It is better to feed one who observes the five precepts of Buddha than to feed one thousand good men. Buddha is simply giving you the vast expanse of consciousness, its responses, and how you have to behave – because your behavior is going to be a transformation to you. The five precepts of Buddha are in a way very simple if they are done exactly according to Buddha’s teaching; otherwise they become self-torture. And he says: It is better to respect one who observes the five precepts of Buddha than to feed one thousand good men.
The good man acts spontaneously, but the man with five precepts has a certain responsibility with his spontaneity, has a certain goal with his spontaneity, has a certain very clear-cut vision with his spontaneity. He knows what he is doing, why he is doing it and he knows what is going to be the result of it. He is acting very consciously. The five precepts are simple, but awareness has to be the base of it…and it has to be, because Buddha is saying: It is better to feed one who observes the five precepts of Buddha than to feed one thousand good men. He is comparing one man with one thousand good men, with all their spontaneity.
The five precepts: The first is nonviolence; whatever the situation, he should not act in a violent way. His response should always be nonviolent, because we are part of one existence. Whomsoever you are hurting, you are hurting yourself in the long run. Today you may not realize it, but one day when you will become more aware, then you will say, “My God! This wound was inflicted by me – upon myself.” You had hurt somebody else thinking that people are different. Nobody is different. This whole existence is one cosmic unity. Out of this understanding comes nonviolence.
The second is non-possessiveness. If the whole existence is one, and if the existence goes on taking care of trees, of animals, of mountains, of oceans – from the smallest blade of grass to the biggest star – then it will take care of you too. Why be possessive? Possessiveness shows simply one thing: that you can’t trust existence; you have to arrange separate security for yourself, safety for yourself. You cannot trust existence. Non-possessiveness is basically trust in existence. There is no need to possess, because the whole is already ours.
The third is non-stealing. If it is one cosmos, to steal is simply as foolish as…. I have heard that one pick-pocket sometimes used to have difficulty in finding people, to pick their pockets. But he was so habituated, and it was so difficult for him to accept the fact that he had not been able to do anything today, that he would pick his own pocket! People can deceive themselves that way.
I have heard about one man who went in the evening to the fisherman’s shop and said, “I want that fish. You throw it, and I will catch it.”
The man said, “What is the need of throwing it? I can give it to you.”
He said, “No, you have to throw it and I will catch it – because I never want to lie. And when I go home my wife is going to ask, ‘Where have you been?’ I have been catching fish, but I could not catch any. And this one I will have certainly caught. I have not purchased it; you have thrown it and I have caught it. So I can say with a straight face, ‘This is my catch – a beautiful fish.’ But I cannot lie. That’s why you have to throw it, and I have to catch it.”