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.

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As the 48th and aptly last secondary Bodhisattva precept in the Brahmā Net Sūtra《梵网经》, the Buddha most seriously reminded his disciples thus – ‘Like worms within [a] lion’s body, personally eating [the] lion’s flesh, [this is] not [by] other external worms [done]. Thus [will the] Buddha’s ‘disciples’ [with evil views, words and deeds] personally destroy [the] Buddha’s teachings, [as they are] not [by] external paths [and] celestial demons [who deviate from the Buddha’s teachings] able [to be] destroyed. If [there are] those [who have] received [the] Buddha’s precepts, [they] should protect [the] Buddha’s precepts [by upholding them well], like [being] mindful [of their] only child, like serving [their] fathers [and] mothers, [they] must not [be] corrupted [and] broken.’如师子身中虫,自食师子肉,非余外虫。如是佛子自破佛法,非外道天魔能破。若受佛戒者,应护佛戒,如念一子,如事父母,不可毁破。 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

1 Comment

  • 梵网经第四十八破法戒
    Brahma Net Sutra’s 48th [Secondary] Precept
    Against Destroying The Dharma & Precepts

    ‘… 如师子身中虫,自食师子肉,非余外虫。如是佛子自破佛法,非外道天魔能破。

    ‘… similar to worms inside a lion’s body, themselves eating the lion’s flesh, not by other worms outside, thus are the Buddha’s “disciples” who self-destroy the Buddhadharma [Buddha’s teachings], which external paths and celestial demons [that deviate from the Buddhadharma] is unable to destroy.


    If having received the Buddha’s [Bodhisattva] precepts, they should protect the Buddha’s precepts [by upholding them well], similar to being mindful of one’s only child, similar to serving one’s father and mother, they must not intentionally break them.


    And [if] Bodhisattvas hear sounds [as speech or other forms of communication] of external paths’ evil persons, with evil words slandering and breaking the Buddha’s precepts, similar to [the pain of] 300 spears piercing their hearts, to a thousand knives and ten thousand staves beating their bodies, it is equal and without difference.


    [They would] rather enter the hells, passing for a hundred kalpas, while not once hear the voices of evil persons with evil words slandering and breaking the Buddha’s precepts, and moreover, to personally break the Buddha’s precepts, to instruct others to destroy causes and conditions of the Dharma, [which is] also without the mind of filial piety. If [they] intentionally do these, [they] commit a light[er] defiled misgiving.’

Please Be Mindful Of Your Speech, Namo Amituofo!

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