Zen Buddhist Precepts

The Sixteen Precepts

The 16 Zen Buddhist precepts grow out of the Bodhisattva Vows, and include the 3 Vows of Refuge, the 3 Pure Precepts, and the 10 Grave Precepts. 

Here’s a short 4 minute introduction to the Vows of Refuge that Kirk prepared in late 2020. Keep reading after the video for more about the precepts.

Here’s a talk by Susan Murphy Roshi on 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). We chant these sutras 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.

Related Topics:

Bodhisattva Vows
Paramitas