Choosing Simplicity: A Commentary On The Bhikshuni Pratimoksha

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Overview

Choosing Simplicity discusses the precepts and lifestyle of fully ordained nuns within the Buddhist tradition. The ordination vows act as guidelines to promote harmony both within the individual and within the community by regulating and thereby simplifying one's relationships to other sangha members and laypeople, as well as to the needs of daily life. Observing these precepts and practicing the Buddhadharma brings incredible benefit to oneself and others. Since the nuns' precepts include those for monks and have additional rules for nuns, this book is useful for anyone interested in monastic life. As a record of women's struggle not only to achieve a life of self-discipline, but also to create harmonious independent religious communities of women, Choosing Simplicity is a pioneering work.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"By providing an insider's perspective on the challenges of being a Buddhist monastic and a woman, the book makes a valuable contribution to the fields of religious history, anthropology, ethics, and women's history."—Journal of Asian Studies

"Choosing simplicity in our affluent society means choosing sanity. Christians as well as Buddhists are discovering how monastic values can enrich their lives as lay people. For monastics and lay people alike, Choosing Simplicity will be a book worth reading."—Brother David Steindl-Rast, OSB, author of A Listening Heart

"It is of great importance that Buddhist monasticism become firmly established in the West. This excellent book makes a major contribution to this becoming a reality."—Pema Chödrön, Director of Gampo Abbey, Nova Scotia

"Until now there has been no comprehensive translation nor commentary on the precepts for Buddhist nuns available in English. . . . Includes fascinating accounts of the history behind the vows and the reasons for keeping them."—Ven. Mitra Bishop, sensei, resident teacher at Mountain Gate in northern New Mexico and spiritual director of Hidden Valley Zen Center in San Marcos, California

"More than a handbook to a Buddhist monastic life, this text offers guidelines to all who wish to conduct their day-to-day lives more mindfully. Choosing Simplicity can mean saving time and energy for the important things."—Continuing Threads

"The book not only helps nurture an understanding of the meaning and value of Buddhist monasticism but also offers essential commentary in simple language for Buddhists in the West who choose a monastic lifestyle."—Karma Lekshe Tsomo, University of Hawaii

"Far from being just a dry list of rules, the material comes alive, thanks to Master Wu Yin's approach, as she discusses them based on her years of experience in living and working with them in her monastery in Taiwan. She presents the Bhikshuni Pratimoksa rules, developed by the Buddha himself, as a living body of material that is still relevant in modern life."—Elizabeth Napper, author of Mind in Tibetan Buddhism

"By examining how the ordination vows act as guidelines to promote individual peace and personal simplicity, Choosing Simplicity: A Commentary on the Bhikshuni Pratimoksha by Venerable Bhikshuni Wu Yin . . . is a glance at a feminine lifestyle that utterly challenges the attainment-based culture that women, and particularly American women, have been so thoroughly sold on. So what stress-beating experiences could reading a manual on the female Buddhist relationships to food, clothing, shelter, and possessions possibly offer? All I can tell you is that such an immersion is like taking a trip to sanity for a while; people of all faiths and cultures can benefit from even such random samples of monastic experience. Just completing a chapter I felt more mindful than when I started. And as weeks passed the precepts crept through my consciousness as I went about my days."—Shoreline Newspapers

From the Publisher
"By providing an insider's perspective on the challenges of being a Buddhist monastic and a woman, the book makes a valuable contribution to the fields of religious history, anthropology, ethics, and women's history."—Journal of Asian Studies

"Choosing simplicity in our affluent society means choosing sanity. Christians as well as Buddhists are discovering how monastic values can enrich their lives as lay people. For monastics and lay people alike, Choosing Simplicity will be a book worth reading."—Brother David Steindl-Rast, OSB, author of A Listening Heart

"It is of great importance that Buddhist monasticism become firmly established in the West. This excellent book makes a major contribution to this becoming a reality."—Pema Chödrön, Director of Gampo Abbey, Nova Scotia

"Until now there has been no comprehensive translation nor commentary on the precepts for Buddhist nuns available in English. . . . Includes fascinating accounts of the history behind the vows and the reasons for keeping them."—Ven. Mitra Bishop, sensei, resident teacher at Mountain Gate in northern New Mexico and spiritual director of Hidden Valley Zen Center in San Marcos, California

"More than a handbook to a Buddhist monastic life, this text offers guidelines to all who wish to conduct their day-to-day lives more mindfully. Choosing Simplicity can mean saving time and energy for the important things."—Continuing Threads

"The book not only helps nurture an understanding of the meaning and value of Buddhist monasticism but also offers essential commentary in simple language for Buddhists in the West who choose a monastic lifestyle."—Karma Lekshe Tsomo, University of Hawaii

"Far from being just a dry list of rules, the material comes alive, thanks to Master Wu Yin's approach, as she discusses them based on her years of experience in living and working with them in her monastery in Taiwan. She presents the Bhikshuni Pratimoksa rules, developed by the Buddha himself, as a living body of material that is still relevant in modern life."—Elizabeth Napper, author of Mind in Tibetan Buddhism

"By examining how the ordination vows act as guidelines to promote individual peace and personal simplicity, Choosing Simplicity: A Commentary on the Bhikshuni Pratimoksha by Venerable Bhikshuni Wu Yin . . . is a glance at a feminine lifestyle that utterly challenges the attainment-based culture that women, and particularly American women, have been so thoroughly sold on. So what stress-beating experiences could reading a manual on the female Buddhist relationships to food, clothing, shelter, and possessions possibly offer? All I can tell you is that such an immersion is like taking a trip to sanity for a while; people of all faiths and cultures can benefit from even such random samples of monastic experience. Just completing a chapter I felt more mindful than when I started. And as weeks passed the precepts crept through my consciousness as I went about my days."—Shoreline Newspapers

From The Critics
In Choosing Simplicity: Commentary On The Bhikshuni Pratimoksha, Venerable Bhikshuni Wu Yin discusses the precepts and lifestyle of fully ordained nuns within the Buddhist tradition. Translated for an English readership by Bhikshuni Jendy Shih, and ably edited by Bhikshuni Thubten Chodron, Choosing Simplicity offers students of Buddhism guidelines for the conduct of daily life with a more mindful orientation. Residents within a Buddhist religious community will become clear about boundaries, motivations, and how their actions may be interpreted by others. Choosing Simplicity is an impressive and valued addition to any Buddhist studies reference collection or reading list.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781559391559
  • Publisher: Shambhala Publications, Inc.
  • Publication date: 1/28/2001
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 344
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Venerable Bhikshuni Wu Yin received her novice vows in 1957 and her bhikshuni vows in 1959. She is the leader of the Luminary International Buddhist Society, which oversees study programs for nuns and laypeople, as well as translation and publishing projects.
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Read an Excerpt




Chapter One


The Importance of the Precepts


I make obeisance to all the Buddhas, the Dharma, and the Sangha. The Dharma in the Vinaya will now be expounded so the true Dharma will abide forever.


The Dharma and the Vinaya are traced back to our teacher, Shakyamuni Buddha, who lived in the sixth century B.C.E. Having initially spread throughout Asia, his teachings are now found all over the world and have benefited millions of people throughout history.

    Shila, or ethical discipline, means freedom from emotional disturbance and is an attitude of non-harmfulness. Training ourselves in ethical discipline, in conjunction with training in other aspects of the Dharma, extinguishes the three poisonous attitudes of ignorance, attachment, and anger and leads us to liberation. The main body of teachings on ethical discipline are found in the Vinaya Pitaka or "basket." Thus the term "Vinaya" refers to the collection of scriptures teaching ethical discipline as well as to the process of subduing infractions.

    Among the various Vinaya scriptures, the most essential ones are the Bhikshu Pratimoksha Sutra and the Bhikshuni Pratimoksha Sutra, which detail the precepts of the fully ordained monks and nuns respectively. Pratimoksha means "self-liberation," and refers to the goal of practicing the Vinaya: one's own liberation from the bondage of cyclic existence and the attainment of nirvana. Pratimoksha can also refer to means of attaining one's own liberation, that is, the eight typesof pratimoksha vows: those of the bhikshu, bhikshuni, shikshamana, shramanera, shramanerika, upasaka, upasika, and the one-day vow. In addition, in a general sense, pratimoksha may be used to refer to all the guidelines and precepts explained in the Vinaya.

    Precepts are the specific rules established by the Buddha to help his disciples avoid misdeeds and wrongdoings. The scope of the precepts' influence includes our conduct, habits, character, and mental states. Precepts are not commandments, but guidelines to help us subdue our physical and verbal actions, become more aware of our mental motivations, and live harmoniously with those around us. The precepts are not an external ideal being forced upon us, but points for training that we voluntarily undertake.

    As Buddhadharma spread from place to place in ancient times, different Vinaya traditions arose. Chinese Buddhists follow the Dharmaguptaka Vinaya, while the Tibetans follow the Mulasarvastivada Vinaya, and Buddhists in Sri Lanka, Thailand, Cambodia, Burma, and so on follow the Theravada Vinaya. The number of precepts in these traditions varies. For bhikshunis, the Dharmaguptaka Vinaya has 348 precepts, Mulasarvastivada has 364, and the Theravada 311. The bhikshus in those traditions respectively have 250, 253, and 227 precepts. The Vinaya of the various schools are remarkably consistent in the meaning of the precepts considering that each tradition was passed on orally in its own geographical area for many centuries before being written down. Nevertheless, a detailed analysis of this is beyond the scope of this book.

    I have put the bhikshuni precepts into categories according to topic, for example, those concerning sexual conduct, listening to admonition, methods for procuring the requisites for daily life, and so on. In this way, the various areas of a nun's life will become clear, as will the Buddha's guidelines for relating to those areas in a healthy and pure way. The basic topics to be explained are: members of the sangha, joining the sangha, the poshadha to purify and restore our precepts, basic requirements for remaining a monastic, precepts dealing with sexual contact, stealing, and other parajika, accepting admonition, right livelihood, resources for monastic life, organization in the Buddhist community, and community life.

    Any sincerely interested person—whether he or she is a monastic or not—may study the monastic precepts. However, when the bhikshus or bhikshunis do their bimonthly poshadha ceremony, only the bhikshus or bhikshunis may attend. If one has not taken the full precepts, he or she has no need to purify them through the poshadha rite. In addition, the sangha members may want to discuss privately issues relating specifically to their community at that time.

    As Buddhism has spread from one country to another, certain elements have changed according to different environments and cultures. In this regard, we must consider some important issues. For example, what adaptations can and should be made in different communities? How should monastics from various cultures, ethnic groups, and backgrounds be trained? How do the climate, geography, society, culture, and times in which we live affect how we practice Vinaya? I will not go into these questions at this moment, but keep them in mind as you study and practice the Vinaya. In exploring these issues, we must be open-minded and Not expect to find one "right" answer.

    Because the geography, climate, customs, culture, political situation, and economics have changed since the time of the Buddha, the circumstances in which we currently practice have to be taken into account. Some people advocate following every precept set up by the Buddha literally. Do you think this is possible? On the other hand, if we do not follow the Buddha's precepts, are we the Buddha's disciples? What does it mean to follow the Buddha's precepts? Are there different ways of doing so? These are serious questions to reflect upon, and people will come to different conclusions.

    In investigating this, we must distinguish the fundamental from the secondary teachings of the Buddha. I will explain the original teachings in the Vinaya Pitaka, and then sometimes discuss how the bhikshuni sangha at the Luminary Temple in Taiwan practices them. In this way, you will see one example of how the Chinese monastic community connects the tradition to the modern situation. With this as a background, Westerners will have some tools for bringing the Vinaya into their own cultures in a pure, yet practical, way.

    Bhikshunis are religious practitioners and are part of the sangha. The life style of a bhikshuni is one of spiritual practice. Since most bhikshunis live in a community, spiritual practice and community life are related. Joining the sangha is a voluntary act; we are willing and choose to live our lives as religious practitioners. Because this is our wish, we want to receive proper and complete training in the life style we have chosen, and having done that, we are committed to implement it in practice. If we decide not to be a serious monastic practitioner, we can return our vow. No one forces us to become or to remain a bhikshuni. We are free to decide. The commitment to monastic practice comes from within us.

    When we choose to join the sangha, we have to make some changes because we are entering a community. The bhikshuni sangha as a whole is our community, whether or not we live in a particular monastery. To be part of the bhikshuni sangha, we need to adapt and follow its way of life. Some actions are prohibited while others are prescribed. Doing prohibited actions, such as engaging in sexual contact, killing, stealing, lying, and so forth, violates the precepts. Similarly, neglecting to do prescribed actions, such as ordination, poshadha, rains retreat, and so on, violates the precepts. These practices are done in a community with a certain number of people and the procedure has to be legal, that is, done in the manner the Buddha described. New nuns should realize that monastic ordination is not just between them and their teacher. Rather, they are entering a community of nuns and will be guided, supported, and trained by the bhikshunis.

    In The Path of Purification (Visuddhimagga), the bhikshuni precepts are put into four categories:


1. Moral behavior for human beings

2. The method to discipline our senses

3. The livelihood of a monastic

4. Daily encounters with people, etiquette, and interactions with people


Understanding the origin of each precept—the circumstances under which the Buddha established it—is necessary to categorize them according to importance or according to topic. The meaning of a precept is not always clear from its wording. For this reason, examining the incident triggering that precept is important.

    For example, in the Buddha's time, a group of bhikshus was bathing in a pond. Beginning before sunrise, they continued for many hours, enjoying the water and helping each other put medicine on their bodies. Meanwhile, King Bimbisara waited until nightfall for the bhikshus to finish so that he could bathe. By the time the king had finished his bath, the gates of the city were locked for the evening, and he had to sleep outside. The Buddha heard about the situation and established the following precept, which for bhikshunis reads:


Prayascittika 41: A healthy bhikshuni may take a bath once every half month. If she bathes more than that, she is commits a prayascittika, unless it is done at an allowable time. The allowable times are when the weather is hot, when she is sick, when she works, when it is very windy, when it rains (and she gets wet), and when she is traveling. These are the times.


According to this precept, all healthy bhikshus and bhikshunis should not bathe more than once every half a month. However, when certain situations occurred and the Buddha was consulted, he made exceptions to this precept. For example, if monastic is sick, if the weather is hot, if a monastic has done manual labor or walked for a long time, he or she is exempt and may bathe. Nowadays, if we bathe only twice a month, what will the laypeople say? By paying close attention to the circumstances under which this precept was established, we will see the Buddha's real purpose and will be able to adapt it to our present circumstances.


The Importance of Learning the Precepts


By ordaining, we join a sangha, a community of practitioners. A sangha is not made of only one person; four or more fully ordained monastics are necessary for a sangha to exist. Pratimoksha precepts are guidelines for living and practicing together harmoniously with our fellow practitioners, so learning them is important. Beginners' ignorance of the precepts is understandable, but if we continue to live with the sangha and do not learn the precepts we make our own life difficult as well as commit the offense of being ignorant of our precepts.


Prayascittika 56: If a bhikshuni, at the time of reciting the precepts says, "Elder Sisters, what is the use of these trivial precepts? Reciting these precepts only makes one annoyed, ashamed, and suspicious," due to slighting and denigrating the precepts, she commits a prayascittika.
Prayascittika 57: Suppose a bhikshuni, at the time of reciting the precepts says, "Elder Sisters, I have just now come to know these precepts from the Pratimoksha Sutra, which is read once every half month," and other bhikshunis know that this bhikshuni has attended the recitation of the precepts two or three times, or even more. Even if she is without knowledge and understanding, if she commits an offense, she should be properly dealt with, and more so for the offense of not knowing. They say to her, "Elder Sister, you are not benefited and not good because you were not mindful during the recitation of the precepts and did not listen with undivided attention. Due to not knowing (the precepts), she commits a prayascittika.


In the Buddha's time some bhikshus were lazy and said, "Why should we go through so much trouble to learn these burdensome precepts?" They did not pay attention when the precepts were recited every half-month in the poshadha ceremony to purify and restore the precepts. In response, the Buddha established these two precepts to stress the importance of learning the precepts. If a bhikshuni ignores learning the precepts and ignorantly transgresses a precept, she commits the offense of whatever precept she transgressed as well as these two additional offenses. Therefore, monastics in the Chinese Buddhist community primarily study the pratimoksha for the first five years after ordination. With that as a foundation, we learn the Dharma and meditation in depth. In this way, we can continue our spiritual journey in an effective way.

    The Vinaya deals with many of our daily life activities, for example, how to procure and use food, clothing, and lodging. It also discusses how to interact with other nuns and laypeople, how to live together as a community, and so on. Since the Vinaya deals with so many practical topics of our daily life, we learn it first. Doing so enables us to live together with others harmoniously, increases our mindfulness, and enhances our care and consideration for others.

    The moment we join the sangha, don the robes, and shave our head, we become monastics, regardless of our age or gender. People see us as monastics and expect us to be religious practitioners. If we do not learn the precepts, people will say, "This person looks like a religious practitioner but does not act like one. She acts like a regular person, but does not look like one." Then we will be a stranger in the world.

    Just after the Buddha's enlightenment, he encountered two merchants on the road and taught them the Dharma. At that time, only the Buddha and Dharma refuges existed. The Sangha refuge came into existence later when the Buddha taught the five bhikshus in Deer Park, near Varanasi. At the beginning, Buddhist monastics were of very high quality. They behaved well and earned people's respect. Because of their good qualities, they did not need precepts to regulate their behavior, and thus initially, the Buddha instructed and guided the monastics, but no precepts existed.

    Because society trusted and supported the monastics, many people followed their example and joined the sangha. However, not all of them had the proper motivation. At first, beggars and practitioners of other religions followed the sangha to receive leftovers after the monastics had completed their meal. But as time went on, some of these people joined the sangha simply so they could receive the food and clothing offered to the sangha. Other people joined the sangha to avoid paying their debts. Their relatives treated them well, but ignored serious practitioners. As the sangha grew, problems such as these inevitably arose. Because some monastics acted improperly, the Buddha began to establish precepts to regulate their behavior.

    Although some people take ordination with the wrong motivation, in my experience, most people join the sangha with the bodhichitta motivation. However, people do go through ups and downs in their practice. In the Chinese community we say that during the first two years after ordination, the Buddha is still in front of us. In the third and fourth year, the Buddha is in the air; and from the fifth year onwards, the Buddha has gone to Sukhavati, the Western Paradise, so keeping our initial inspiration becomes difficult! Since we are not enlightened, our disturbing attitudes arise, and we have to deal with them. In addition, we face aging, illness, and balancing service for others with meditation practice and study. Further, a community must discuss and decide which of its members will study, teach, do administrative jobs, and engage in advanced meditation. All these issues come up in our lives, and working with them is part of our spiritual practice. The Vinaya is rich with stories of similar situations, giving us many examples and much advice about how to resolve them.


The Ten Advantages of Establishing Precepts


The Buddha did not make all the precepts before creating the sangha. Rather, each precept was established following a specific incident. Many of the bhikshunis' precepts arose in response to actions done by bhikshus. In addition, other precepts were created due to bhikshunis' actions.

    The Buddha established the precepts gradually. The first were the shikshakaraniya, the training rules. Initially these were sufficient guidance for the Buddha's disciples. Later, a few monastics did more serious negative actions and the other precepts came into existence. The first incident prompting the establishment of a major precept occurred twelve years after the Buddha's enlightenment when Bhikshu Kalandaka went back to his family and had sexual relations with his former wife. When monastics misbehaved, the Buddha did not beat them. Rather, he scolded them and established a precept to discourage others from acting similarly in the future.

    Before establishing each precept, the Buddha mentioned the ten advantages of precepts. Each precept has these ten advantages, and they clarify the Buddha's reasons for setting up precepts. The first three reasons are to promote harmony in the sangha:

1. To direct the monastics

When we take full ordination, we are the newborns of the sangha, and sangha is pleased to have us. However, like newborns, our good qualities need to be developed. This comes about through kind yet firm discipline. By observing the discipline of the precepts, our physical, verbal, and mental behaviors are directed in positive ways, and our good qualities are shaped and made steady.

2. To foster peace and happiness among the monastics

The monastic community rests upon a sound foundation of discipline, and serious implementation of the precepts acts as the centripetal force holding the sangha together.

3. To protect the monastics

Generally speaking, equality is the basis for harmony. Thus to make the first and second advantages possible, sangha members must be equal in sharing similar views, following the same precepts, and caring equally about the welfare of each member. By living harmoniously together while practicing the Dharma and Vinaya, monastics can focus their attention on individual progress. They will not, intentionally or unintentionally, destroy the Dharma or create disturbance in the sangha. In this way, following precepts naturally protects the monastics and makes their life together comfortable.

    Although the Buddha often asked kings, ministers, and Dharma, protectors to guard the Three Jewels, the real responsibility to protect the Three Jewels lies with the monastics. The Buddha often said he is one member of the sangha, and that he, together with all the other monastics, must work to improve the world and the environment. In this way, these first three advantages contribute to the harmony of the sangha.

    The next two advantages of the precepts transform society:

4. To inspire those who have no faith in the Dharma

5. To advance the practice of those who already have faith

The sangha exists in relationship to society: new sangha members come from the general public; our support comes through the kindness of the laypeople; and we exist within the context of society. For these reasons, the sangha should contribute to the welfare of laypeople in return. Even if we meditate in solitude, we still depend on others' kindness. At every stage of our practice we need the support of both the sangha and the lay community. Ignoring or quarreling with laypeople shows a lack of compassion and has negative repercussions. For example, Tsantuo, a very argumentative bhikshu during the Buddha's time, provoked the dislike of the laypeople who, in turn, refused to support him. This, of course, made him even angrier!
The relationship between laypeople and sangha is an interactive one. As religious practitioners, we cultivate not only our internal spiritual capacities, but also our ability to help others learn and practice the Dharma. The sangha fulfills its responsibility to the larger society by inspiring people who at first did not see the value of the Dharma and by advancing the spiritual welfare of sangha members and laypeople who already have faith.
Working for the spiritual welfare of others not only includes teaching the Dharma, leading ceremonies, and guiding meditations, but also involves offering service to the lay community and to the monastic community. For example, sangha members distribute among themselves the work required to oversee the temple's operations and the coordination of its Dharma events. Our focus in observing precepts is not just our individual benefit, but the welfare of the community as well.


The following four advantages bring about our individual liberation:

6. To restrain the restive

7. To stabilize those who have a sense of integrity

These two advantages speak of resolving monastics' wrongdoings and conflict. According to their degree of severity, we purify our mistakes and transgressions of precepts by a veriety of means. Simple lapses are confessed to either another bhikshuni in private or to the community during poshadha, our bimonthly confession ceremony. Transgression of a sanghavashesha entails temporary suspension of a monastic's rights in the community, and full transgression of a parajika means the person is permanently expelled from the sangha. As sangha, our main purpose is not to pretend to be pure. We are not yet arhats or bodhisattvas, so naturally we will err. Therefore, our main purpose is to recognize our mistakes, know the methods to purify them, and apply these methods. In this way we maintain the sangha's purity. The point of our spiritual journey is not never to commit any offenses, but to purify them when we do. Without our first being immature monastics, we could not grow to become mature ones.

8. To eliminate present defilements

9. To prevent defilements from arising in the future

We initially join the sangha in order to tame our mind, eliminate our defilements, and prevent new defilements from arising. Through this, we will be able to offer service to others with the bodhichitta motivation, and eventually, we will liberate ourselves from cyclic existence. As we progress in this direction, our attachment, anger, and other defilements; will grow thinner, and our good qualities will increase. These last four advantages are for the purpose of our individual liberation.

    While the first nine advantages are a detailed explanation of the advantages of precepts, the tenth states their ultimate purpose:

10. For the Dharma to be forever sustained

This is the ultimate goal of all the previous advantages and is contained in our opening prayer, "I make obeisance to the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha. The Dharma in the Vinaya will now be expounded so that the true Dharma may abide forever." Some of the previous founding Buddhas—those who first turned the Dharma wheel when Buddhism was unknown in the world—did not teach Vinaya elaborately while they were alive. As a result, after their parinirvana, their Dharma declined because no model existed for practitioners to follow. Shakyamuni Buddha, with great compassion, established the Vinaya extensively so that his Dharma could last forever. Interestingly, the ultimate goal is not our own enlightenment; it is preserving the Dharma and causing it to flourish so that others can learn and practice it.

The advantage of establishing precepts can be summarized as follows:

    In detail:

1. To promote harmony within the sangha
    · To direct the monastics
    · To make monastics peaceful and happy
    · To protect monastics
2. To transform the society
    · To inspire those without faith
    · To advance the practice of those with faith
3. To bring about individual liberation
    · To restrain the restive
    · To stabilize those with a sense of integrity
    · To eliminate present defilements
    · To prevent defilements from arising in the future In general:
1. The ultimate goal · For the Dharma to be forever sustained By repeating these ten advantages before establishing each new precept, the Buddha encouraged us to actualize them by keeping the precepts as purely as possible. Observing each precept has an effect on the individual, on the relationships among individuals, on the relationship between the individual and the community, and on the relationship between the sangha and society.

    The Buddha created each precept for the benefit of common practitioners like us, as is evident from the following story. Once, many Brahmins in a village repeatedly requested the Buddha to accept their support for the sangha for the three months of the summer retreat. The Buddha accepted. However, due to famine in the land, the Brahmins forgot their promise, and the sangha did not have food. When a group of horse traders passed by, the Buddha's disciples had no other choice but to ask them for food. All the horse traders had to offer was grass for the horses, and out of respect to the Buddha, they gave him double the amount given to the other bhikshus.

    The Buddha's attendant, Ananda, ground the grass into powder, mixed it with water, and offered it to the Buddha. Because many bhikshus experienced indigestion after eating the grass, one monk who was famous for his superhuman powers thought to use them to go to another place and collect better alms. The Buddha asked him, "You have the superhuman power to do this, but what will happen to those who do not?" He replied that he would take a few monks with him each time so that they could have better food as well. The Buddha questioned him further, "How about those disciples in the future who have neither superhuman powers nor you to help them?" Here we see that the Buddha's primary focus was the welfare of ordinary practitioners. Similarly, he established the precepts for the benefit of us common practitioners, not for those with superhuman powers or those who are aryas or arhats.

    The ten advantages of establishing precepts are for us to implement and realize. Although we are not yet liberated, we are protected by the devoted practitioners of the past. Our present opportunity to practice the Dharma is due to their kindness. They worked hard to observe the precepts and practice the Dharma, so that society and the individuals in it would benefit and have faith in the Dharma. It is now our time. We have the responsibility to observe the precepts and practice the Dharma, so that the Buddhadharma will exist for those in future generations. Through our efforts, we can bring purity to the world and become the hope of others. We can prolong the existence of Three Jewels in the world. This is our responsibility.

THE HITLER VIRUS
The Insidious Legacy of Adolf Hitler


By PETER WYDEN

Arcade Publishing

Copyright © 2001 Peter H. Wyden, Inc.. All rights reserved.

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Table of Contents

Foreword: A Message from Lama Thubten 7
Editor's Preface 13
A Contemporary Cultural Perspective on Monastic Life 27
The Motivation for and the Benefits of Monastic Ordination 39
1 The Importance of the Precepts 47
2 An Overview of the Vinaya 63
3 The Members of the Sangha 73
4 Joining the Sangha 91
5 Poshadha: Purifying and Restoring Our Precepts 111
6 The Boundaries for Remaining a Monastic 131
7 Working with Attachment: Root Precepts Regarding Sexual Contact 147
8 The Sticky Nature of Attachment: More Precepts Concerning Sexual and Physical Conduct 161
9 Taking What Has Not Been Freely Given: Precepts Regarding Stealing 187
10 The Remaining Root Precepts: Abandoning Killing, Lying, Concealing Others' Transgressions, and Going against the Sangha's Decisions 203
11 Looking at Our Stubborn and Rebellious Side: Precepts about Refusing to Accept Admonition 217
12 Right Livelihood 229
13 Resources for Monastic Life: Robes 249
14 Resources for Monastic Life: Food, Medicine, Lodging, and Travel 267
15 Organization in the Buddhist Community 277
16 Community Life 285
Epilogue 311
App Preliminary and Concluding Rituals for the Recital of the Bhikshuni Pratimoksha Sutra 313
Notes 319
Glossary 327
Further Reading 333
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