Special Topics

Q4: Is it enough to just do good deeds regularly, or is it necessary to also observe the precepts? How should the precepts be broadly applied in our daily lives?

Doing good deeds regularly may help us cultivate karmic blessings. However, if we fail to observe the five precepts and create negative karma instead, we will very likely not qualify for a human rebirth in our next life. For example, some pet animals may be enjoying a lot of karmic blessings, yet they have no way of directly engaging in Buddhist study and practice the same way that humans do. Therefore, the observance of the five precepts is the required spiritual provision for those who wish to be reborn in the human realm again.

Of course, Buddhist precepts are not limited to the five precepts. In a broader sense, precepts involve constantly maintaining a mindset of respect and care for all sentient beings. As the Buddha taught his disciples, "Do no evil; perform good deeds; purify your mind. These are the teachings of all Buddhas."

The first two statements involve refraining from committing evil through our bodies and speech, as well as doing good deeds for the benefit of others. On the other hand, "purifying the mind" represents the very essence of upholding the precepts.

We can start by first cultivating good habits with our bodily and verbal actions, and then further extend to the purification of our mental actions or thoughts through self-awareness and self-reflection. This way, our behaviors, speech, and thoughts will naturally accord with the spirit of the precepts.

Those who observe the precepts diligently will give others a feeling of calmness and stability, thereby bringing them peace of mind. They have a caring heart and take care not to cause trouble for others. Observing the precepts is more than just doing good deeds for the sake of others; it is also about embracing gratitude and understanding that our safety and well-being stem from others' support. When we are voluntarily willing to restrain ourselves and refrain from causing harm to others, we will create a positive cycle of mutual benevolence in our lives.

When we can think of not only our own comfort and preferences but also respect and consider the needs of others, we walk the path of Bodhisattva practice, thereby benefiting both the self and others.

Extended Reading:

Observing the Precepts Allows One to Feel at Ease

To Observe Precepts, One Needs to Have the Right View and Follow the Middle Path

Using the Psychology of Habit to Create the Right Conditions for Keeping the Precepts

Keeping Precepts, a Life Experiment

Q1: I love and enjoy freedom. So what if I lose my freedom after receiving the precepts?

Q2: Why are we afraid of taking the precepts when we clearly know that it is good for us? How do we overcome this uncertainty?

Q3: Is there any room for flexibility in upholding the precepts? If so, how do we maintain this flexibility without losing the spirit of the precepts?

Q4: Is it enough to just do good deeds regularly, or is it necessary to also observe the precepts? How should the precepts be broadly applied in our daily lives?

Q5: How do we encourage our family and friends to observe the precepts? What if they cannot take the whole precepts all at once?

Resource: Humanity Magazine #445 (人生雜誌第445期)
Translated by: Ariel Shen (沈純湘)
Edited by: Chia-cheng Chang (張家誠), Keith Brown
Photo: Ya-ying Lin (林雅櫻)