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Five Precepts (오계)

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The Five Precepts (五戒; Ogye)


The five precepts (五戒) are: to refrain from taking life (不殺生), to refrain from stealing (不偸盜), to refrain from sexual misconduct (不邪淫), to refrain from false speech (不妄語), and to refrain from intoxicants (不飮酒). The five precepts constitute the foundation of all the other precepts. Of the five precepts, especially important are the first four because violating them harms others. If ordained monks and nuns violate any one of these four, that is, if they kill a human being, steal, engage in sexual misconduct or lie about their spiritual attainments, they have committed one of the “four grave offenses (四波羅夷; pārājika).” The four grave offenses are those not tolerated by the Buddhist order. Thus, those who have committed one of these four will be defrocked and expelled from the sangha. On the other hand, taking intoxicants is not an offense by itself, but the first four precepts are easily violated under the influence of intoxicants. That’s why it has become one of the five precepts.

- excerpt from Buddhist English (Intermediate 2) published in 2014 by the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism

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