The Three Pure Precepts

With palms together,
Good Afternoon Sangha,

This afternoon I would like to talk to you about the Three Pure Precepts. These are the first precpets after the Three Refuges in the list of Sixteen Bodhisattva Vows. The Three Pure Precepts are as follows: Cease doing evil; Do good; Do good for all beings.

To cease doing evil is really simple. One just stops doing bad stuff. What bad stuff, you ask? Anything that harms another being. Within this precept are all the others. Ahimsa, that old Hindu concept of non-harming is at the source. If we at least do not harm, we are doing well.

Second, a positive precept, do good. What good? Anything that will be good to do. Good and bad do not exist independently of our behavior, We must bring good into the world, just as we cease bringing bad into the world. All it takes is a willingnerss to be present and do what is necessary.

Third, bring about good for all beings, now this one is a challenge. Its a call to social action, like the Jewish concept of T'zadikah or Christian charity. We are not isolated beings, living on islands apart from each other. We are on a planet where the whole eco-system is interdependent on us. We should care for all beings, nurture all beings, be well in a world of pain and suffering and bring a relief to as much suffering as we can. This is a challenge for most of us as we tend to live as if we are in bubbles. As we all know, however, bubbles are quite delicate and are esily popped. None of us can afford social isolation any more.

One need not be a Zen Buddhist to do these things. One simply needs to be willing to care.

Be well.


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