The Five Precepts constitute the basic Buddhist Code of Ethics. They are commitments to abstain from harming living beings, stealing, sexual misconduct, lying and intoxication. Undertaking the five precepts is part of both lay Buddhist initiation and regular lay Buddhist devotional practices. They are not formulated as imperatives, but as training rules that lay people undertake voluntarily to facilitate practice.
However the precepts in all the traditions are essentially identical.
"A conscious commitment to virtue and nonharming is the foundation for living a harmonious and compassionate life. At first, following a moral code can be seen as a protection for yourself and others. With further practice and reflection, you can see how each basic area of truthfulness and integrity can be developed into a meditation itself, bringing you awakening and sowing seeds of inner freedom. As you develop each area of your virtue, it can become a spontaneous gift, an offering of caring from your heart to all other beings."
Whether you are following a spiritual practice, a religious practice, or your own moral code, the Five Precepts can become part of your own reflection, or Mindfulness practice. As the world tosses and turns, and our personal lives bring storms to navigate, freedom from pain comes from developing an inner stillness. Meditating on the 5 precepts could raise your own self-awareness and bring inner peace. As each person becomes more accountable and conscious of their own thought, word and deed, the more peace comes to all of life, one person at a time.
Mindfulness Exercise With The Five Precepts
Jack Kornfield suggests:
Pick and refine one of the five precepts as a way to cultivate and strengthen virtue and mindfulness. Work with that precept meticulously for one week. Then examine the results and choose another precept for a subsequent week.
Here are some possible ways to work with each precept.
The Five Mindfulness Trainings — to not kill, steal, commit adultery, lie, or take intoxicants — are the basic statement of ethics and morality in Buddhism. In this fully revised edition, Zen master and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh argues eloquently for their universal applicability in daily situations. Nhat Hanh discusses in depth the value and meaning of each precept, offering insights into the roles that they could play in our changing society. In a world marked by moral and spiritual emptiness, he says, The Five Mindfulness Trainings offer a path to the restoration of meaning and value. The author calls the trainings a “diet for a mindful society” that transcends sectarian boundaries, and he presents simple yet powerful ways that people can come together around them to explore and sustain a sane, compassionate, and healthy way of living.
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