This week’s focus is “Right Action.” The Five Precepts are part of Buddha’s instruction on right action.
4. Right Action
The second ethical principle, right action, involves the body as natural means of expression, as it refers to deeds that involve bodily actions. Unwholesome actions lead to unsound states of mind, while wholesome actions lead to sound states of mind. Again, the principle is explained in terms of abstinence: right action means 1. to abstain from harming sentient beings, especially to abstain from taking life (including suicide) and doing harm intentionally or delinquently, 2. to abstain from taking what is not given, which includes stealing, robbery, fraud, deceitfulness, and dishonesty, and 3. to abstain from sexual misconduct. Positively formulated, right action means to act kindly and compassionately, to be honest, to respect the belongings of others, and to keep sexual relationships harmless to others. Further details regarding the concrete meaning of right action can be found in the five precepts:
I undertake to observe the precept to abstain from …
1. …harming living beings.
2. …taking things not freely given.
3. …sexual misconduct.
4. …false speech.
5. …intoxicating drinks and drugs causing heedlessness.