Bodhisattva Vows & Precepts

Bodhisattva Vows

We chant the Bodhisattva Vows at the end of each group meditation session to affirm that we practice for the benefit the web of life that sustains us all.

The many beings are numberless, I vow to save them;
Greed, hatred, and ignorance rise endlessly, I vow to abandon them;
Dharma gates are countless, I vow to wake to them;
The Buddha’s way is unsurpassed, I vow to embody it fully.

Dharma Sharing on the Precepts

In October through to December 2020, we’ll work through the sixteen precepts during Dharma sharing (Dharma sharing takes place in the the last half hour of each of our online weekly group meditation sessions).

Here are some words from Kirk (4 minutes) to offer some context for our first session on the precepts as a whole, and our second session on the Vows of Refuge in particular. Keep reading below the video for further resources and information about the precepts.

The Sixteen Precepts

The sixteen precepts grow out of the Bodhisattva Vows, and include the Three Vows of Refuge, the Three Pure Precepts and the Ten Grave Precepts.

Here’s a talk by Susan Murphy Roshi that explores the place of the precepts in Zen practice – The precepts – everything that lives and breathes, moves together (one hour).

And here is an excerpt from our sutra books that includes commentary on the precepts from Dogen’s Kyōjūkaimon and from Isshin Kaimon (attributed to Bodhidharma), as part of our Jukai Ceremony and Full Moon Precepts review. You can read more about these ceremonies at the bottom of this page.

Three Vows of Refuge

I take refuge in the Buddha
I take refuge in the Dharma
I take refuge in the Sangha

Three Pure Precepts

I vow to maintain the precepts
I vow to practice all good dharmas
I vow to save the many beings

Ten Grave Precepts

I take up the way of not killing.
I take up the way of not stealing.
I take up the way of not misusing sex.
I take up the way of not speaking falsely.
I take up the way of not giving or taking drugs.
I take up the way of not discussing faults of others.
I take up the way of not praising myself while abusing others.
I take up the way of not sparing the Dharma assets.
I take up the way of not indulging in anger.
I take up the way of not defaming the Three Treasures

Full Moon Precepts Ceremony

Once a month, usually on the Friday closest to the full moon, the Melbourne Zen Group offers a zazenkai (extended group meditation) that incorporates a ritual contemplation of the Precepts.

Read more about zazenkai

Jukai Ceremony

In some Buddhist traditions, monks undergo an initiation ceremony in which they ‘take the precepts’. In Japan, this ceremony is called Jukai. The Melbourne Zen Group is a community of lay practitioners. Our teachers – also lay practitioners – offer a Jukai ceremony in which the individual can outwardly express their commitment to the Buddha way. Preparation for the ceremony involves working with a teacher to formulate personal responses to the precepts, and to choose a Dharma name, as well as sewing a rakusu (bib-like garment that represents the robe of the Buddha). The decision to undertake (or not undertake) the Jukai ceremony is an entirely personal matter that confers no status of any kind within the group.