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Old 7th March 2009, 02:42 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Clarification on the 5 Precepts

I seek clarification on 3 of the 5 Precepts, please:

1. Abstain from taking what is not given.
If while walking along a quiet road in an industrial park, I come across money and there's no one around but me. Am I breaching this Precept if I picked it up and kept it, or is the money, regardless of the amount best donated ?

2. Abstain from lying and false speech.
If one has an elderly parent with a terminal disease or critical illness and whose health is deteriorating, is it wrong to keep bad news from that parent or tell a white lie to protect the parent ? For example, if his or her daughter miscarried the family's first grandchild or the childhood friend of the parent passed away. When the parent asks after those persons, by us telling him/her a white lie in order not to distress him/her, especially if his/her medical condition could take a turn for the worse, is this in breach of this Precept ?

3. Abstain from consuming intoxicants and drugs.
Is taking a small measure of tonic wine (like Yomeishu) daily for health benefits or if one suffers from severe insomnia and has to resort to taking sleeping tablets every night, are these actions in breach of this Precept ?

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Old 7th March 2009, 03:43 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Clarification on the 5 Precepts

Originally Posted by quietfight View Post
I seek clarification on 3 of the 5 Precepts, please:

1. Abstain from taking what is not given.
If while walking along a quiet road in an industrial park, I come across money and there's no one around but me. Am I breaching this Precept if I picked it up and kept it, or is the money, regardless of the amount best donated ?
My opinion is that if it is a considerable amount and the owner is likely to come back and take it, then leave it there. If it is a negligible amount and the owner is unlikely to come back and take it, then might as well take it for him and donate them. It is also to build the habit of donating and practicing generosity... in this way we gain merits. Don't forget to practice this often. Also, when we practice generosity, it is important don't attach to the notion of gaining merits or donating for a purpose... be non-attached in giving. Otherwise it does not result in true merits, only limited blessings.
2. Abstain from lying and false speech.
If one has an elderly parent with a terminal disease or critical illness and whose health is deteriorating, is it wrong to keep bad news from that parent or tell a white lie to protect the parent ? For example, if his or her daughter miscarried the family's first grandchild or the childhood friend of the parent passed away. When the parent asks after those persons, by us telling him/her a white lie in order not to distress him/her, especially if his/her medical condition could take a turn for the worse, is this in breach of this Precept ?
In such cases the white lie is ok. Buddha also told lies before. There was I think a rabbit or some other animal... that was being hunted. Seeing the Buddha's radiance and compassionate look it ran to the Buddha and hid behind him. When the hunter came and asked the Buddha whether he saw the animal, the Buddha pointed at the wrong direction and the hunter went off searching for the animal.

So, precepts are meant to be broken when there is a need. If I'm not wrong there is a precept in one of the sutra... by not breaking precept when it is needed, you are breaking the precept.

Of course we must be careful and use wisdom. We must not use this an excuse for unskillful behaviors.
3. Abstain from consuming intoxicants and drugs.
Is taking a small measure of tonic wine (like Yomeishu) daily for health benefits or if one suffers from severe insomnia and has to resort to taking sleeping tablets every night, are these actions in breach of this Precept ?
Medical purpose is ok. But not for intoxication or getting drunk.

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Old 8th March 2009, 01:02 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Clarification on the 5 Precepts

Originally Posted by quietfight View Post
I seek clarification on 3 of the 5 Precepts, please:

1. Abstain from taking what is not given.
If while walking along a quiet road in an industrial park, I come across money and there's no one around but me. Am I breaching this Precept if I picked it up and kept it, or is the money, regardless of the amount best donated ?
I agree with BeAwake's opinion. However, the issue is what amount of money is considered 'significant' or 'negligible'? To a poor man, 10 dollars is a lot. To average working class people, losing more than 50 dollars is a lot, perhaps.

And how can we possibly know whether the owner will come to take it back?

These are my own personal questions.

2. Abstain from lying and false speech.
If one has an elderly parent with a terminal disease or critical illness and whose health is deteriorating, is it wrong to keep bad news from that parent or tell a white lie to protect the parent ? For example, if his or her daughter miscarried the family's first grandchild or the childhood friend of the parent passed away. When the parent asks after those persons, by us telling him/her a white lie in order not to distress him/her, especially if his/her medical condition could take a turn for the worse, is this in breach of this Precept ?
I have asked quite a few learned layman Buddhists on scenarios which require white lies. The general response is to tell it as it is, but with some suggestions on how things can be done or said better, or how certain matters can be evaluated from different perspectives.

3. Abstain from consuming intoxicants and drugs.
Is taking a small measure of tonic wine (like Yomeishu) daily for health benefits or if one suffers from severe insomnia and has to resort to taking sleeping tablets every night, are these actions in breach of this Precept ?
Same as BeAwake. I also wish to add that this precept is not as narrowly enforced or interpreted as the 1st four precepts. In Chinese, it is called 'kai jie', meaning that in exceptional circumstances such as certain illnesses which require the use of alcohol as a catalyst ingredient, or consumed as it is in regular but limited amounts to aid the recovery process.

As a whole, I wish to share my opinion that the observation of 5 precepts for laymen are not properly discussed and debated in the modern life context. We should add on to the ancient examples of keeping the 5 precepts, so that modern people can relate better to Buddhism and its precepts.

My personal experience is, the answers given by monastics and Buddhist academics so far are insufficient to guide beginner Buddhists to observe the 5 precepts. Very few real-life scenarios are given and discussed to help beginner Buddhists have as little doubts as possible when observing the precepts. I observe that precepts masters nowadays, at various temples or monasteries, who conduct precept taking ceremonies cannot really fulfill this obligation, cos most of the time they need to keep to some time limit and they can't answer questions with as much details as they would like due to possible large crowd attending the precept taking ceremonies.

One day, I hope to compile and publish a guide book of sorts that looks at the 5 precepts and 8 precepts (both suitable for lay Buddhists), in simple but yet concise manner, guiding beginner Buddhists or non-Buddhists, with various real-life scenarios and encourage them to think and act with mindfulness in relation to the observation of precepts.

Sorry to quietfight for hijacking your thread with my views.

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Old 8th March 2009, 02:56 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Clarification on the 5 Precepts

Originally Posted by BeAwake View Post

In such cases the white lie is ok. Buddha also told lies before. There was I think a rabbit or some other animal... that was being hunted. Seeing the Buddha's radiance and compassionate look it ran to the Buddha and hid behind him. When the hunter came and asked the Buddha whether he saw the animal, the Buddha pointed at the wrong direction and the hunter went off searching for the animal.

So, precepts are meant to be broken when there is a need. If I'm not wrong there is a precept in one of the sutra... by not breaking precept when it is needed, you are breaking the precept.

Of course we must be careful and use wisdom. We must not use this an excuse for unskillful behaviors.
.
Very interesting......"Buddha also told lies before".......can you share with us the Name of the Sutta or any reference where we can read to know more about what you mentioned....
above....

Thank you.....

May you be well and happy always..........

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Old 8th March 2009, 08:41 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Clarification on the 5 Precepts

Originally Posted by chakrang View Post
Very interesting......"Buddha also told lies before".......can you share with us the Name of the Sutta or any reference where we can read to know more about what you mentioned....
above....

Thank you.....

May you be well and happy always..........
I can't remember the name of the sutra. But it's a very famous story.

Here's a reference:

http://www.blia.org/english/publicat...t/pages/08.htm

Sixth, would the Buddha lie?


Would the Buddha lie? This is indeed a very serious question. How do we dare to say that the Buddha would lie? The Five Precepts of abstaining from killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, false speech, and intoxicants are very important precepts. Lying is a form of false speech! How could the Buddha lie? This is because the Dharma is dynamic. If the acts of killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, false speech, and taking intoxicants are committed out of greed, hatred, and delusions, they are indeed very severe violations of these important precepts. If the violations are performed out of compassion, then they constitute another form of the Bodhisattva Way. Take the example of a sociopath who, wielding knives and guns, is on a rampage to kill many innocent people. What are we supposed to do? Do we just stand by and watch him destroy the lives of innocent people? Of course not. Sometimes, out of compassion to save the many innocent victims, we may have to first kill the sociopath. This is markedly different from killing someone out of hatred. Let us say that I found out you were plotting to gun down another person, or try to do harm with poison, and I tried to conceal the gun or the poison. Would you say that as this involves stealing, that I should not try to conceal the weapon and just let him commit the murder? Under these circumstances, the Buddha would use his wisdom to handle the situations in special ways.

Once while the Buddha was meditating in the woods, it happened that a rabbit was shot by a hunter. The rabbit ran to the Buddha and hid under his robe. The hunter who was chasing the rabbit stopped to ask the Buddha, "Did you see my rabbit?"

Of course, the Buddha saw the rabbit, but he could not tell the hunter where the rabbit was. So, the Buddha replied, "No, I haven't seen the rabbit."

Is this a lie?

"You have hid my rabbit, my dinner for the night. Can you please return it to me?"

"Oh, it was for your dinner tonight!" The Buddha then pulled the knife he had with him, and he asked the hunter, "If I cut off my arm, is it enough to compensate you for the rabbit? Let me give you my arm for your dinner!"

In order to save sentient beings, the Buddha told a fib out of great, fearless compassion. This is not an everyday lie. This is in accordance with what is said in the Diamond Sutra, "The Tathagata is one who speaks of things as they are, as what is true, and as in accordance with reality."

Once when the Buddha was cultivating his practice in a past life as a bodhisattva, he chanced to run into a bandit who was about to rob and kill five hundred merchants passing by. When the Buddha found this out, he killed the bandit without any hesitation. In the mind of the Buddha, he would rather accept the bad karma of taking a life than letting five hundred innocent people lose their lives. The Buddha would not lie to deceive others, but the Buddha also would weigh the different sides of the issue before acting accordingly.

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Old 10th March 2009, 06:53 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Clarification on the 5 Precepts

One of the more important thoughts when we reflect on the precepts is the fact that it is there to act as a guide to a better and more wholesome living so we can cultivate wisdom and compassion, ultimately to liberate ourselves and sentient beings from suffering.

One good example cited by Ven Sheng Yen (i read this in a book about 2 or 3 years back) during his dhamma talk is similar to the ones that BeAwake mentioned.

When faced between a choice of pointing a murderer to its victim by telling the truth or telling a lie to save the victim, what is more important? To upkeep your precept of non false speech or to upkeep the precept of non killing for the murderer (even though he may not know the precept in the first place)? What is more important? A life or your precept? By saying this, he already showed us the wisdom that precepts are there to promote love, peace and joyful living, not to destroy them instead.

Of course, Buddha in his perfect wisdom and perfect compassion after his enlightenment, did not have to speak falsely. Instead he used his perfect wisdom to turn murderers away from their harmful, destructive ways. But meantime before we attain full enlightenment, perfect wisdom and compassion, we simply do not have the skills to do it like Buddha. So, what can we do? We do it with perfect intentions, we tell the lie to save a life for all its worth, priceless in all ways.

At the end, its a matter of developing ourselves towards liberation, wisdom and compassion. As long as we deliberate our decisions, weigh and consider all we can with our imperfect minds and did it with perfect intentions and not break the precepts at our whim, i believe we can live with it and know that the world is a better place for all we are able to.


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Old 15th March 2009, 09:53 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Clarification on the 5 Precepts

After a person participates in a ceremony to take Refuge in the Triple Gems to commit to adhering to the 5 Precepts, what happens when the person breaches precepts ? For example, commit adultery in a moment of weakness or run over a cat while driving ?

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Old 17th March 2009, 04:28 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Clarification on the 5 Precepts

Originally Posted by quietfight View Post
After a person participates in a ceremony to take Refuge in the Triple Gems to commit to adhering to the 5 Precepts, what happens when the person breaches precepts ? For example, commit adultery in a moment of weakness or run over a cat while driving ?
As with all other actions and decisions we take in life, there will naturally be its effects and consequences, that is one of the basic laws of kamma.

Whether or not a person undertakes the precepts or not, by committing adultery, the person and all the individuals involved will naturally be visited by the effects of adultery and we all know that the effects can be ruinous to those involved and their families. The same goes for running over a cat while driving, kamma will visit but for this, it depends on the situation - was it an intentional act or was it unintentional?

One note to bear in mind is that kamma is stronger when the act is intentional. Since undertaking the 5 precepts was an intentional act, we know that the kamma will be stronger one breaks the precepts compared to one that has not undertaken the vows. Let's view it this way - since the person has taken the vows, i believe the person will mostly be a man or woman of conscience. As such when breaking it (especially intentionally), he or she will know that a precept has been broken and by their conscience, he or she will suffer more mentally in addition whatever material or physical effects the actions may bear.

Maybe as a quick guide to the decisions we make with reference to the 5 precepts is to revisit the intentions of Buddha when he prescribed the precepts for lay people who came to listen to his teachings. It is to promote and foster good, healthy living where it will help one to develop wisdom, compassion and love, bringing joy and happiness to one's families and communities.

With this constantly borne in mind, we should seek to foster an environment when we can uphold the 5 precepts better. Example, prior to committing the adultery in a moment of weakness as you mentioned, conducive conditions and environment must have existed for the situation to happen. Such as being alone together or getting drunk, acting in a moment of stupor. In this case, if the person had constantly remembered Buddha's teachings, the person will know better than to allow conditions and environment to develop further till the siuation is as such and cannot be salvaged.

Afterall, how does one consume alcohol in a fruit juice bar?

By the way, below is link to a good read on kamma

What Karma Is?

The Gift of Dhamma Exceeds All Gifts

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Old 17th March 2009, 03:31 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Clarification on the 5 Precepts

Originally Posted by Mingzhou78 View Post
As with all other actions and decisions we take in life, there will naturally be its effects and consequences, that is one of the basic laws of kamma.

Whether or not a person undertakes the precepts or not, by committing adultery, the person and all the individuals involved will naturally be visited by the effects of adultery and we all know that the effects can be ruinous to those involved and their families. The same goes for running over a cat while driving, kamma will visit but for this, it depends on the situation - was it an intentional act or was it unintentional?

One note to bear in mind is that kamma is stronger when the act is intentional. Since undertaking the 5 precepts was an intentional act, we know that the kamma will be stronger one breaks the precepts compared to one that has not undertaken the vows. Let's view it this way - since the person has taken the vows, i believe the person will mostly be a man or woman of conscience. As such when breaking it (especially intentionally), he or she will know that a precept has been broken and by their conscience, he or she will suffer more mentally in addition whatever material or physical effects the actions may bear.

Maybe as a quick guide to the decisions we make with reference to the 5 precepts is to revisit the intentions of Buddha when he prescribed the precepts for lay people who came to listen to his teachings. It is to promote and foster good, healthy living where it will help one to develop wisdom, compassion and love, bringing joy and happiness to one's families and communities.

With this constantly borne in mind, we should seek to foster an environment when we can uphold the 5 precepts better. Example, prior to committing the adultery in a moment of weakness as you mentioned, conducive conditions and environment must have existed for the situation to happen. Such as being alone together or getting drunk, acting in a moment of stupor. In this case, if the person had constantly remembered Buddha's teachings, the person will know better than to allow conditions and environment to develop further till the siuation is as such and cannot be salvaged.

Afterall, how does one consume alcohol in a fruit juice bar?

By the way, below is link to a good read on kamma

What Karma Is?

The Gift of Dhamma Exceeds All Gifts
Excellent ..your level of wisdom has reached the Pinnacle

I salute your wisdom in the Buddhadharma

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Old 17th March 2009, 07:05 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Clarification on the 5 Precepts

Hi syncopation_m76,

Thanks for the compliments but really, my wisdom and knowledge is far from the depth alot others have shown here esp people like BeAwake, s4bnw, tashichoden, MiaoHui and yourself. I'm really glad to have found such a forum where all of us can discuss and help one another to grow in the path of liberation.

With metta

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Old 22nd March 2009, 04:11 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Re: Clarification on the 5 Precepts

Originally Posted by Mingzhou78 View Post
As with all other actions and decisions we take in life, there will naturally be its effects and consequences, that is one of the basic laws of kamma.

Whether or not a person undertakes the precepts or not, by committing adultery, the person and all the individuals involved will naturally be visited by the effects of adultery and we all know that the effects can be ruinous to those involved and their families. The same goes for running over a cat while driving, kamma will visit but for this, it depends on the situation - was it an intentional act or was it unintentional?

One note to bear in mind is that kamma is stronger when the act is intentional. Since undertaking the 5 precepts was an intentional act, we know that the kamma will be stronger one breaks the precepts compared to one that has not undertaken the vows. Let's view it this way - since the person has taken the vows, i believe the person will mostly be a man or woman of conscience. As such when breaking it (especially intentionally), he or she will know that a precept has been broken and by their conscience, he or she will suffer more mentally in addition whatever material or physical effects the actions may bear.

Maybe as a quick guide to the decisions we make with reference to the 5 precepts is to revisit the intentions of Buddha when he prescribed the precepts for lay people who came to listen to his teachings. It is to promote and foster good, healthy living where it will help one to develop wisdom, compassion and love, bringing joy and happiness to one's families and communities.

With this constantly borne in mind, we should seek to foster an environment when we can uphold the 5 precepts better. Example, prior to committing the adultery in a moment of weakness as you mentioned, conducive conditions and environment must have existed for the situation to happen. Such as being alone together or getting drunk, acting in a moment of stupor. In this case, if the person had constantly remembered Buddha's teachings, the person will know better than to allow conditions and environment to develop further till the siuation is as such and cannot be salvaged.

Afterall, how does one consume alcohol in a fruit juice bar?

By the way, below is link to a good read on kamma

What Karma Is?

The Gift of Dhamma Exceeds All Gifts
Can we anticipate the kind of karma that will befall us ? Like if a person is a life-long thief in the present life, is it likely that in the next life, this person will constantly suffer loss of personal property ?

When a Buddhist takes the vows of the 5 precepts and he/she breaks any precept intentionally, karma comes down harder on the individual. Does karma influence reincarnation ? What happens to a Budddhist who has taken the vows but commits suicide ?

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Old 22nd March 2009, 06:39 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Re: Clarification on the 5 Precepts

Originally Posted by quietfight View Post
Can we anticipate the kind of karma that will befall us ? Like if a person is a life-long thief in the present life, is it likely that in the next life, this person will constantly suffer loss of personal property ?

When a Buddhist takes the vows of the 5 precepts and he/she breaks any precept intentionally, karma comes down harder on the individual. Does karma influence reincarnation ? What happens to a Budddhist who has taken the vows but commits suicide ?
A Buddhist who taken the vows but commit suicide is the same as not taking the precepts .But the Merits of taking Precepts is great ,becos it is an intentional action for the Purity of the Body ,Speech and Mind .

The Buddha have said that the minimum requirement to be reborn to the Heaven is by taking precepts or as the prerequisite as a human being.


as in your word ..constant ,is not the essence to the workings of Karma
Karma is 50-50 as outline by Ven Robina Courtin in her Dharma talks

Constant loss is not possible - it also depends on the convenience of the property to catch the thief eyes

But , to not to uphold the precepts and thinking of practising Buddhism is impossible
bcos the Step to Enlightenment must come from Precept , then Samadhi ,then Wisdom

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Old 22nd March 2009, 07:01 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Re: Clarification on the 5 Precepts

So we can't determine the form of karma that will be in reaction to our deed?

Does accumulation of bad karma influence reincarnation ?

Concerning suicide and the upholding of precepts, people don't plan to take their own lives when they are happy and life is smooth sailing. It is circumstances beyond a person's ability to handle and the individual may lack a support unit to turn to for guidance and advice. Buddhist people are human beings too who can experience highs and lows in life.


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Old 22nd March 2009, 11:29 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Re: Clarification on the 5 Precepts

Originally Posted by quietfight View Post
So we can't determine the form of karma that will be in reaction to our deed?

Does accumulation of bad karma influence reincarnation ?

Concerning suicide and the upholding of precepts, people don't plan to take their own lives when they are happy and life is smooth sailing. It is circumstances beyond a person's ability to handle and the individual may lack a support unit to turn to for guidance and advice. Buddhist people are human beings too who can experience highs and lows in life.
Yes we can ...But Buddhism is not like a book of prediction and and fatalistic idea that you cannot improve on ...

If you steal , the next lifetime you will hve insecurity in terms of property
If you lie , you wont have sincere frens and you often end up as victims of fraud
If you commit sexual misconduct , you will have tension and unease in your family and even among close frens
If you Kill, you will not have longevity as most people are
If you drink liquor too much , you will create all the 5 kinds of deeds which will result in tension among you , and your family and your beloved

There is the effects in Earth Store Bodhisattva Original Vows Sutra , but this is not to scare you , but just want you to emulate the effort of the five precepts .

Yes,Buddhist are also human beings , but to commit suicide is as good as ending the life abruptly which planted a bad seeds in your eighth level of consciousness

those who commit suicide will have to commit suicide 8 times and the next rebirth is tormented by the sight of the cause of the previous death , like hi-rise building , water , and so on

I hope that answers your question .I do feel you have a sense of skepticism in all this question .It okay to ask on ..But if you havent taken the precepts , why would you need to worry if you have break it .

I have taken the 5 precepts and sad to say i am on majority of the precepts .I do still uphold the importance of precepts as beneficial to the other people in our society, the respect of trust and security

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Old 22nd March 2009, 11:46 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Re: Clarification on the 5 Precepts

Originally Posted by syncopation_m76 View Post
Yes,Buddhist are also human beings , but to commit suicide is as good as ending the life abruptly which planted a bad seeds in your eighth level of consciousness

those who commit suicide will have to commit suicide 8 times and the next rebirth is tormented by the sight of the cause of the previous death , like hi-rise building , water , and so on

I hope that answers your question .I do feel you have a sense of skepticism in all this question .It okay to ask on ..But if you havent taken the precepts , why would you need to worry if you have break it .

I have taken the 5 precepts and sad to say i am on majority of the precepts .I do still uphold the importance of precepts as beneficial to the other people in our society, the respect of trust and security
I took refuge in the Triple Gems and the vows of the 5 Precepts last Sunday at Kong Meng San. I did so as a committment after finding solace in religion. Buddhism has helped me find answers and the strength to move on.

Don't be too quick to judge for you haven't contemplated suicide and would hardly ever understand what goes on in the mind of one who has.

I'm still in recovery and a long way from success but confident that i won't look back. It was advise from BeAwake in a separate forum, which finally helped me make sense of the situation and pulled me back from self-destruction and dispair. To him, and others as well, I'm forever indebt. Around the same time, while looking for a Buddhist learning center or group to join up, i came across the advertisement by KMSPKS on the 2 ceremonies. It was timely and i signed up. Now maybe you'll understand why i have questions.

The story of my predicament is actually tucked away somewhere in SgClub but you won't be able to find it easily.


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Old 23rd March 2009, 04:30 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Re: Clarification on the 5 Precepts

Originally Posted by quietfight View Post
Can we anticipate the kind of karma that will befall us ? Like if a person is a life-long thief in the present life, is it likely that in the next life, this person will constantly suffer loss of personal property ?

When a Buddhist takes the vows of the 5 precepts and he/she breaks any precept intentionally, karma comes down harder on the individual. Does karma influence reincarnation ? What happens to a Budddhist who has taken the vows but commits suicide ?
Hi quietfight, as long as we have not liberated ourselves and perfect our wisdom and compassion, there is only a limit to how much we can determine the effects of our actions. Let's revisit the meaning of kamma -

Kamma is commonly known as the law of causes and effects. However, it is more than that, the law of causes and effects only form part of kamma. The word kamma implies volition meaning action with intention. Action here will encompass all three aspects, mental, speech and body. With every deed, it is naturally followed by an effect and this is how kamma came to be commonly known as the law of cause and effect.

There are four main types of kamma. They are kamma that rippens in this birth, kamma that rippens in next birth, kamma that rippens in successive births and kamma that is ineffective due to a lack of auxillary conditions.

Kamma is then further divided into the following categories. Kamma that produces their own resultants, kamma that supplements (supports) the resultants of another, kamma that alters the resultants of another and kamma that destroys the resultants of another.

And to your question on next life, we cannot be sure that the person who is a thief in this life will always suffer constant loss of property in his next life. We have to bear in mind that for kamma to bear fruits, it is also dependent on the auxillary conditions for the fruits to rippen. Not only that, there are also kamma that one may accumulate to alter or even negate the bad effects of previous actions. As such, not all fruits will rippen, be it this birth, next birth or successive births.

Maybe for illustration purposes, let's use Robin Hood. He constantly robs the rich and gives to the poor. So in robbing others, if kamma is so fathomable and direct and without recourse, he will have to bear the effects of constantly losing his property in his next re-birth. But what about his generosity that he practiced due to compassion for those that are poor and suffering? Wouldn't that help him to ensure that his next birth be in the realms of heaven without material wants and needs. If so, how can he then suffer the kamma of a thief? I leave you to contemplate more on this point.

Instead of thinking about kamma and re-births as in our next lives and beyond, why not think of them in the following manner which is more practical in our day to day living. Esp when Buddha constantly stressed that we should be mindful of here and now since the past has gone and the future yet to be.

1) kamma that rippens in this birth - kamma that rippens this moment / today
2) kamma that rippens in next birth - kamma that rippens in the next moment / tomorrow
3) kamma that rippens in successive births - kamma that rippens many moments later / many days later

By reflecting in this manner, i believe we will be more mindful of our actions and their effects on us, our families, communities and environment here and now. If we are already so mindful of our actions here and now, constantly ensuring that each action was done with right intentions, with love and compassion, why should we worry about our next re-birth? By taking care of now, haven't we already took care of our future?

As for the last part of your question - What happens to a Budddhist who has taken the vows but commits suicide?

Almost immediately, we can see that he or she must have reached a point in life where he or she believed that suffering and pain has reached beyond his or her ability to bear, having come to such a decision. To that effect, he or she has not realised the Teachings of Buddha and the action of suicide only serves to imprint his or hers last thought as a thought of suffering. And if one is to believe that there is re-birth, due to the strong kamma of the last lingering thought before death, he or she will be reborn in a place of suffering whether or not the vows are taken. Of course, the sense of guilt will be stronger for a person who has taken the vows resulting in the last thought to be even more negative, causing more suffering.

Before one reaches the point to contemplate about suicide, we should constantly remind ourselves in the interdependency of all phenomenon, one leads to another. Our actions affects not only ourselves but also our loved ones and the communities. We do not live alone. If one commit suicide, we must understand that the loved ones of the one committing such an act will be devastated and they will have much suffering to bear for the actions of the one committing such acts. If we truly love our loved ones, how can we even bear to entertain such thoughts allowing them to bear the consequences of our unwholesome actions?

with metta

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Old 23rd March 2009, 05:21 AM   #17 (permalink)
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Re: Clarification on the 5 Precepts

Originally Posted by quietfight View Post
Don't be too quick to judge for you haven't contemplated suicide and would hardly ever understand what goes on in the mind of one who has.


The story of my predicament is actually tucked away somewhere in SgClub but you won't be able to find it easily.
I would feel sorry for what happen to you .It doesnt mean you have tethering problems that ensnarling you ,others wont have .My mum is sick with stroke and the massive stroke cause the whole left side to be immobile .She is now wheel-chair bound and its been 3 years since the stroke and nothing improve .All my savings used up just to go through those rehabilitation.Practically every month my saving now is a perfect zero ,whether I would want to be frustrated or not .

There is an old chinese saying
"The mountain do not wind itself ,but the path winds up the mountain ;our situation do not transform but our mind need to transform ."


When you think of yourself as the most miserable one .Why not take a look at the handicapped out on the street trying to sell you tissue paper and all these

There are more unfortunate people out there then you .Instead on dwelling on those hard times ,Why not spend more time in the Practise of Buddhism to help others Spiritually instead of Financially


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Old 23rd March 2009, 08:12 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Re: Clarification on the 5 Precepts

Originally Posted by Mingzhou78 View Post
Hi quietfight, as long as we have not liberated ourselves and perfect our wisdom and compassion, there is only a limit to how much we can determine the effects of our actions. Let's revisit the meaning of kamma -

Kamma is commonly known as the law of causes and effects. However, it is more than that, the law of causes and effects only form part of kamma. The word kamma implies volition meaning action with intention. Action here will encompass all three aspects, mental, speech and body. With every deed, it is naturally followed by an effect and this is how kamma came to be commonly known as the law of cause and effect.

There are four main types of kamma. They are kamma that rippens in this birth, kamma that rippens in next birth, kamma that rippens in successive births and kamma that is ineffective due to a lack of auxillary conditions.

Kamma is then further divided into the following categories. Kamma that produces their own resultants, kamma that supplements (supports) the resultants of another, kamma that alters the resultants of another and kamma that destroys the resultants of another.

And to your question on next life, we cannot be sure that the person who is a thief in this life will always suffer constant loss of property in his next life. We have to bear in mind that for kamma to bear fruits, it is also dependent on the auxillary conditions for the fruits to rippen. Not only that, there are also kamma that one may accumulate to alter or even negate the bad effects of previous actions. As such, not all fruits will rippen, be it this birth, next birth or successive births.

Maybe for illustration purposes, let's use Robin Hood. He constantly robs the rich and gives to the poor. So in robbing others, if kamma is so fathomable and direct and without recourse, he will have to bear the effects of constantly losing his property in his next re-birth. But what about his generosity that he practiced due to compassion for those that are poor and suffering? Wouldn't that help him to ensure that his next birth be in the realms of heaven without material wants and needs. If so, how can he then suffer the kamma of a thief? I leave you to contemplate more on this point.

Instead of thinking about kamma and re-births as in our next lives and beyond, why not think of them in the following manner which is more practical in our day to day living. Esp when Buddha constantly stressed that we should be mindful of here and now since the past has gone and the future yet to be.

1) kamma that rippens in this birth - kamma that rippens this moment / today
2) kamma that rippens in next birth - kamma that rippens in the next moment / tomorrow
3) kamma that rippens in successive births - kamma that rippens many moments later / many days later

By reflecting in this manner, i believe we will be more mindful of our actions and their effects on us, our families, communities and environment here and now. If we are already so mindful of our actions here and now, constantly ensuring that each action was done with right intentions, with love and compassion, why should we worry about our next re-birth? By taking care of now, haven't we already took care of our future?

As for the last part of your question - What happens to a Budddhist who has taken the vows but commits suicide?

Almost immediately, we can see that he or she must have reached a point in life where he or she believed that suffering and pain has reached beyond his or her ability to bear, having come to such a decision. To that effect, he or she has not realised the Teachings of Buddha and the action of suicide only serves to imprint his or hers last thought as a thought of suffering. And if one is to believe that there is re-birth, due to the strong kamma of the last lingering thought before death, he or she will be reborn in a place of suffering whether or not the vows are taken. Of course, the sense of guilt will be stronger for a person who has taken the vows resulting in the last thought to be even more negative, causing more suffering.

Before one reaches the point to contemplate about suicide, we should constantly remind ourselves in the interdependency of all phenomenon, one leads to another. Our actions affects not only ourselves but also our loved ones and the communities. We do not live alone. If one commit suicide, we must understand that the loved ones of the one committing such an act will be devastated and they will have much suffering to bear for the actions of the one committing such acts. If we truly love our loved ones, how can we even bear to entertain such thoughts allowing them to bear the consequences of our unwholesome actions?

with metta
Thanks. Every time weakness engulfs me, i will read over all your replies and reflect.

Originally Posted by syncopation_m76 View Post
I would feel sorry for what happen to you .It doesnt mean you have tethering problems that ensnarling you ,others wont have .My mum is sick with stroke and the massive stroke cause the whole left side to be immobile .She is now wheel-chair bound and its been 3 years since the stroke and nothing improve .All my savings used up just to go through those rehabilitation.Practically every month my saving now is a perfect zero ,whether I would want to be frustrated or not .

There is an old chinese saying
"The mountain do not wind itself ,but the path winds up the mountain ;our situation do not transform but our mind need to transform ."


When you think of yourself as the most miserable one .Why not take a look at the handicapped out on the street trying to sell you tissue paper and all these

There are more unfortunate people out there then you .Instead on dwelling on those hard times ,Why not spend more time in the Practise of Buddhism to help others Spiritually instead of Financially
I’m sorry to hear of your plight and applaud you for your inner strength. However, my desolation goes far beyond material loss. No 2 people are alike and recovery for each can’t be compared. Pardon my being selfish at this point, but my wounds are still very raw and mental state fragile. Focus on my own recovery is paramount before i can add-value to other people’s lives. I will bear your advice in mind.

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Old 28th March 2009, 08:42 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Re: Clarification on the 5 Precepts

Originally Posted by Mingzhou78 View Post

Thanks for the compliments but really, my wisdom and knowledge is far from the depth alot others have shown here esp people like BeAwake, s4bnw, tashichoden, MiaoHui and yourself. I'm really glad to have found such a forum where all of us can discuss and help one another to grow in the path of liberation.

With metta
I refer to both syncopation_m76 and Mingzhou's comments.

My personal opinon is, let's not compare or judge among ourselves who is wiser.
In Buddhism, only certain groups of people are truly worthy of praise of being a wise one - they are those who have achieved or are about to achieve complete liberation from ignorance and countless rebirths. Those people are likely to be someone who has attained or about to attain either one of the four stages of sainthood, high level Bodhisattvahood or Buddhahood.

Let us praise instead, anyone; be they beginner Buddhist, senior ones or even non-Buddhist, as long as they are people who are always willing, showing or cultivating willingness to learn from his or her own mistakes in various moral dilemmas and situations, and in the same manner, to become a kinder, humble and honest person for both personal and public benefit.

s4bnw added 21 Minutes and 6 Seconds later...

Originally Posted by quietfight View Post
I took refuge in the Triple Gems and the vows of the 5 Precepts last Sunday at Kong Meng San. I did so as a committment after finding solace in religion. Buddhism has helped me find answers and the strength to move on.

Don't be too quick to judge for you haven't contemplated suicide and would hardly ever understand what goes on in the mind of one who has.

I'm still in recovery and a long way from success but confident that i won't look back. It was advise from BeAwake in a separate forum, which finally helped me make sense of the situation and pulled me back from self-destruction and dispair. To him, and others as well, I'm forever indebt. Around the same time, while looking for a Buddhist learning center or group to join up, i came across the advertisement by KMSPKS on the 2 ceremonies. It was timely and i signed up. Now maybe you'll understand why i have questions.

The story of my predicament is actually tucked away somewhere in SgClub but you won't be able to find it easily.
I have gone through similar struggles with suicide and am still struggling in my recovery, quietfight. I can relate to a large extent to what you say, although most would regard as it as skepticism or negativity.

I'm truly happy for you, quietfight, not because you have found Buddhism, but cos you have managed to pull yourself back from self-destruction and have also found your own spiritual direction.

Keep it up, quietfight, as your nick implies. ^_^

s4bnw added 44 Minutes and 36 Seconds later...

Originally Posted by quietfight View Post
Thanks. Every time weakness engulfs me, i will read over all your replies and reflect.

I’m sorry to hear of your plight and applaud you for your inner strength. However, my desolation goes far beyond material loss. No 2 people are alike and recovery for each can’t be compared. Pardon my being selfish at this point, but my wounds are still very raw and mental state fragile. Focus on my own recovery is paramount before i can add-value to other people’s lives. I will bear your advice in mind.
Dear quietfight, I have had heard similar responses like syncopation_m76 many times over the years. They are not wrong, but just unable to relate in essence.

Although your sharing about your past struggles with suicide is general and short, I feel relieved and encouraged in a way. Relieved to know I'm not alone and that someone out that will understand what I'm trying to express from deep within.

Indeed, do focus on your self-recovery, before considering adding value to the lives of any needy individual or groups in the immediate or long-term period.

The right motivation comes from the right thought and right understanding. When one's mental state is not stable enough, it's best to do what it takes, at one's own pace and within one's means, to start and maintain the recovery process.

All the best. ^_^

s4bnw added 60 Minutes and 14 Seconds later...

Originally Posted by Mingzhou78 View Post
As for the last part of your question - What happens to a Budddhist who has taken the vows but commits suicide?

Almost immediately, we can see that he or she must have reached a point in life where he or she believed that suffering and pain has reached beyond his or her ability to bear, having come to such a decision. To that effect, he or she has not realised the Teachings of Buddha and the action of suicide only serves to imprint his or hers last thought as a thought of suffering. And if one is to believe that there is re-birth, due to the strong kamma of the last lingering thought before death, he or she will be reborn in a place of suffering whether or not the vows are taken. Of course, the sense of guilt will be stronger for a person who has taken the vows resulting in the last thought to be even more negative, causing more suffering.

Before one reaches the point to contemplate about suicide, we should constantly remind ourselves in the interdependency of all phenomenon, one leads to another. Our actions affects not only ourselves but also our loved ones and the communities. We do not live alone. If one commit suicide, we must understand that the loved ones of the one committing such an act will be devastated and they will have much suffering to bear for the actions of the one committing such acts. If we truly love our loved ones, how can we even bear to entertain such thoughts allowing them to bear the consequences of our unwholesome actions?

with metta
I'm glad to read this detailed explanation about kamma by Mingzhou78. I also like the tone and content of the advice given to quietfight.

I do wish also to raise more in-depth questions on his advice.

If one's parents have already passed away and has no close friends at all, does that mean we have a more compelling case to commit or to consider committing suicide? After all, there will be no one who will feel sad or devastated.

The only trouble is that of people feeling disgusted about this happening in their vicinity, worry about the value of the property getting negatively affected, etc. The other one is that of requiring public resources like police, coroner and etc to handle and close the case formally.

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Old 29th March 2009, 01:11 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Re: Clarification on the 5 Precepts

Originally Posted by s4bnw View Post
Let us praise instead, anyone; be they beginner Buddhist, senior ones or even non-Buddhist, as long as they are people who are always willing, showing or cultivating willingness to learn from his or her own mistakes in various moral dilemmas and situations, and in the same manner, to become a kinder, humble and honest person for both personal and public benefit.

s4bnw added 60 Minutes and 14 Seconds later...

I'm glad to read this detailed explanation about kamma by Mingzhou78. I also like the tone and content of the advice given to quietfight.

I do wish also to raise more in-depth questions on his advice.

If one's parents have already passed away and has no close friends at all, does that mean we have a more compelling case to commit or to consider committing suicide? After all, there will be no one who will feel sad or devastated.

The only trouble is that of people feeling disgusted about this happening in their vicinity, worry about the value of the property getting negatively affected, etc. The other one is that of requiring public resources like police, coroner and etc to handle and close the case formally.
Hi s4bnw,

Sadhu for your kind enouragement to all those that walk a path of repentance, loving kindess and liberations. Compliments should be given to those who earnestly try to create love, peace and joy both within and without themselves. Like what you mentioned, it should not be limited by age, gender, race or religion as sometimes even a child can shed clarity upon a subject while an adult's mind may be cluttered with all its preconceptions.



I believe we can all agree that life is precious and all beings are equal in their pursuit for happiness. When someone contemplates suicide or chose to hurt themselves, it is in fact a manner of seeking happiness although it may be very self-deluded. If possible, no one wishes for pain and suffering in life. But when the mind is unclear and clouded, we can sometimes make the wrong call or judgement, making decisions which we believe will end all our suffering. Suicide, self-mutilation are some of the decisions that people make when it comes to times like these.

With the thought that life is precious and all are equal, it does not make it anymore compelling for anyone to consider suicide because their loved ones are not around. Although i must admit that there is most likely less support for someone who does not have his or loved ones around them, making it easier for them to sink deeper into depression, to come to such decisions.

We must remember that when someone commits suicide, he or she has not realised the Teachings of Buddha and in this case, has not realised the 4 sublime states of the mind, metta (loving kindess), karuna (compassion), mudita (sympathetic joy) or upekkha (equanimity). In specific, metta is the state of mind that should be stressed on.

Buddha taught that metta should be cultivated towards all beings just like the unconditional love that a mother has towards her only child where the life of her child is just as important to hers. When Buddha mentioned all beings, it includes ourself. We must not forget to love ourselves as equally as we love others. Here is a quote from Master Thich Nhat Hanh on the importance of self love.

"In taking good care of yourself, you take good care of your beloved one. Self-love is the foundation for your capacity to love the other person. If you don't take good care of yourself, if you are not happy, if you are not peaceful, you cannot make the other person happy. You cannot help the other person; you cannot love. Your capacity for loving another person depends entirely on your capacity for loving yourself, for taking care of yourself."

If one is to believe in rebirth, knowingly that committing suicide will only result in more suffering in the next rebrith, then in the spirit ot metta and self love, that itself can be one of the most valid reasons not to commit such an act.

Let's also not forget the benefits of metta. If we can cultivate ourselves constantly with metta, we will naturally be loving and generous in our actions. One of the many benefits of being generous and loving is that people around will naturally be attracted to you. Of these people, there are definitely some that will be worthy of your companionship, fostering a friendship that could last a lifetime providing the support that is not in anyway lesser than those that could be showered by your own family members.

I hope the answers are adequate. If there's any lacking, it is really due to my lack of wisdom and understanding of the Dhamma.

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