Skip to main content

The Precepts

The Monastery Precepts 

"A strong foundation of morality helps us develop the discipline and serenity necessary for the practice of meditation." (Bhavana Vandana, p. x) Retreatants are required to follow these precepts:

  1. Abstain from taking life
  2. Abstain from taking what is not given
  3. Abstain from all sexual activity
  4. Abstain from false speech
  5. Abstain from intoxicating drinks and drugs causing heedlessness
  6. Abstain from eating at improper times
  7. Abstain from dancing, singing, music, shows, wearing garlands, using perfumes, and beautifying with cosmetics
  8. Abstain from use of high and large seats and beds

The Lifetime Precepts

For those who wish to increase their commitment to their practice, the Bhavana Society offers the Eight Lifetime Precepts at several of the retreats during the year. The precepts are as follows:

  1. Abstain from killing
  2. Abstain from stealing
  3. Abstain from sexual misconduct
  4. Abstain from false speech
  5. Abstain from malicious speech
  6. Abstain from harsh speech
  7. Abstain from useless speech
  8. Abstain from engaging in wrong livelihood and drinks and drugs causing heedlessness*

Please note: The lifetime precepts are different from the monastery precepts.  The lifetime precepts do not include the training precepts of celibacy, not eating after noon, and not using cosmetics or entertainment.  They include the right speech precepts found in the eightfold path and right livelihood.

Before taking the precepts, participants will take the three refuges: refuge in the Buddha, refuge in the Dhamma (the teachings), and refuge in the Sangha (those individuals who have attained enlightenment using these teachings). Traditionally this is considered the action that makes one officially a Buddhist.

People taking the precepts should bring a set of all white or off white clothes to wear at the precept ceremony held on the last day of the retreat. If you have any questions, you may contact our office. 

   * In traditional Buddhist countries, abstaining from intoxicants is assumed to be included in the precept on right livelihood.  For clarification, we spell it out.

See also: Bhante G's article, Taking the Eight Lifetime Precepts, and the 1998 article by Libby Reid about Bhavana's very first Lifetime Precepts Ceremony: The Seeds of Dhamma Take Root.

Return to top of page