Home » Features » Do You Protect Or Endanger The Great Lion?

While the evil might be fearful
of the Buddha’s lion roar,
the righteous are inspired by it.

- Stonepeace | Get Books

As the 48th and aptly last secondary Bodhisattva precept in the Brahma Net Sutra (梵网经), the Buddha reminded his disciples that ‘… similar to worms inside a lion’s body, who eat the lion’s flesh, and not worms from outside, thus, it is the Buddha’s “disciples” who self-destroy the Buddhadharma [Buddha's teachings], which celestial demons and external paths [which deviate from the Buddhadharma] all cannot destroy. Those who receive the Buddha’s precepts must protect the precepts [by upholding them well], similar to serving one’s father and mother. As if mindful of one’s only child, they must not intentionally transgress them…’ (‘… 犹狮子身中之虫,自食狮肉非余外虫。如是佛子自破佛法,天魔外道皆莫能破。受佛戒者必须护戒,犹事父母,如念独子,不得故犯…’) This sums up how very important and precious the precepts are.

This teaching is consoling and distressing at the same time. The good news is that the Buddhadharma itself is actually indestructible – not even by the most cunning demonic forces and unorthodox deviant teachers – because the truth is invincible. However, the bad news is that those who have snuck into or created communities with Buddhist namesakes are able to undermine the system inside out via disharmonious and corrupted behaviour, such as not living up to the precepts expounded by the Buddha in the same sutra, for ensuring the purity of the Buddhadharma practised in our world. In other cases, some who initially had good intentions became warped over time due to deteriorating integrity. Before speaking about profound wisdom for enlightenment, if even the basic foundation stone of morality is unstable, nothing else above can stand firm.

The lion is the most kingly animal in the forest. It is said that when a lion roars with far-reaching authority, which radiates the awesome power of truth, all other creatures freeze and pay attention, while those who are posing disturbances flee for their lives. As such, no smaller animals can really harm the lion – other than parasites growing on its body. When we observe the precepts vigilantly, we are learning to grow spiritually, to eventually become Dharma Kings (Buddhas), lions of the Dharma, so to speak. We should guard and groom ourselves, to prevent and warn one another of potential ‘worms’ devouring the great overall ‘institution’ of the Buddhadharma, to nip problems in the buds – ourselves. Remember… only failing Buddhist disciples are capable of destroying the Buddhadharma, usually out of malice, or greed for fame and wealth. Let us never be the ones!

Here is another way of looking at the lion analogy… Someone left a piece of used tissue paper in a pocket, before putting it with other clothes in a laundry net for a spin. Ironically, instead of better cleaning the clothes by preventing external dirt specks in the washing machine from sticking to the clothes, the paper shredded into bits, and stuck to more clothes in the net, which had to be picked out by hand. Indeed, we need to keep clearing our own spiritual ‘pockets’ of our defilements if we wish to ‘clean’ others. Otherwise, we might end up corrupting those we assume we are ‘purifying’. Unmindfully, we might even be erroneously sharing on how the precepts should be observed, thus corroding the above-mentioned foundation, crumbling it bit by bit. From the five precepts to the Bodhisattva precepts, as all are actually crucial for Buddhahood, we should always work towards observing them better, for the welfare of one and all.

While the evil might be fearful
of the Buddha’s lion roar,
they can also be awakened by it.

Stonepeace | Get Books

Related Articles:
How You Can Protect The Triple Gem
Safeguarding The Buddhist Community’s Integrity

3 Responses to “Do You Protect Or Endanger The Great Lion?”

  1. avatar

    Most people maybe fearful that they may break the 5 precepts after taking the refuge.
    Instead it is the opposite, after taking the 5 precepts the chances of breaking it will be lesser because we are constantly reminded by our consciousness and we only break the precepts if the below items happen:
    one should not kill another
    one should not cause another to kill
    one should not given consent for another to kill.
    one should not take what is not given
    one should not cause another to take what is not given.
    one should not approve of another taking what is not given

  2. avatar

    The above are incomplete lists of criteria for breaking the five precepts.

    More on the spirit of the five precepts @

    More on the Bodhisattva precepts @


  3. avatar

    The next type is established by reference to people and analogy; for example, THE LION’S ROAR OF THE THUS COME ONE SUTRA Thus Come One is a person; Lion’s Roar is an analogy. In other words, the Buddha speaking dharma is like a lion roaring. When the lion roars, the hundred beasts are terrified. This is the fifth kind.

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