) or sīla
) is usually rendered into English as "virtue"; other translations include "good conduct, "morality "moral discipline. and "precept. It is an action that is an intentional effort. It is one of the three practices
(sīla - samadhi - paññā) and the second pāramitā
. It refers to moral purity of thought, word, and deed. The four conditions of śīla
are chastity, calmness, quiet, and extinguishment, i.e. no longer being susceptible to perturbation by the passions like greed and selfishness, which are common in the world today.
Sīla refers to overall (principles of) ethical behaviour. There are several levels of sila, which correspond to 'basic morality' (five precepts), 'basic morality with asceticism' (eight precepts), 'novice monkhood' (ten precepts) and 'monkhood' (Vinaya or Patimokkha). Laypeople generally undertake to live by the five precepts which are common to all Buddhist schools. If they wish, they can choose to undertake the eight precepts, which have some additional precepts of basic asceticism.
The five precepts
are not given in the form of commands such as "thou shalt not ...", but are training rules in order to live a better life in which one is happy, without worries, and can meditate well.
- To refrain from taking life.
- To refrain from taking that which is not freely given (stealing).
- To refrain from sexual misconduct (improper sexual behavior).
- To refrain from lying and deceiving.
- To refrain from intoxicants which lead to loss of mindfulness.
A higher precepts than five precepts
, eight precepts
specifies in providing atmosphere for meditating by practicing celibacy and avoiding all other entertainments.
In the eight precepts, the third precept on sexual misconduct is made more strict, and becomes a precept of celibacy.
The three additional rules of the eight precepts are:
- To refrain from eating at the wrong time (by only eating from sunrise to noon, it ensures that all food eaten that day is digested; thus no night time activities).
- To refrain from all entertainments and decorations; ie. dancing, using jewelry, watching movies, going to shows, etc. Especially those entertainments that bring the viewer's mind to sexual scenes.
- To refrain from using a high, luxurious bed. These beds indicates softness, comfortable, and sleepiness of the sleeper.
use the ten precepts
, which are the basic precepts for monastics: people who have left the home-life and live in monasteries.
is the specific moral code for monks. It includes the Patimokkha
, a set of 227 rules in the Theravadin recension. The precise content of the vinayapitaka
(scriptures on Vinaya) differ slightly according to different schools, and different schools or subschools set different standards for the degree of adherence to Vinaya.
Buddhism, there is also a distinctive Vinaya and ethics contained within the Mahayana Brahmajala Sutra
(not to be confused with the Pali text of that name) for Bodhisattvas
, where, for example, the eating of meat is frowned upon and vegetarianism is actively encouraged (see vegetarianism in Buddhism
). These precepts are, however, not present in the strictest moral code of the Theravadin Patimokkha
, and are generally understood to have come in existence at least 500 years after the Buddha.
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- Sila as explained in the Buddhist Encyclopedia.