The Five Precepts (Skt. pañcaśīla; P. pañcasīla; T. bslab pa lnga; C. wujie; J. gokai; K. ogye 五戒) are five basic "training rules" or "codes of conduct" that all practicing Buddhists (lay and monastics) are encouraged to observe.
In brief, the five precepts are to refrain from:
- taking the life of a living being
- sexual misconduct
- false speech
For lay people, the five precepts are not formulated as imperatives, but as training rules that lay people undertake voluntarily to facilitate practice. Peter Harvey states:
- Each precept is a ‘rule of training’ – as is each item of the monastic code – which is a promise or vow to oneself. They are not ‘commandments’ from without, though their difference from these, in practice, can be exaggerated. In societies where Buddhism is the dominant religion, they become broadly expected norms for people to seek to live by. Moreover, while the ‘taking’ of the precepts, by ritually chanting them, can be done by a layperson at any time, they are frequently ‘taken’ by chanting them after a monk, who fulfils the role of ‘administering’ them. In such a context, the resolve to keep the precepts has a greater psychological impact, and thus generates more karmic fruitfulness.
In Pāli tradition
In the Theravāda tradition, the precepts are recited in a standardized fashion, in the Pāli language. In Thailand, a leading lay person will normally request the monk to administer the precepts by reciting the following three times:
"Venerables, we request the five precepts and the three refuges [i.e. the triple gem] for the sake of observing them, one by one, separately". (Mayaṃ bhante visuṃ visuṃ rakkhaṇatthāya tisaraṇena saha pañca sīlāniyācāma.)
After this, the monk administering the precepts will recite a reverential line of text to introduce the ceremony, after which he guides the lay people in declaring that they take their refuge in the three refuges or triple gem.
- "I undertake the training-precept to abstain from onslaught on breathing beings." (Pali: Pāṇātipātā veramaṇī sikkhāpadaṃ samādiyāmi.)
- "I undertake the training-precept to abstain from taking what is not given." (Pali: Adinnādānā veramaṇī sikkhāpadaṃ samādiyāmi.)
- "I undertake the training-precept to abstain from misconduct concerning sense-pleasures." (Pali: Kāmesumicchācāra veramaṇī sikkhāpadaṃ samādiyāmi.)
- "I undertake the training-precept to abstain from false speech." (Pali: Musāvādā veramaṇī sikkhāpadaṃ samādiyāmi.)
- "I undertake the training-precept to abstain from alcoholic drink or drugs that are an opportunity for heedlessness." (Pali: Surāmerayamajjapamādaṭṭhānā veramaṇī sikkhāpadaṃ samādiyāmi.)
After the lay people have repeated the five precepts after the monk, the monk will close the ceremony reciting:
"These five precepts lead with good behavior to bliss, with good behavior to wealth and success, they lead with good behavior to happiness, therefore purify behavior." (Imāni pañca sikkhāpadāni. Sīlena sugatiṃ yanti, sīlena bhogasampadā, sīlena nibbutiṃ yanti, tasmā sīlaṃ visodhaye.)
- As all Buddhas refrained from killing until the end of their lives, so I too will refrain from killing until the end of my life.
- As all Buddhas refrained from stealing until the end of their lives, so I too will refrain from stealing until the end of my life.
- As all Buddhas refrained from sexual misconduct until the end of their lives, so I too will refrain from sexual misconduct until the end of my life.
- As all Buddhas refrained from false speech until the end of their lives, so I too will refrain from false speech until the end of my life.
- As all Buddhas refrained from alcohol until the end of their lives, so I too will refrain from alcohol until the end of my life.
Similarly, in the Mūla-Sarvāstivāda texts used in Tibetan Buddhism, the precepts are formulated such that one takes the precepts upon oneself for one's entire lifespan, following the examples of the enlightened disciples of the Buddha (arahant).
|Precept||Accompanying virtues||Related to human rights|
|1. Abstention from killing living beings||Kindness and compassion||Right to life|
|2. Abstention from theft||Generosity and renunciation||Right of property|
|3. Abstention from sexual misconduct||Contentment and respect for faithfulness||Right to fidelity in marriage|
|4. Abstention from falsehood||Being honest and dependable||Right of human dignity|
|5. Abstention from intoxication||Mindfulness and responsibility||Right of security and safety|
The five precepts can be found in many places in the Early Buddhist Texts. The precepts are regarded as means to building good character, or as an expression of such character. The Pāli Canon describes them as means to avoid harm to oneself and others. It further describes them as gifts toward oneself and others. Moreover, the texts say that people who uphold them will be confident in any gathering of people,  will have wealth and a good reputation, and will die a peaceful death, reborn in heaven or as a human being. On the other hand, living a life in violation of the precepts is believed to lead to rebirth in the lower realms. They are understood as principles that define a person as human in body and mind.
The precepts are normative rules, but are formulated and understood as "undertakings" rather than commandments enforced by a moral authority, according to the voluntary and gradualist standards of Buddhist ethics. They are forms of restraint formulated in negative terms, but are also accompanied by virtues and positive behaviors, which are cultivated through the practice of the precepts.[note 1] The most important of these virtues is non-harming (Pāli and Sanskrit: ahiṃsa), which underlies all of the five precepts.[note 2] Precisely, the texts say that one should keep the precepts, adhering to the principle of comparing oneself with others:
"For a state that is not pleasant or delightful to me must be so to him also; and a state that is not pleasing or delightful to me, how could I inflict that upon another?"
In other words, all living beings are alike in that they want to be happy and not suffer. Comparing oneself with others, one should therefore not hurt others as one would not want to be hurt. Ethicist Pinit Ratanakul argues that the compassion which motivates upholding the precepts comes from an understanding that all living beings are equal and of a nature that they are 'not-self' (Pali: anattā). Another aspect that is fundamental to this is the belief in karmic retribution.
In the upholding or violation of the precepts, intention is crucial. In the Pāli scriptures, an example is mentioned of a person stealing an animal only to set it free, which was not seen as an offense of theft. In the Pāli commentaries, a precept is understood to be violated when the person violating it finds the object of the transgression (e.g. things to be stolen), is aware of the violation, has the intention to violate it, does actually act on that intention, and does so successfully.
Upholding the precepts is sometimes distinguished in three levels: to uphold them without having formally undertaken them; to uphold them formally, willing to sacrifice one's own life for it; and finally, to spontaneously uphold them. The latter refers to the arahant, who is understood to be morally incapable of violating the first four precepts. A layperson who upholds the precepts is described in the texts as a "jewel among laymen". On the other hand, the most serious violations of the precepts are the five actions of immediate retribution, which are believed to lead the perpetrator to an unavoidable rebirth in a hell realm. These consist of injuring a Buddha, killing an arahant, killing one's father or mother, and causing the monastic community to have a schism.
- Anagarika – one who keeps the Eight Precepts on a more permanent basis, or as preparation to ordain.
- Buddhist initiation ritual
- Dhammika Sutta
- Patimokkha – 227 rules for monks (bhikkhus) and 311 for nuns (bhikkhunis)
- Buswell & Lopez 2014, s.v. pañcaśīla
- Access to Insight glosses these precepts as "training rules" (Five Precepts); Buswell uses "codes of conduct" (Buswell (2014), pañcaśīla)
- In Pali and Sanskrit, "five precepts" is more literally translated as pañca-sikkhāpada and pañca-sikśāpada, respectively. Thus, for instance, Harvey (2007, p. 199) translates pañca-sīla as "five virtues."
- Stewart McFarlane in Peter Harvey, ed., Buddhism. Continuum, 2001, page 187.
- Harvey 2007, p. 269.
- Terwiel 2012, pp. 179–80.
- Terwiel 2012, p. 181.
- Harvey 2000, p. 67.
- Ledgerwood 2008, p. 152.
- Terwiel 2012, p. 182.
- "CBETA T18 No. 916". Cbeta.org. Archived from the original on 31 July 2012."CBETA T24 No. 1488". Cbeta.org. 30 August 2008. Archived from the original on 31 July 2012.Shih, Heng-ching (1994). The Sutra on Upāsaka Precepts (PDF). Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research. ISBN 978-0-9625618-5-6."CBETA 電子佛典集成 卍續藏 (X) 第 60 冊 No.1129". Cbeta.org. 30 August 2008. Archived from the original on 31 July 2012.
- "X60n1129_002 歸戒要集 第2卷". CBETA 電子佛典集成. Cbeta.org. Archived from the original on 24 August 2018.
- Gwynne 2017, The Buddhist Pancasila.
- Cozort 2015.
- Keown 2012, p. 33.
- Ledgerwood & Un 2010, pp. 540–1.
- Tedesco 2004, p. 91.
- MacKenzie 2017, p. 2.
- Harvey 2000, p. 66.
- Goodman, Charles (2017). "Ethics in Indian and Tibetan Buddhism". The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Metaphysics Research Lab, Stanford University. Archived from the original on 8 July 2010.
- Tachibana 1992, p. 63.
- Wai 2002, p. 2.
- Gombrich 2006, p. 66.
- Keown 2003, p. 268.
- Meadow 2006, p. 88.
- Buswell 2004.
- Wijayaratna 1990, pp. 166–7.
- Edelglass 2013, p. 479.
- Keown 1998, pp. 399–400.
- "Ahiṃsā". The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. Oxford University Press. 1997. Archived from the original on 24 August 2018 – via Encyclopedia.com.
- Keown 2013a, p. 616.
- Spiro 1982, p. 45.
- Harvey 2000, pp. 33, 71.
- Harvey 2000, p. 33.
- Harvey 2000, p. 120.
- Ratanakul 2007, p. 241.
- Horigan 1996, p. 276.
- Mcdermott 1989, p. 275.
- Keown 1998, p. 386.
- Leaman 2000, p. 139.
- Leaman 2000, p. 141.
- Keown 2003, p. 1.
- De Silva 2016, p. 63.
- Buswell, Robert E.; Lopez, Donald S. (2014), The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism, Princeton University
- Buswell, Robert E., ed. (2004), "Ethics", Encyclopedia of Buddhism, Macmillan Reference USA, Thomson Gale, ISBN 978-0-02-865720-2, archived from the original on 24 August 2018 – via Encyclopedia.com
- Cozort, Daniel (2015), "Ethics", in Powers, John, The Buddhist World, Routledge, ISBN 978-1-317-42016-3
- Cozort, Daniel; Shields, James Mark (2018), The Oxford Handbook of Buddhist Ethics, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-106317-6
- De Silva, Padmasiri (2016), Environmental Philosophy and Ethics in Buddhism, Springer Nature, ISBN 978-1-349-26772-9
- Edelglass, William (2013), "Buddhist Ethics and Western Moral Philosophy" (PDF), in Emmanuel, Steven M., A Companion to Buddhist Philosophy (1st ed.), Wiley-Blackwell, pp. 476–90, ISBN 978-0-470-65877-2
- Funayama, Tōru (2004), "The Acceptance of Buddhist Precepts by the Chinese in the Fifth Century", Journal of Asian History, 38 (2): 97–120, JSTOR 41933379
- Getz, Daniel A. (2004), "Precepts", in Buswell, Robert E., Encyclopedia of Buddhism, Macmillan Reference USA, Thomson Gale, ISBN 978-0-02-865720-2, archived from the original on 24 August 2018
- Gombrich, Richard F. (1995), Buddhist Precept and Practice: Traditional Buddhism in the Rural Highlands of Ceylon, Kegan Paul, Trench and Company, ISBN 978-0-7103-0444-5
- Gombrich, Richard F. (2006), Theravāda Buddhism: A Social History from Ancient Benares to Modern Colombo (PDF) (2nd ed.), Routledge, ISBN 978-0-203-01603-9, archived (PDF) from the original on 24 August 2018
- Gwynne, Paul (2017), World Religions in Practice: A Comparative Introduction, John Wiley & Sons, ISBN 978-1-118-97227-4
- Harvey, Peter (2000), An Introduction to Buddhist Ethics: Foundations, Values and Issues (PDF), Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0-511-07584-1
- Harvey, Peter (2007), An Introduction to Buddhism: Teachings, History and Practices, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
- Horigan, D.P. (1996), "Of Compassion and Capital Punishment: A Buddhist Perspective on the Death Penalty", American Journal of Jurisprudence, 41
- Keown, Damien (1998), "Suicide, Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia: A Buddhist Perspective", Journal of Law and Religion, 13 (2): 385–405, doi:10.2307/1051472, JSTOR 1051472
- Keown, Damien (2003), A Dictionary of Buddhism, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-157917-2
- Keown, Damien (2005), Buddhist Ethics: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-157794-9
- Keown, Damien (2012), "Are There Human Rights in Buddhism?", in Husted, Wayne R.; Keown, Damien; Prebish, Charles S., Buddhism and Human Rights, Routledge, pp. 15–42, ISBN 978-1-136-60310-5
- Keown, Damien (2013a), "Buddhism and Biomedical Issues" (PDF), in Emmanuel, Steven M., A Companion to Buddhist Philosophy (1st ed.), Wiley-Blackwell, pp. 613–30, ISBN 978-0-470-65877-2
- Keown, Damien (2013b), "Buddhist Ethics", in LaFollette, Hugh, The International Encyclopedia of Ethics, 9 Volume Set, The International Encyclopedia of Ethics, Blackwell Publishing, pp. 636–47, doi:10.1002/9781444367072.wbiee163, ISBN 978-1-4051-8641-4
- Keown, Damien (2016a), "Buddhism and Abortion: Is There a 'Middle Way'?", in Keown, Damien, Buddhism and Abortion, Macmillan Press, pp. 199–218, doi:10.1007/978-1-349-14178-4, ISBN 978-1-349-14178-4
- Keown, Damien (2016b), Buddhism and Bioethics, Springer Nature, ISBN 978-1-349-23981-8
- Keown, Damien (2017), "It's Ethics, Jim, but Not as We Know It", in Davis, J.H., A Mirror is for Reflection: Understanding Buddhist Ethics, Oxford University Press, pp. 17–32
- Leaman, Oliver (2000), Eastern Philosophy: Key Readings (PDF), Routledge, ISBN 978-0-415-17357-5, archived (PDF) from the original on 8 August 2017
- Ledgerwood, Judy (2008), "Buddhist practice in rural Kandal province 1960 and 2003", in Kent, Alexandra; Chandler, David, People of Virtue: Reconfiguring Religion, Power and Moral Order in Cambodia Today, Nordic Institute of Asian Studies, ISBN 978-87-7694-036-2
- Ledgerwood, Judy; Un, Kheang (3 June 2010), "Global Concepts and Local Meaning: Human Rights and Buddhism in Cambodia", Journal of Human Rights, 2 (4): 531–49, doi:10.1080/1475483032000137129
- MacKenzie, Matthew (December 2017), "Buddhism and the Virtues", in Snow, Nancy E., The Oxford Handbook of Virtue, 1, Oxford University Press, doi:10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199385195.013.18
- Mcdermott, James P. (1 October 1989), "Animals and humans in early Buddhism", Indo-Iranian Journal, 32 (4), doi:10.1163/000000089790083303
- Meadow, Mary Jo (2006), "Buddhism: Theravāda Buddhism", in Riggs, Thomas, Worldmark Encyclopedia of Religious Practices, Thomson Gale, pp. 83–92, ISBN 978-0-7876-9390-9
- Powers, John (2013), A Concise Encyclopedia of Buddhism, Oneworld Publications, ISBN 978-1-78074-476-6
- Queen, Christopher S. (2013), "Socially Engaged Buddhism: Emerging Patterns of Theory and Practice" (PDF), in Emmanuel, Steven M., A Companion to Buddhist Philosophy, Wiley-Blackwell, pp. 524–35, ISBN 978-0-470-65877-2
- Ratanakul, P. (1998), "Socio-Medical Aspects of Abortion in Thailand", in Keown, Damien, Buddhism and Abortion, Macmillan Press, pp. 53–66, doi:10.1007/978-1-349-14178-4, ISBN 978-1-349-14180-7
- Ratanakul, P. (2007), "The Dynamics of Tradition and Change in Theravada Buddhism", The Journal of Religion and Culture, 1 (1): 233–57, CiteSeerX , ISSN 1905-8144
- Spiro, Melford E. (1982), Buddhism and Society: A Great Tradition and Its Burmese Vicissitudes, University of California Press, ISBN 978-0-520-04672-6
- Tedesco, F.M. (2004), "Teachings on Abortion in Theravāda and Mahāyāna Traditions and Contemporary Korean Practice" (PDF), International Journal of Buddhist Thought & Culture, 4
- Terwiel, Barend Jan (2012), Monks and Magic: Revisiting a Classic Study of Religious Ceremonies in Thailand (PDF), Nordic Institute of Asian Studies, ISBN 9788776941017, archived (PDF) from the original on 19 August 2018
- Wai, Maurice Nyunt (2002), Pañcasila and Catholic Moral Teaching: Moral Principles as Expression of Spiritual Experience in Theravada Buddhism and Christianity, Gregorian Biblical BookShop, ISBN 9788876529207
- Wijayaratna, Mohan (1990), Buddhist monastic life: According to the Texts of the Theravāda Tradition (PDF), Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0-521-36428-7, archived from the original on 24 August 2018
- Bullitt, John T. (2005). The Five Precepts: Pañca-sila. Retrieved 2008-02-15 from "Access to Insight" at http://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/pancasila.html.
- Eight precepts at Access to Insight website
- The Ten Precepts on Access to Insight website
- Buddhist Precepts, search for "Samanerasikkha"
|This article includes content from Five Precepts on Wikipedia (view authors). License under CC BY-SA 3.0.|