The practice of Zen is often referred to as a form of cultivation. Like growing a garden, where we cultivate by tilling and amending the soil, providing water, locating for adequate sunshine. Then comes planting the seeds, preventing weeds from crowding out the plantings, scavengers from eating the produce, and both from taking over the plot.
In cultivating the Buddhist Precepts, the process may be seen as analogous to gardening. Long before we become aware of something called precepts, the context of their cultivation is already present, just as the soil, sunshine, rain, and adverse, competing forces are already in place, long before we decide to plant our garden.
It is also true that something must have happened to make us decide to attempt gardening in the first place. Our parents or grandparents may have been gardeners. We may not have access to an adequate supply of fresh produce from the local market. We may have concerns over the quality of the produce we find at the local market, including whether it contains preservatives or residual pesticides, or is not really fresh enough. Or we may just think it is the cool thing to do.
Once the garden is underway, we confront the unromantic realities. Gardening is hard work. We have to make decisions regarding what to do about weeds, insects, and other bothersome realities that are working against the success of our project. The process of discovery often involves more negative surprises than positive ones.
The parallel to practice of Precepts should be obvious.