thank you~ comments on precepts



I’d like to thank  Marcus, ChongGo Sunim, Joe, Barry, and Ashin Sopāka for their comments on my last couple of posts. It’s difficult to trust online searches for accurate information. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and experience, helping me along the way~

I’d like to post the responses for anyone else who may not have read them:

Hi Joseph,

Lovely post! Thank you!

But I think the next 3 precepts you mention are the Therevadan ones. In the Mahayanan tradition the next five precepts go something like this:

6. I vow not to talk about the faults of others.
7. I vow not to praise myself and disparage others.
8. I vow not to be covetous, but to be generous.
9. I vow not to give way to anger, but to be harmonious.
10. I vow not to slander the three jewels.

But yes, you know, I think they’re all there in the first five, especially the one about right speech, which is – for me too – by far the most difficult!

So yes, I’ll join you on the anniversary of our refuge by re-dedicating myself to those first five. Thank you so much for the inspiration Joseph!

With palms together,



Hi Joseph,
The precepts 6-10 that you’re thinking of are the traditional precepts for renunciates, ie monks and nuns.
The only addition I would make to Marcus’ expression of the precepts would be number 8, which I think of as “I vow not to withhold material or spiritual aid”

To me, the original 6-10 are mostly for the daily life of monastics, where as the Mahayana 6-10 are more expressions of our fundamental nature and are good for everyone, monastics included!

with palms together,
Chong Go


Hi Joseph,
I’ve heard a number of times that if one can fully keep the spirit of the first five precepts, they’ll naturally uphold all of the rest of the precepts.
While these five look like they’re just addressing harmful behaviors, they’re also deep expressions of our interconnectedness. With, for me, 5 more specific reminders about the most common things people get hung up on. (These being the Mahayana precepts 6-10.)


HI Joseph,

Precepts 6-10 are for laypeople, usually taken on Uposatha Days (full, quarter, new moons) or other days of special significance – Vesak Day, funerals, etc. In Myanmar, there are also a lot of older, retired folks who take 8-10 precepts for the duration of their lives and adhere to them pretty strictly. Should a precept be broken, there is no worldly penalty.

That said, these precepts are also codified in the Vinaya for monastics and are much more detailed, e.g. specifying the height of the bed, the types of materials for sheets and blankets, etc, but in this case they become rules, the breaking of which entail some sort of “worldly” penalty, like expiation and forfeiture.

Ashin Sopāka

Love the photo.

The last three are traditionally taken by (serious) laypeople on new and full moons in SE Asia, as I’m sure Marcus knows. Once or twice a month it wouldn’t be a bad idea. The no-eating means no food after noon. I think it was meant to allow the monks a clearer mind for meditation. It’s difficult to concentrate after eating. It’s amazing to me these monks can live until their 90s, having eaten only two meals a day!


The precepts (6-10) provided by Marcus are nearly identical to those used by Zen Master Seung Sahn. In the Kwan Um School tradition, students can take 5, 10, 16, and 64 precepts, provided that they meet the related criteria.

In my own training, I work with the precepts as tools for the examination of my relationships with the world around me.

I take it for granted that I will make mistakes. The precepts help me gain awareness of the mistakes and troubles I create. Through this, I might shift a little closer to the fundamental precepts of “do no harm, try to help.” It’s ongoing work.


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