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Living ethically is a foundation for coming to know silent mind-open heart. At its core, ethical living involves respect and non-harming, both towards ourselves and other beings. When we live ethically, it helps to create a harmonious world. When we live in harmony with others, our minds and hearts will settle easily and we will be able to see more clearly what life offers and what it requires of us in any particular moment.

The Buddha recommended that lay practitioners work with five ethical guidelines or precepts. Although the Five Precepts can be taken as rules to follow, they seem most helpful as tools of investigation. Look into your own life and notice whether following a precept brings harmony and contentment to your life. Look to see whether breaking a precept brings stress and suffering. When you see this for yourself, you will be naturally inclined to follow the precepts.

Working with ethical living is a foundation practice, but it is not just for beginners. This is a practice that even the most advanced practitioners attend to. Please explore the difference this can make in your own life.

The Five Precepts

• I undertake the precept to refrain from taking the life of any living creature.

• I undertake the precept to refrain from taking what is not given.

• I undertake the precept to refrain from sexual misconduct.

• I undertake the precept to refrain from false and harmful speech.

• I undertake the precept to refrain from substances which lead to carelessness or loss of awareness.

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© 2007, 2011, Philip L. Jones