Buddhism A2 Essay Outlines/Study Guide

  • Created by: Marith
  • Created on: 03-02-15 13:25


Assess the importance of the five precepts for Buddhist ethics. [35]

  • The 5 precepts constitute the basic code of ethics for Lay buddhist, they provide the laity with a few basic guidelines on how to live one’s life according to Buddhist principles. some may consider that they provide the entire foundation for Buddhist ethics as they are essential in prevents bad Kamma and but also lead to a lifestyle which is conducive to Nibbana. However to effectively assess the importance of the five precepts one must consider each precept individual and examine how they are important in effecting buddhist behaviour. One must also compare it’s importance to other Buddhist code of ethics such as the 8 fold path to judge it’s relative significance

  • One should refrain from Killing

    • Important because it encourages to refrain from behaviour which implies hatred and lack of compassion and seeing as hatred is one of the 3 poisons which keeps one within Samsara,

    • it is also contrary to the principle himsa and Ahimsa is important because it prevents further suffering which is one the most important aims for a buddhist

      • However the importance of this precept can be undermined by the fact that many Buddhists monks have used violence as upaya(skillful means) for example a tibetan monk who killed a king for persecuting Buddhists therefore preserving the Dhamma and then preventing the king from acquiring further negative Kamma

  • One should not steal

    • this is important because if one were to steel that were to imply greed and that would also conducive to negative Kamma seeing as greed is also one the three poisons- it also increases the victim’s attachment to material things leading him to further Dukkha

      • This also undermined by the fact what if someone is stealing in order to feed his family and has good motive, Mahayana could judge this as Skilful means seeing as motive is a very important part of generating Kamma

  • One should refrain from sexual misconducts

    • This basically implies one should refrain from sex because it means that one is attached to worldly pleasure which is a form of tanha which is the immediate cause for Dukkha-

      • Undermined by the fact that many Buddhist traditions have come to have a very liberal attitudes towards sex such as Tibetan Buddhism which see it as a form  of meditation at time and Buddhism in the west

  • One should refrain from false speech

    • Basically advocates that one should refrain from lying because in the end the quest for enlightenment is the pursuit of eternal truth and therefore lying is not conducive to enlightenment

    • also undermined by Upaya seeing as the Mahayana for example in the Parable of the Burning house, The old man lied to his children in order to expose them to the various paths of Buddhism therefore it is acceptable within certain situations

  • One Should refrain from intoxicants

    • While drunk one, one’s judgement is at risk therefore one is likely to break the other precepts, it also take away


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