practitioners. They help to ensure the purity of their lives and minds so that they can safely and steadily continue to practice. For this reason, precepts are necessary.

In taking the precepts, you check yourself in regard to actions and speech. If your body karma and verbal karma are relatively undefiled, then your mind will tend to be more stable and pure. A stable mind leads to better practice, which in turn can lead to samadhi. Thus, the attainment of samadhi is dependent on the practice of the precepts.