White Wind Zen Community

A Community practising and teaching Dogen’s Zen since 1985

Every Breath You Take 26: Receiving The Complete Precepts

Dharma Talk presented by Ven. Shikai Zuiko O-sensei

Dainen-ji, June 28th, 2008


...that one right now that's slightly moving your shoulders up and down,
expanding the rib cage...

lets you know that you are alive. 

There's a bodymind around the breath. 

There's seeing
and hearing
and tasting
and touching
and feeling
and smelling
and you can make a choice
and another choice
and another choice as long
as that breath continues to move the bodymind in and out. 

The choice is pretty simple:
Will you choose contraction?
Or will you see whatever is going on,
recognize that, 
that seeing is a moment of mindfulness,
is a moment of waking up?

Use that moment.
Practise that moment.
Practise it because
as you practise it
there will be more of it,
there will be more waking up,
there will be more recognition that you are Buddha. 

You are Awake Awareness. You are Awareness in itself. 

That gets obscured and that's what brings us to practice.
We recognize that there's more than social cultures (all of them).
Which are fictions.
That social cultures are fictions.
There may be just a little flash
and we follow it because we start to understand
through the experience of the whole bodymind in the whole moment
that there's more available. 

We enter into practice,
we come across instruction
that self-image of course wants to co-opt.
It will memorize the words.
That's easy.
It will spout back the words.
Well, it thinks that's easy.
And it thinks it's fooling itself. 

And it thinks it's fooling everyone around. 

Sleazy little—blank, blank, blank, blank, blank blank blank.
Self-image is a nasty little thing.
And it's not one thing.
It's all those moments of contraction that come up for each and every one of us.
And they've come up for each and every practitioner for 2600 years.
That's why we can talk about it.

But self-image, again, wants to isolate itself.
It creates this structure, "self",
with everything else being "other".
That's pretty simple
and self-image is not used to keeping things simple.
Because if things are simple it, of course, is exposed. 

And because we've made our sense of "self" into the central thing,
everything else is fringe
so this "self"
is "me me me me me".

All we have to do is see it.
It doesn't mean that in that instant that pattern is going to be wiped out entirely,
will never happen again,
and everything is going to be "blissful".

You know.
That's not going to happen.
Not on the first attempt anyway.
[students laugh loudly and long] 

It's another fiction that we tend to believe in. 

Now here's a little hint.
When these contractions come up if there's an,
"if only I—blank blank blank blank blank—
everything would be great and I'd be happy". 

That's at the root of these fictions. 

So, with every breath you take,
feel it,
sit up straight,
open the eye gaze.
It could be your last one.
And that's just true.
Nobody in the course of human history has gotten out alive. 

(And it's funny; people are still waiting to hear from beyond.) 

We enter into practice and we have a glimpse,
it could be a big flash,
it could be just a little hint,
it could be anything,
because all of our reasons for coming to practise are suspect,
because they're generated,
on the whole,
by self-image.

And we practise,
we go through different stages,
and in this series of Dharma Talks
we've addressed a lot of aspects of what a student experiences;
they practise,
they become a general student,
they become a formal student, they take precepts. 

The first are the Three Jewels. And the Three Jewels: 

Awareness is the only condition.

(Remember that. Awareness is the only condition.)

All that is arises as the display of Awareness.

This is the seamless expanse of all that is. 

And as has been said over and over again in this series of Dharma Talks
and the Roshi's teachings
and the teachings of every Teacher in the Lineage;
everything, everything,
is contained in those first three precepts. 

The longer we practise,
the more vulnerable we allow ourselves to be,
the more risks we take in exposing thoughts, feelings, and so forth,
the more we are able to practise and the more you understand. 

Today's verse, 

Receiving the complete precepts,
"May all beings

Fulfill the practices of freedom

And master the ultimate Teaching." 

Now, self-image might want to jump on that,
mastering "the ultimate Teaching"
something way far in the future
that it has to scrabble to climb up to,
get on top of,
and claim for itself.

So when any little thoughts like that come up:
feel the breath,
sit up straight,
open the eye gaze,
because you have seen
the functioning of the process of perception and cognition,
the narrowing of attention,
whatever makes it occur,
whatever is the cause,
and whenever it occurs,
no problem.

You've seen it; makusa,
do nothing.
The seeing is enough,
allow the bodymind to practise itself in that moment,
to feel the breath,
to sit up straight,
to open the eye gaze,
and it takes longer to talk about that
than it does to do it.
Save your energy, kids.
[students laugh] 

After the Three Jewels have been received,
the student can ask to move on and to ask to receive the Three Pure Precepts. 

Wrong action does not arise.

There is only the arising of benefit.
There is only the benefit of all beings. 

Now who could deny "the benefit of all beings"? 

Even if we hear it and think it's airy-fairy and impossible.
Well... wouldn't it be nice? 

And as your practice continues,
working with precepts to help you question into your moment to moment experiencing,
you start to understand what these words may mean,
you start to have hints,
but it is not complete.
The next of the precepts,
The Ten Grave Precepts. 

...and at this point a commitment is made that is deeper, fuller, more specific,
and gives you a chance to look at your moment to moment experiencing more clearly. 

And questions may come up.
Self-image will say,
"Oh, I know the answer to that question.
So I'm going to do just whatever the f... I feel like".

All you have to do is see that;
feel the breath,
sit up straight,
open the eye gaze.
It's another fiction. 

Now you'd think that with all this self-image and its fictions around
that the stories would become more interesting.
Apparently that's just not the case.
Apparently since the beginning of story telling time
they've pretty well been all the same based on,
"gimme gimme gimme gimme gimme" and
"if only...blah blah blah...I'd be happy for the rest of my life."

And that goes across all the social and cultural distinctions that we human beings have fabricated.

The Ten Grave Precepts 

There is no killing.

There is no stealing.

There is no sexual misconduct.

There is no lying.

There is no trafficking in delusion.

There is no slander.

There is no slander for one's own benefit.
There is no miserliness.

There is no anger.

There is no defilement of the Three Jewels. 

Now all sorts of thoughts might have come up.
All sorts of little contractions with stances and strategies.
No problem. 

There's nothing you can do about any of them right now
because I'm not taking questions at this point.
[students laugh] 

So just see them.
Allow them to remind the bodymind to
feel the breath,
sit up straight,
open the eye gaze.
Practise that moment of clear seeing.

And remember you can ask any question you want in daisan or a practice interview.
That's how we learn. 

Unlike courtrooms where young lawyers are told
"not to ask questions that you do not know the answer to",
you can ask any question,
especially if you don't know the answer to it.
You might not have the exact words and self-image will say,
"Hmm, well I'd really like to say this better and I know it may sound stupid..."
That's called covering your ass, right? 
[students laugh] 

You do your best.
You bumble along and eventually,
as this practice wastes nothing,
you will see more deeply into your own experiencing 

As students receive precepts
and commit themselves to fulfilling them as best they possibly can
various other practices will be given to individual students.

Now, there is no point in going into this at this moment,
as, with all of practice,
your understanding opens
and as your understanding opens
you are given tools that will help you open your understanding even further. 

When you start as an associate student
you may remember,
or may have noticed,
the forms are kept to a minimum.

Because students are learning how to practise.
Now if a baby's learning how to eat
they may get a little plastic knife.
To give them a scalpel wouldn't be a good idea.
You have to learn to use the tools
and as facility with using the tools develops,
more tools are available. 

When a person has developed a certain facility,
has expressed a certain dedication,
and sincerity,
a willingness, and a desire,
through their own recognition of the truth of the teachings,
to receive the complete precepts
then they will receive the Forty-eight Supporting Precepts.
And the commitment to working with experiencing is deepened. 

The Supporting Precepts are more detailed.
They give us a stronger, a bigger, magnifying glass
for looking at our own experiencing
and for noticing what's happening,
what the experiences of the bodymind are,
and they will be more and more detailed
because we're no longer committed to the belief in the fictional self.
That has opened through the diligence and sincerity up to this point. 

I vow to respect teachers and students.

I vow to recognize intoxication and to refrain from it.

I vow to recognize the Life that lives as all lives in how I prepare and am nourished by food.
I vow to recognize lust and refrain from arousing it.

I vow to recognize, practise and teach purity.
I vow to to make offerings and request Dharma.

I vow to always listen to explanations of the Sutras and Precepts.
I vow to recognize the All-Embracing Mind and never turn from it.
I vow to always care for the ill.
I vow to never possess weapons.

I vow to never act in support of any nation's military.

I vow to recognize and avoid engaging in uncompassionate dealings that profit from the suffering of others.
I vow to recognize and correct biased or deviant teachings.

I vow to never corrupt the Dharma for personal gain.

I vow to recognize coercion and to refrain from it.
I vow to serve as an instructor only when my understanding is adequate.
I vow to recognize double tongued speech and to refrain from it.
I vow to never fail to liberate beings.

I vow to recognize vengeance and to refrain from revenge.
I vow to recognize and release arrogance and never fail to request Dharma.
I vow to refrain from slighting others and speaking the Dharma in a biased manner.
I vow to unceasingly practise and study the Bodhisattva Teachings.

I vow to refrain from creating discord in the sangha.

I vow to recognize selfishness and to refrain from withholding offerings.

I vow to refrain from accepting discriminatory situations.

I vow to refrain from causing discriminatory situations.

I vow to recognize wrong livelihood and to refrain from it.

I vow to recognize entanglement in secular affairs and to refrain from it.

I vow to always act to protect sacred objects and individuals.
I vow to refrain from harming sentient beings.
I vow to recognize unwholesome involvement in entertainment and refrain from it.

I vow to never sway even momentarily from Bodaishin.

I vow to always make great vows.

I vow to always bring forth strong resolve.

I vow to always practise Fusatsu and retreats and to refrain from dangerous and foolish wanderings.
I vow to observe proper order when sitting with the sangha.
I vow to always cultivate blessings and wisdom.

I vow to confer the Precepts appropriately and without bias.

I vow to never act as an instructor for the sake of profit.

I vow to present the Precepts only where it will be of benefit.

I vow to never deliberately violate the Precepts.
I vow to always make offerings to the Sutras and Precepts.

I vow to always teach beings.

I vow to always preserve the inherent dignity of the Dharma.
I vow to never establish regulations which contradict the Dharma.

I vow to always maintain the Dharma. 

The verse again, 

Receiving the complete precepts,
"May all beings

Fulfill the practices of freedom

And master the ultimate Teaching." 

This is Buddha.

Awareness is the only condition.

Realized practice is the bodying forth of this realization moment to moment. 

With this breath,

with every breath you take,
see it,

be it. 

Have fun.

Thank you for listening.