Ven. Master! I have several questions regarding Taking Refuge and the Five Precepts. Please kindly and compassionately instruct me.
1. Some time ago, I knew a nun who came from the same town as me and who resided in a meditation institute. Once during our travels, my father and I paid her a visit. She advised my father to take refuge with the Triple Jewel. At that time I was 15 years old and knew nothing about Buddhism or the meaning of Taking Refuge. She registered both of us for the refuge ceremony, but we did not attend the lecture on Taking Refuge and the Precepts. We did not attend those ceremonies either. After we returned to our hometown, she sent us the paperwork of proof of Taking Refuge, detailing our names, given Dharma names and Dharma Teacher’s name… Is this consistent with the Taking Refuge Dharma? In the future, can I attend a Taking Refuge ceremony but still keep the original Dharma name?
2. After receiving the Five Precepts, if we wish to renounce any of them, what should we do? Can we kneel in front of the altar at home to do it or must we go to the temple?
3. I heard of the term “masturbation.” What does that mean? Is masturbation a violation of the Deviant Sex Precept?
4. Is sexual intercourse before marriage a violation of the Deviant Sex Precept?
5. I read on the internet that a monk explained: “if one has sexual intercourse before marriage but both the people really love each other and have mutual consent it is not a violation of the Precepts.” Is that correct? I am very confused about this issue.
6. I had sexual intercourse without premeditation with my boyfriend. Did I violate Precepts then? We met and planned to talk without intending to have sex. However, we started touching and kissing each other. My boyfriend had sexual intercourse with me against my will while I had no pleasure at all. Did I violate the Precepts?
7. If we just hug, kiss and caress each other, is that a violation of the Precepts?
8. If I did violate the Precepts, how do I repent? Can I bow to the Buddhas? Once the Precepts are violated, does that mean all the blessings and virtues from our prior cultivation would be lost?
Can we repent and regain our purity?
Thank you very much!
I will try to briefly answer your questions.
Your predicament illustrates a common problem in the practice of Buddhism. It happened to me as well when I was a lay person: many of us receive transmission of the Five Precepts even though we are not properly taught how to keep the Precepts.
If we follow the Five Precepts properly, then we obtain tremendous benefits. Conversely, there are serious consequences if we violate them. That is why, at our temple, we do not transmit the Five Precepts until after people attend the training class. The Five Precepts is a wonderful and superior Buddhist Dharma that is designed to help you, not entrap or hurt you.
- In my humble opinion, in your personal case, you can consider that technically you have not taken refuge or received the Five Precepts. Why not? Because you did not understand the Precepts before taking refuge and you were not at the ceremony. Therefore the Precept substance was not properly transmitted to you or to your father. From the Mahayana perspective, we cannot hold you to something that you really did not personally make an oath to observe. There is more detail I could go into, but for the sake of brevity and clarity I have to limit my response. Dharma names are given by the Master. In general, it is up to him to decide whether or not you can keep your old Dharma name.
- I cannot divulge the process of renouncing the Precepts on the internet. The Precepts Dharma can only be explained to our devotees.
- Yes, masturbation is a minor violation of the Deviant Sex Precept. It is still repentable.
- Sexual intercourse before marriage is a violation of the Deviant Sex Precept.
- That monk is wrong. He should have consulted with the Buddhist Vinaya before explaining the Precepts. Alas, in this Dharma Ending Age, few left home people study the Precepts anymore. Left home people give inadequate, improper and wrong instructions. That is why you folks are so confused.
- The scenario you presented would indicate that you did violate the Deviant Sex Precept. However, according to #1, you did not “officially” violate it because you never really “officially” received it.
- Not in the strictest sense. However, doing so tends to lead to violation.
- Again, I apologize for not answering your question here because I cannot reveal the Buddhist Repentance Dharma on the internet.