This entry is part 16 of 19 in the series Understanding Buddhism

What is the Pancha Shila? Pancha Shila refers to five moral precepts in Buddhism. The terms Pancha and Shila originate from the Pali language, the language used by or at the time of Lord Buddha. The word PANCHA means ‘five’ while the word SHILA means ‘rules or moral precepts’.

It is important to clearly state that the Panch Shila do not essentially make an individual a Buddhist. However, to become a real Buddhist, it is vital to observe the five rules. There are a number of people who want to understand “who is a Buddhist”? The answer is – a Buddhist is a person who takes protection in the ‘Triple Gem’ (Tissrana), known as the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha.

What is the Pancha Shila?

There are a number of resemblances characterizing these Refuges, like:

  • The Buddha – The perfect physician for any mental disorder
  • The Dhamma – The unfailing and eternal panacea
  • The Sangha – The model nurse

The Triple Gem is also explained as:

  • The Buddha – The peak of universal wisdom
  • The Dhamma – The ideal code of discipline
  • The Sangha – The standard model for a layman

What is the Pancha Shila? The Five Precepts known as Pancha Shila are basic ethics adopted by Buddhists in day-to-day life. Some people believe that these rules are the basic fundamentals of Buddhism but this is not true. The basic fundamentals of Buddhism are deeper and philosophical than these. The Five Precepts are simple practices that can be followed in everyday life. It is believed that these rules did not originate from Buddhism and existed even before Lord Buddha. Gautama Buddha just encouraged the adoption of these precepts as they help develop a good human being who leads a good life. They do not give any spiritual result.

The Five Precepts are:

  1. Don’t Take Life
  2. Don’t Take What’s Not Given
  3. Don’t Do Sexual Misconduct
  4. Don’t Do False Speech
  5. Don’t Drink Fermented Drink that can cause negligence

Don’t take life

Every individual loves their own life and you are no one to take it away from them. Just like you like your life, all others do too. So, live and let live. Do not get involved in any kind of violent activities to harm other individuals.

Don’t take what’s not given
This rule simply emphasizes on staying away from the practice of stealing. If something does not belong to you or is not given to you, it is not yours and you do not have the right to use it without permission.

Don’t do sexual misconduct
This rule can be arguable and different cultures describe it differently. However, the bottom line is to avoid unethical sexual relationship (rape, molestation etc.)

Don’t do false speech
Avoid lying. If you lie, you will not only harm the other person but also harm your own self.

Don’t drink fermented drink
This may also be debatable for different individuals but the fact remains the same that alcohol reduces the ability of an individual to think and act appropriately.

Buddha Life Changing Lessons – Buddhism SecretsThe Life of Buddha and Its LessonsThich Nhat Hanh: 101 Greatest Life Lessons

I hope you have gained some insight to What is the Pancha Shila through this article. I wish you peace and happiness on your spiritual journey!

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