Moral Precepts for Meditators

Precepts for Meditators

by Pittaya Wong

15 July 2016


The Lord Buddha taught Buddhists and all humans to be concerned of precepts or moral disciplines as precepts are significantly correlated to our own minds and meditation experience.  Since meditation is ‘mental activity,’  meditators who observe precepts are likely to have better meditation experiences than meditators who do not observe precepts because the precepts observation results in better quality of mind which is a good foundation and preparation for meditation practice.       

If our minds are wholesome and pure, they will result our thoughts, speeches, and actions to be wholesome, likewise.  In return, when we have meritorious thoughts, speeches, and actions, we will gain the merit energy which cleanses and purifies our minds causing the minds to be even more wholesome.  On the contrary, if our minds are unwholesome, and we spoil our own minds by allowing the minds to cause bad thoughts, speeches, and actions further, we will gain the sin energy that contaminates our minds in return.  The sin energy will worsen the quality of our minds.  As we accumulate sin energy in our minds from mental, verbal, and physical misdeeds, our minds will be darkened and more likely to bring about more bad thoughts, speeches, and actions.  These are the correlations between our minds and our mental, verbal, and physical actions which are interrelated.  We can say that our minds directly affect our thoughts, speeches, and actions to be either wholesome or unwholesome, and our wholesome or unwholesome thoughts, speeches, and actions, will affect our minds to have better or poorer quality in return.   

Therefore, all humans, especially meditation practitioners, are recommended to observe precepts or moral disciplines which are suitable to their livings such as the 5 precepts for secular daily life or 8 precepts for monastic life, 10 precepts for novice monks, and 227 precepts for fully ordained Buddhist monks.  As we observe moral precepts, the precepts will secure and control our speeches and actions to be more contented, peaceful, disciplined, and wholesome.  If we violate the precepts, either mentally, verbally, or physically, the unwholesome or sin energy will occur in our minds in every moment of misdeeds.  So, now we understand how the precepts can prevent our minds from contamination and secure our minds to be pure and peaceful up to a level.  In addition, the daily living of those who observe moral precepts will not be troublesome because of karmic consequences from committing misdeeds.

The 5 precepts for secular daily living are as follows:

(1) Abstention from killing and harming oneself and others (2) Abstention from stealing and fraudulent actions (3)  Abstention from sexual misconduct (4) Abstention from lying and false speech and (5) Abstention from drinking alcohol and consuming narcotics which worsen the quality of one’s mind.

The 8 precepts for monastic living are as follows:

(1) Abstention from killing and harming oneself and others (2) Abstention from stealing and fraudulent actions (3)  Abstention from sexual intercourse (4) Abstention from lying and false speech (5) Abstention from drinking alcohol and consuming narcotics which worsen the quality of one’s mind (6)  Abstention from having meals after noon until dawn to prevent oneself from having excessive energy (7)  Abstention from decorating oneself with ornament, making up, singing, dancing, and performing entertainment, which consequently encourage sensual desires and (8)  Abstention from sleeping on a big bed or seat stuffed with soft materials in order to prevent oneself from laziness and over comfort.

All meditation practitioners are recommended to observe either 5 or 8 moral precepts to enhance their meditation practice.  However, in addition to the 5 or 8 precepts, novice monks’ precepts, and the fully ordained Buddhist monks’ precepts, we may observe the superior moral precepts for our thoughts by preventing ourselves from unwholesome thinking.  If we have bad thoughts, we should be mindful enough to cease such thoughts promptly.  Don’t let our bad thoughts grow into bad ideas, speeches, and actions.  So, our thoughts will remain pure and wholesome always.  Then, the contamination to our minds will be minimized, and our minds will be in good quality and peaceful always.  This is a good foundation for progressive meditation experience.  We may compare our minds to a glass of clean water which can be used for many beneficial purposes such as drinking and cooking. However, if we break the moral precepts, it is like adding dirt into our glass of pure water.  As we add more and more, our water becomes dirty and unclear.  Then, we cannot use the water for drinking or cooking immediately because it must be filtered or purified first.

In conclusion, all meditation practitioners should observe at least 5 or 8 moral precepts, or we can observe the advanced precepts by keeping our thoughts, speeches, and actions to be wholesome always.  As we can do this, our minds will remain pure and ready for further mental development with meditation practice where our meditation experience is likely to be better than those who do not observe precepts.

Note: If you have any question, please ask the guardian of crystal ball on the top of this page.