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Essentials for Moral Behaviour. The Five Precepts

Dernière mise à jour : 22 mai 2020

"Describing one who practice right physical actions Buddha said 'Laying aside the rod and sword he is careful to harm none, full of kindness, seeking the good of all leaving creatures. Free of stealth, he himself lives like a pure being.'

For ordinary people involved in worldly life, the way to implement right speech and right action is to practice the Five Precepts, which are :

1. to abstain from killing any leaving creature ;

2. to abstain from stealing;

3. to abstain from sexual misconduct;

4. to abstain from false speech;

5. to abstain from intoxicants.

These Five Precepts are the essential minimum needed for moral conduct. They must be followed by anyone who wishes to practice Dhamma (or Dharma, in Buddhism means the nature of reality regarded as a universal truth taught by Buddha).

At times during life however the opportunity may come to lay aside worldly affairs temporarily - perhaps for few days, perhaps just for one day - in order to purify the mind, to work toward liberation. Such a period is a time for serious practice and therefore one's conduct must be more careful than in ordinary life. It is important then to avoid actions that may distract from or interfere with the work of self-purification. Therefore at such a time one follows eight precepts. These include the basic five with one modification: instead of abstaining from sexual misconduct, ones abstains from all sexual activities.

In addition :

6. to abstain from untimely eating (eating after noon) ;

7. to abstain from all entertainment and bodily decoration;

8. to abstain from using luxurious stuff."*

The eight need to be followed just in days dedicated entirely to self-purification, otherwise for the daily life follow the five, which by themselves to be mastered could be a long and challenging process.

*Hatha yoga pradipika by Swami Svatmarama (one of the pillars of the yoga knowledge).

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