Universal Life Church: Precepts from Thich Nhat Hanh's "Being Peace"
Since 3 of my 4 cousins have come to practice Tibetan or Zen Buddhism, I have
begun to study the religion and try meditating. The most interesting, readable
treatment I have found thus far is "Being Peace" (1987, Parallax Press) by a
Vietnamese monk named Thich Nhat Hanh. While I highly recommend reading all
115 small pages, here I take the initiative to post 14 precepts --
partially for the Western world, but mostly for myself to access from virtually
anywhere. Try reciting and contemplating these once every 2 weeks and you may
be eligible to join the Order of Interbeing!
- Do not be idolatrous about or bound to any doctrine, theory, or ideology.
All systems of thought are guiding means; they are not absolute truth.
- Do not think that the knowledge you presently possess is changeless,
absolute truth. Avoid being narrow-minded and bound to present views. Learn
and practice non-attachment from views in order to be open to receive others'
viewpoints. Truth is found in life and not merely in conceptual knowledge. Be
ready to learn throughout your entire life and to observe reality in youself
and in the world at all times.
- Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt
your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education.
However, through compassionate dialogue, help others renounce fanaticism and
- Do not avoid contact with suffering or close your eyes before suffering.
Do not lose awareness of the existence of suffering in the life of the world.
Find ways to be with those who are suffering by all means, including personal
contact and visits, images, sound. By such means, awaken youself and others to
the reality of suffering in the world.
- Do not accumulate wealth while millions are hungry. Do not take as the
aim of your life fame, profit, wealth, or sensual pleasure. Live simply and
share time, energy, and material resources with those who are in need.
- Do not maintain anger or hatred. As soon as anger and hatred arise,
practice the meditation on compassion in order to deeply understand the persons
who have caused anger and hatred. Learn to look at other beings with the eyes
- Do not lose yourself in dispersion and in your surroundings. Learn to
practice breathing in order to regain composure of body and mind, to practice
mindulness, and to develop concentration and understanding.
- Do not utter words that can create discord and cause the community to
break. Make every effort to reconcile and resolve all conflicts, however small.
- Do not say untruthful things for the sake of personal interest or to
impress people. Do not utter words that cause division and hatred. Do not
spread news that you do not know to be certain. Do not criticize or condemn
things that you are not sure of. Always speak truthfully and constructively.
Have the courage to speak aout about situations of injustice, even when doing
so may threaten your own safety.
- Do not use your religious community for personal gain or profit, or
transform your community into a political party. A religious community should,
however, take a clear stand against oppression and injustice, and should strive
to change the situation without engaging in partisan conflicts.
- Do not live with a vocation that is harmful to humans and nature. Do not
invest in companies that deprive others of their chance to life. Select a
vocation which helps realize your ideal of compassion.
- Do not kill. Do not let others kill. Find whatever means possible to
protect life and to prevent war.
- Possess nothing that should belong to others. Respect the property of
others but prevent others from enriching themselves from human suffering or the
suffering of other beings.
- Do not mistreat your body. Learn to handle it with respect. Do not look
on your body as only an instrument. Preserve vital energies (sexual, breath,
spirit) for the realization of your values or religious "way." Sexual
expression should not happen without love and committment. In sexual
relationships be aware of future suffering that may be caused. To preserve the
happiness of others, respect the rights and commitments of others. Be fully
aware of the responsibility of bringing new lives into the world. Meditate on
the world into which you are bringin new beings.