Questioner: “If the essence of all the Buddha’s teachings were contained in the practice of looking directly into one’s nature and attaining Buddhahood, wouldn’t that make the formal practice of keeping the precepts meaningless?”
Bassui: “Keeping or violating the precepts is prior to the division of things and ideas (matter and mind)—when essence and form were part of one vehicle. Having not yet seen into his own nature, a person sinks in the sea of passion and discrimination, killing his own Buddha mind. This is the murder of murders. That’s why keeping the true precepts is the enlightened way of seeing into your own nature. When deluded thoughts arise, you damage the dharma treasure, destroy its merit, and hence become a thief. When you give rise to deluded thoughts, you cut off the seeds of Buddhahood and continue the life, death, and rebirth causing karmic activities. This is what is meant by adultery. When you are blinded by deluded thoughts, you forget your precious dharma body and, seeing only illusion, you call it your body. This is what is meant by lying. Isolated by deluded thoughts you lose sight of your inherent wisdom and become frantic. This is what is meant by being intoxicated. The other precepts should be understood similarly.
“Thus when your mind is deluded, you are breaking all the precepts, and when you see into your own nature, you are at once keeping all the precepts perfectly. The power from seeing into our own nature will extinguish all delusion and bring life to Buddha nature. This is the precept not to kill living things. If you put deluded thoughts out of your mind through the power from seeing into your own nature, you will purify the six sense organs and prevent the appearance of the six rebels. This is the precept against stealing. If you see through deluded thoughts by means of this power, the ordinary world will no longer exist. This is the precept against lust. If you see through deluded thoughts by means of this power, you will be able to realize the manifestation of true sublime wisdom. You won’t stop at expedient means, mistaking it for the true vehicle, or call the illusive physical body the real one. This is the precept against lying. When you are able to see into your own nature, you will have wisdom. You will not drink the wine of delusion and ignorance. This is the precept against drinking liquor.
“Hence Buddha nature is the body of the precepts and the precepts are the workings of Buddha nature. When this body is perfect, its activity lacks nothing. When you desire to mount the platform of the true precepts, you must tread upon the ground of the true self. This is the meaning behind the statement that a young monk having attained Buddhahood need not receive the precepts.
Paper-bound precepts are not the True Body of Wisdom. Being blinded to one’s inherent Buddha-nature gives-way to the discriminate seas of raging passion that submerge and drown the Buddha mind; thus THE murder of all murders! Observing the True Body of the precepts injects the enlightened-seed of Bodhi THAT shines light on one’s True Nature. Without this primordial seed the weeds of wanton thoughts gives birth to the false-body of delusion, that like a thief, breaks-into the dharma treasure-house and soils the essence of the Dharma-mind. Thus the seeds of Buddhahood never take root as the false-light of samsara continues its karmic reign of adulterous outflows, preventing the Essential-Self from claiming ITs True Rightful inheritance. Being blinded by the weeds of delusion one never sets sight on the shores of nirvana, preferring instead the false-fields of illusion that are ruled by the decadent body—this is the fundamental nature of lying. When decadent thoughts rule the day inherent wisdom is lost amidst frenetic desires—the precursor of intoxication.
Recognizing and owning one’s Buddha-nature precludes the demons of delusion and thus is the best course of bringing the precepts to perfection. The renegades of sensate perception (the six rebels—or six sense organs) are negated in the proper ACTION of seeing exclusively through the power of Bodhi. This is the precept against all sensate phantoms who rob Mind’s proper quiescence. Seeing through the lens of bodhipower one transcends the ordinary samsaric-world. All former lusting after karmic-impulses are cessated. Bodhipower conquers all deluded thoughts and in so doing manifests True Sublime Buddha-gnosis. Expedient means are not in themselves the nature of the True Vehicle; staying centered in the Unborn Mind one will never mistake the psychophysical-mechanism for the One and Absolute. This is known as the precept against lying, or recognizing the Real Truth Body. Forsake the wine of delusion and ignorance by staying sober in your True and Original Nature.
Once one awakens to the truth of one’s own Buddha-nature, nothing is lacking. Resting in the True-Self is the best platform against all evil. Once the anointment of Buddhahood is conferred, there is no longer the need to observe any external precepts as the precepts are the inherent workings of Buddha-nature.