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Dharma wheel 1

Pañcaśīla (Sanskrit) or Pañcasīla (Pāli) (Ch: 五戒 wǔ jiè) means the five precepts, which are the fundamental code of ethics, undertaken by lay followers of the Buddha Gautama.

The laity undertake to follow these training rules at the same time as they become Buddhists, taking refuge in the Triple Gem: In the Buddha (teacher), in the Dharma (teaching) and thirdly in the Sangha (community of monks and nuns). A lay practitioner who has undertaken the precepts is called an Upasaka.

The Buddha is said to have taught the five precepts out of compassion, not out of any desire to control his followers, and so they are to be undertaken voluntarily rather than as commandments from a god. The following are rendered in English and then Pali.

  • 1. I undertake the precept to refrain from destroying living beings.
Pānātipātā veramani sikkhāpadam samādiyāmi
  • 2. I undertake the precept to refrain from stealing.
Adinnādānā veramani sikkhāpadam samādiyāmi
  • 3. I undertake the precept to refrain from sexual misconduct (adultery, rape, etc).
Kāmesu micchācāra veramani sikkhāpadam samādiyāmi
  • 4. I undertake the precept to refrain from false speech (lying).
Musāvāda veramani sikkhāpadam samādiyāmi
  • 5. I undertake the precept to refrain from intoxicants which lead to heedlessness.
Surā meraya majja pamādatthānā veramani sikkhāpadam samādiyāmi

The Chinese version as found in the Supplement to the Canon (續藏經 XùZàngJīng) hardly differs:

  • 1 As the Buddha refrained from killing until the end of his life, so I too will refrain from killing until the end of my life.
如諸佛盡壽不殺生,我某甲亦盡壽不殺生
  • 2 As the Buddha refrained from stealing until the end of his life, so I too will refrain from stealing until the end of my life.
如諸佛盡壽不偷盜,我某甲亦盡壽不偷盜
  • 3 As the Buddha refrained from sexual misconduct until the end of his life, so I too will refrain from sexual misconduct until the end of my life.
如諸佛盡壽不淫欲,我某甲亦盡壽不邪淫
  • 4 As the Buddha refrained from false speech until the end of his life, so I too will refrain from false speech until the end of my life.
如諸佛盡壽不妄語;我某甲亦盡壽不妄語
  • 5 As the Buddha refrained from alcohol until the end of his life, so I too will refrain from alcohol until the end of my life.
如諸佛盡壽不飲酒,我某甲亦盡壽不飲酒


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