The mind is difficult to control; swiftly and lightly, it moves and lands wherever it pleases. It is good to tame the mind, for a well-tamed mind brings happiness.
The Five Precepts
Moral conduct has been codified throughout the history of Buddhism, beginning in the Buddha’s time, into five precepts for conduct. The number of precepts for the behaviour of monks has run into the hundreds in some sects. For laypeople, the Theravada tradition has five precepts, who undertake to observe these precepts, which are : -.
1. TO ABSTAIN FROM TAKING LIFE
In the five precepts, “taking life” means to murder anything that lives. It refers to the striking and killing of living beings. Taking life is the will to kill anything that one perceives as having life, to act so as to terminate the life-force in it, in so far as the will finds expression in bodily action or in speech.
2. TO ABSTAIN FROM TAKING WHAT IS NOT GIVEN
“To take what is not given” means the appropriation of what is not given. It refers to the removing of someone else’s property, to the stealing of it, to theft. “What is not given” means that which belongs to someone else. “Taking what is not given” is then the will to steal anything that one perceives as belonging to someone else, and to act so as to appropriate it.
3. TO ABSTAIN FROM SENSUOUS MISCONDUCT
“Sensuous misconduct” – here “sensuous” means “sexual,” and “misconduct” is extremely blameworthy bad behavior. “Sensuous misconduct” is the will to transgress against those whom one should not, and the carrying out of this intention by unlawful physical action.
4. TO ABSTAIN FROM FALSE SPEECH
“False speech” is the will to deceive others by words or deeds. One can also explain: “False” means something which is not real, not true. “Speech” is the intimation that that is real or true. “False speech” is then the volition which leads to the deliberate intimation to someone else that something is so when it is not so.
5. TO ABSTAIN FROM INTOXICANTS AS TENDING TO CLOUD THE MIND
The last of the five precepts is to refrain from taking intoxicants that cloud the mind and cause heedlessness. This means drugs and alcohol (but not prescription medication). This precept is a traditional way of detoxifying our bodies and minds. And it can be challenging at events where alcohol is considered a means of socialization and relaxation. However, with commitment, these situations often prove to be less awkward than we had feared. The benefits of keeping the vow turn out to be even more fruitful than we had hoped.