Talk:Five Precepts

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Indonesian politics dab?[edit]

What about Pancasila as the five principles of Indonesian politics? Adam 00:27, 24 October 2006 (UTC)

There was a dab notice, but Sacca removed it on Sep. 28. I have restored it.—Nat Krause(Talk!) 02:46, 24 October 2006 (UTC)


The article is restored to the name of The Five Precepts, to keep it in order with The Eight Precepts and The Ten Precepts. ALso pancasila is rarely used, five precepts is frequently used. pancasila is a disambiguation page now. Greetings, Sacca 03:44, 24 October 2006 (UTC)

Please don't use article titles that begin with "The ...".—Nat Krause(Talk!) 04:00, 24 October 2006 (UTC)
It appears that The Eight Precepts article is now entitled Eight Precepts. Might this motivate a new assessment as to whether or not this should be moved to Five Precepts? With metta, Larry Rosenfeld (talk) 02:30, 21 July 2007 (UTC)

Sexual misconduct?[edit]

So what is to be avoided sexual misconduct or sex altogether. This seems to me an important matter but nobody seems to be concerned about this discrepancy in the texts. I would imagine that the original precept is the latter, which has been mellowed for convenience and can be interpreted to serve one´s purposes. ¿Anybody knows? manuel navarro

When reading the precept to avoid sexual misconduct, it jarred with what I'd read in a class text some months earlier. From what I read, sensual, rather than sexual misconduct is something to be avoided. This includes (but is not limited to) sexual misconduct, but also incorporates gluttony, sloth, anything which is an abuse of the senses. Who is right? I'm only a student and could well be wrong. 08:27, 15 November 2006 (UTC)

It says nothing about sex. Please, get your minds out of the gutters of the other religions. Buddhism is NOT a religion.
This precept says "Do no exploit the passions". Think about it. Don't take advantage of someone addicted to crack or heroin, or someone who has a need for sex even. You can have sex, just don't make it a thing of exploit. That's just a good moral thing to do. Come on people. Love is love, and lust is lust, and we are all human. This precept doesn't stop anything but the exploitation of peoples' weaknesses. - unsigned post by User:
Buddhism IS a religion. Unless you're talking about the white-washed western version that's little more than a self help method. Zazaban 20:03, 29 December 2006 (UTC)

In the Buddhist tradition of the 5 precepts, as far as I know, the 3rd precept is always interpreted as sexual. Other interpretations referred to above are trendy modern ideas. Peter jackson 10:25, 4 June 2007 (UTC)

FWIW, Thanissaro Bhikkhu has translated kāmesu as "sensual" in the past (e.g., Thanissaro, 1997; and here's the Pali at "10. 4. 2. 10") although elsewhere I've seen Thanissaro (e.g., Thanissaro, 2005) and several other authors translate it as "sexual." If I may suggest, it might be of possible interest to take a look at the WP article Kāma for information and context that might support interpreting kāmesu as "sensual."
Personally, at times, I think it is valuable to think of kāmesu as "sensual" (e.g., along the lines of the paramita nekkhamma); but, in support of Peter's statement above, my recollection of various Pali Canon suttas is that, in each instance that this precept is expanded upon, it is clearly done so in sexual terms. For instance, even in the aformentioned Thanissaro (1997) translation where he translates kāmesu as "sensual," he expands upon it in this manner:
"...Abandoning sensual misconduct, he abstains from sensual misconduct. He does not get sexually involved with those who are protected by their mothers, their fathers, their brothers, their sisters, their relatives, or their Dhamma; those with husbands, those who entail punishments, or even those crowned with flowers by another man." (AN 10.176)
Hope this might (belatedly!) help, Larry Rosenfeld (talk) 02:40, 21 July 2007 (UTC)

5 precepts or 8 precepts[edit]

I thought that on a new moon day and a full moon day that lay buddhists kep the 8 precepts. is this not true? —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 20:11, 17 April 2007 (UTC).

For Theravada Buddhists, this is true. See, for instance, the WP article, Uposatha. As for Mahayana practitioners, I have no idea. Larry Rosenfeld (talk) 02:43, 21 July 2007 (UTC)

Intro & Pali-specific section?[edit]

I'd like to suggest three changes:

  1. Create an introductory section: I think this article's first paragraph is a very good introduction to the article -- if it would also simply include a summary of the Five Precepts along the lines of: "The Five Precepts are commitments to abstain from killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, lying and intoxication." The subsequent paragraphs prior to the "Chinese version of five precepts" are of course extremely valuable but, for me, are no longer introductory in nature.
  2. Create a "From the Pali Canon" section: My main reason for this is that I'd like to include some information from the Pali Canon, e.g., as to why the Buddha asks his followers to abstain as opposed to making traditional commandments, per SN 42.8, Sankha Sutta (e.g., Thanissaro, 1999); or, what is meant by "sexual misconduct," etc. Given the article's current structure, it's not clear to me where it would be best to insert this information.
  3. Find citations for or delete the current third paragraph: The current third paragraph states: "The Buddha is said to have taught the five precepts out of compassion, and for the betterment of society. Thus they are to be undertaken voluntarily rather than as commandments from a god. The precepts are intended to help a Buddhist live a less complicated life, so that they can progress more easily on the Path." Some of this sounds like it could be from the Pali Canon, some from Mahayana texts, some from an earnest, beautiful, personal exposition. Any citations?

Thanks for any feedback. If I don't hear anything in a week or so, I'd like to go ahead and make the above changes. Larry Rosenfeld (talk) 02:25, 21 July 2007 (UTC)

Hi Larry, I changed one phrase only, something like “less complicated life” to “a life free from remorse” as it is the latter which supports concentration. Dhammapal 09:53, 2 November 2007 (UTC)
After over three months with no objections, I went ahead and implement (1) and part of (2) above. Larry Rosenfeld (talk) 17:45, 9 November 2007 (UTC)

Rewrite of Non-Dualism paragraph[edit]

I was bold and rewrote the non-dualism paragraph based on Thanissaro Bhikkhu and Bhikkhu Bodhi. If anyone thinks there is a need for further clarification, let’s discuss it here. Thanks. Dhammapal 09:54, 2 November 2007 (UTC)

Hi good-hearted Dhammapal - Consistent with WP practice, given the material's size, I'm including here the uncited material you deleted:
The precepts are often misunderstood by both "Buddhists" and "non-Buddhists". In the written form, the precepts appear to be similar to the Christian commandments. However, the first precept for example does not mean thou shall not kill. Rather, the precept of not killing highlights with deeper understanding that one cannnot see things in these terms. That is to say one cannot find anything fixed to call a victim, nor a specific entity that one can call a killer. In fact, one can find nothing fixed at all. It is this flux that the precepts point to. By engaging these precepts, one is engaging in the effort to be awake in the non conceptual, non dualistic reality.
Perhaps if a citation is found for such it could be reinstated in an appropriate section (e.g., Zen? Tantra? kinda brings to mind something like Eugene Herrigel??). Best wishes, Larry Rosenfeld (talk) 18:25, 9 November 2007 (UTC)

reintroduced text[edit]

As far as I can tell this section above was removed because the view point wasnt agreed with rather than it being definately right or wrong. The problem with that is that what it says is fundamental to the teachings of a huge proportion of Buddhist thought. It shouldn't have been removed in favour of an opposing view. It should be put along side an opposing view. Non duality is central to Mahayana Buddhism and so I have modified it to show it is a view, rather than implied fact. Which view is more in line with reality is more topic for debate and perhaps the main article is the wrong place for pushing one over the other. It may be useful to people if they could see all the points for and against the argument for non-duality, but it might change the topic of the article. Perhaps it needs one of its own? As to the citations in the replacement for this paragraph, only point 5 is relevent. I have read the text it points to and it is clear that it is highly bias in its wording in favour of a Theravada view. A bias citation is hardly worthy of backing up a claim, which leaves it on par with the above section. I have therefore not removed it as it serves to make its point for one view, under the Pali Canon heading. Objections? -- (talk) 01:09, 10 December 2007 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:57, 10 December 2007 (UTC)

Here's what appears to be the re-write:
The precepts are considered differently in a Mahayana context to that of the Theravada school of thought. To Theravada they are as they appear, but Mahayana schools consider this a beginners view. The reason for this is because Theravada rejects any realisation of non-duality in favour of the Pali Canon alone. In the written form, the precepts appear to be similar to the Christian commandments. However to the Mahayana schools, the first precept for example does not mean thou shall not kill. Rather, the precept of not killing highlights with deeper understanding that one cannot see things in these terms. That is to say one cannot find anything fixed to call a victim, nor a specific entity that one can call a killer. In fact, one can find nothing fixed at all. It is this flux that the precepts point to. By engaging these precepts, one is engaging in the effort to be awake in the non conceptual, non dualistic reality.
I think that there are still a few problems with it. Here are some that immediately pop out:
  1. no references (perhaps a reference to Robert Aitken's "Mind of Clover," e.g., where he refers to Hinayana/literal, Mahayana/compassionate and Buddha-nature/essential views?)
  2. to attribute the non-dualistic perspective to all Mahayana schools I suspect may be problemmatic
  3. "Christian commandments"? (Is the Book of Exodus in the New Testament?) (maybe referencing Judeo-Christian would suffice?)
Also, the phraseology sounds to me (admittedly, a Theravada practitioner) somewhat condescending or POV. For instance, my wife's geshe recently phrased it during a Dharma talk as: Theravadin Buddhists place a premium on causing "no harm" while Mahayana Buddhists prioritize compassion. This type of phraseology does not contrast one school as lacking another's thought but as emphasizing in a positive way the different perspectives. (Regrettably, I think WP rules would be bent too much if I were to reference a second-hand Dharma talk ;-) )
I haven't deleted the text because I think these items are fixable. I'd like to suggest moving this paragraph from the introduction to a subsection though, given it's length compared to the rest of the intro.
Just some thoughts,
Larry Rosenfeld (talk) 21:44, 16 February 2008 (UTC)
Okay. I've convinced me. I'm gonna take the IP-addressed user's re-inserted text out of the intro (also change "Christian" to "Judeo-Christian" and perhaps throw in a Aitken ref) and take good-hearted Dhammapal's text from the Pali text section and stick them both in a new section, entitled something like "Sectarian interpretations." I hope this more closely approximates fairness ;-) Larry Rosenfeld (talk) 21:58, 16 February 2008 (UTC)
I found this Review of "Zen at War" by Brian Daizen Victoria. Search for "nondualism" to see how it is incompatible with the Five Precepts. Dhammapal (talk) 11:27, 20 April 2009 (UTC)
I followed your link and it does not show in any way that non-dualism is incompatible with the Five Precepts. Your source is about how certain Buddhist teachings have been used by the ruling class in Japan for its own political messages. It does not go into the depths of the issue at all. It is easy to see how the nondualistic view of the Precepts can be used by someone to justify unwholesome actions but that is because of the wording. It is easier to say what the Precepts are not, than it is to say what they are. If one truly understood the Precepts without duality, then the Precepts would be maintained naturally. (talk) 23:07, 22 April 2009 (UTC)

I understand being reluctant to use the paragraph without references, but not doing so gives an incomplete picture. It means the WP rules damage that which it is intended to protect. Some substitute if not the original is needed. No references will be found for the paragraph. What is required to back it up? What is the difference between something taken from a book and something made up? If the view is a Zen view, and it were endorsed by a Zen abbot, would that make it acceptable by WP rules? Given that Buddhism is two and a half thousand years of difference of opinion on an original idea, how can anything be justified here? If only those things agreed by all were relayed, the article would be useless and even more misleading than it is. My last point is that as it is, the article now reads like it is heavily bias. It has, with good intentions I'm sure, been taken over by a Theravada view. Non-dualism is important to a large number of Mahayana schools, though not all, but to deny this or ignore this means that a large part of understanding of the precepts is missing. A Bodhisattva would not understand the Precepts as they are presented on the main article. (talk) 22:39, 22 April 2009 (UTC) - Tristan
Here is the quote from the Review of "Zen at War" by Brian Daizen Victoria.
D.T. Suzuki: "it is really not he [the soldier] but the sword itself that does the killing. He had no desire to do harm to anybody, but the enemy appears and makes himself a victim" (p. 110),which is in turn connected to the popular theme of the "sword that gives life" by killing; Sawaki Koodoo: "Whether one kills or does not kill, the precept forbidding killing [is preserved]. It is the precept forbidding killing that wields the sword. It is this precept that throws the bomb"(p. 36).
Dhammapal (talk) 09:25, 29 May 2009 (UTC)

WikiProject class rating[edit]

This article was automatically assessed because at least one WikiProject had rated the article as start, and the rating on other projects was brought up to start class. BetacommandBot 04:29, 10 November 2007 (UTC)

The Five Precepts apply as much to the arahant as the layperson[edit]

Hi Larry, The point was that the Five Precepts apply as much to the arahant as the layperson and not the other way around. This sentence was following the non-dualism part about “crazy wisdom”, the idea that enlightened people don’t have to follow the precepts.Dhammapal 07:25, 11 November 2007 (UTC)

Hi good-hearted Dhammapal -
Here's my Edit Summary associated with my most recent edit that you just reverted:
reasserted initial ordering of layperson -> arahant; the gist of the sentence (see the start of sentence) is that no matter how far you progress, you are bound by moral codes
Sounds to me like we are intending to say the same thing (I wonder if you can see that?) but we hear the English differently. Perhaps, we can deduce, that, in this very specific instance, as your way of writing sounds wrong to me and my way of writing sounds wrong to you, others will similarly misread our intent regardless of whether we stay with your words or mine. Perhaps if one of us has the time and interest we can try to find a mutually agreeable different wording? Though, for me, at this moment, I'm too time-constrained to pursue this further. As you know, I was really just trying to help you out to begin with, at your request.
Be well,
Larry Rosenfeld (talk) 15:18, 11 November 2007 (UTC)

The wording here may be rather misleading. It doesn't even occur to an arahant to break the precepts. Peter jackson (talk) 11:14, 12 February 2008 (UTC)

Fact tag on "would rather day than intentionally kill an insect"[edit]

Someone put a fact tag (citation needed) on my edit:
“An arahant would rather die than intentionally kill an insect
I don’t have the source handy, but it was actually that a sotapanna would rather die than intentionally kill an insect. I think this sentence clarifies the difference in wording regarding the layperson and arahant issue.Dhammapal (talk) 07:39, 16 February 2008 (UTC)
Hi Dhammapal -
I put the fact tag on that statements. (I wanted to indicate such in the Edit Summary but ran out of room. In hindsight, I should have taken the time to identify my tagging your statement here on the talk page. Sorry for not having done so.)
I fact-tagged the statement because the notion of a noble one ever developing the intention for their own (or another's) death seems somewhat curious to me. I'd be interested to see what citation you find. Thanks for the education. Larry Rosenfeld (talk) 09:21, 16 February 2008 (UTC)

Earliest source for verbatim 5 Pali precepts?[edit]

Does anyone know for certain the earliest source of the exact 5 Pali precepts as stated in this article (which replicates how they are shown in various contemporary puja manuals, e.g., Ven. Eligirye Indaratana, 2002, p. 2) ? For instance, are they in the Pali Canon? I'm aware of the following:

  • these training rules are mentioned in a variety of canonical discourses but, in such contexts (e.g., where they are often identified as part of a greater-than-five set) are phrased differently than as stated in this article (e.g., without sikkhāpadaṃ samādiyāmi at the end) (ex.: DN 32, under "Pañcata"; and, MN 9, as part of 10 unskillful acts)
  • the 10 precepts (e.g., with a different third precept from the 5 precepts) are stated in Khp. 1.2 (e.g., Thanissaro, 1994)
  • I've seen a couple of allusions to panca-sila and panca-sikkhapada in the Canon (e.g. in the obscure SN 37.24 in Bodhi, 2000, p. 1289, referring to a woman's virtues; the Pali's here, para. 305).
  • the Abhidhamma Pitaka's Vibhanga has a chapter entitled, Sikkhāpada-vibhaṅgo (e.g., Vbh. 285), which enumerates the five training precepts but, again, absent the full language used here (i.e., no samādiyāmi).
  • a search with the La Trobe University search engine[1] appears to locate a match to this particular phraseology in the 12th c. AD (post-canonical, post-commentarial ;-) ) Upāsaka-janā-lakāra ("Ornament of Laypeople," abbrev. "Upas").

So, I've yet to come across these full blown statements (e.g., ātipātā veramaṇī sikkhāpadaṃ samādiyāmi) in the Canon; and, I wonder if the Upas ref is the earliest known context. Thanks for any help! Larry Rosenfeld (talk) 11:53, 16 February 2008 (UTC)


Why all three? Presently, there are articles on the (Buddhist) Five Precepts, Eight Precepts, and Ten Precepts. Since the latter two encompass the former, there is a lot of redundancy in the articles that could be eliminated by merging them into this one, which is probably the most notable of all three lists. —Justin (koavf)TCM☯ 21:03, 29 June 2008 (UTC)

Hi Justin –
I think your proposal is an interesting one. I also think it is one deserving more than just two days before you act upon it. For this reason, I'm requesting that you undo the change you made today of adding the Eight and Ten Precepts to this article as "variations" on the Five precepts.
If you were to merge these articles, based on my limited knowledge, I'd recommend combining the three sets of precepts with equal heading values -- no set of precept is a "variation" on the other. They serve different purposes and have different levels of canonicity. (For the latter reason alone, if anything, the verbatim Five Precepts and Eight Precepts might be seen as "variants" of the verbatim Ten Precepts [which are explicitly listed in Khp], although each conceptually can be found in the Canon.) Your notion that the Ten Precepts, for instance, is a "variation" of the Five Precepts somehow strikes me as subordinating monastic practice to lay practice — that is, fairly irreverent, perhaps even disrespectful.
Perhaps all three sets of precepts should be included in an article entitled Buddhist precepts — though you might then want to consider adding "Bodhisattva vows" as well perhaps (after actively seeking knowledge from WP Mahayana editors).
In short, my two cents: your idea of merging the three is interesting; while somewhat beyond my knowledge (and thus my reason for not responding beforehand), I would strongly advise against including the "less frequently invoked" sets of precepts as "variations"; I would recommend waiting a couple of weeks before acting on any discussion that arises here; if no discussion arises here, I'd actively solicit feedback from WP Buddhism community members who might have knowledge and/or strong interest in this topic. Larry Rosenfeld (talk) 05:57, 2 July 2008 (UTC)
P.S. I now see there is a WP article entitled Śīla to which Buddhist precepts is a redirect. It's a multi-summary page. Does this existing page (thought perhaps curiously entitled) not obviate (or perhaps just complicate) the need/desire to merge these?
Thanks I very much appreciate your insight. Your point about variation is well-taken; the assumption that the Five Precepts are somehow normative is not correct. It seems like it would be wisest to merge all of these into Buddhist precepts, considering how the content of them overlaps, expands upon, or comments on one another. —Justin (koavf)TCM☯ 20:03, 2 July 2008 (UTC)
So it sounds like we're in agreement that the listing of the Eight and Ten Precepts here as "variations" is not the best way to combine these topics. Might you then be willing to undo the changes you've made to this and the related articles?
It also sounds like we're in tentative agreement that the current structure of the Śīla might approximate the conception for a trans-precept article that you have in mind. Given the existence of the Śīla article, I personally do not see the need to recreate it in a Buddhist precepts article and can accept the wisdom of a prior editor's (User:Sacca, 13 May 2007) simply redirecting Buddhist precepts to Śīla. Furthermore, while surely there is overlap in these Buddhist-precept-related articles, I think it might be beneficial to understand the potential usefulness of having individual articles for each as well. It is perhaps similar to the way there is a single article on Christian sacraments as well as individual articles on Baptism, Confirmation, Last rites, etc.
While there are significant commonalities, the three sets of Buddhist precepts you've identified (5, 8, 10) have some significant differences in terms of meanings (for instance, the meaning of the third of the five precepts has been represented differently by the Pali Canon and, let's say, some contemporary Tibetan Buddhist practitioners), adherence (e.g., I've read [e.g., Lopez] and heard that in at least some Buddhist countries lay people can pick and choose which of any of the five precepts they'll follow, while a samanera has no such choice regarding the ten precepts; and while the five precepts might be trans-denominational, the eight precepts [based on my limited understanding] seem to be uniquely Theravadin; etc.), history (e.g., the tenth of the ten precepts is widely believed to have been the major basis for one of the earliest schisms in Buddhism), etc. To describe all these differences in a single article on "Buddhist precepts" would likely be unwieldly and, I can imagine, would best be suited by individual articles.
I can understand your desire to create greater cohesiveness and systemization of WP Buddhism articles using reason and a finely tuned academic aesthetic. I hope you can also truly appreciate the worthwhile decision-making that often went into existing articles and the benefit then of making changes to such — especially when they are beyond one's scholastic or devotional area of expertise — slowly and consensually.
May you be happy and well, Larry Rosenfeld (talk) 08:08, 3 July 2008 (UTC)
Variation While it is the case that there is enough variance in the meaning of the third of the five precepts has been represented differently by the Pali Canon and, let's say, some contemporary Tibetan Buddhist practitioners, at present, there is not enough content about those variances to justify separate articles. And yes, I misspoke (mis-typed) when I suggested the articles be at Buddhist precepts; I agree that Śīla is preferable.
Your point about the sacraments article is a bit lacking: again, if there was a significant amount of content on each precept then I would be in favor of splitting them up (e.g. Baptism is 92 kb, Eucharist is 84 kb - clearly, these cannot all be in the same article.) Such is the case with Patimokkha - there is too much content for it to be merged into Śīla (especially along with everything in Five Precepts.) —Justin (koavf)TCM☯ 21:23, 4 July 2008 (UTC)

So, it sounds like Eight Precepts and Ten Precepts should have been labeled as stubs. They (and a Five Precepts article) could be developed in terms of their different:

  • history (e.g., canonicity or medieval development [e.g., see "Earliest source for verbatim 5 Pali precepts?" above])
  • practice (e.g., across history, countries and traditions; adherence [e.g., laity vs. samanera]; frequency; duration of commitment; administration of precepts)
  • exegesis (e.g., canonical, post-canonical, contemporary; across traditions and teachers [e.g., Dalai Lama])

Perhaps sometime a WP Buddhism editor will have time to development them in this way in the future. (If I only had the time :-) )

In addition, your current intro to the 8 and 10 precepts continues to be problematic. It seems to suggest that the 8 & 10 precepts might be of different traditions when all these precept sets are at least part of Theravada Buddhism. And, again, subordinating the Ten Precepts to the secondary role of "Other precepts" ignores their historical origins (e.g., it's possible the verbatim Five Precepts are derived from the Khp's Ten Precepts) and subordinates monastic practice to lay practice (which likely offends the majority of practicing Buddhists). Again, presuming for a moment the need to combine these precept sets, the appropriate way to lay out the precept sets would be:

Five Precepts
Eight Precepts
Ten Precepts

The problem of course of your doing such is that this article then becomes a redundant variation on Sila.

If I had more time, I'd strongly recommend that we follow the procedure suggested in WP:Consensus which would be to revert the dispute changes and work out a consensually derived solution here, preferably with people who have knowledge about this topic. If you were to take this step — that is, as an act of good faith within WP suggested guidelines — I'd be willing to take time to pursue this further with you. Otherwise, given my extremely limited time now, I'm disinclined to pursue this further. Larry Rosenfeld (talk) 04:04, 5 July 2008 (UTC)