Buddhism · Spiritual Glossary

Spiritual Glossary: Five Precepts

The Five Precepts, or Mindfulness Trainings, are the Buddhist code of ethics. They are one of the Six Paramitas and are designed to help you achieve liberation from suffering and illusion – if you can stick to them.

As part of your spiritual practice, the five precepts (shila paramita) will guide you down the Eightfold Path and prepare your mind for crossing to the other shore. But it’s important to not follow these precepts mechanically or dogmatically. They don’t function like the Ten Commandments and you’re not weighed down with sin if you don’t uphold them. This isn’t about making yourself feel guilty every time you fail – and let’s face it, we all fail on at least one of these counts many times a day. The precepts are training rules and are to be taken as guidelines.

The Five Precepts – or Mindfulness Trainings:

  1. I undertake the precept not to kill
  2. I undertake the precept not to steal
  3. I undertake the precept not to be involved in sexual misconduct
  4. I undertake the precept not to have false speech
  5. I undertake the precept not to indulge in intoxicants that cloud the mind

You may think the first precept is easy. Most of us are not planning on killing anyone any time soon. But it refers to all sentient beings, so that means no fly swatting or ant squishing either.

If you want to go hardcore, you might like to try following the Ten Precepts, but personally, I wouldn’t recommend it… unless you’re a saint!

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