Tag Archive | Precepts

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding the Taking of the Precepts

This is from a book on the precepts for lay people which was written by Shi Faxun, who has kindly given permission for us to serialise it over the coming weeks.


Can we observe the Precepts without going through the official ceremony?

Some people say that they are already keeping the precepts and are spiritual, and feel there is no need to go through the official ceremony. In fact, they argue that they are better than those who go through it but do not uphold the precepts.

The ceremony is a time when we can express our faith, confidence and commitment. By participating in the ceremony, we express our determination and commitment to observe these Five Precepts in our daily life. It means we have strong faith in these Five Precepts as a framework for us to transform our life; without faith, it will be difficult to observe/practise the Precepts. In the ceremony, we publicly accept the Five Precepts with a strong intention to use them as a guideline for living an ethical life. In other words, we are committed to live a virtuous life, with dignity and mindfulness, to be in harmony with all beings around us; in short, to bring our actions into harmony with our spiritual ideals.

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The Fifth Precept: Abstain from Consuming Intoxicating Drinks and Drugs

This is from a book on the precepts for lay people which was written by Shi Faxun, who has kindly given permission for us to serialise it over the coming weeks.


The Precept

Surā-meraya-majja-pamādaṭṭhānā veramaṇī sikkhāpadaṃ samādiyāmi.
I undertake the training rule to abstain from intoxicating drink that causes heedlessness.

Conditions Under Which A Violation Is Considered to Have Occurred

• Object: The intoxicant
• Intention: The intention of taking the intoxicant
• The Act: The activity of ingesting it
• Consequence: The actual ingestion of the intoxicant

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The Fourth Precept: Abstain from False Speech

This is from a book on the precepts for lay people which was written by Shi Faxun, who has kindly given permission for us to serialise it over the coming weeks.


The Precept

Musāvāda veramaṇī sikkhāpadaṃ samādiyāmi.
I undertake the training rule to abstain from false speech.
I will respect truthfulness

Conditions Under Which A Violation Is Considered to Have Occurred

• Object: A human being other than oneself
• Intention: The intent to misrepresent the truth and to deceive
• The Act: The act of communicating the untruth through words or gestures or by being silent
• Consequence: The person comprehends the meaning of the lie. If he or she does not, then our words are idle talk

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The Third Precept: Abstain from Sexual Misconduct

This is from a book on the precepts for lay people which was written by Shi Faxun, who has kindly given permission for us to serialise it over the coming weeks.


The Precept

Kāmesu micchācāra veramaṇī sikkhāpadaṃ samādiyāmi.
I undertake the training rule to abstain from sexual misconduct.

Conditions Under Which A Violation Is Considered to Have Occurred

• Object: An illicit partner
• Intention: Lustful intention
• The Act: The act of engaging in union
• Consequence: The acceptance of union

Sexual misconduct occurs when one has sexual relations with an illicit partner with lustful intentions. The key question is who qualifies as an illicit partner? According to the Pali text, an illicit partner is:

(1) a woman  who is under the protection of her parents or guardian, for example, a young girl .
(2)  a woman who is married or engaged to another man.  (For married women, any man other than her husband is an illicit partner.)
(3) a woman prohibited by custom and tradition, for example nuns who observe celibacy are prohibited partners under the religious rule.

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The Second Precept: Abstain from Stealing

This is from a book on the precepts for lay people which was written by Shi Faxun, who has kindly given permission for us to serialise it over the coming weeks.


The Precept

Adinnādānā veramaṇī sikkhāpadaṃ samādiyāmi.
I undertake the training rule to abstain from taking what is not freely given.
I will respect the property of others.

Conditions Under Which A Violation is Considered to Have Occurred   

• Object: Anything belonging to another legally
• Knowledge: The perception of the item as belonging to another
• Intention: The thought/intention of stealing
• The Act: The action of taking the item
• Consequence: The actual misappropriation of the article. Thinking of the article as our own.

A complete act of stealing constituting a full violation of the precept involves these five factors.

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The First Precept: Abstain from Killing

This is from a book on the precepts for lay people which was written by Shi Faxun, who has kindly given permission for us to serialise it over the coming weeks.


The Precept

Pāṇātipātā veramaṇī sikkhāpadaṃ samādiyāmi.
I undertake the training rule to abstain from taking life.
I will respect all living beings.

The pali word pāṇa means “that which breathes.” A living being is one that has breath and has consciousness. Hence it is not only a human being but also includes animals and insects as well, excluding plants as they do not have consciousness. This precept prohibits the killing of living beings. In broader terms, it should also be understood to prohibit injuring, maiming, and torturing a living being.

Conditions Under Which A Violation is Considered to Have Occurred

• Object: The fact and presence of a living being, human or animal
• Knowledge: The knowledge that the being is a living being
• Intention: The intent or resolution to kill
• The Act: The act of killing by appropriate means
• Consequence: A resulting death

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One Life, Five Precepts: Preface

This is the preface from a book on the precepts for lay people which was written by Shi Faxun, who has kindly given permission for us to serialise it over the coming weeks.


I have been travelling between the East and West teaching for the past ten years and found that as the world becomes more globalised, human beings (both Eastern and Western) suffer from a greater spiritual vacuum. This book has been written to address social problems peculiar to this globalised age and how the Buddhist Five Precepts:

1. To abandon killing
2. To abandon stealing
3. To abandon sexual misconduct
4. To abandon lying
5. To abandon taking alcohol and illegal drugs and to abandon misusing prescription drugs

… can be an ethical framework for modern living.

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