What are The Five Commandments?

What are The Five Commandments?

What are The Five Commandments?

The Five Commandments (Five Morals) are as follows:
1. Do not kill living things. Cherish life.
2. Do not steal. Do not bother others.
3. Do not cheat. Do not engage in immoral sexual acts.
4. Do not lie. Be honest.
5. Do not drink alcohol. Do not take into your body anything that disturbs your spirit.

Talking about that, the smaller the number is, the more important the morals are.
These Five Commandments (Five Morals) are the basic morals that Buddha taught to people.

What are the details of The Five Commandments and their blessings on life?

Let's look at each of The Five Commandments in a little more detail.
The first, "We do not kill living things." means not involving killing, so of course not eating, or killing insects, etc.

The second, "Do not bother others," is a more developed version of "Do not steal." Just as the first, "Do not kill living creatures," evolves into "Cherish life," the more one observes a moral code, the more one develops and does more good deeds.

The third, "Do not cheat. Do not engage in immoral sexual acts" is a stricter ordained precept, in which case you do not engage in sexual acts in the first place.

The fourth, "Don't lie," is further developed into "Stay away from bad words”. Talking bad words means not only saying bad words but also gossiping, etc. Then, we should "use more beautiful words." That means we should use words filled with compassion.

The fifth, "Do not introduce into your body anything that disturbs your spirit." This is a bit of a roundabout way of saying "Do not take in anything that disturbs the mind," such as cigarettes or drugs. If your spirit is disturbed by alcohol or cigarettes, you will not be able to maintain the concentration necessary for Vipassana meditation, and it will be difficult to control your mind and maintain peace.

These are the details of The Five Commandments (Five Morals). Some of you may feel it is difficult to observe them all, at once. However, in such a case, it is important not to think in terms of 0 or 100. If it is difficult to observe all of them at once, but we can try to observe only one, at first. As you do so, you will feel a change in your heart as you observe one more, and then another.

In my case, although I am now observing The Five Commandments, my life without observing The Five Commandments is much longer than my life with The Five Commandments. However, the life of a person who observes The Five Commandments has many times more peace and tranquility than the life of a person who does not observe The Five Commandments, at all. I encourage you to give it a try.

The Five Commandments are important to make a promise to yourself.

It is essential to make a promise of keeping The Five Commandments, to oneself. There are people who attend our meditation sessions who say: "I have already done that much.” However, when we ask them about the details, they tell us that they have not done that much.

The reason why this happens is because we don't always consciously try to follow them to that extent. Therefore, the important thing about keeping The Five Commandments is to make a firm promise to yourself. The way how to do this is to say The Five Commandments to yourself in order, every morning. At the end, make a firm promise to yourself: "I will keep The Five Commandments.” Then start your day. You will feel the effects of keeping The Five Commandments, even stronger.

This act of making a promise to oneself is important for everything. For example, you can promise to do good deeds by telling yourself that you will do good deeds. If you have a goal in life, promise yourself that you will achieve it. Promise yourself that you will stop doing something.

People quickly tend to forget what they have decided to do. That’s why, saying The Five Commandments to yourself every morning is a very effective method. Please give it a try and feel the benefits of a life of obeying The Five Commandments.

How can we discipline our minds?

So, the question is why did the Buddha encourage ordinary people who were not ordained to observe The Five Commandments?
The answer is because by observing these Five Commandments (the five moral principles), the mind can be protected and elevated.

Our minds inevitably sway to and for at will, during our ordinary lives. For example, let's think of the mind as an ocean. The ocean is infinitely wide and free. The mind is also free to sway to good things or bad things in the same way. Let’s discover how can we stabilize this free and fluctuating mind?
One way to find out is to put water in a mold to limit the range of oscillation.

For example, let’s imagine, a lake against the ocean. If we further reduce the size of the lake, we can imagine it as a pond, and so on. The smaller the range of oscillation goes, the more stable the mind becomes.

Another example of the types would be the law. In the previous example, the law is like a lake to the sea. If there is a law, people's behavior is restricted. Because if you break the law, you will be punished. As a result, people are less likely to do bad things that break the law.

A smaller mold is commandments and morals. In the previous example, commandments and morals are like a pond comparing to the sea. You are not punished for not observing morality, but if it is a precept, it can be punished by some religions like a law. For example, there are 227 commandments for ordained lay people in Theravada Buddhism, and if you break any of them, you will immediately return to karma, that is, to the mundane world.

Thus, commandments and morals serve us as brakes. If we were asked to ride a vehicle without brakes, we would not want to do so because it would be dangerous. If we have the brakes of commandments and morals, we can prevent accidents from happening. Accidents in this case are criminal acts due to greed, anger, or other acts that cause trouble to other people or living beings.

Commandments and morals can be a much better brake than laws. Go through life with this good brake and continue to keep the commandments and morals to be a better brake that works perfectly.

What will be the foundation of the home?

Now, let me change the subject a little. What is the foundation of your family? What I mean by "foundation" is something like a set of rules that form the basis of the family. I suspect that most families do not have such a foundation. In most Japanese families, it seems that someone with a strong opinion plays a central role in running the family.

It may be the father or the mother, who is not like a saint, but most of the times he or she just has strong opinions. In such cases, the family environment is not right nor stable. There is stress on someone and difficulties in terms of the spiritual growth of the child.

To solve this situation, what to do is to make morality the foundation of the family. Morality here refers to The Five Commandments (the five moral principles). It does not mean that someone is great, right, or good at speaking, but by building on a moral foundation, a stable axis is established. That axis will lead the family in the right direction.

For example, a country is ruled by its law, so the law is the foundation. No person decides things, but it operates based on the law. The people of that country are sometimes punished according to those rules. In the same way, when morality is the foundation at home, it makes all decisions easier. There is no need to hesitate. Above all, the positive impact on children is immeasurable.

If the whole family follows the moral foundation, the children who grow up there will also be moral and do good deeds. This will be a more useful axis for the children's lives than any knowledge, by far.

If you follow The Five Commandments, you will discover the "awareness" necessary for Vipassana meditation.

Vipassana meditation uses The Five Powers (effort, concentration, awareness, conviction, and wisdom) to rid the mind of its own defilements [The Five Hindrances (greed, anger, lethargy, restlessness, and doubt)]. If you cannot find the necessary "awareness" with The Five Powers, you cannot do Vipassana meditation.

However, by observing The Five Commandments, we can discover the "awareness" necessary for Vipassana meditation.

For example, one of The Five Commandments is the morality of not drinking alcohol. If you cannot follow this rule, you may drink normally whenever you encounter alcohol. However, if you have promised yourself that you will not drink alcohol anymore, when the alcohol appears in front of you, you should remember your promise to yourself: "Oh, I don't drink alcohol anymore..." You should remember your promise. So, you may drink out of greed, or you may be overcome by greed and not drink. We don't know how that will turn out, but at least it puts the brakes on.

This brake is a brake of goodness that arises only if we try to keep morality. Remembering this morality is "awareness. It is still a rough "awareness," but without this "awareness," we will not be able to rid our minds of defilement.

Some of you may have various commitments.
For example, "I will get up at 5:00 a.m. every day," "I will donate once a day," "I will not have second helpings of rice," or in the case of work, "I will try to finish meetings and discussions within one hour," "I will not work overtime," etc. There may be many others. You may feel constrained to impose commitments on yourself.

However, as mentioned above, this self-imposed commitment can make us "aware" of temptation and laziness, and if we are able to keep that commitment and become self-restrained or autonomous, we can grow our minds.

If the commitments we make to ourselves lead to good deeds, they are wonderful protectors of the heart and keep the mind free from defilement. From this perspective, we can understand the importance of The Five Commandments (the five moral principles).

Therefore, if you are meditating for the purpose of cleaning the mind, The Five Commandments (the five moral principles) are essential.

Three Stages of Good Deeds (Good Conducts)

Now, as some of you may notice when you look at The Five Commandments, they are all in the form of "~nothing". This is because the first step in morality is to stay away from the bad things. We often say: "to do good deeds or to accumulate virtues", but it is important to stay away from the bad things before doing good things in the first place.

There are three stages of good conducts:
1. Do not do anything wrong.
2. Do good.
3. Purify the mind.

The later stages are better acts.

First, you will be well staying away from the bad things. By doing so, your environment and your mind will be in order. A well-ordered and calm mind naturally produces good deeds, and the desire to do good deeds is more likely to arise. Good deeds will lead to a better environment and a more settled mind.

For example, in the case of The Five Commandments (Five Moral Laws) mentioned earlier, when we move away from the bad behavior of "not killing living creatures," we naturally become more compassionate and "cherish life more". When we observe "not to lie," we naturally become more moral, and we will "use appropriate language".

Then, wishing to further cleanse the mind, we purify the mind through Vipassana meditation. That’s the way for everyone to become a better person.

The opposite is also true. By doing Vipassana meditation, you will naturally become incapable of doing bad things, and you will also move away from bad karma. More and more, we try to discipline our mind by ourselves. You will spontaneously turn away from evil and do good deeds. I explained earlier that one answer to stabilizing the mind is to limit the extent to which the mind fluctuates by creating a pattern (morality or commandments).
For example, like putting water (mind) into a cup (morals or commandments).

However, if you are a practitioner who has practiced Vipassana meditation enough, in the previous analogy, the water will solidify like ice. Then, there is no need for a glass anymore. This is because the mind does not fluctuate.

By steadily implementing these three steps, your life will take a turn for the better. The more you do, the more momentum you will gain. Please check it out.

Morality and commandments over law. Good deeds over morals and commandments.

The words law, morality (commandments), and good deeds have been mentioned so far, but in terms of purifying the mind. The order of priority is morality (commandments) over law. In terms of purifying the mind, the order of precedence is morality (commandments) over law, and good deeds over morality (commandments).

There are many things that may not be against the law but may be morally wrong, and sometimes we cannot save what it can be saved if we are concerned about morality (commandments).

For example, let’s suppose a child runs out chasing a ball from the other side of a crosswalk at a red light. In such a case, no one would say: "It's dangerous!" But it is against the law, so I think no one would say: "Let's go help the child, when the light turns green".

There is also this story. A monk saw a woman in trouble because she could not cross a river, so he carried her across the river, on his back. It is against the Buddhist commandments for ordained monks to touch women, but he gave priority to doing a good deed.

If we have these clear priorities, we will not have trouble taking decisions, at any time. Same to observe laws and morals (commandments), do good deeds and lead a righteous life.