The Buddha taught us that the Five Precepts are the foundation for all wholesome qualities.
1. I observe the precept of abstaining from killing beings.
2. I observe the precept of abstaining from stealing.
3. I observe the precept of abstaining from sexual misconduct.
4. I observe the precept of abstaining from telling lies.
5. I observe the precept of abstaining from using intoxicating drinks and drugs.
When we gather, lay people take the precepts from a monastic. When we are at home we simply take them on our own. Many people do this every morning as a part of their daily routine.
The five precepts are not the complete training in ethics, even for lay people. For example even basic right speech also includes abstaining from malicious speech, harsh speech and useless speech. However, these Five Precepts offer a wonderful foundation for all other wholesome qualities.
When we keep the precepts we have an opportunity to live without regret, so in our present life we have a peaceful mind. We also protect ourselves from danger in future lives. When we abstain from killing, we get to have long life. When we abstain from stealing, we won’t be separated from our wealth. When we abstain from sexual misconduct, then we won’t be separated from our friends. When we abstain from telling lies, then our words will be believed. When we abstain from intoxicants, our minds will be strong.
If we are unsure how to keep the precepts it is important to ask questions so we can be confident in the training.
When we break a precept, the Buddha advises us to reflect on what we did and make the determination to keep it in the future.
Want to learn more? Come to our Introduction to Buddhism Class.