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The Precepts

The five, eight, or ten precepts are a code of behavior to which all Buddhist practitioners adhere. The five or eight precepts are obligatory for upāsaka (lay practitioners) and the ten precepts are for monks.

The first five precepts are mandatory for all Buddhists:

(1) To abstain from taking life

(2) To abstain from taking what is not given

(3) To abstain from sexual misconduct

(4) To abstain from saying what is not true

(5) To abstain from using intoxicating substances

The eight precepts also include the following. They are recommended for serious practitioners.

(6) To abstain from eating after midday

(7) To abstain from entertainment

(8) To abstain from using garlands, scents, cosmetics, and adornments

The ten precepts for bhikkū (monks) also include the following:

(9) To abstain from sleeping in high (luxurious) beds

(10) To abstain from accepting money

Addenda: pragmatic aspects

(6) To abstain from eating after midday

The sixth precept can be infeasible. For example, if you work shift and get up at 10 o'clock, you would have two hours left to eat your only meal for that day. Even if you get up at 7 o'clock and meditate for an hour, there would be only 4 hours left, barely enough to cover your body's needs for the day.

A more pragmatic interpretation of the sixth precept would be to take all your meals within eight hours after waking up — which is probably what monks do anyway, because they usually get up very early.

(9) To abstain from sleeping in high (luxurious) beds

What is a luxurious bed? A waterbed, probably. A foam mattress? These days you can get cheap yet decent mattresses that would have been very luxurious in the days of the Buddha.

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