The four virtuous modes of verbal activity are here equated to the
precept of refraining from untruth. Improper remarks can even be more
false than untrue ones, and honeyed words are dishonest. Obscenity and
pornography move people's hearts in an immoral direction.

Two-faced speech serves only to stir up ill will and instigate trouble
on both sides of the fence. It can cause people to separate from their
own flesh and blood and cause loved ones to become enemies; on a small
scale, it can disrupt a family, and, on a larger one, it can lead to
global warfare.

The use of ugly speech means to make insulting remarks continually. One
uses abusive and intolerable speech to insult others and does not seem
to realize the effect of one's own abrasive language. This manner of
speech is distorted and unprofitable and so is included in the category
of lying.

The three virtuous mental actions are the positive counterparts to the
fifth precept of refraining from intoxicants. Grasping and clinging
means excessive craving for those things that one should renounce. One
craves continually for more and more, never being satisfied with what
one has. Being full of anger means the absence of compassion for
sentient beings and their situation. Ignorant and unenlightened states
of mind and action refer to the ignorant of clinging to heterodox views
and non-possessing of that wisdom that would let one follow the correct
path. These ignorant and unwise states also refer to that condition
where one is full of uncontrollable desires and is foolishly drowning in
the sea of false views about the nature of reality. Therefore, one who
aspires to tread the Bodhisattva Path must develop right thought and
shed all heterodox views. Craving, aversion and delusion are everybody's
problem and are referred to in the Buddhadharma as the three poisons or
the three roots of unskillfulness. A person who has extinguished these
three poisons in himself is called holy. One who aims to practice
Bodhisattva Dharma should practice generosity, compassion and wisdom,
which are the antidotes for these three roots of unskillfulness. It is
said that if the protecting embankment of the precepts is broken, the
evil waves of the three poisons will overflow, flooding and destroying
the personality.

The observation of the five precepts will insure that the relationships
and moral practice of human society are perfect. To practice the
Bodhisattva Dharma, it is essential that the aspirant have a moderately
balanced and wholesome temperament. If the stability of personality and
behavior is insufficient, where can the Bodhisattva Dharma make its
appearance? The observation of the precepts will lend the necessary
stability, balance and wholesomeness to one's personality. The
cultivation of these ten virtues alone will insure one an unobstructed
entrance into the realm of the devas. Because craving, aversion and
delusion are kept in check, the mind will be calm and full of peace and
quite suitable for contemplative practice. If rebirth in heaven states
occurs, the time will not be spent in idle enjoyment of celestial bliss
but rather in further practice of the Bodhisattva Tao. Whether in the
human or the deva worlds, the Bodhisattva Path consists in continually
practicing virtuous action and developing wisdom. The Bodhisattva
extends loving-kindness and compassion to all sentient beings and
teaches and illustrates, by example, the Bodhisattva Tao in whatever
realm of existence he finds himself.


According to the Buddha's Teaching, the five precepts and the ten
virtues constitute what is called the UPASAKA or UPASIKA dharma. The
upasaka/upasika is a man or a woman who practices the Buddhadharma in
lay life and who protects and serves the Triple Jewel. These two
categories of lay disciples together with the SRAMANERAS and the
BHIKKHUS become the four-fold assembly of Buddha's disciples.
The sramanera is a novice monk, and the bhiksu is a fully ordained
member of the Buddhist Sangha. After taking the complete education and
training of a sramanera, one is eligible to become a bhiksu. The
sramanera depends upon a bhiksu master to administer the higher
ordination, and it is the responsibility of the master to train and
educate the sramanera fully since he will become the guardian and heir
of the Dharma in the future. This education consists of the following:
the VINAYA, or essential rules of monastic deportment and behavior; the
Buddhist Sutras; the commentaries of later Patriarchs and teachers,
called Sastras; and the essentials of meditation practice. Unless the
sramanera is will grounded in these teachings, the Dharma master should
not take the responsibility involved in conferring the bhiksu
ordination. A traditional saying states: "A Dharma master must not have
any dumb sheep;" i.e., a monk who cannot comprehend and spread the
Dharma. The term "sramanera" possesses several meanings. One meaning is
"to cease" in the sense of achieving a state of mind wherein one's
craving, aversion and delusion cease. Another meaning is "kindness" in
the sense of achieving a state of mind wherein one can practice loving-
kindness, or MAITRI.

One who desires to leave home-life and practice as a sramanera must be
able to observe the ten precepts. These are as follows:

Not killing,
Not stealing,
Celibacy, or /brahmacarya/,
Not lying,
Not taking intoxicants,
Not using garlands of flowers, jewelry, perfumes, etc.,
Not listening to music or attending movies, operas, etc.,
Not sleeping on high or broad beds,
Not eating food after twelve noon, and
Refraining from acquiring money and valuables.

The first five precepts are the same as those held by lay disciples,
with one notable exception. The third lay precept of refraining from
adultery or sex which accuses trouble is changed to the observance of
complete celibacy for Sangha members.

The sixth precept is to refrain from the use of flower garland, makeup,
perfumes and other manner of personal adornment. To enhance one's
personal attractiveness to the opposite sex has no place in the lives of
Sangha members who are trying to attain the knowledge and vision of

The seventh precept is to refrain from taking part in dancing, singing,
musical and theatrical performances, etc. Disciples who have left home
should not view or listen to such things, for the places in which they
are taking place usually have no connection with spiritual life. The
subject matter of popular music and drama only serves to perpetuate
illusions about the nature of this world and has little or nothing to do
with the practice path to Bodhi.

The eighth precept is to refrain from sleeping on a high or broad bed.
One who has renounced the life of luxury and the priorities of personal
comfort and sense pleasure has no need a simple seat and a low bed. For
the disciple who has left home, a simple seat and a low bed or mat
should be more than sufficient.

The ninth precept is to refrain from eating after midday. One who has
left home should try to imitate the great Patriarchs and teachers of the
past, who usually took only one meal a day, which was in the forenoon.
Satisfaction with one full meal before noon has many benefits, one of
which is that a disciple has more time to study and practice Dharma.
Another benefit is that one is not plagued with tiredness and lethargy
due to overeating and can enjoy better health. It is also said that the
hungry ghosts, or pretas, seek their nourishment in the evening; and
when they hear the sounds of monk's bowl, their hunger and suffering
increase. Therefore, out of compassion for them the disciple who has
left home does not eat in the evening.

The tenth precept is to refrain from acquiring money, jewels, and other
valuables. An increase of greed and desire for fame and will surely
occur if one acquires these things. Those disciples who have left home
should live a tranquil life without the desire for worldly gain, and
their needs should be met by the offerings of the lay disciples.

The first five precepts form the sila, or moral discipline--the basis of
the four barga, or groups--of the Buddha's disciples. The sramanera
must, in addition to the first five precepts, observe and maintain these
five additional precepts, the first four of which are precept is to
abandon the wealth that laypeople depend on. In this way the monk's life
is devoid of personal property, and he truly lives up to the
designation: "homeless one."

The bhiksu, then, is the disciple who has taken the higher ordination in
the Buddhadharma. The term "bhiksu" comes from the Sanskrit root-verb
"bhiksa" meaning "to beg". Bhiksu means one who is without home and
property and is dependent on almsfood to support the body. A bhiksu
should enjoy a tranquil life of renunciation, possessing only three
robes and a bowl. Like a bird flying anywhere, devoid of property and
possessions, so the bhiksu goes. Travelling anywhere, observing strictly
the monastic Vinaya, the bhiksu spreads the Dharma and maintains the
Buddha's Way in this world.

The bhiksu precepts number 250 and include the sramanera discipline.
They constitute a code of refined conduct and discipline concerning the
bhiksu's deportment while he is walking, standing, sitting, sleeping,
talking, silent, etc. If the bhiksu maintains his Vinaya, his respect-
inspiring deportment is complete, and he is competent to maintain the
Buddhadharma in this world. The discipline of bhikkhus is complete; that
of sramneras is partial. However, both have as their basis the ten
precepts, which are called the perfect discipline of one who leaves


The eight precepts are the discipline of laypeople engaged in short
training periods or in preparation to leave home. Because the world of
laypeople with its work and family obligations can be fatiguing, both
mentally and physically, the Buddhist tradition allows and encourages
periods of retreat.

During these periods, the lay disciples accept the eight precepts and
experience a bit of the peace of a will-ordered and disciplined life. In
this way, they can develop more understand of the Buddhadharma and enjoy
a clarity of mind analogous to the happiness of spring-time. The
layman's precepts are the same as the first nine of the sramanera's
precepts, the sixth and seventh being combined to make the total of
eight. It is customary in Buddhist countries to observe these precepts
on the new- and full-moon days of the lunar calendar. The precepts close
the doors to the realms of woe (apaya-bhumi) and open the doors to the
heaven-worlds and the realms of the sage.