Five Precepts (Taoism)

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In Daoism, The Five Precepts (Chinese: 五戒; pinyin: Wǔ Jiè; Jyutping: Ng5 Gaai3) constitute the basic code of ethics undertaken mainly by lay practitioners. For monks and nuns, there are more advanced and stricter precepts. The Five Precepts are the same as the Five Precepts of Buddhism; however, there are minor differences to fit in with Chinese society.

According to The Ultra Supreme Elder Lord's Scripture of Precepts, the five basic precepts are:

  • The first precept: No Murdering;
  • The second precept: No Stealing;
  • The third precept: No Sexual Misconduct;
  • The fourth precept: No False Speech;
  • The fifth precept: No Taking of Intoxicants.

Their definitions can be found in an excerpt of The Ultra Supreme Elder Lord's Scripture of Precepts:

The Elder Lord said: "The precept against killing is: All living beings, including all kinds of animals, and those as small as insects, worms, and so forth, are containers of the uncreated energy, thus one should not kill any of them."

The Elder Lord said: "The precept against stealing is: One should not take anything that he does not own and is not given to him, whether it belongs to someone or not."

The Elder Lord said: "The precept against sexual misconduct is: If a sexual conduct happens, but it is not with your married spouse, it is a Sexual Misconduct. As for a monk or nun, he or she should never marry or practice sexual intercourse with anyone."*

The Elder Lord said: "The precept against false speech is: If one did not witness what happened himself but telling something to others, or if one lies with knowing it's a lie, this constitutes False Speech."

The Elder Lord said: "The precept against taking of intoxicants is: One should not take any alcoholic drinks, unless he has to take some to cure his illness, to regale the guests with a feast, or to conduct religious ceremonies."**

The Elder Lord had said: "These five precepts are the fundamentals for keeping one's body in purity, and are the roots of the upholding of the holy teachings. For those virtuous men and virtuous women who enjoy the virtuous teachings, if they can accept and keep these precepts, and never violate any of them till the end of their lifetimes, they are recognized as those with pure faith, they will gain the Way to Tao, will gain the holy principles, and will forever achieve Tao -- the Reality."

*The precept against sexual misconduct also outlines that sexual acts such as premarital sexual conduct, adultery, prostitution, having intercourse with prostitutes, etc., are all sexual misconduct. (Original commentary: If the married spouses have intercourse too frequently, that is also considered sexual misconduct.)

*The term for married spouses (Chinese: 夫婦) usually means "husband and wife"; the scripture itself does not explicitly mention homosexuality. (Original commentary: sexual misconduct is unfaithful sexual relationships [不貞為婬])

See also[edit]


  • "The Ultra Supreme Elder Lord's Scripture of Precepts"(太上老君戒經), in "The Orthodox Tao Store"(正統道藏)
  • "The Great Dictionary of Taoism"(道教大辭典), by Chinese Taoism Association, published in China in 1994, ISBN 7-5080-0112-5/B.054