The Five Precepts – Panca Sila

1. The five precepts (panca sila; pronounced “pancha seela”) are normally recited after paying homage to the Buddha (Namaskaraya), and then taking the refuge (Tisarana), i.e., one says nine times that one takes the refuge in the Buddha, Dhamma, and the Sangha. In the following they are combined, as customary; see the previous post for pronunciations and details.

  • Even for a Buddhist, it is not necessary to recite the precepts.
  • It is important to keep in mind that JUST BY RECITING PRECEPTS does not do anything to purify the mind. The Buddha said, “yam samadanan tan vathan, sanvarattena seelan“, or “reciting precepts is a ritual (“vatha“), moral behavior is attained by seeing and controlling ‘san‘”.
  • However, it is good to recite Namaskaraya, Tisarana, and the precepts, to attain citta pasada or calmness and joy of mind especially before a formal meditation session. If one does it WITH UNDERSTANDING and RESOLVE, it can bring benefits.
  • Furthermore, reciting precepts and suttas is preferred by those with developed saddha (faith) indriya; see, “Panca Indriya and Panca Bala – Five Faculties and Five Powers“. For those who lack saddha indriya, this may be something they want to consider doing.

2. It is important to realize that the five precepts have deep meanings, and thus should not be taken lightly; see, “The Five Precepts – What the Buddha Meant by Them“. The true meaning of the five precepts are discussed there.

  •  Only an Arahant is capable of strictly keeping those precepts (abstaining from all ten defilements or dasa akusala); thus one needs to recite with the intention of doing one’s best to keep the precepts. Otherwise, we will be lying from the outset.

Here a Venerable Thero is reciting the Namaskaraya, Tisarana, and the five precepts with the audience repeating them (volume adjustment on the right):

 

Here is a pdf file with the text and translation:

Panca Sila    (click to open)

3. To emphasize, these English translations are the conventional (“padaparama“) or mundane ones and the real meanings are discussed in  “The Five Precepts – What the Buddha Meant by Them“. Also, while reciting, one needs to keep in mind that one is promising do one’s best to keep the precepts.

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