Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Buddhist Precepts I

A precept (sikkhapada) is a self-imposed rule or discipline. The moral rules that all Buddhists commit themselves to and try to live by are called the five Precepts (panca sila). They are (1)
not to harm living beings, (2) not to steal, (3) not to engage in wrong sexual behaviour, (4) not to lie and (5) not to take alcohol or other intoxicating drugs. In following these Precepts one gradually develops a respect for the life of others, for their property, their dignity, their right to know the truth and a respect for the clarity of one's own mind. The Buddha called adhering to these Precepts a consideration to others which ‘creates love and respect and which is conducive to helpfulness, non-dispute, harmony and unity’ (A.III,287; M.I.322). I think this passage needs to be more well-known so I give it in Pali as well… ‘piyakarana, garukarana, sangahaya, avivadaya, samaggiya, ekibhavaya, samvattanti’. The Buddha saw adherence to the Precepts as a gift (danani) which would benefit both the giver and the receiver. 'When a noble disciple practices the five Precepts he gives the gift of freedom from fear, from hatred and from ill-will to limitless beings. And in giving this gift he thereby partakes in a freedom from fear, from hatred and from ill-will which is limitless' (condensed, A.IV,246). On another occasion, the Buddha called virtue 'freedom-giving' and 'conducive to concentration' (A.III,132) and he mentioned that one of the most important benefits of practicing the Precepts is that one experiences ‘the happiness of being blameless’ (anavajja sukha, D.I,70). In other words, Buddhists practices the five Precepts because they care about their own welfare and the welfare and happiness of others too.
Over the next week I am going to have comment on all the Five, Eight and Ten Precepts.


Bill said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bill said...

Thank you Bhante

Sometimes there is an over analysis of Buddha's teachings

It's great to get back to the core


Chris Kang said...

Thanks Bhante. I've written a post on my blog pointing to your musing on Buddhist precepts. Timely and much needed.

Solitary Wanderer said...

Dear Bhante,
Can I translate your articles on this blog into Indonesian and post it on my blog and Buddhist forum at my country?

Shravasti Dhammika said...

Dear Ariyakumara,
Please feel free to translate any of my articles.
when you do please send me the address to your blog.

Solitary Wanderer said...

Thanks, Bhante.

I've posted some of your articles in Buddhist forum

yuri said...

Enlightening! :)

yuri said...

Lest I am misunderstood. No irony here - I do like the post! Very important to understand why the precepts. They are not so much for good social behaviour but exceptionally important for truth-seeking. "Avoid doing evil things, do good deeds and purify your mind!"