Eight Precepts

A humor fic by Veszelyite

A/N: Inspired in part by Isil Elen's poignant story 'Here Lies Gonou', which has a similar theme but is not a parody. The author takes full responsibility for any religious or canon errors. The text for the eight precepts listed below is adapted from a few well-referenced websites that ffnet won't allow me to list on this page. Anyone with an interest in the sources should contact the author for more info.


DISCLAIMER: I don't own any of the Saiyuki boys. They're probably better off that way.


The green-eyed man seated in front of the large wooden desk blinked a few times, his expression frozen into a mask of ill-concealed surprise. "I beg your pardon?"

Sanzo scowled at him over a pile of paperwork. It was a large and particularly onerous pile of paperwork that would not exist save for the fact that he had spent the last week and a half wandering all over the damn countryside. The blame for that backlog, the wanted fugitive he had cornered and brought back to trial, seemed oblivious to Sanzo's bad mood. Instead, he was wearing the slightly dazed and distinctly bewildered expression that had become an almost permanent fixture on his face ever since he had received the sentence for his crimes.

"You heard me the first time," the monk said.

They both recognized the statement as truth. That didn't make the information any easier to digest. The man (regardless of his recently altered state, he looked human at the moment, anyway) blinked again and tried a different tack. "Forgive me, I come from quite a different religious upbringing--but I have read a thing or two about Buddhism. There are hundreds of precepts in the Buddhist faith. Am I expected to choose only eight?"

"Ch. Of course not," Sanzo tempered his voice with what he hoped was quelling finality. "You don't get to choose them. Stick to the major ones."

That earned him a moment of silence. ...But not, Sanzo noted with some regret, a vacated office. The other man hesitated a bit before plucking up the courage to continue. "I'm afraid that this area is a bit outside my expertise, and I'd just like to make sure I understand fully what it is that I'm getting into. Perhaps...if you have a few spare moments, you might be willing to explain?"

Sanzo was sorely tempted to say no. He'd anticipated this issue already, having traveled with this man all the way back to Chang'An. The former fugitive had made the journey almost entirely in silence, showing no outward emotion except a calm acceptance of his fate. In spite of his apparent reticence, a few words here and gestures there had given away the subtler aspects of his nature--providing insight into his personality, if one only knew where to look.

Sanzo expected, in fact, given the occasionally perverse temperaments of the three entities that comprised the Sanbutsushin, that the personality in question was the very reason that the monk had been saddled with this man's instruction. From what Sanzo had observed on the road, he knew that this new convert would be a model student for the faith. Intelligent, well educated, inquisitive--the very worst kind of acolyte for someone who had never, ever had the desire to teach.

With a great show of irritation, the monk reached into a drawer of his desk, rifled through a few files, and pulled out a single sheet of paper. He slid it across the pale, polished wood of the desktop. After a moment of looking down at it with an expression of something like consternation, the dark-haired man picked it up. There on the paper, written in flowing calligraphy (not Sanzo's own), were the following words:

I undertake to observe the precept to refrain from...

1.) ...harming living creatures.

2.) ...taking that which is not given.

3.) ...sexual misconduct.

4.) ...incorrect speech.

5.) ...intoxicating drinks and drugs causing heedlessness.

6.) ...taking untimely meals.

7.) ...dancing, singing, music, and watching entertainments, and from the use of garlands, perfumes, and personal adornments.

8.) ...sitting in high seats.

"Well," the other man said after a long pause. "Thank you. That certainly clarifies things." He turned the paper over to glance at the back, a pretense to keep from meeting Sanzo's gaze. "I'm happy to say that number two and number eight shouldn't really cause much difficulty, as I'd like to think that those are things that I already try to avoid. In addition, I think I can handle number four and also number six. ...Provided that we're talking about the traditional Buddhist interpretation." His hesitant glance up at Sanzo earned him a nod, which he accepted without further question.

The dark-haired man looked down at the list yet again. Any hopes that Sanzo might have had that this would be the end of the matter perished with the next indrawn breath. "I'm afraid that the rest of these, however, might cause some serious problems."

It figures. Sanzo didn't bother to point out that a person who had expected to be executed as of yesterday really shouldn't have any complaints. This was yet another personality trait of the new convert that was sure to make life difficult for him in the future--the man's apparent inability to let a matter go until he had a chance to say his piece. "Really." The word came out with the faintest hint of resignation. We might as well get this over with.

"Yes." The other man fidgeted a bit nervously with the list of precepts before stilling his hands with a visible effort. "Perhaps we should begin with number three--the, er, rule governing sexual misconduct?" His visitor looked at the floor and gave a delicate cough, "I don't really know how much you may have been told about the...ah, rather sordid details of my past. But I think I should make you aware..."

"Don't bother." Sanzo interrupted. He had been quite well informed about the whole situation, and the last thing he wanted now was a confession. "You don't have any other sisters, right?"

It took a moment for the meaning behind the question to sink in. When it did, the other man's cheeks turned slightly pink. "Ah...no."

"Then you don't really need to be concerned."

The dark-haired man cleared his throat a bit uncomfortably, but dropped that subject abruptly and moved on. "Right," he said. "Well then, about number five. The wording is just a bit confusing. Do I understand correctly that one can consume alcohol and use drugs as long as one doesn't become impaired?"

"That's what it says, doesn't it?"

Green eyes met violet a bit dubiously.

Sanzo's fingers itched for a cigarette, but he firmly squelched the urge. It wasn't worth the headache at the questions that were sure to follow. He leaned back in his chair and folded his arms across his chest instead. "Follow the letter of the precept, and the rest of the idiots in this temple can't complain."

The dark eyebrows rose ever so slightly. "Oh? Are they the ones I should be worried about?"

"No." Sanzo was not at all amused at hearing that arch tone of voice. "I'm the one you should be worried about."

"Ah. Ah hah hah. I see." The other man dropped his gaze back to the list and plowed on. "But if that's true for precept five, it brings up a problem with respect to precept seven. Should I also follow the letter of the precept on this? While most of it--the singing, dancing, etc., really isn't any trouble, and garlands and perfume aren't my thing--there is the issue of personal adornments in the way of these..." he made a hesitant gesture, curling his fingers over the unfamiliar metal cuffs on his left ear.

Sanzo's gun was out of his sleeve and trained on the other man before he could even blink. "Don't even think about it," the monk said coldly. "Of course, the limiters don't count."

"Of course," the man echoed, sounding faintly relieved. His hand fell away to settle once more in his lap. "But that does bring up a little problem associated with precept one."

Sanzo wasn't cut out for this. Somewhere, he was sure, Komyou Sanzo was laughing. He was half-tempted to keep the gun out in the hopes it might dissuade his visitor from asking more questions. …Except he doubted that anything would dissuade the man from asking more questions. Maybe he should just tell him flat out to shut up. No. Deal with this now, dammit. Quite reluctantly, he tucked the Smith & Wesson back into his sleeve. "And just what exactly is the problem with precept one?"

"While it is certainly my intent to refrain from taking lives unnecessarily in the future, I feel compelled to mention that the Buddhist prohibition against eating meat also falls under this rule."

"And your point is?" Sanzo asked with forced calm.

"Perhaps it has not escaped your notice that youkai are carnivores?"

Sanzo gritted his teeth. "There are plenty of good soy-based protein substitutes available nowadays. I'm sure you'll somehow manage to get by."

The other man considered that a moment. "I guess that's true."

"You'll learn to like tofu in no time."

"I do like tofu." A brief look of uncertainty crossed the man's face. "I think. I haven't tried any lately. Gojyo never really kept any around the house."

On top of everything else, the mention of the idiot kappa made a vein start to pulse in Sanzo's forehead. "Well then, there you go," he said, turning his attention back to his piles of paperwork in the hopes of dismissing the subject entirely.

A minute passed. The cautious look slowly crept back onto the other man's face as the monk's irritation was duly noted. He finally seemed to realize that he might be pushing things too far. Yet he still kept going even then.

"...So let me get this straight," the former fugitive summed up, ticking points off on his fingers one by one. "By accepting what you say, I'm to avoid causing harm to others in the future. I'm to renounce stealing, sleeping around, prideful behavior and vanity. I'm to avoid any entertainments or social behaviors that might be perceived as unseemly. I need to follow a monastic diet, and I'm not supposed to make any statements that aren't strictly the truth. Yet I can drink all the alcohol I want as long as I don't get impaired, and I still get to keep my demon power limiters." He looked to Sanzo for confirmation.

Never a patient man to begin with, Sanzo had put up with just about enough. "Look," he snapped, unable to keep the lid on his temper any longer, "I personally don't give a damn what you renounce or don't renounce. Get over it already. It's just a stupid name."

"Ah." The simple sound contained layers of meaning that Sanzo didn't really care to examine. An odd look had come over the other man's face, and at length he finally, finally rose from his chair to face Sanzo with a respectful little bow and the faintest hint of a smile. "I see. If that's the case, I'll do my best.

"Cho Hakkai it is."