Precepts for the Seven Assemblies
The status of the seven assemblies is determined by the precepts that they uphold.
- Upasaka [優婆塞]
The male lay Buddhists who uphold the Five Precepts, i.e.
- Not to kill
- Not to steal
- Not to commit adultery
- Not to make false speech
- Not to take intoxicants
- Upasika [優婆夷]
The female lay Buddhists who uphold the Five Precepts.
- Sramanera [沙彌]
The male ordained Buddhists at the age under 16, who uphold the Ten Precepts, i.e. in addition to the Five Precepts, the other five are:
- Not to use adornments of flowers nor perfumes
- Not to perform as an actor, juggler, acrobat, or go to watch and hear them
- Not to sit on elevated, broad and large bed
- Not to eat except in regulated hours
- Not to possess money, gold, silver or precious things.
- Sramaneraika [沙彌尼]
The female ordained Buddhists at the age of under 16, who uphold the Ten Precepts.
- Siksamana [式叉摩那]
The female ordained Buddhist from 18 to 20 of age, who uphold the Six Precepts, i.e. The Five Precepts, plus the one that not to eat except in regulated hours.
- Bhiksu [比丘]
The male ordained Buddhist, or monk who uphold the full 250 precepts.
- Bhiksuni [比丘尼]
The female ordained Buddhist, or nun who uphold the full 348 (commonly called 500) precepts.
58.2 Other Precepts
There are other supplementary precepts for Buddhists to observe and uphold, such as:
Mahayana Bodhisattva Precepts [大乘菩薩戒]
There are 6 major precepts and 28 minor precepts as the enhanced ones for Upasaka, Upasika, and 10 major precepts and 48 minor precepts, as stipulated in Braham Net Sutra. Since Braham Net Sutra is regarded as the text for Mahayana Dharmakaya Sect (i.e. all things arise from Bhutatathata / Dharma Realm, thus all phenomena are of the same essence as the noumenon), those precepts are also called Mahayana Dharmakaya Precepts.
Yoga Bodhisattva Precepts [瑜伽菩薩戒]
They are supplementary precepts for those who wish to practice in Bodhisattva’s conduct, as stipulated in Yogacaryabhumi Shastra. The shastra is regarded as the text for Dharmalaksana Sect (i.e. all thins of monad nature but differ in form, thus the noumenon will be reflected by specific characteristics, marks or criteria of all existence/phenomena), those precepts are also called Mahayana Dharmalaksana Precepts.
Eight and Fasting Precepts [八關齋戒]
Actually they are the first eight precepts of the Ten Precepts, plus the ninth precept regarding fasting, which are upheld by the seven assemblies for a certain period of time, even just one day and night.
58.3 Intermediate and Differentiated Precepts
There are two types of precepts, one is called Intermediate Precepts, and the other is called Differentiated Precepts.
Intermediate Precepts [通戒]
They are also known as Three Cumulative Pure Precepts [三聚淨戒], which are three kinds of precepts leading us to the perfection in cultivating Buddhahood:
- Precepts of rules and disciplines [攝律儀戒]– precepts that prevent us from doing evil, such as the Five Precepts, the Ten Precepts, etc.
- Precepts of morality [攝善法戒]– precepts that encourage us to do good for oneself
- Precepts of mercy and benevolence [攝眾生戒]– precepts that beneficial to other sentient beings, whom are liberated from suffering and salvaged.
Differentiated Precepts [別戒]
Differentiated Precepts generally refer to the precepts observed and upheld by Bhiksu and Bhiksuni, i.e. full and perfect precepts.
58.4 Four Classifications of Precepts
There are four classifications of every precept:
- Precept Law [戒法]– all the precepts laid down by Shakyamuni Buddha, e.g. not to kill, not to steal
- Precept Dogma [戒體]– those ‘not-to-do’ precepts
- Precept Behavior [戒行]– the precept dogma in accord with the conditions, which are upheld through the body, mouth and mind.
- Precept Form [戒相]– precepts upheld by the seven assemblies, such as the Five Precepts, the Ten precepts, etc.
Four Different Stages in Cultivation
It is obvious that upholding the precepts is fundamental in studying Buddhism. By upholding precepts, one can meditate correctly. By meditation, one can gain wisdom, thus enlightenment. Therefore, upholding precepts, meditation and wisdom are known as Three Non-outflow Studies in Buddhism.
Lu Sect divided four different stages in cultivation of Buddhahood through Vinaya:
- The Stage of Vow and Joy [願樂位]
It takes one Asamkhyeya Kalpa to achieve by practicing Ten Faith, Ten Dwelling, Ten Conduct, Ten Transference, etc.
- The Stage of Visualization [見位]
It is equivalent to the first stage of Bodhisattva, in which the Way or the Truth is visualized.
- The Stage of Cultivation [修位]
It is equivalent to the second to seventh stage of Bodhisattva, in which the practitioner cultivates the Way. It takes another Asamkhysya Kalpa to achieve the above two stages.
- The Stage of Eternity [究竟位]
It also takes one Asamkhyeya Kalpa to achieve. It is equivalent to the eighth and the tenth stage of Bodhisattva.
Lu Sect as Mahayana Buddhism
As the Real Mark of all Dharmas is finally realized in the last stage of cultivation through upholding the precepts, the teaching of Lu Sect is regarded as Mahayana.
The founder of Lu Sect, Master Tao-hsuan, established the three different systems of precepts for three different schools in Buddhism:
- Precepts based on the Matter Dharma for the ‘Existence’ schools
- Precepts based on Non-matter-and-non-mind Dharma for the ‘Emptiness’ schools
- Precepts based on Mind Dharma for the ‘Middle Way’ schools.
As there are specific precepts set for the benevolence and the salvation to other sentient beings in the Three Cumulative Pure Precepts, Lu Sect is said to be Mahayana in China.