This paper is mainly an inquiry into the ethical significance of Master Sheng Yen’s thoughts on Buddhist precepts. I firstly aim to illustrate his understanding and interpretation of Buddhist precepts and then elaborate on the ethical implications of his views, whilst also discussing the merits of his ethical outlook in modern-day society. The distinctive feature of Master Sheng Yen’s interpretation of Buddhist precepts is based on a perspective of pragmatic ethics which pertains to the process of purification from self to others or from individual to society. He therefore views Buddhist philosophy as a distinctive type of theoretical ethics. As a result, Master Sheng Yan’s system of ethics not only deals with the normativity of moral principles, but also reveals the theoretical values of precepts based on Buddhist philosophy. I also draw an analogy between Master Sheng Yen’s views on Buddhist precepts and Western ethical systems and suggest that Master Sheng Yen’s views on precepts could in some respects be taken as a form of normative ethics, although these views cannot be attributed to any specific theory of normative ethics. Finally, I offer possible modern applications of Master Sheng Yen’s views on Buddhist precepts. I take the flexibility of his thoughts on precepts as a basis to argue that his merciful attitude is based on the compassion of the Bodhisattva path. According to his interpretation, Buddhist precepts should not be obscured by complicated moral rules but rather carry a sense of flexibility that allows more people to integrate Buddhist ethics into their daily lives and accomplish the ultimate Mahayana goal of bringing benefit to all beings.