Bodhisattva Precepts

When we understand the precepts as an expression of our inmost nature, that is the Way as it is.
— Shunryu Suzuki Roshi

The sixteen Bodhisattva Precepts of Soto Zen are the guiding principle for our daily conduct in the world. The sixteen precepts are grouped into three categories which are the Three Refuges, the Three Collective Pure Precepts and the Ten Major Precepts.

The Three Refuges are refuge in Buddha, the fully awakened and compassionate nature of mind; refuge in Dharma, the flawless truth of interdependence and selflessness; and refuge in Sangha, the community of those who practice and realize Buddha and Dharma.

The Three Collective Pure Precepts are embracing and sustaining standards of conduct; embracing and sustaining all good; and embracing and sustaining living beings.

The Ten Major Precepts are to refrain from: killing life, taking what is not given, misusing sexuality, speaking falsely, dealing in intoxicants, speaking of others' faults, praising self and belittling others, being possessive of Dharma or wealth, indulging in anger, or disparaging the Three Treasures – Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha.

We offer a monthly full moon Precepts Renewal Ceremony, a ritual begun by the Buddha himself, where we renew our commitment to practicing this way of life, in harmony with all beings. Everyone is welcome to attend. Every year or so there is a ceremony of Receiving the Precepts (jukai), where those who have been practicing at SCZC can request from a teacher to receive the precepts, along with a small version of Buddha's robe (rakusu) which they sew, a Dharma name, and lineage document, thus formally and publicly committing to live ethically and with awareness, in accord with the lineage of Soto Zen, for the benefit of all.