Why do we have precepts, commandments and rules to follow? What happened in the beginning? Why do we need those things?
Precepts are like laws. They are the rules you shouldn't break. Why then are there so many rules?
A successful corporation that runs its business well must have rules for the employees. Any organisation, any person that does not develop and follow strict rules, eventually will fail. The army of a country that is lacking iron strong discipline, with soldiers not following rules and commands; this army will fail in battle.
All these rules are to develop that discipline. All these precepts are to conquer these bad habits. Bad habits are deep rooted natures within us; our habitual way. Without even thinking it, we will just react in certain ways. If it happens without you noticing, it's very hard for you to conquer all of them by yourself.
But when everybody is watching, it becomes easier, because of the conditions of the environment. Eventually you will conquer yourself. Only when a person is truly conquering his bad habits, conquering his bad nature, then his selfishness, his ego will gradually decrease. It will be gradually weakened.
When he has less and less selfish ego, then his habits will change. More and more he will want to help others. When that person no longer has any selfishness, he has finally surrendered his ego completely. When he no longer has a selfish heart, selfish desires, without doing anything, his nature is changing in his heart; this eternal mindful steadfastness begins to take place.
In other words, following the precepts is to conquer ones own bad nature, ones bad habits. Only by getting rid of that deep rooted bad nature, conquering those bad habits, then you actually arrive at the stage where you begin to have mindfulness. It is only when you are steadfast in that state of mindfulness that eternity happens. In that sate of stillness, wisdom begins to come.
Buddhism's three learnings: Discipline, Steadfastness, Wisdom.
These are what we call the three new learnings. True precept discipline begins mindfulness; steadfastness, or you can call it willpower. Through this kind of steadfastness and willpower, begins wisdom, insight and realisation.
Lacking discipline and lacking precepts to follow will make it hard for you to conquer your lazy habits, your bad nature. Only when you continue to be strict with yourself and strive for the highest discipline, you shall realise the second learning of eternal mindful state. You shall have willpower, steadfastness. When your heart, your consciousness has accomplished this steadfastness, then they begin to connect and correspond to this constellation star in the sky.
When that connection happens, you emerge as one existence and one body. You shall realise wisdom. Your awareness, your sense of self has changed. The change of all and everything is now manifesting in your heart.
If you wish to quickly accomplish your Dharma practice then first you must understand the principles. You will have clarity of mind. You shall see the law clearly and no longer struggle intellectually. When your concept is in confusion, you do not understand the underlying principle reality. Your Dharma practice is still in that painful hazy, messy state. ~ Dechan Jueren