To become a lay Buddhist, we try our best to uphold the five precepts given by the Buddha to his lay followers.
The Buddhist precepts are meant to guide us towards accumulating good karma and protecting our mental wellness.
Our motive is important and observing the precept is meant to benefit ourselves and also others (including all sentient beings)
Perfection of observance is difficult because as we progress spiritually, our depth of practice also deepen. It is an on going process and we just take comfort in this spiritual journey because we know that once we set out on the path, Enlightenment is the goal. During this journey, we create a better world for ourselves and others.
The five lay Buddhist precept are as follows; (Lay Buddhist means that one is not a monk or nun)
- Abstaining from taking life
- Abstaining from false or improper speech
- Abstaining from sexual misconduct
- Abstaining from stealing
- Abstaining from intoxicants
Personally, I discover that upholding 5 precepts helps develop a sense of peace in life. It takes away “complications” in life and I enjoy it that way. I believe the 5 precepts are even more relevant in today’s world and if there is a movement to promote and encourage people to observe these moral guidelines, the world will be a better place.
They are so fundamental to human existence that you need not be a Buddhist to uphold them. In a way, it is like a New year resolution. We set a target and try our best to achieve them. For example, if you cannot give up drinking wine immediately, you can try cutting back. A little at a time until you are free from its bound.
One common misconception about precept is that they are equivalent to Buddha’s command and if you fail to observe them properly, Buddha or god will punish you.
That is completely a misconception.
Buddhism teaches Karma. Observing the 5 precepts generates good karma.