The core ethical code of Zen Buddhism is known as the five precepts onto which 5 others are added. All of them are the distillation of Zen Buddhism existential principles dominated by “NOT HARM SELF, NOT HARM OTHERS”
To live is to act ethically, and our actions can have either harmful or beneficial consequences not only for us but also for all others living beings. Above all Buddhist ethic is concerned with the principles and practices to assist you and I in helping rather than harming self and others.
Despite being somewhat similar to those found in other religions the Buddhist precepts are not rules or commandments but rather ethical principles to learn and apply for self-enhancement and proper social behavior such as helping others. These principles are undertaken freely and need to be put into practice with intelligence, mindfulness and sensitivity during our life with the assistance of the teacher and others members of the Sangha (Zen Buddhist community).
The Buddhist teaching acknowledges that we are not perfect and life is and can be very complex throwing at us many difficulties, challenges, unwanted and unexpected disasters. Therefore it does not suggest that there is a single proper course of action that will be perfect in all circumstances since there are always exemptions. Indeed, rather than speaking of actions being either right or wrong, Zen Buddhism speaks of being skillful or unskillful, mindful or thoughtless, respectful or not with self and with others. The concept of sin does not exist per se since nothing is black or white.
During the ceremony the incoming Buddhist reads out loud the following list in front of the Zen Master(s) and the congregation. Precepts can be taken several times during life if requested.
The core first 5 precepts:
The next 5 (in nonspecific order).
2. The refuges:
Ven. Ji Gong Sunim. July 25th 2015.