With palms together,
Good Morning Everyone,
This morning I would like to talk to you about the Three Pure Precepts. In Zen Buddhism, these three precepts are core. These are: Cease doing evil; Do good; Bring about abundant good for all beings. It takes a lot of personal work to enact these precepts, even more to make them our own.
The reason these precepts are so challenging is that they point to a way of being as a Buddhist that is selfless and always in service.. In contemporary society this is difficult as we are constantly reminded to acquire, protect our acquisitions, and let others be responsible for themselves. But this is not the Zen way.
The Zen way is to release the self of its grip on us by practicing to realize its true nature as empty, with no permanent existence at all. We are dust made into form and will return to dust again. When we break through and realize this truth we can see that all that is left is our function as human beings.
True human beings function out of compassion for others. We are social beings who live in groups. We are dependent upon each other for our existence, as well as our self-worth.
The child cries; we take care of her. The dog wants out, we let him out. The community needs help, we help. We do these without real self reference. We do them in reference to the other. To actually meet the needs of the other. This is the Zen way.
To follow this Way is a challenge. We must first become aware of ourselves and our internal responses to others. We must then work with these responses, turning them from a internal focus to an external focus. We must be willing to see without our own basic assumptions clouding the picture.
Some of those basis assumption have to do with what we are taught about others. Strangers are suspect, Homeless are lazy and willfully homeless. Mentally ill people are dangerous or just plain faking it to get people to feel sorry for them. People should work for a living and not be dependent. Me first, others second. I do not have enough myself. And so on.
While some or all of these may contain some degree of truth, they are judgments, mental constructs, that inhibit our willingness to step out of ourselves and work for the common good. Moreover, such concerns should not be the concern of the bodhisattva. ;
Our vows are to cease doing evil, do good, and create abundant good for all beings. We don't get to decide in what situations we will cease doing bad things or do good things. We decide to become the embodiment of these precepts.
Now, does this mean that we give dollars to everyone with their hand out? Not necessarily. Compassion doesn't work that way. Our help is real help. Help that is pragmatic; help that works to actually benefit beings. Giving alcoholics money to buy booze is hardly helpful. A bodhisattva with a clear mind will see the big picture and act accordingly, naturally.
As it states in the Shushogi, "Those who receive the precepts verify the unsurpassed, complete, perfect enlightenment verified by all buddhas of the three times, the fruit of buddhahood, adamantine and indestructible. Is there a wise person who would not gladly seek this goal?"