On the Precepts

by Rick Nin’yu Harlan
From Jukai, 1998

Rick-Nin'yu-HarlanI had to take the Precepts vow. I didn’t know why or really what the entire meaning was, but I knew that I must. As time has passed, it has become a little more clear to me.

Is it a set of moral standards to live by? Yes, but a lot more than that. While living within the spirit of the Precepts, I know the Buddhas; Shakyamuni and all of those who preceded him as well as those who will follow. Vairocana makes herself known to me. When I let go life flows with very little effort. Vairocana informs me through my feelings. If it brings about an adverse reaction I know that it is going against the Precepts. If it feels right, it is okay. Vairocana and all of the Buddhas inform me in this way. They make themselves known to me. It is like in Zazen. When I quit trying to do it perfectly, Zazen takes over and it is done perfectly. In the same manner, when I try to live by the Precepts as best I can, I know that the Buddhas and the ancestors take over and the Precepts are my life.

I seldom go a day without breaking one or two of the Precepts, but they are active within my life. Sometimes we have to break one to keep another. This being so, I try to allow the Precepts to be my guide and let them do the work.

Note: Rick died suddenly in a fishing accident in September of 2010