Sometimes people mistakenly look on vows and pledges as if these were a type of punishment, but this is not at all the case. For example, just as we follow certain methods of eating and drinking to improve our health and certainly not to punish ourselves, so the rules the Shakymuni Buddha formulated are for controlling counter-productive ill-deeds and ultimately for overcoming afflictive emotions, because these are self-ruinous. Thus, to relieve oneself from suffering, one controls the motivations and deeds producing suffering for one’s own sake. Realizing from his own experience that suffering stems from one’s own afflictive emotions as well as actions contaminated with them, he sets forth styles of behavior to reduce the problem for our own profit, certainly not to give us a hard time. Hence, these rules are for the sake of controlling sources of harm.
— by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Dzong-ka-ba, and Jeffrey Hopkins, from Yoga Tantra