I have been a Buddhist for quite a few years and I enjoy learning Buddhism a lot! It has given me a new direction in life, and I sincerely wish to be reborn in Western Pure Land of Amitabha. I’ve taken the 5 precepts few years ago but unfortunately I can’t uphold it fully. I have a girlfriend who is also a Buddhist and a vegetarian, but because of today’s society we can’t maintain a pure live. For me, I feel disgraced and ashamed because a true Buddhist would not involve in any misconduct until married. Moreover, I wear a precept-sash when attending a Buddhist retreat. At the moment, I’m very confused and discombobulated. Master, please direct me on what I should do and approach this? Am I creating bad karma by wearing a sash when I should not?
MR, SJ, California
It is commendable that you try to observe the Five Precepts. This is not an easy thing to do for modern people.
The Five Precepts forbids sex outside of marriage. This does not apply to the general believers who have not received the Five Precepts.
Unfortunately, your case is quite common because most temples do not provide the proper training about the Five Precepts before transmitting them. We train our disciples to make sure that they thoroughly understand the Five Precepts Dharma before transmitting it. In that way, they can avoid problems like yours.
You need to perform a special repentance Dharma with people who can be of real assistance. In Northern California, you may contact Ven. Heng Sure at the Berkeley Institute of World Religions to see if he is available to help you. Otherwise, you have to come down to Los Angeles and see me.