The Five Precepts & the Ten Goodnesses
by Venerable Master Hsuan Hua
Due to living beings' karma, various disasters occur in the world. "Giving rise to delusion, creating karma, and facing the consequences" are linked. If we do not give rise to delusion, we will not create karma, and we will not undergo retribution.
Giving rise to delusion is confusion. Since we have no real wisdom and do not understand noumenon and phenomenon, we are mixed up. To elaborate, we are not clear about the difference between what is right and what is wrong, the difference between good and evil, even the difference between black and white, and the difference between the proper and the deviant. In general, we cannot clearly differentiate these differences with everything because of ignorance.
Creating karma means that we create wholesome karma or unwholesome karma. We go up into the heavens by creating wholesome karma. We fall into the various hells by creating unwholesome karma. Since we cannot tell the difference, we create the karma of killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, lying, taking intoxicants, etc. The difference only lies in degree.
Killing: Killing is killing whether it involves mosquitoes or ants, ox or pigs. The retribution from killing is not too serious actually. Why? It is because animals are stupid and cannot find their executor at once. Even if they find him, they cannot seek revenge. Nevertheless, the law of cause and effect is fair. Without realizing it and without due reason, things bump into you, making you develop some strange disease and torture you with pain. This is a passive form of vengeance. For example, most of the cancer patients nowadays contract this terminal illness because they have killed too much in their present or past lives.
Out of the different forms of killing, only the karma of killing people is most serious. Victims will become resentful ghosts who always follow you. They will not quit until they have sought revenge. They will find the opportunity to seek vengeance. Any murderer will be punished by law or face psychological distress. They will be threatened by their surroundings and soon collapse. They either die or become insane.
Stealing: Anyone who steals is always afraid. Thieves are petrified. If they have not stolen, they could stand up to heaven and be unabashed with people. What is there to be afraid of? Since everything they have done is out in the open and straightforward, what is there to be scared of?
Sexual misconduct: Left home people are absolutely forbidden to engage in sexual activity. Lay people cannot engage in sexual misconduct. They cannot be having thoughts of sexual misconduct all day long so that their hair turns grey, their teeth fall out, and then they die! They will not think about sex then. But in the next life they continue to think about sex, endlessly and for life after life. "We are born because of sexual desire and we die because of sexual desire."
Lying: People who like to lie do not believe in anything anyone says. Since they do not tell the truth, they think no one tells the truth either. They measure the superior person's frame of mind with their pettiness. Because they deceive people all the time they think everyone lies too.
Taking intoxicants: Anyone who takes intoxicants loses their rationality easily. Impulsive, they do not care about the consequences and do things that are harmful. Why? It is because they lose certain virtues after taking intoxicants; their rational mind cannot control their emotions.
The source of the world's disasters is because people do not keep the Five Precepts and do not cultivate the Ten Goodnesses. When the Wheel Turning Sage King governs the world, everyone observes the Five Precepts and practices the ten wholesome deeds. The world enjoys an absence of disasters and reaches the states of "in fair weather, the country is prosperous and the people are at peace." So many catastrophes occur because people do not adhere to the Five Precepts and carry out the Ten Wholesome Deeds. The root of the problem is right here.