Special Topics

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

Receiving and observing the precepts is also about cultivating good habits. In terms of self-cultivation, these are referred to as the familiarization of wholesome habits and involve consistently doing virtuous deeds. Our lives are filled with wholesome or unwholesome habits and deeds which accumulated over time. Therefore, the reception and observance of precepts can help people subliminally develop conditioned responses within the norm, enabling them to spend the majority of their time walking the Middle Path.
The concept of the Middle Path was simplified by the Buddha as "siksapada" (meaning "precept" or "Xue Chu" in Chinese). This means that the upholder of precepts must learn in different places, which results in the natural formation of ethical habits. In most cases, one’s speech and conduct will naturally align with the Middle Path. Therefore, the meaning of upholding the precepts is to practice the Middle Path by way of contemplating on dependent origination, which ultimately leads to the development of the Noble Eightfold Path.
In the Noble Eightfold Path, Right Speech, Right Conduct, Right Livelihood, as well as Right Effort are all related to precepts. Through diligent efforts, one can refrain from committing evil deeds and wrongdoings. One will not be bound by desires and greed and can thus follow ethical standards even in the face of one's own natural inclinations. This requires diligent efforts and knowledge; otherwise, one is merely attached to precepts and rituals, influenced by worldly taboos yet lacking in the Right View.

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: Bright Su, Keith Brown
Photo: Rui-en Wu (吳瑞恩)