The Five Guidelines to Wholesome Living together provide a foundation for living mindfully — always being aware of what we are doing, thinking, and saying, so that any harm we do will be minimal. These five guidelines help us maintain a clear mind and nurture a loving and caring heart. As we observe them in daily life, they become the keys to happiness for ourselves, our families, and for society.
The Five Guidelines are:
Abstaining from taking life: We are mindful that all beings, large or small, intelligent or dull, wish to enjoy the precious life they have obtained and to avoid suffering. Therefore, we resolve to avoid taking the life of sentient beings and to compassionately share the world with them.
Refraining from stealing: We are mindful that we should not take property that belongs to others, but we are also mindful not to exploit others in material, economic, and anti-social ways. The opposite of stealing is giving, so we see that sharing what we have is compassionate as well as liberating.
Avoiding sexual misconduct: We are mindful that our body should be used to further happiness instead of creating suffering caused by sexual misconduct. We understand that intimate sexual relations belong in the context of love and a devoted long-term commitment, and we honor that commitment of everyone.
Being truthful: We are mindful that lies and distortions can cause suffering to others as well as to ourselves. We learn to speak truthfully, and refrain from speech that can cause division or break in the family or community. In order to bring joy, hope and happiness to others, we cultivate loving speech and deep listening.
Avoid intoxicating substances: We are mindful that what we put in our body has consequences and that alcohol or drugs can impair our judgment to the extent that we violate the other guidelines. Because being sober keeps our mind clear, and helps to protect the other four guidelines, we observe this guideline mindfully.
The Five Guidelines to Wholesome Living can be followed by almost anyone to great benefit. Observing them can help purify our thoughts, speech and actions, and stabilize our minds, which is very conducive to mindfulness practice. When our minds are clear and aware, observing the guidelines becomes easier. They contribute mutually to each other.