Precepts Discussion Group

Recommended books on the Precepts

The Mind of Clover (Aitken)
Waking Up to What You Do (Rizetto)
Being Upright (Anderson)
If You're Lucky, Your Heart Will Break (Ford)
The Heart of Being (Loori)

Recommended Books on the Precepts and Society

The Great Awakening (Loy)
The New Social Face of Buddhism (Jones)
Money Sex War Karma (Loy)
Pavement (Jensen)
Razor-Wire Dharma (Malone)

The Precepts of Skillful Action are the heart of what it means to practice Zen off the cushion--and their study is an endlessly rich, ever-unfolding practice.

The current cycle of Precepts Classes began December 21, 2020. You are invited to join this cycle for all or any classes. This study is open to all, whether you are just curious or intending to participate in Jukai (the formal ceremony of receiving the Precepts) or perhaps feeling the need to revisit these timeless descriptions of an awakened life as a source of inspiration and solace. It is always an honor to share Precepts study together.

Classes are held Mondays from 6:00-6:30 pm by Zoom and led by Rev. Diane Shoshin Fitzgerald, Sensei, resident teacher of the GBZC affiliate group, Zen DownEast. Zoom information here. Contact [email protected] for more information. 


  • December 21: the three refuges (precepts 1, 2 and 3)
  • December 28: the three pure precepts (precepts 4, 5 and 6)
  • January 4: the first grave precept (precept 7)
  • January 11: the second grave precept (precept 8)
  • January 18: the third grave precept (precept 9)
  • January 25: the fourth grave precept (precept 10)
  • February 1: the fifth grave precept (precept 11)
  • February 8: the sixth grave precept (precept 12) 
  • February 15: the seventh grave precept (precept 13)
  • February 22: the eighth grave precept (precept 14)
  • March 1: the ninth grave precept (precept 15)
  • March 8: the tenth grave precept (precept 16)
  • March 15: the four-fold commitment to racial and social justice and the EcoSattva vows

Other Information:

It is fine to miss class due to other commitments. Classes can be made up in the next cycle.

Kindly read at least two books in connection with the classes: Reb Anderson’s Being Upright and the Bodhisattva Precepts and Robert Aitken’s The Mind of Clover: Essays in Zen Buddhist Ethics. You might also enjoy Waking Up to What You Do by Diane Rizzetto. The Precepts themselves can be found in our liturgy book which you can access here (we will be using the longer precepts version that begins on page 63).

Those who are interested in sewing a rakusu may be able to purchase a rakusu sewing kit and receive sewing instructions. Please contact Diane for more information at [email protected] before you purchase a rakusu kit and please contact [email protected] for information about the monthly rakusu sewing group. Rakusus must be black and hand-sewn unless physical limitations make that difficult for you.

For those who have sewn rakusus and would like to participate in Jukai (the formal ceremony of receiving the Precepts), please contact Diane at [email protected]. To learn more about Jukai, see Receiving the Zen Precepts.