Suffering is in the heart, happiness is also in the heart. Everything in this world is born of the heart. A heart full of virtue and a heart full of sin are from the thoughts in the heart. So, which direction will we walk to? A wise man will choose the way of the good which is the path to the light. Precepts are in the heart. So, if you have a good heart, it means you are holding the precepts. Today, we will share with you a conversation between a man and the great Dhamma Master, Luang Pu Mun Bhuridatta. It is very valuable as it clarifies the precepts holding to everyone.
The man: “Venerable sir, I heard that you hold only one precept, not all 227 precepts like other monks. Is that right?”
Luang Pu: “Yes, I hold only one precept”
The man: “What is that precept you are holding?”
Luang Pu: “It’s the mind”
The man: “So you don’t hold 227 precepts, do you?”
Luang Pu: “As I keep my mind from thinking and doing wrong things that violate any rules set by the Buddha, I can be confident that I don’t do anything against the Buddhist principles. Anyone can say that he observes the 227 precepts, but it’s all up to his thoughts and his words. For me, I have strictly kept my mind as the principal of the body and speech since I’ve been ordained.”
The man: “So, holding the precepts means we have to take care of our mind. Is that right?
Luang Pu: “If you don’t take care of your mind, what will you do to have a good moral conduct?” Only dead people don’t need to take care of their mind, body or speech as they have no intention to hold the precepts. That’s why the wise don’t call the dead the moral ones. I’m not a dead person so I don’t keep the precepts like the dead. I have to perfectly keep morality in my mind.”
The man: “I learned from the book that if we are well-behaved, bodily and verbally, that means we are holding the precepts.Then I understand that keeping the precepts doesn’t require to maintain the mind so I asked this question.”
Luang Pu: “It’s correct to say that having proper manner, bodily and verbally means holding the precepts. But the body and speech can be moral only from the mind. It depends on how the mind commands yourself to control your body and speech so that you will be a respectable person. Even other businesses need the mind to take control to avoid mistakes and ensure the perfect quality of work. In medical treatment, they have to find the cause of the disease so they know how to cure it. If a person maintains morality without the mind as the chief, he will have tainted morality. He will be a pathetic person because his Dhamma will lead him to a useless life and take him to nowhere. This will not morally benefit the person and also look unworthy for others. And it will badly affect Buddhism.”
The man: “What is the condition of the word ‘precepts’ and what are the true precepts?”
Luang Pu: “A man who holds the precepts has consciousness in his thinking. He knows what he should or should not think of. He is careful with the three doors. He controls his body, speech and mind to act under the precepts. Holding the precepts is a normal condition – that is not acting through body, speech and mind with ugly manner. The good conduct of a moral person means the true precepts. It’s difficult to separate the precepts from the person who holds them. It’s not like a house and the owner that are different and can be separated. It’s difficult to separate the precepts and people. And for me, they cannot be separated. Even the result that is the kind heart coming from observing the precepts is inseparable. If the precepts can be separated, they could become a long-standing commodity or there might be thieves steal all morals from people. As such, morality would bring trouble to the owner, just like any other treasure. Also, it could make Buddhists tired of morality because it would not be safe for them to have it.
Therefore, not knowing what true precepts are can be dangerous to the precepts and also the person holding them. That’s why I don’t want to separate the precepts from myself. Even if they could be separated, it would be dangerous. But as they cannot be separated from me like this, I feel warm in my heart. When I go or stay anywhere, I don’t need to worry that the precepts will disappear or I will die and leave the precepts behind. Otherwise, after I die, I would become a ghost guarding my precepts like people who care about their treasure, then would be reborn as ghosts to watch over their property and could never be born in higher realm.”
Master Acharavadee Wongsakon
Translation: Krittiya Teerachaichayut