The Precepts

Last updated: December 21, 2023

What Does The Precepts Mean?

The Precepts are rules of training that are followed by Buddhists and constitute the most important code of ethics. There are five main precepts, often referred to as the “five precepts”. All are commitments to abstain from unwholesome acts, such as lying, sexual misconduct and killing.

The precepts help to develop the necessary purity of mind and integrity of character needed to progress on the path to enlightenment.

The system of Reiki also teaches a set of precepts, as guidelines for living.


Yogapedia Explains The Precepts

The precepts of Buddhism have been likened to the ten commandments of Christianity and Confucianism’s ethical codes. They form the basis of important Buddhist doctrines, for both lay and monastic.Their universal nature means some suggest they can complement the concept of human rights.

The five precepts are:

1. Abstain from taking life – this means to murder anything that lives, human or animal.

2. Abstain from taking what is not given – this refers to theft and the appropriation of another’s property.

3. Abstain from sexual misconduct – this includes sexual crimes and infidelity.

4. Abstain from false speech – this means all lying or deliberate misleading of others.

5. Abstain from intoxication – this includes recreational drugs and alcohol.

The underlying principle of the five precepts is one of non-harming. The motivation for this is both to develop compassion and to avoid karmic retribution through rebirth. Buddhists may recite the precepts frequently as part of their personal spiritual practice, and they may also use them before a ceremony to ready the mind.

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