The Scripture of the Fo...


The Scripture of the Founding Master

Chapter Two: Doctrine


A Christian pastor said to the Founding Master, “Since time immemorial, all religions without exception have talked about precepts. But it seems to me that these instead oppressed the innocent inherent nature of human beings and restrained their free spirit, thus creating many obstacles to edification.” The Founding Master said, “What makes you think that way?” The pastor said, “There are some people in this world who for no particular reason reject religions because they do not understand their truths, but many hesitate to enter a faith even while sensing the sacredness of those doctrines because in their hearts they feel uncomfortable about precepts. Wouldn’t this type of person have been open to deliverance were it not for precepts?” The Founding Master said, “You know only to lament the fact that such people may not be open to deliverance; but haven’t you considered the grave consequences in other areas? We have thirty precepts and, since none can be eliminated, I have people keep them all. However, we prescribe precepts to individuals in stages according to their level. Whoever enters our order for the first time will have some difficulties severing their old secular habits; for them we prescribe ten precepts that can easily be observed. Then, at the next two stages we prescribe ten more each. After a practitioner masters all thirty precepts, we don’t prescribe any more, but leave it to the person’s discretion, because a person who has achieved that level will know in advance what is appropriate and inappropriate and behave accordingly. However, people who have not reached this level cannot be left alone without any precepts; for, how can a neophyte be treated the same as a knowledgeable practitioner? There are far more ignorant people in this world, but what you just advocated is only appropriate for one in a thousand. How can we prescribe a dharma that is appropriate only for a few and neglect the rest? Furthermore, if we lived by ourselves, it wouldn’t matter if we just did as we pleased. But in the world we face a web of various kinds of laws and are widely watched by the general public; so, if we indulge in wrongful conduct, where will we hide? Therefore, I conclude that when a person goes out into the world, one should be cautious of every step as if treading on thin ice, so as not to deviate from the human Way. Thus, I cannot help but prescribe precepts to practitioners.”