The second Paramita is Precept Observation, which means abiding by customs, rules, regulations and laws. Everything, big or small, worldly or beyond, has their own natural laws. We need to follow these for only by doing so, can we accomplish an undertaking quickly and perfectly. For example, within the family, we need domestic etiquette or seniority in human relationships to guide the behavior between parents and children, husband and wife, brothers and sisters. The manner of how things are accomplished needs to be followed. This is similar to cooking rice; we wash it, put it into the pot and then cook it. Without following the proper sequence, the rice will not be properly cooked.
This is even truer in learning and practicing Buddhism. If we ant to achieve, we must follow the guidelines told to us by the Buddha: the Four Great Vows of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. First, we vow to help al;l living beings. After that, we discard all worries, habits and attachments, to end all afflictions. Only then do we master all methods. Finally, we attain Buddhahood. Only when we become Buddhas, will we have the ability to help all beings and thus perfectly achieve the First Great Vow, “Sentient beings are innumerable, I vow to help them all.”
Some may ask, “It is really necessary to attain Buddhahood? Won’t it be enough to become a Bodhisattva? Although a Bodhisattva can help beings, he is unable to help a Bodhisattva who is equal or higher in attainment. For example, an Equal-enlightenment Bodhisattva cannot help another Equal-Enlightenment Bodhisattva. However, a Buddha can help them as well as all others. Therefore, only when we attain Buddhahood, can we perfectly help all beings in the universe. With such a vow, we can generate the great compassion to help others, to be diligent in severing our afflictions and mastering all methods.
Today, many practitioners have not yet sincerely generated their vows although they recite them daily. Why do I say this? Because they still have the mind of discrimination: ideas of favoring and disfavoring, self and other, love and hate. Consequently, they practice discrimination. They help people they like and ignore those they dislike. Theirs is not a genuine vow, is not a perfect vow. A perfect vow is that of a Bodhisattva and arises from the nondiscriminatory mind. The Bodhi mind. It is wonderful, inconceivable and far beyond the minds of ordinary people.