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Volume 7 no 4


Five Precepts and Ten Virtuous Deeds are
fundamental to Jen Chen Buddhism

Human beings have one common aspiration, and that is to be happy and blissful. There are methods through which we can acquire happiness and bliss, and more than these. Jen Chen Buddhism is exactly focused at creating a happy and blissful culture for humanity. It advocates that we observe the Five Precepts and perform the Ten Virtuous Deeds, for all goodness shall be duly rewarded. Precepts may appear to restrict our freedom, but in reality they safeguard our blessings. When we can understand this phenomenon, we wish we knew about them sooner!

The Jen Chen Buddhism (Humanity Vehicle Buddhism) advocates to observe the Five Precepts [1] and to perform the Ten Virtuous Deeds [2]. Naturally Jen Chen Buddhism based its fundamentals on the Five Precepts and Ten Virtuous Deeds. In Buddhism “Vinaya” [3] means precepts and disciplines. Of course, every person who is learning and practicing Buddhism has to abide by the Vinaya. But in reality it is not easy, for how many people can do that? Buddhist monks and nuns must observe many precepts and disciplines, and it is no mean feat if the lay-Buddhists can observe just the Five Precepts. A person who cannot even abstain from killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, telling lies and consuming intoxicants, would not qualify to be a lay-Buddhist of the Humanity Vehicle, what more to say about being a Bodhisattva of the Greater Vehicle?

I hope lay-Buddhists understand that they should not be overly ambitious in their cultivation and in the process neglect the fundamentals. The first step is to conscientiously observe the Five Precepts and perform the Ten Virtuous Deeds, and then they can truly call themselves practitioners of the Humanity Vehicle. It would be ideal if everybody observe the Five Precepts and perform the Ten Virtuous Deeds first; and if the conditions and your capacity permit, proceed further to observe the Bodhisattva Precepts and practise the Bodhisattva path of the Greater Vehicle.

All Buddhists need to understand the concept of Vinaya. It consists of two parts: our dignity and demeanour, and the boundary of discipline. We must be dignified in all that we do and under all circumstances in our daily life, including the way we walk, stand, sit and even the way we lie down. We need to be dignified in our speech and actions, and besides

avoiding all evil deeds and performing virtuous deeds, we also need to exercise compassion. Then, we are truly followers of Buddha.

All Buddhists need to observe the Vinaya. However, we are not the Vinaya School of Buddhism which emphasizes precepts and disciplines. Many people are afraid to embrace Buddhism because they are afraid of the many strict precepts and disciplines, and that monks and nuns have to observe hundreds of these. It is a pity that such good Buddhist teachings are rejected because of this reason. Thus, to begin with, it is advisable not to place too much emphasis on precepts and disciplines.

It is not uncommon to hear of husbands encouraging their wives to take refuge in Buddhism, observe the Five Precepts, and the Bodhisattva Precepts. But, when asked why their husbands are not doing the same, a typical reply is that their husbands feel that there are too many precepts and disciplines in Buddhism and as businessmen these precepts and disciplines are an inconvenience to them.

From this point, we can see that many people have misunderstood and are afraid of precepts and disciplines. Jen Chen Buddhism does not use precepts to shackle oneself, but it does not mean that Jen Chen Buddhism does not observe the precepts. On the contrary, precepts are strictly observed. Jen Chen Buddhism, does not refer to them as precepts, but rather as “methods to safeguard blessings”, that is to safeguard the blessings and happiness which we already have. For example, an originally happy and blissful family will become broken if the husband or wife neglects the family by indulging in gambling and drinking, or night-clubbing. Therefore, we say that “to observe the precepts” is the same as to “safeguard our blessings”. Isn’t it a very good thing that we uphold our existing blessing in this manner?

Take another example: If a child shifts a plate that was safely placed in the centre of the table to its edge, the mother will say, “This won’t do! Put it back to the centre.” Of course, the plate is safer when it is in the middle of the table rather than at the edge. Should it drop and shatters, it also means that some of our blessings are expended. If the plate costs a certain amount of money and we need to replace it, then the total damage is doubled. Thus, when we understand this principle, we must be alert and raise our awareness so that regardless of where we are, we are safeguarding our blessings and happiness all the time, and we constantly examine ourselves if our actions are frittering away our blessings. For example, if husbands or wives do not discipline themselves and have no sense of propriety, they casually indulge in extra-marital affairs without regards for the consequences, then they are ruining their own happiness.

Therefore, Jen Chen Buddhism advocates that we constantly safeguard the blessings which we already have. This is the way Jen Chen Buddhism observes the precepts. If we talk about the precepts incessantly, then it discourages people from learning Buddhism. When we understand this principle, we must fulfill our responsibility as a human being, be a good person, learn and practise the teachings of Jen Chen Buddhism, avoid doing all evil deeds, do all good deeds, purify the mind, and safeguard our blessings.


[1] The Five Precepts: Refrain from (1) killing, (2) stealing ,(3) lying, (4) sexual misconduct, (5) consumption of intoxicants.

[2] The Ten Virtuous Deeds: Refrain from (1) killing, (2) stealing, (3) sexual misconduct , (4) false speech, (5) frivolous and meaningless talk, (6) double-tongue or tale-bearing, (7) slanderous speech, (8) greed, (9) ill will, (10) ignorance or perverted views.

[3] Vinaya: Rules and disciplines, an intuitive apprehension of which, both written and unwritten, enables the individual to act properly under all circumstances.

[4] The Vinaya School of Buddhism: Emphasizes the monastic discipline; founded in China during the Tang Dynasty.


Copyright 2002.Jen Chen Buddhism Centre