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Panchshila

The Five Virtuous Commitments/Mindfulness Trainings

For over 2500 years, Buddhists have practised these five virtuous trainings/commitments taught by the Buddha Shakyamuni (Siddhartha Gautama) as the core foundation of a compassionate life:

  1. To practise kindness and gentleness, refraining from killing or harming any living being;
  2. To practise generosity and unselfishness, refraining from taking what isn’t freely given;
  3. To practise sensitivity in sexual matters, refraining from using sexuality in any way that could cause suffering (e.g. no public displays of physical affection between men and women, no unwelcome flirting or advances, no intimate contact without explicit prior verbal consent, and no intimate contact between teachers/staff/facilitators and guests/volunteers/students, etc.);
  4. To practise sensitivity with speech, refraining from dishonest or hurtful speech;
  5. To practise clear and steady mindfulness, refraining from indulging in intoxicating substances as well as intoxicating actions and ideas (meaning, in other words, practising either total abstinence or, at least, cautious moderation, with any substance, thought, or activity that has the potential to impair one’s judgment or lead to heedlessness).


For an excellent and inspiring elaboration on the panchshila by the eloquent Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh, see this page at Dharmaweb.org.

As is the norm for Dharma centres, Dharmalaya asks that all who come to our centres or participate in our programs follow these practises sincerely to prevent unnecessary suffering and to maintain harmony. In this way, we can assure the most benefit for ourselves and other beings while causing the least harm possible.

The Yamas

Whereas the panchshila are primarily a formulation of the Buddhist tradition, there are similar formulations in the Hindu traditions, which refer to them collectively as the yamas. You can read about the yamas here.