— Tibetan Great Yogi, Milarepa Be loving and be pitiful And well controlled in virtue's ways, Strenuous bent upon the goal, And onward ever bravely press.
That danger does in dalliance lie — That earnestness is sure and safe — This when you see, then cultivate The Eight-fold Path so shall ye realize, So make your own, the Deathless Way.' — Psalms of the Brethren, 979,980 The Book of Protection which is an anthology of selected discourses of the Buddha compiled by the teachers of old, was originally meant as a handbook for the newly ordained novice.
Whatever living beings there may be; Whether they are weak or strong, omitting none, The great or the mighty, medium, short or small, The seen and the unseen, Those living near and far away, Those born and to-be-born — May all beings be at ease!
The idea was that those novices who are not capable of studying large portions of the "Discourse Collection" (sutta pitaka) should at least be conversant with the Book of Protection. The twenty four discourses are selected from the five Nikayas or the original Collections in Pali containing the Buddha's discourses.
The fact that the book was meant for the novice is clear from the prefatory paragraphs that precede the discourses.
I have preserved the synonymous words and repetitions found in the suttas since they are the ipsissima verba of the Buddha handed down to us through oral tradition. Jayawardana of Union printing Works and her staff who took a keen interest in the printing of this work, I am thankful. This is achieved by recalling with saddha or confidence the virtues of the Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha referred to in these discourses.
In all the suttas the word "Bhagava," the "Blessed One," an epithet of the Buddha, is frequently used. Last, but far from least, my thanks are due to Messrs D. There are many who listen to the recitation of these discourses but who hardly understand the import of these discourses and therefore any benefit they may gain must be necessarily slight.
The precepts are ten, and not five which are the basic principles of the lay follower.