The First Precept

Bernie Glassman is back again with more words of wisdom from Tricycle Daily Dharma. This time, he is talking about the first precept taught by the Buddha.

The traditional rendering of this precept is, “Non-killing,” or  “To abstain from killing any living creature.” This is sometimes taken to extreme by certain monks and nuns in Sri Lanka. They have a special way of walking so as not to kill any living being.

This traditional approach was considered the first stage on the Buddha’s path, which incorporates Right Speech, Right Action, and Right Livelihood.

Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh (Thay) and the monks and nuns in Plum Village have modernized the first precept, appropriately named, the First Mindfulness Training. By studying, practicing, and observing the Five Mindfulness Trainings, we are getting access to the entire Eightfold Path of the Buddha. It is all there in the trainings.

Their current version is,

Reverence For Life

Aware of the suffering caused by the destruction of life, I am committed to cultivating the insight of interbeing and compassion and learning ways to protect the lives of people, animals, plants, and minerals. I am determined not to kill, not to let others kill, and not to support any act of killing in the world, in my thinking, or in my way of life. Seeing that harmful actions arise from anger, fear, greed, and intolerance, which in turn come from dualistic and discriminative thinking, I will cultivate openness, non-discrimination, and non-attachment to views in order to transform violence, fanaticism, and dogmatism in myself and in the world. [Read More…]

The quote from Bernie Glassman teaches us once again the there is no birth no death. Thay also teaches this.

Non-Killing | August 14, 2014

From the intrinsic standpoint–one of body, of Buddha-nature–non-killing means that there is nothing being born and nothing dying. The very notions of ‘birth’ and ‘death’ are extra. Life does not divide up into things to be killed or not killed; it is just this one body, constantly changing.

– Bernie Glassman, “The First Precept”

Roshi Bernie Glassman

You can also find the previous version of the First Mindfulness Training in these pages.

At our Mindfulness in Healing sangha, two weeks ago, we read the new Plum Village version. My co-leader said that the way this is worded, it is like a triple decker sandwich that you can’t get in your mouth all at one time. I totally agreed with her.

I think the way to read it is to copy and paste it into an editor and separate every sentence into a different paragraph. Then you can contemplate each sentence on its own for its own merit.

What do you experience with you compare the simple versions from the Buddha with the current and / or previous versions from Plum Village?

Don’t forget to check out The Dude and the Zen Master by Roshi Bernie Glassman and Jeff Bridges.

Books by Bernie Glassman

Bearing Witness: A Zen Master’s Lessons in Making Peace

Bernie Glassman

Zen practitioner and non-profit community developer Bernie Glassman offers powerful teaching stories that illustrate ways of making peace one moment at a time. Each chapter focuses on an event or person and demonstrates how a particular peacemaker vow is put into practice. Through these stories and … [Read More…]

Connect with Meditation Practices

Connect with

Or enter your name and email address below.