The Eight Mahayana Precepts
The benefits of keeping the precepts of ordination (dom pa) for a day, when taken with the will of enlightenment, bodhicitta, are infinite. Mahayana ordination includes eight precepts.
Ordination means protecting or guarding the mind from negativity (negative mind and action), and from the problems (or suffering) that arise from negative mind.
Taking ordination is the best way to purify negativity that has already been created. Generally, ordination is an action that controls or fights the eight temporal desires, which are the cause of suffering. Ordination causes them to not arise, or helps to destroy those that exist. It protects the mind from greed, hatred, and ignorance, and diminishes what is already there.
Plans and actions are required in the war against suffering. Essentially, ordination means avoiding negative actions. So it is important:
(1) to know the benefits, or else it is harder to keep precepts, and
(2) to know the shortcomings of the negative mind. These two understandings make one more interested, and build the courage to keep precepts.
Benefits of Ordination
(1) As the earth is the basis of this world, ordination is the basis of all the realizations of meditation, Dharma practice, and so forth.
(2) If precepts are kept correctly, it is a quick way out of ignorance, an action with immediate benefits. This means living in a discipline to avoid negative mind, so that we avoid the suffering results.
(3) It means not being born in the three lower realms.
(4) It is the best perfume—a natural smell compared to chemicals. Ordination is the best water to cool us from the heat of suffering.
(5) A great Indian pandit said, “Keeping the eight precepts for a day gives greater benefit than one hundred years of charity.” Following the precepts correctly is a serious action, it fights the negative mind. We can pretend many things, saying prayers and mantras, but they’re not action.
(6) The benefits are greater than making offerings to Buddha, who said in his sutra teachings, “Keeping precepts is of much greater benefit than making great offerings to as many buddhas as exist in the number of eons equal to the number of grains of sand in the Ganges.”
(7) Taking precepts causes one to become a disciple of Maitreya in the future. He prophesied, “Any being following the eight precepts, listening to the Dharma of Guru Shakyamuni will be reborn as one of those surrounding me.” In this situation, we get the greatest chance to hear teachings and attain enlightenment—a much better human rebirth.
The precepts are a discipline to make the mind conscious, as much negative karma is created unconsciously. They make the mind a spy.
(1) Not Killing
Not killing brings longer life in the future and no sickness. It also becomes the cause to receive the Buddha’s holy vajra body, which is indestructible.
(2) Not Stealing
Not stealing results in becoming rich, having enjoyments in future lives, and not having other people disturb our possessions. It also results in the appearance of one thousand spoked wheels on the hands and long webbed fingers when enlightened.
(3) Not Having Sexual Intercourse
Not having sexual intercourse, including masturbation and so forth. This results in a rebirth in the upper realms with beautiful shape and color, and perfect organs. Loss of seed causes the organs to lose power, the mind to become unclear, the senses to lose power, and the body to lose color.
(4) Not Lying
Not lying results in not betrayed by lies in future, and in our words being trusted by others.
These are the four root precepts. The four branches follow.
(5) No Intoxication
No intoxication results in clear wisdom and senses, and improves consciousness. This does not include tea, which can stimulate the mind.
If we are reborn in the upper realms, keeping this precept will result in our getting food enjoyments easily, without much effort. Also we will have forty very white teeth and have a powerful, transcendental, sense of taste that brings infinite happiness, even if we eat shit.
The reason for fasting is that Guru Shakyamuni’s followers existed on one meal a day (to practice Dharma) and more than that is not necessary, and only develops greed. Fasting can help stop greed and decrease the negative mind.
(7) Not Sitting on High or Large Beds
The bed should be no higher than the length of the forearm plus the hand. Keeping this precept prevents us from acquiring an expensive bed, to which greed will make us attached. A high seat increases pride, depending on whether the negative mind is present or not. The benefit of keeping this precept is that in future lives we will have respect, admiration, and exultation. Also, a better bed.
(8) 1 - Avoiding Perfumes and Ornaments
The result of this is that the body smells naturally good, with a better shape in the future.
2 - Avoiding Singing, Dancing, and Playing Music
Keeping this precept makes mind well subdued, and the body also. We are kept away from creating negative actions, and we are always preaching Dharma.
When we are enlightened we attain the thirty-two and eighty physical signs and perfections of a Buddha’s holy body. The Buddha’s holy body is immeasurably large—so huge that we cannot see the top of the double head. The cause of this result is making prostrations to the holy abbot with the five points of contact (hands, feet, and forehead) on the floor.
When we take Mahayana ordination (the eight precepts), there are certain foods that we cannot eat, such as meat; also radish, garlic, and onion (these block the nadis). These are called “black” foods.
Also, we cannot smoke cigarettes—this destroys the ability of the physical body and affects the mind.
We should always keep in mind that we have taken the precepts for the purpose of getting ourselves and all sentient beings out of suffering. Whenever we see people, animals, and insects we should recall that we are keeping precepts.
1.Hinayana - no enjoyments or things for samsaric temporal happiness.
2. Mahayana - stricter; done for all sentient beings.
3. Tantricism - enjoyments used as a drug. Very strict laws for rapid enlightenment. It is based on Mahayana practice.
If one cannot practice the Hinayana, the other two are impossible.
The Eight Mahayana Precepts
Much benefit arises from keeping these precepts for a day. In ancient times in India the kings made laws that everyone had to take these precepts. By keeping them, we can become an arhat, a bodhisattva, or an enlightened being. At the very least they help us to attain a higher rebirth or a more perfect human rebirth.
Ordination means protecting ourselves from negative mind and from negative mind arising, and from creating negative actions. It is one of the main things that make us holy in the quickest way. It is like the fuel of vehicles, like the spring of a watch. Keeping this ordination is something besides the fundamental thing—it is the source that brings enlightenment, the higher realizations, the lower nirvana, and the cessation of samsara more quickly. It is the quickest way to escape from samsara and can definitely cause us to be born in an upper realm in which we will meet the Dharma again, besides helping for those future times. We think this is so far away but it can be very close—only three or seven years to reach nirvana, enlightenment, or the state of an arhat. It can be so easy because you don’t have to build a rocket, machines, and so on, it is only mental work by the mind. It is up to the present mind.
Besides bringing all these realizations and bringing future lifetimes of happiness, it also brings peace. Whenever the person makes a vow from the mind, and is willing to observe it, and tries not to let the negative mind arise in order to purify negativity, it brings peace at the same time. Peace is brought to the mind at the same time that the person makes the decision to follow it. As much as we observe the precepts, there is that much peace established in the mind. The purpose of precepts is to not allow the arousal of the negative mind. We think, “I am responsible for looking after the precepts.” This also stops the creation of negative actions of body, speech, and mind, the three negative doors, and so it stops all the suffering result of each negative action that would have to be experienced in the three lower realms. It stops all those future sufferings. It is creating peace. Also the person always experiences the happy result, like being born in the human realm and having all one wants—luck and so on. Besides stopping all future dangers, itself bringing peace, it also purifies all the negative karmas that have been created in past previous lives until now. This is the best purification, because the person’s past negative karmas have no number as the mind is beginningless, and because ignorance of the understanding of karma has not yet ceased and is also beginningless. Thus negative karma is too great, and just creating a little positive karma is not enough. So keeping ordination really purifies the past negative karma.
If we keep the ordination all day then there is always purification and ceasing of the negative mind and negative actions, and past negative karma is purified. Perfect peace is received when the cause of suffering is ceased. The cessation of the samsaric cause doesn’t happen straight away, it happens little by little. Thus does perfect peace come. As this purifies negative karma that has been created, then that much peace comes to the person’s mind and stops negative mind, negative actions, and suffering results. Without this discipline we continually create further suffering. The mind that really makes the decision to follow the mental disciplines is the sincere mind of practicing Dharma, and this mind is not involved in any of those eight temporal desires. The motivation of that mind is pure of samsaric desire and pure of the wish for temporal comfort. It is much more pure than the usual mind that meditates because it is out of and opposite to the desire attached to the temporal comfort. This is a very powerful practice, having many benefits. This is the best way to bring peace. All the suffering of sentient beings up until now is due to not having mental control over the negative mind.
The Eight Mahayana Precepts are:
1. Not killing: human beings or others, even with the mind.
2 .Not stealing: anything of value possessed by another being, or taking anything with force; also borrowing things for a long time so that maybe the owner will forget.
3. Not having sexual intercourse: the power of the physical thing going out; any action that brings an orgasm.
4. Not telling lies.
5. Not taking intoxicants; not smoking poisonous plants.
6. Not sitting on a high and rich throne without Dharma reason, or on a high rich bed.
7. Not eating after noon until the following sunrise. This is mainly to control the negative mind of greed. Also, eating at night makes the evening meditation hard. The one meal is taken to protect the life for Dharma.
8. Not putting on perfume or jewelry with greed that is attached to temporal comfort; also no singing, dancing or playing music with samsaric desire, being attached to the temporal comfort. All of these are totally to combat greed.
These precepts have to be taken when there is just a little light, from one dawn time till the next.
Avoiding samsara is your decision. Be here at five a.m. Visualize Guru Shakyamuni giving the precepts, otherwise it doesn’t make sense.
A person keeping the precepts for a day becomes that much more holy. Purity comes from a cause—mental discipline. As a body in a quagmire is not clean until it is removed and properly cleaned, the person living in the action of creating negative karma, not stopping the negative mind from arising, is a negative person. The clean, pure person is one living in the mental discipline, and while doing so is pure and clean—this person doesn’t have to wait a long time. This is real cleanliness from the Dharma point of view, what is in the mind. The best way to be clean is to clean the mind first, and then the body. For beginningless lives we have not cleaned the mind but only the body countless times. If we discover more deeply, with feeling, the evolution of karma, we can really get bored with this body and not want to take it again. There is no beginning to the times that we have taken a physical body. This is like someone who has eaten the same food day after day and feels hatred. But we feel attached due to the wrong conception that all this life’s experiences are new. However, due to beginningless previous lives, the experience of cleaning this body has no beginning, it has been cleaned countless times before and we are still washing it. Why has it not ended yet? Due to the fault of never having cleaned the mind. As long as we don’t clean the mind through mental disciplines, the action of cleaning the body can have no end. For endless future lives, why are there so many impure things coming from this body? It is the fault of this samsaric body, the body under the control of delusion and karma.
Actually, our life consists of two things—cleaning the outside while making the inside dirty. It is our fault that we do those two things to our mind and body, to ourselves, our object. Due to this, the action of cleaning from the outside hasn’t yet finished. The wise person’s way of cleaning is to clean the mind, that which is the main creator. By cleaning the mind the body is cleaned; this stops the continuous arising of dirt, stops the continual action of washing, keeping busy, incurring expenses to wash the body, stops old age, sickness, pains, and many other problems that arise due to the physical body. Cleaning the mind can stop the necessity of the body and can stop the suffering of this body as well as the dirt.
From rebirth to death all actions are only to take care of the body. By cleaning the mind we clean all the external impurities that are seen in our view—those that are not one with the body, that are separate, and even those are cleaned. That’s how the great yogis have the power to enjoy impure, filthy things, to taste and enjoy kaka in complete safety, in the nature of infinite transcendental happiness, only increasing their realizations and bringing them closer to the enlightenment that is the creation of their mental power. They can enjoy the higher transcendental taste in such a pure way because their mind is purified. First they cleaned their mind so that things seen in their view are purified, and the objects of the senses are enjoyed in a pure way, seen as such, giving only infinite, transcendental happiness. This is just one example. The same thing is definitely possible for us. Besides cleaning our minds, all objects become pure, everything transcended. Yogi means one who can taste everything in a pure way.
The purpose of keeping ordination, of keeping precepts, is totally to clean the mind and the suffering body, to clean even the objects of the senses and also to stop the suffering that may arise between subjects and objects. Such a mind can stop any fear, any ugly object. This is the way we create enlightenment, that is how the Enlightened Being can enjoy all offerings at the same level, whatever it is, no matter—fantastic delicious food or dirty food with a filthy smell—both are enjoyed by the Enlightened Being in the same way, in the nature of transcendental happiness, a feeling that has no limit. How does this happen? The non-dualistic feeling arises from the power of first cleaning the mind, and the best way to do this is through mental discipline and precepts. Some people read books, but don’t know how that power comes, just think that it is the same taste or the same level of feeling. But this is not easy, and without cleaning the mind only causes suffering and keeps the mind dirty and impure. To try and enjoy such high results as the Enlightened Being can experience is very foolish. Trying to enjoy the senses with the unpurified mind still covered with dirt is not a wise action, it is a mistake. If we don’t follow a mental discipline that cleans the mind, we can never enjoy in that way. That is like standing in the market expecting to have food given to you. If we want to enjoy non-dualistic enjoyments, then it is best to clean the mind through mental discipline.
Following mental precepts is the best ornament. The Enlightened Being doesn’t need material ornaments, which only create problems. The Enlightened Being has the greatest beauty but is completely free of material, yet we are dependent on so many materialistic ornaments. The power of the Enlightened Being’s beauty comes from following the mental precepts, but the materialistic ornaments cause much worry in the mind. There is much fear of others stealing them, or the problem of never having enough. Precious ornaments can endanger the life—we can even be killed for them—but precepts can never cause risk to life. Ordination is the best water in which to keep cool and out of suffering—it is the best weapon for protection because it does cause not one tiny danger to us or to others. Material weapons, guns, and so forth can cause much danger to ourselves and to others—they can often become the cooperative cause to harm us through other’s reactions, and they also give other beings ideas to create more weapons and so on. The best protection is ordination because it protects us from all samsaric suffering and from other living beings, too.
The person whose mind is living in this ordination is the richest person in the most absolute way. The person with numberless jewels not living in ordination is externally rich and internally poor, so there is always confusion and suffering in the mind, continually. Why is he like this? Because these riches can never continue. For that moment, that period, he is externally rich but not recognized as rich from the Dharma point of view. The really rich person has inner riches that continue, inner purification, and realizations. The Enlightened Being is the richest person, internally rich.
As we have taken the ordination, when we see other people and animals we should continuously think that most sentient beings are suffering. It is important to remember that we are keeping the precepts for each of them—we are working to follow the discipline not only for ourselves, but also for numberless other sentient beings. According to our mental power, that much can we feel precious, that we are doing well, and the mind can always be pleased, happy, and in peace, because we are working for all sentient beings to attain enlightenment and to release them and ourselves from suffering. This is a very worthwhile job—we can see that we are doing actions of value whereas the ordinary job is mostly concerned with taking care of only ourselves.
Shantideva said, “Even just thinking, the will to benefit just one sentient being has inexpressible benefits so why not have the motivation to benefit all sentient beings.”
Which is the more dangerous, death happening or breaking precepts?
Guru Shakyamuni said, “Dying is easier than breaking precepts.” Dying doesn’t always cause us to be reborn in the worst suffering stage of the narak realms and experience the suffering for eons, but breaking precepts can often cause much suffering in the narak realms. Therefore, keeping precepts is more important than our life; we should take care of the precepts as we do our own life, but to do so requires much energy, which in turn requires an understanding of the suffering nature and the evolution of karma. Little understanding brings little belief or faith in these facts. If we break precepts, even the enjoyment of this life will not occur, nor will success in temporal works, and we will experience confusion with ourselves and others, as well as much sickness and troubles. It also always results in rebirth in the three lower realms, especially the narak realms.
Since we make the vow to Guru Shakyamuni, to break it is like telling a lie to Guru Shakyamuni and the infinite buddhas and bodhisattvas who we visualized at the time of precepts. Therefore we have to be so careful of breaking precepts, beware of it as we fear touching a fire. Then we can gain great control of mind, receive realizations, and our future lives will be in a better condition for the perfect human rebirth.
An example of the result of breaking precepts is the naga, Ela Dama Shing, who was the King of the nagas. He was born a naga because he didn’t correctly follow the teachings of the Enlightened One. When Guru Shakyamuni was teaching, the naga came in another form, a transformation, disguised as a very rich person having much material power, many jewels, and many possessions. Guru Shakyamuni immediately recognized him, saying, “You criticized the teachings of the past buddha called the Buddha of Infinite Light, the protector of life—would you again criticize my teachings? Take your natural form and listen to the Dharma.” So the next day the naga came in the form of his own body, a snake, with a tree one pak tse in length growing from him head. When the wind blew the tree moved and so did the roots which were attached to his brain, causing so much suffering. His neck was in front of Guru Shakyamuni but his tail was down in the village a long way away—he was a very long snake.
The followers who were all taking the teachings were afraid of the snake and began to try to escape, but Guru Shakyamuni said, “Don’t be afraid, the one who was here yesterday in the form of a rich man is this snake.” Then he explained to them how this had happened. The naga had been a full monk in the time of the previous Buddha’s teaching. One day he was going around this tree called Eladama when he was bumped by the branch of the tree, suddenly became very angry, his mind not peaceful, and broke off the branch. Since the tree belonged to the Sangha he had broken this precept, and this karma caused him to be born as a naga in the form of a snake. The tree he got angry with then grew from his head, causing him much suffering. This was his own karma as a result of getting angry and breaking the precepts. There are so many stories told by Guru Shakyamuni that explain karmas and their results. Often you can see many types of animals, strange shapes, and so forth—this is all due to karma.
The Benefits of Each Precept
1. Not killing any other sentient beings, especially with the desire of the three negative minds. Usually there are four things involved in each action: (i) object; (ii) thought or motivation—to kill; (iii) action; (iv) goal (death of the other before one’s own).
The benefits of keeping this precept are that it makes our life longer in future lifetimes when born as a human being. We will not have diseases and we will look very strong. If we break this precept we will have a short life. For example, we may die in the womb and have many diseases.
2. Not stealing. (i) Object possessed by others; recognition of object to be stolen; (ii) motivation—wanting to take without permission; (iii) action, all kinds including force; (iv) goal—the mind thinking, “now I have received it.”
The benefits of keeping this precept are that it brings future enjoyments in other lives and no disturbance from other beings stealing our possessions. If we break this precept, even in this life our own things get stolen.
3. Not having sexual intercourse. (i) object; (ii) motivation—wanting to take action, mind in the three negative thoughts; (iii) action; (iv) goal—pleasure achieved, sexual happiness, orgasm. The worst things are sexual intercourse in a holy place, where there are gurus or holy objects, intercourse with a female arhat, a celibate person, or the mother, or oral and anal intercourse. This precept includes anything that causes loss of sperm. Nocturnal emission in dreams and so forth is not exactly the same as if it is done consciously, but we still create negative karma. To do it consciously creates much more bad karma than dream time.
The benefits of keeping it are that in many future lifetimes the shape of the person’s body will always be beautiful with fine complexion and body color. It’s always like this—the person reborn with good physical features has created the cause, the karma, before—following morality and patience.
Generally, the action that is the opposite of the precept brings the opposite negative result, takes us further from enlightenment, and keeps us longer in samsara. Even if the person is near to realizations, if he breaks the precepts he tends to lose knowledge and continuously suffers, mostly in the three lower realms. This is the basic total result of breaking any of the precepts.
It’s the same thing for sexual intercourse, loss of seed—this takes us further from enlightenment and makes us always attached to temporal happiness. On this basis even if the person is born in the three upper realms the person is continuously attached to the action and the temporal happiness of it. This mental habit always continues to get stronger in future lifetimes and is difficult to control, and even though one receives a human body it has ugly colors and imperfect organs. Also in the present lifetime, for the person who wants to meditate, this can be the greatest disturbance. We may think that doing the action a great deal will stop it, but this is wrong, a big mistake. This action is extremely old.
Actually there is not one sentient being that we have not had sexual intercourse with. This action is not new—we have done this action with each of the present people countless times—friends, insects, and so forth. It is something with no beginning, a very old thing, something we have to get bored and tired of—but we forget all this, we don’t see the true evolution of karma. Also the gods of the senses have their own way of having sexual intercourse—it is not the usual action, it is just by looking at each other that they can enjoy it, or just touching. For all sentient beings, as humans we did it, and we have done it in every form, countless times. None of this experience is new. It is because of the habit, ignorance, and attachment to this action that it has not stopped, and it is endless if an effort is not made to stop it.
This is one of the greatest disturbances to meditation—it doesn’t keep the mind relaxed and as a result of the attachment to temporal happiness, the mind is taken out of meditation. Due to this, we are always attached to other people and much distracted. Memories always come into the mind; and also it causes us to have unclear visualizations so that when we meditate we don’t see the object clearly, and may not remember it even if it’s a usual object. Besides this, it is one of the greatest disturbances and barriers to opening the chakras and to gaining control over the winds—it causes us lose the pure ability or power of the body and therefore the mind. Being situated in the body, the mind is therefore dependent on it. This is like pouring water into cloth that can’t retain it. From the Mahayana tantric yoga practice point of view sexual intercourse is the worst disturbance.
4. Not telling lies. Keeping this precept results in not being betrayed by others’ lies in future human lifetimes. All other people will respect and believe our words—for example some peoples’ words are so powerful that we can believe them. And also, telling lies and gossip mongering with a negative mind causes us to lose the pure power of speech. If we don’t lie, then due to our pure and straight speech, our prayers are more powerful and can bring success to ourselves and others. This precept applies to our own lies and to getting another person to lie, or it can be a physical action, or avoiding answering a question and thereby lying by implication, such as if someone asks, “Are you out of samsara?” and we do not reply, as if we are. Another person has to hear the speech or see the action to complete the lie. The worst is to lie to holy beings or to our parents.
Taking ordination to help all sentient beings is important work, yet we feel that other jobs like being a government minister or working in a business and so forth are more important than taking precepts, because for work like that we get money. Therefore we think that it is important. But generally these jobs are not done to take care of all sentient beings, to lead them from ignorance. Such people as kings, ministers, and so forth are supposed to take care of the population of a country, but if we check up their motivation, generally they wouldn’t even have the motivation to take care of their people. Usually they get elected, it’s a job, they have to do it—to take care of the population with great compassion is extremely difficult; most of the time it’s done for reputation, so they can go higher, only to gain the temporal life’s comfort. These people think, “This is my responsibility, if I don’t do it I will get a bad name and maybe lose my position.” So much worry and so many problems. “If I have a good reputation maybe I will go higher and become President.” Generally it is like this. The goal of those jobs is limited, so taking ordination with the right motivation is the highest and most beneficial job, and it’s also the most dangerous. The mind that makes a complete decision to do this job is without attachment to temporal comfort. Taking this responsibility especially with the strong motivation to enlighten all sentient beings, when compared with other responsibility, is the greatest. The reason it becomes dangerous is because it becomes telling a lie to those numberless sentient beings if we do not follow through.
Taking precepts, we also becomes like a helper for the enlightened beings, not just taking care of a family which is only involved in our own comfort and is so limited. As the motivation is limited, the mind is limited. The benefits of an action depend on the motivation. In an ordinary job, only our temporal needs are fulfilled—maybe our reputation, and material things which may be useful until death—nothing to do with other future lives, enlightenment, or getting out of samsara.
But I’m not complaining, this is only giving general information on how it is, comparing actions and motivations in jobs that are not Dharma. As the person is not involved in getting out of negative mind then that person only cycles around, and his body and actions only create bad karma, never ending.
But taking ordination, besides being the basis for receiving material needs, also brings perfect peace, cessation from suffering, and enlightenment. Many people think, “This is an empty job.” If we have no understanding or wisdom, then even practicing Dharma becomes suffering for us. It is not created by other people, it is only created in our mind. So this job is the most important job on this earth—taking ordination with this motivation we are much purer than the person not taking precepts and we are that much more important. It is something to do with your own choice.
5. Not taking intoxicants. If we do not abstain from taking intoxicants, unless we have a Dharma reason, the mind becomes unconscious, not remembering, not having perfect wisdom. In the future lifetimes we easily forget things due to this cause.
There are different kinds of intoxicants—for instance why stop smoking tobacco? There is much talk about the cause of tobacco. This plant started one hundred years after Guru Shakyamuni passed away. The evil female spirit dropped her monthly period on the ground and then that became a plant—this is just a little description, sometimes it may be useful. The female prayed as it became a plant, “May this be enjoyed by all people in the future and may the smoke going up destroy hundreds of the cities of the gods, and may it destroy hundreds of the cities of the nagas by going down under the earth. May there always be fighting and sicknesses, famines and hells in the world.” It spread all over the country due to her prayer.
Also Padmasambhava, invited by the King of Tibet to subdue the negative minds of the evil interferers and make them protectors of the people, made a prophecy when he was subduing the spirits. He put them all under his control, but one escaped. The rest were under his orders and he gave the order not to disturb other beings, saying, “If you don’t listen to the vow then more terrible things will happen due to the power of the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha.” So they had to obey the vow they made. But the one who had escaped, the last one, said, “Brothers, don’t worry—I shall transform—I shall transform the tobacco in China and other tobaccos into a cigarette.” That poisonous plant’s name was hala nak po.
There are all kinds of poisons that cause a person have hallucinations, but tobacco is recognized as the worst one. Also this evil spirit said that it would grow all over Tibet and that most people would enjoy it, and that due to that condition the five negative minds would arise, and due to that they would practice the ten immoralities. As the smoke was going down to the earth it would destroy so many cities of the nagas, and so the rains wouldn’t come and there would be famine and sickness, and by this smoke going into the sky it would destroy many cities of the gods, there would be inauspicious stars coming, like comets that make very inauspicious times of fighting and disaster.
Anyone who smokes loses his pure vitality—the ability of the nadis causes the pure power of the body to be lost, the chakras remain closed. It also causes the four hundred and twenty four sicknesses to arise. Smoking without purification or practicing Dharma causes one to be born in the three lower realms. Even those meditators who try to practice Dharma for one hundred eons don’t reach enlightenment. Also, when the body has died and passes into the bardo it cannot be guided. Also, it is very easy for the person who smokes to get sick because it is easy for other spirits to give interference; they find an easier place. Generally it is very difficult for the virtuous actions of the person who smokes to create benefit.
Also wine and alcohol—in Tibet they have a powder like yeast they use to make beer. This creates many problems that maybe we have experienced.
6. Not sitting on high and rich thrones, and high and rich beds such as those made of jewels and so forth, or on a bed with animal skins such as tiger skin, because the skins have a bad vibration due to the animal’s mind—proud, angry, and so on.
The result of keeping this precept is that it causes us to be admired in the next life and to have material comforts, but it is kept mainly for the purpose of enlightenment.
7. Fasting. The foods we shouldn’t have are onion, garlic, eggs, and meat—these are recognized as black foods. Also, radish has a bad element, a bad power. Taking these foods affects the pure power of the mind. If we are only concerned for the body, it is okay, but for a person practicing Dharma and following precepts the reason is keeping the body clean but not with attachment. These foods destroy the power of the body and the power of the mind, making one sleepy, unconscious, and so on. People who don’t take this observance won’t notice this, but for those who eat purely it is easy to notice a difference in the body that becomes concrete in feeling. Egg easily arouses the negative mind, it is the seed of the chicken so it produces vibrations, and attachment arises.
White foods include curd, fruit, vegetables, wheat, rice, milk, cheese, and butter.
If you eat much radish then the smell of the body becomes worse—the element is bad and causes gas in the stomach and also affects the pure power of the body.
Food can be taken before twelve noon but is not to be taken twice in a day—it has to be only one meal, taken for the purpose of taking care of life to practice Dharma. This precept is mainly for the purpose of not letting attachment arise and not creating negative karma through attachment. Also, it purifies the negative karmas. It is also very useful for meditation. But if you are really sick, not artificially sick, with exterior sickness, then you can’t practice Dharma, taking precepts and getting sick afterwards. First recover.
Also, following precepts depends on your realization because taking precepts can end. Taking food in the evening may be more beneficial depending on your inner realization, the control of the mind, such as having the achievement of bodhicitta and fully renounced mind. But at the moment, as long as we don’t have these realizations, it is better to take precepts, it is not always definite. If you follow your desire to eat food it disturbs the meditation practice—there is no discipline. Also, if the stomach is full it is difficult to digest the meditation because of the food.
Benefits: in the next life we shall have good crops without depending on much effort.
8. Not using perfumes and ornaments, jewels, that which is unusual—this cannot be done with attachment otherwise it increases the attachment.
The benefits of keeping this precept are an intuitive sweet smell on the body that is received with the body and helps the minds of other people. Also the person may be born with a body of beautiful shape and have many good physical qualities.
Not singing and dancing and so forth. The benefits of keeping this precept are that in other lives the person’s mind and body will be very controlled and subdued. Also, the person can intuitively talk about Dharma.
Even if a person cannot make high practice or receive high realizations during his life he can easily keep eight precepts for a day—they are very little compared to the thirty-six or two hundred and fifty-three of the monk. If we keep them without a break either continuously or alternately, it is so helpful to protect us from suffering at the time of death or from rebirth in the three lower realms. This is due to the power of the precepts.
As earth is the foundation for the many people, other beings, houses, trees, and so on that are situated on it, so the precepts are fundamental to all knowledge and happiness, the foundation of practice. Precepts have the power to close the door of rebirth in the three lower realms and can bring an upper rebirth for those born in samsara. They can cause us to meet the Dharma leader again in the future life so we can receive teachings and realizations. Keeping precepts creates much more benefits than creating charity and also more than making the usual offerings. Following precepts is the best offering to the enlightened beings. Also, when we take precepts, an arrangement is thereby made to be reborn as a follower of Maitreya, the future Buddha. When this eon has ended he will appear and found the Dharma in the next eon. He will do the same thing as Guru Shakyamuni, the twelve deeds: descend from Tushita, be born as a prince, marry, renounce his life, receive enlightenment at Bodhgaya and so on as did Guru Shakyamuni, giving sermons and so forth. This has been prophesied by Maitreya, “Anyone who follows the eight precepts at the time of Guru Shakyamuni will also follow me in the future.”
How does taking precepts close the doors to rebirth in the three lower realms and bring rebirth in the upper three? In a previous time in the world there was a Buddha called Kum Rinpoche Gingwa who traveled widely in Dharma circles and had many people as his followers. As a result of following these eight precepts they many had upper realm rebirths, some were reborn asuras, some became lower arhats, some bodhisattvas, and some received enlightenment.
Another Buddha, Sangye Sheshi, eons ago, also led so many other sentient beings in the eight precepts and they also achieved the same goals—the lowest ones were born in the three upper realms. After some time, when the teachings were close to degeneration, there was a Dharma King who promoted the benefits of keeping the precepts but there was no actual prayer. He invited many Sangha and brahmins and asked them to try and find the text that contained that subject recorded by Buddha. He told them if they could not find it he would punish them. They were afraid but could not find or remember the text. However, there was an old lady who recalled that when she was a young girl her father used to take the eight precepts and that he had put the text in a crack in an old pillar in their house. They searched the house and found it, read the text, read the benefits, and brought and offered it to the King. He was very pleased and gave them all, including the old lady, many gifts. Then he made a law that the whole population should follow the precepts on certain days of the month—the full moon day, the eighth, and the fifteenth days. Due to the power of all those people keeping the precepts, even the gods were pleased because more people would go to their realm with better rebirths. Also in that country there were benefits—rain came at the right seasons, fighting and epidemics ceased, crops grew well, and there were no famines. Those people also had the door to the three lower realms closed.
Keeping precepts now is different than in ancient times. Those times were fortunate but the times now are degenerate. We are experiencing the degeneration of living beings’ fortunes (the positive mind degenerating), of positive actions, of the teachings—there are many degenerations. Keeping precepts in such poor times as these, with so many problems, with people unhappy, fighting, much famine, fewer and fewer people creating positive karma, fewer people having realizations—keeping precepts now has so many benefits, more than before, even for a day. Then, it was easier to follow precepts but now it is getting more and more difficult.
How does keeping precepts create more benefits than making offerings to the Enlightened One? The benefit of keeping precepts at these times is greater than that which arises from making offerings to the number of enlightened beings equal to the grains of sand in the River Ganges. Also, each of these precepts brings the result of the holy signs of his body, and his great knowledge.