The Precepts – the Moral Code of the Buddhas

How Noble Ones Live

By observing the moral code of the Buddhas – the precepts – this is how the Noble Ones live.  This is:

  • How the Enlightened Ones of the past lived
  • How the Enlightened Ones of the present live and
  • How the Enlightened Ones of the future will live.

If you want to be like these Noble Ones – and live beautifully like them – you too can choose to observe the Buddha’s various levels of moral precepts – living with the freedom of unburdened hearts – free from the harmful consequences of negative actions.

The Precepts Work like the Brakes of a Car

The Precepts work like the brakes of a car.  They are not exciting, like the power and speed of the car – but they are vitally important in keeping you safe and preventing you and those around you from getting hurt.

Can you imagine trying to drive around the roads without the brakes of a car?  You can do it but you’re sure to get into an accident.  Same with the precepts – you can live by not following them – but expect to get hurt.

The precepts are a preventative measure.  Remember, prevention is better than cure.  An inch of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure:

  • Suppose your car brakes are worn out and you replace them – life goes on as planned with no car accidents.
  • Now suppose someone didn’t replace their worn out car brakes and get into a car accident (major or minor) – they’ll have to deal with all the consequences resulting from injuring other people and themselves – all the suffering they’ve caused for others and themselves, the court cases, the lost time, the lost health, the recovery (if they can even recover), the guilt…

Precepts, like car brakes – are designed to prevent things like this happening.

The Precepts are not Commandments

Rather, they are Standards which we Voluntarily choose to rise up to – in order to Live By them – because it’s a beautiful way to try and live by

The precepts are not commandments but rather, a standard by which we can voluntarily rise up to and choose to live by – in order to keep ourselves and those around us safe.

It’s wholesome to live by the precepts because they help you interact with society in a harmless way of living.  A society of people live according to the precepts, live in harmony with each other because they can trust each other to do right by each other.

If you live by the precepts, then it means that you know for yourself that you are blameless – not matter what anyone else says.  So the precepts allow us to live with a burdenless mind.

Ajahn Anan once said that one way to brighten up your own mind is to remember your precepts.

Why?

Because your conscience is clear.

How the Precepts Work

How the Precepts work are that:

  1. They have a preventative aspect or stopping aspect – so not doing this, not doing that.  You deliberately stop yourself from doing harmful things that are wrong, evil, unwholesome, unskilful and lead into danger – to prevent yourself from harming others and yourself
  2. They also have a positive aspect too – because you’ve avoided all of the negative consequences of doing evil, harmful things – you can now devote your time to doing good, wholesome things that are beneficial for yourself and those around you.  For example if you stop getting involved in killing – this frees up your time, effort and energy to develop ways of saving people instead – and by not killing your mind naturally starts to develop more compassion.

The 5 Fundamental Precepts

There are 5 basic precepts – comprised of:

  • 4 Main Precepts of things which are inherently wrong +
  • 1 Protective Precept which protects the other 4.

Precept 1 – Not Killing – the most important precept

A disciple of the Buddha does not kill, nor encourage others to kill.  They don’t get involved in the causes, conditions, methods, nor the karma of killing.  

They do not kill by any means whatsoever.

A disciple of the Buddha doesn’t praise killing nor react with delight upon hearing or seeing killing happen.

All living creatures value their lives – they want to live happy lives and avoid suffering – so try to understand that and let living beings live out their natural lives.  Value life – don’t take the lives of living creatures away from them.

Further, killing destroys your sense of compassion.  Rather than think up ways to kill – place your time and effort into thinking up ways to save lives instead.

Precept 2 – Not Stealing

Respect the things that other people own – imagine what would happen if someone took something of yours without asking – you wouldn’t be happy and you wouldn’t think that the one who stole your property would be a decent human being.  So don’t take what is not given.  Plus with karma – you’ve got to pay back whatever you’ve taken that wasn’t rightfully yours in some form or another.

Precept 3 – Not engaging in sexual misconduct

A person’s wife or husband (as well as their protected sons and daughters) are the dearest people to them – so don’t commit adultery or take liberties with them.

Why?

  • Because even if you are not found out – you know for yourself that you have done wrong.  So you live with a guilty conscience for the rest of your life.
  • If you are found out, then your actions can split a family up.  This can cause harm to all involved, affecting entire families (including the children) sometimes for the rest of their lives!

A few moments of pleasure VS Living with guilt and the fear of the spouse seeking revenge on you for the rest of your life + knowing that you were the one to split up an entire family – is it worth it?!  I think not!

Precept 4 – Not lying

  1. Lying is too stressful!

    To keep up a lie – you need to compound your lies to help cover up the initial lie – and you wrack your brains trying to remember what you said.  You get no peace of mind because you’re too busy trying to avoid being caught!  Imagine trying to live for years with the burden of keeping on lying about something – how stressful that would be!  But you will eventually be found up by the inconsistencies in your stories.

    But if you don’t lie – then you don’t have remember all those coverup lies.  Your mind will be clear and peaceful because you are no longer burdening your mind with unnecessary stress like that.

  2. People will be weary of you – even liars hate other liars!

    Your character will be deemed untrustworthy.  People will stop putting their faith in you.

  3. Boy who cried wolf!

    If you have a track record of lying to people – when do you start telling the truth – they won’t believe you when you need them the most!

Precept 5 – Not taking intoxicants

This is the protective precept because it protects the other 4

If you break this precept – it makes it infinitely easier to break the other 4 precepts without realizing it.

Drugs and alcohol cloud, distort and delude the mind:

  • You lose your mastery over your own mind – especially if you get addicted – and
  • Start doing stupid things under their influence that you later regret.  Sometimes you have to pay for the stupid things that you did for the rest of your life.

People do drugs to get a hit – but the body gets used to it so the hit gets duller and duller and duller.  The pleasure gets less and less intense each time.  It can get to the point where they are just doing the drugs just to feel okay – that’s how sad it can get.  Even sadder is if you’ve seen babies of mothers who have been on drugs who shake uncontrollably – you can probably find them on YouTube.

When people do drugs – they are relying on something external to themselves for a temporary hit of pleasure.  It’s an external crutch that can’t really be relied upon.

They are mistaking chemical pleasure for happiness.

So stay away from drugs and alcohol.  Don’t touch them.

Buddhists have no need for intoxicants.

Don’t let your mind be a slave to drugs and alcohol.  You be the master!

 

So these are the 5 basic precepts for being a decent human being that the Buddha taught.  I hope that you all can rise up to them!