The Five Precepts


This section is quite difficult to expound to the blind world today. So long as greedy people are enjoying five sensual pleasures, the whole world will also be burnt with the fire of greed, hatred and delusion one day. Nowadays some countries in the world are walking along these rough roads in order to survive themselves.

Anyhow the word ‘morality’ or ‘sìla’ in Pàøi has been safely kept by those who have right understanding. Aware of the suffering caused by the destruction of life, one undertakes the precept to cultivate Compassion and protect human, animal and plant life (protecting nature). One is determined not to kill or injure, not to let others do so, and not to support any act of physical or mental harm. It is called first precept, ‘Not to Kill; to Protect’25. In addition, every living being loves his/her life so much, no matter how difficult he/she is living in the universe. But everyone must think deeply not to destroy one’s life and others’. The Buddha said,

‘All are afraid of the stick, are fear death. Putting oneself in another’s place, one should not beat or kill others’26.

All living beings are, indeed, afraid of death no matter who they are or where in the world they live. Can we say how much we love our lives? How long do we wish to live in this world? How are you feeling when someone comes to attempt killing you? Are you happy or nervous? Will you stand in front of the murder to accomplish his wish? Please use your wisdom to think of these.

The Second precept, one must be aware of the suffering caused by exploitation, injustice, theft and oppression; I undertake the precept to cultivate loving-kindness for the being of people and animals. One should practice Honesty and Generosity by sharing one own wealth, time, energy, empathy, encouragement and other resources, especially the gift of Truth with those in need. One must be determined oneself not to possess or steal anything that should belong to others. In the case, the word of Buddha stated,

‘He who seeks for his own happiness by oppressing others, who also desire to have happiness, will not find happiness in his next existence’27.

So, here, one should respect the property of others and the public and prevent other from profiting from suffering of any living being. That is why one must keep in mind, ‘Not to Steal; To be Generous28 so that one will practice Generosity by sharing or giving one own material and spiritual wealth.

The third precept, one must be aware of the suffering caused by sexual intercourse; one undertakes the precept to cultivate responsibility and protect the safety and integrity of individual, couples, families and society. One must be determined oneself not to engage in sexual relations without love, responsibility and a long-term commitment. Anyways as a worldling person has so deep attachment to sensual pleasures, but one must control one’s own mind and body not to commit any evil deeds. If you love your brothers, or sisters, or wife, or husband or daughters, other people do too. Another word of the Buddha shows,

‘So long as craving of man for woman is not cut down and the slightest trace of it remains, so long is his mind in bondage as the calf is bound to its mother’29.

So, one must keep in mind, ‘Not to Indulge the Sense; To be Content30, regarding objects and subjects of sense pleasures, especially adultery, so that one will practice contentment and channel one’s energies towards spiritual development.

The fourth precept, one should be aware of the suffering caused by unmindful speech and inability to listen to others, one undertakes the precept to cultivate loving speech and deep listening to bring joy and happiness to others and relieve them of their suffering. Of course, the universal teacher advised us,

‘Do not speak harshly to anyone; those who are thus spoken to will retort. Malicious talk is indeed the cause of trouble (dukkha) and retribution will come to you’31.

Being born as a human being is so a rare thing. So long as we are still alive we must admonish oneself, thus:

“Speak the truth not untruth,

Say what is pleasant, not unpleasant;

Speak what is true, not false.

Speak only words that do not bring remorse

Nor hurt another. That is good speech indeed.”32

 

As we ourselves do not wish to be victims of lies and slander, we ourselves should avoid doing such acts to others. Speech is really powerful to everyone. So, we should use only proper word with oneself and others.

The fifth precept, one should be aware of the suffering caused by unmindful consumption, one undertakes the precept to cultivate good physical and mental health, for himself, his family and society by practicing mindful eating, drinking and consuming. One must be determined oneself not to use alcohol, drugs or any other intoxicant, or to ingest foods or items that contain negative elements, so to cultivate greater awareness, attention and clarity of mind. Everyone has to realize that to damage one’s body or one’s mind with these poisons is to let down one’s family and society. The Buddha also strongly advocated avoiding intoxicants and drugs. This because once you have come under the influence of alcohol or illicit drugs, you are capable of committing any acts that you would not have done otherwise.

Reference:

25.  Be a Lamp Upon Yourself, p.73

26. Bhikkhu Paññàvaro Suy Sovann, The Dhammapada (Khmer-English), p.46

27. Bhikkhu Paññàvaro Suy Sovann, The Dhammapada (Khmer-English), p.47

28. Be a Lamp Upon Yourself, p.74

29. Bhikkhu Paññàvaro Suy Sovann, The Dhammapada (Khmer-English), p.98

30.  Be a Lamp Upon Yourself, p.75

31. Bhikkhu Paññàvaro Suy Sovann, The Dhammapada (Khmer-English), p.98

32. Saying of the Buddha, p.7

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