The Direct and Unmistaken Method

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche

This book is a practical guide to the eight Mahayana precepts. It explains the benefits of the vows and the meaning of the ceremony for receiving them, and for easy reference contains the ceremony itself, written out clearly for regular use.

Translator’s Preface

Those who want to accomplish their own goals and those of others must find happiness, but if you don’t abandon harming others—which also means harming yourself—you can never find happiness.

Whatever you do, you do in order to be happy, but in reality negative actions create the cause for you to suffer; thus you harm both yourself and others, and there’s no benefit whatsoever. The eight abandonments (of killing and so forth) explained here, ill will towards others and the ten non-virtues, which harm others either directly or indirectly, are all negative actions and bring no happiness at all, only suffering.

With respect to karma, positive actions cause happiness and negative actions cause suffering. For example, in this life you have received the body of a happy migratory being through having practiced morality in the past.

There are three ways for ordinary beings to realize the way phenomena exist. Some phenomena can be realized through true perception, some through inferential cognition (realizing the presence of fire from seeing smoke, for example), and others through dependence on valid quotations in which one has faith. Since you have neither clairvoyance nor omniscience, the only way to realize karma is to depend on the Omniscient One’s quotations, in much the same way as you believe historical facts by depending on the knowledge and explanations of past and present historians.

If you harm others you might feel guilty in this life. Even if you don’t feel guilty, harming others causes you to have many enemies and brings neither happiness nor relaxation to your mind; instead, it makes you insecure and fearful. This can be seen by examining the experiences of people who have done such negative actions. Cancer and AIDS, for example, are results of previous negative karma. By observing the results of non-virtuous actions you can develop a definite understanding of how worthwhile it is to abandon them. This is the foundation of all happiness.

Others don’t want you to harm them; all they want is benefit and happiness, just as you don’t want any harm from them, only benefit. You are completely responsible for bringing happiness to all sentient ix beings. By your making a vow to abandon harming them by killing them and so forth, the numberless other sentient beings stop being harmed by you and instead receive happiness. In this way you become completely responsible for the happiness of all sentient beings.

Practicing the eight-limbed Mahayana Method of Restoring and Purifying is the supreme method for avoiding harm to all sentient beings and bringing them happiness and benefit. It is easy to do and has immeasurable benefit. With this fundamental practice of morality— abstaining from harming others—you can help effect world peace.

No matter how many meetings are held in the name of world peace, there will be no benefit until people begin to abstain from harming others. Keeping the Eight Mahayana Precepts for one day, or even one hour, and thus protecting your mind from disturbing negative thoughts becomes a contribution to peace not only for the human beings of this world but also for all other sentient beings. So, while you have this precious human rebirth, it is most essential to make your life as meaningful as possible and not cheat yourself.

I have prayed that those who read this teaching, let alone who practice it, will never be reborn in the lower realms, and especially that they will generate bodhicitta and quickly attain enlightenment.

For the sake of all mother sentient beings, may I actualize this book. May those who read it generate the wish to take the Eight Mahayana Precepts and, until they achieve enlightenment, may they always be free from rebirth in the lower realms and never be separated from qualified Mahayana teachers.

By sentient beings’ seeing this book and by the practice of the Eight Mahayana Precepts, may all epidemic diseases, cancer, AIDS, and all other sicknesses by cured; may all disputes, wars and famines stop immediately; may the rains fall at the right time and may all harvests be abundant; may sentient beings experience all enjoyments and an abundance of all that is good; may there be peace in the world; and may everyone find happiness.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche, Dharamsala 1990