The Five Precepts
To better enable one to practice the three parts of the Noble Eightfold Path called sila or the morality group, i.e. realistic, skillful or right speech, action and livelihood, a person seeing the practicality of using Buddhism’s dharma in one’s life, and desirous of putting it to use, can take a vow (to oneself). This vow is known as the Five Precepts. In taking the vow, one is not joining any order or religion; he/she is merely stating an intention on how he/she intends on living life in a way that happiness is encouraged, where dukkha is eliminated or at least minimized, and where metta and karuna are practiced. These five precepts (in the form of a vow) are:
- I vow to train to abstain from killing anything that breathes and I vow to encourage life.
- I vow to train to abstain from taking what is not given and I vow to encourage giving and sharing.
- I vow to train to abstain from sexual misconduct and I vow to encourage proper and respectful conduct.
- I vow to train to abstain from speaking falsehood and I vow to encourage truthfulness.
- I vow to train to abstain from liquor and drugs that cause intoxication and heedlessness and I vow to encourage the use of healthful food and liquids.
In taking into consideration these five precepts, I have created the following vow for participants in wedding ceremonies. The vow encompasses all five of the precepts.
“We vow to protect and encourage each other and all life, to be generous to each other and take less than we give, to speak truthfully and helpfully to each other, to nourish and to keep our bodies and minds healthy, and to treat each other with loving kindness and compassion.”