The Five Precepts of Buddhism

The Five Precepts of Buddhism are the fundamental ethical strategy of a Buddhist life. Buddhists believe these simple suggestions can avoid many misfortunes.

1. Avoid killing.

Although this principle seems simple enough when taken at face value, a deeper assessment shows that it is a teaching which requires ongoing attention. While it is apparent that egregious acts of killing such as murder are illegal, the truth remains that all life depends on other life for its endurance. To eat, we must murder. This is why many Buddhists endeavor to minimize the level and degree of the killing they are dependable for by assuming a vegetarian or vegan diet.

2. Avoid stealing.

Again, the apparent simplicity of this precept may be misleading. Clearly, deliberate acts of stealing such as shoplifting or robbery are prohibited, but based on an individual's social and political views, contribution in society itself may engage less obvious forms of stealing. For example, a social traditional may believe that taxation and wealth relocation constitute a form of theft. On the other hand, a social broadminded may see capitalism and private property as having naturally larcenous elements. Thus, follow the precept to abstain from stealing may be more challenging than it originally appears.

3. Avoid sexual misbehavior.

Of the five precepts, this is possibly the most straightforward, although there remains substantial room for explanation. Obviously, acts such as rape and child mistreatment are strictly prohibited, as any practical person would expect. Though, sexual misbehavior is also somewhat appropriate in nature. In a dedicated relationship, for example, disloyalty could be seen as sexual misconduct. Likewise, promiscuity and carelessness may be interpret as misconduct by some Buddhists.

4. Avoid false speech.

Apparently, this precept forbids lying, even though it does not explain the status of the various "white lies" most people tell to get through the day. A reasonable approach may be to delight this precept the similar way the first precept (admonishing killing) is indulgence by taking a "harm reduction" approach in terms of dishonesty. Immediately as no one can get through life without assassination in some form, even if it is only plants that are killed for nutrition, it is unlikely that anyone can shun all lying. Even so, setting a target to honor this precept by minimizing dishonesty can be a valuable commitment.

At a deeper level, the precept adjacent to false speech enlarges not just to simple lying, but to any type of speech that is damaging, rude, mean-spirited, pointlessly negative, or otherwise harmful to oneself or others. In determine to renounce for false speech, one should attempt to minimize these forms of speech as well. A Buddhist's speech should be elevating wherever possible, and harmless otherwise.

5. Avoid intoxication and/or intoxicants.

There is some contest within the Buddhist community as to the precise proposed meaning of this precept, with some preserving that it forbids alcohol and other drugs completely and others property that the use of these substances in control is acceptable, as long as irresponsibility does not result.

The unique wording of the precept states that "substances which cause heedlessness" are to be passed up, let somebody use some potential support to the view that a state of rashness itself is the bottom of the issue. In either case, it is clear that drunkenness and/or drug "highs" which cause irresponsibility are to be avoided. Whether one decides to do this by avoiding such substances on the whole or by involvement in a moderate, responsible manner may be best measured a personal choice.

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