Which is the most important precept to get right for the Noble Path?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism

Which is the most important precept to get right for the Noble Path?

Refrain from killing
14
41%
Refrain from stealing
0
No votes
Refrain from sexual misconduct
2
6%
Refrain from lying
15
44%
Refrain from intoxicants
3
9%
 
Total votes: 34

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DooDoot
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Which is the most important precept to get right for the Noble Path?

Post by DooDoot » Tue Jan 16, 2018 12:31 am

Dear forum

As often occurs, I have noticed many topics of late with a strong focus upon non-killing of small creatures & parasites.

There are five precepts.

Which precept do we each think is most important, most difficult &/or most advantageous to get right for bringing the Noble Eightfold into fruition?

:group:
Last edited by DooDoot on Tue Jan 16, 2018 12:44 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Which is the most important precept to get right for the Noble Path?

Post by lyndon taylor » Tue Jan 16, 2018 12:41 am

According to a lay leader and former monk at my local temple, Sobriety is the most important, because lack of sobriety leads to breaking all the other precepts, makes sense to me, and I notice, its the most likely precept people want to make excuses for not keeping, figures!!
18 years ago I made one of the most important decisions of my life and entered a local Cambodian Buddhist Temple as a temple boy and, for only 3 weeks, an actual Therevada Buddhist monk. I am not a scholar, great meditator, or authority on Buddhism, but Buddhism is something I love from the Bottom of my heart. It has taught me sobriety, morality, peace, and very importantly that my suffering is optional, and doesn't have to run my life. I hope to give back what little I can to the Buddhist community, sincerely former monk John

http://trickleupeconomictheory.blogspot.com/

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Re: Which is the most important precept to get right for the Noble Path?

Post by retrofuturist » Tue Jan 16, 2018 12:56 am

Greetings,

I selected lying, because Dhamma is the truth, and lying and falsehood is the polar opposite of the truth.

Yes, all the others are bad, and are manifestations of ignorance, greed, and aversion... but since lying takes you in the polar opposite direction to the Dhamma, lying and a lack of personal integrity are likely to make the other precepts more difficult to follow too.

Metta,
Paul. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

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Re: Which is the most important precept to get right for the Noble Path?

Post by DNS » Tue Jan 16, 2018 12:57 am

lyndon taylor wrote:
Tue Jan 16, 2018 12:41 am
According to a lay leader and former monk at my local temple, Sobriety is the most important, because lack of sobriety leads to breaking all the other precepts, makes sense to me, and I notice, its the most likely precept people want to make excuses for not keeping, figures!!
I remember that story, it goes something like:

A monk is given a choice of doing only one of the following and there are no options for refusing:

1. Kill a goat and eat it.
2. Have sex with a prostitute.
3. Drink a bottle of whiskey.

Most people would answer #3, drink the whiskey, since it seems to cause the least harm, least breaking of important precepts. The problem is the monk drank the whiskey and while drunk, killed the goat, ate it and had sex with the prostitute.

(according to that story)

Personally, I think non-killing is the most important. A person could lie to me, steal from me; but at least I'd still be alive.

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Re: Which is the most important precept to get right for the Noble Path?

Post by retrofuturist » Tue Jan 16, 2018 1:06 am

Greetings,
DNS wrote:
Tue Jan 16, 2018 12:57 am
Personally, I think non-killing is the most important. A person could lie to me, steal from me; but at least I'd still be alive.
True, but as the precept could be interpreted to extend to "small creatures & parasites", as per the OP, this is a really hard one to assess...

If it relates to the killing of people, I agree that it's the worst action morally.

Metta,
Paul. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

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Re: Which is the most important precept to get right for the Noble Path?

Post by Kim OHara » Tue Jan 16, 2018 1:36 am

retrofuturist wrote:
Tue Jan 16, 2018 12:56 am
Greetings,

I selected lying, because Dhamma is the truth, and lying and falsehood is the polar opposite of the truth.

Yes, all the others are bad, and are manifestations of ignorance, greed, and aversion... but since lying takes you in the polar opposite direction to the Dhamma, lying and a lack of personal integrity are likely to make the other precepts more difficult to follow too.

Metta,
Paul. :)
My choice too, and for the same reasons.

:namaste:
Kim

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Re: Which is the most important precept to get right for the Noble Path?

Post by SarathW » Tue Jan 16, 2018 1:45 am

All five precepts should be practiced in tandem.
You may not kill but you can make someone's life miserable to a point s/he wish for the death.
There are people who do not consume alcohol but they still can involve in heinous crimes.
Right mindfulness (free from alcohol) required for the understanding of noble eightfold path.
Angulimala was a criminal but he was not drunk.
So I voted fifth precept.

David beat me with the story.

viewtopic.php?f=13&t=19594&start=20#p275494
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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Re: Which is the most important precept to get right for the Noble Path?

Post by chownah » Tue Jan 16, 2018 3:55 am

The most important precept is the one which at the time you are tempted to breach.
chownah

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Re: Which is the most important precept to get right for the Noble Path?

Post by SarathW » Tue Jan 16, 2018 4:02 am

The most important precept is the one which at the time you are tempted to breach.
:twothumbsup:
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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Re: Which is the most important precept to get right for the Noble Path?

Post by lyndon taylor » Tue Jan 16, 2018 5:02 am

How many of the people that picked not killing eat animals??
18 years ago I made one of the most important decisions of my life and entered a local Cambodian Buddhist Temple as a temple boy and, for only 3 weeks, an actual Therevada Buddhist monk. I am not a scholar, great meditator, or authority on Buddhism, but Buddhism is something I love from the Bottom of my heart. It has taught me sobriety, morality, peace, and very importantly that my suffering is optional, and doesn't have to run my life. I hope to give back what little I can to the Buddhist community, sincerely former monk John

http://trickleupeconomictheory.blogspot.com/

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Re: Which is the most important precept to get right for the Noble Path?

Post by Bundokji » Tue Jan 16, 2018 5:10 am

chownah wrote:
Tue Jan 16, 2018 3:55 am
The most important precept is the one which at the time you are tempted to breach.
chownah
:goodpost:
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"

This was the last word of the Tathagata.

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Re: Which is the most important precept to get right for the Noble Path?

Post by Bundokji » Tue Jan 16, 2018 5:17 am

I also chose not lying for similar reasons stated by Paul. I also believe that this particular precept can be divided as both internal and external and the former is even more important (self deception).
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"

This was the last word of the Tathagata.

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Re: Which is the most important precept to get right for the Noble Path?

Post by unveiledartist » Tue Jan 16, 2018 5:20 am

DooDoot wrote:
Tue Jan 16, 2018 12:31 am
Dear forum

As often occurs, I have noticed many topics of late with a strong focus upon non-killing of small creatures & parasites.

There are five precepts.

Which precept do we each think is most important, most difficult &/or most advantageous to get right for bringing the Noble Eightfold into fruition?

:group:
Id say no killing. How can we be enlightened when we kill another human being? Not good kamma. Killing could be taking away ones joy. It could be interpreted many ways.
(Buddha said), "Monks, do not wage wordy warfare, saying: 'You don't understand this Dhamma and discipline, I understand this Dhamma and discipline'; 'How could you understand it? You have fallen into wrong practices: I have the right practice."~AN 4.183. Dont speak ill of other people and traditions with whom teach The Dharma. Right speech is respect in agreements and disagreements alike.

:anjali:

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Re: Which is the most important precept to get right for the Noble Path?

Post by lyndon taylor » Tue Jan 16, 2018 5:39 am

I interpret which precept is the most important to mean which precept are you most likely to break, with the worst consequences, most of us aren't likely to kill someone though we might kill bugs, we are quite likely to drink or do drugs, and/or lie about something. The most important precept to us should be the one we are most likely to break.
18 years ago I made one of the most important decisions of my life and entered a local Cambodian Buddhist Temple as a temple boy and, for only 3 weeks, an actual Therevada Buddhist monk. I am not a scholar, great meditator, or authority on Buddhism, but Buddhism is something I love from the Bottom of my heart. It has taught me sobriety, morality, peace, and very importantly that my suffering is optional, and doesn't have to run my life. I hope to give back what little I can to the Buddhist community, sincerely former monk John

http://trickleupeconomictheory.blogspot.com/

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Re: Which is the most important precept to get right for the Noble Path?

Post by bodom » Tue Jan 16, 2018 5:42 am

For those who said the precept to refrain from Lying the following from Bhikkhu Bodhi should be of interest:
It is said that in the course of his long training for enlightenment over many lives, a bodhisatta can break all the moral precepts except the pledge to speak the truth. The reason for this is very profound, and reveals that the commitment to truth has a significance transcending the domain of ethics and even mental purification, taking us to the domains of knowledge and being. Truthful speech provides, in the sphere of interpersonal communication, a parallel to wisdom in the sphere of private understanding. The two are respectively the outward and inward modalities of the same commitment to what is real. Wisdom consists in the realization of truth, and truth (sacca) is not just a verbal proposition but the nature of things as they are. To realize truth our whole being has to be brought into accord with actuality, with things as they are, which requires that in communications with others we respect things as they are by speaking the truth. Truthful speech establishes a correspondence between our own inner being and the real nature of phenomena, allowing wisdom to rise up and fathom their real nature. Thus, much more than an ethical principle, devotion to truthful speech is a matter of taking our stand on reality rather than illusion, on the truth grasped by wisdom rather than the fantasies woven by desire.
https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/aut ... d.html#ch4

:namaste:
To study is to know the texts,
To practice is to know your defilements,
To attain the goal is to know and let go.

- Ajahn Lee Dhammadharo


With no struggling, no thinking,
the mind, still,
will see cause and effect
vanishing in the Void.
Attached to nothing, letting go:
Know that this is the way
to allay all stress.

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Ruud
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Re: Which is the most important precept to get right for the Noble Path?

Post by Ruud » Tue Jan 16, 2018 5:47 am

This was said by the Blessed One, said by the Arahant, so I have heard: "For the person who transgresses in one thing, I tell you, there is no evil deed that is not to be done. Which one thing? This: telling a deliberate lie."


The person who lies,
who transgress in this one thing,
transcending concern for the world beyond:
there's no evil
he might not do.
(Itivuttaka 25)
On the other hand, the question regarding which one is more important to the path is somewhat misleading, since the first four (and some would include the fifth too) precepts overlap with at least three path-factors (right action,right speech,right livelihood).

So I think that for the path all are needed, but it is very common that lying accompanies breaking any of the other four, so I think lying can be singled out for extra and special effort and attention.
Dry up what pertains to the past,
do not take up anything to come later.
If you will not grasp in the middle,
you will live at peace.
—Snp.5.11,v.1099 (tr. Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi)

Whatever is will be was. —Ven. Ñānamoli, A Thinkers Notebook, §221

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Re: Which is the most important precept to get right for the Noble Path?

Post by Bundokji » Tue Jan 16, 2018 6:00 am

Ruud wrote:
Tue Jan 16, 2018 5:47 am
This was said by the Blessed One, said by the Arahant, so I have heard: "For the person who transgresses in one thing, I tell you, there is no evil deed that is not to be done. Which one thing? This: telling a deliberate lie."


The person who lies,
who transgress in this one thing,
transcending concern for the world beyond:
there's no evil
he might not do.
(Itivuttaka 25)
On the other hand, the question regarding which one is more important to the path is somewhat misleading, since the first four (and some would include the fifth too) precepts overlap with at least three path-factors (right action,right speech,right livelihood).

So I think that for the path all are needed, but it is very common that lying accompanies breaking any of the other four, so I think lying can be singled out for extra and special effort and attention.
I would add that lying is the one most directly connected to knowledge (intention). For instance, killing a human by mistake is not as kammically terrible as killing someone by mistake/accident. Also, if someone is truthful enough, he can be persuaded to stop breaking the other precepts when confronted with evidence (knowledge) but for someone who does not value truth, i don't see any hope moving forward.
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"

This was the last word of the Tathagata.

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Re: Which is the most important precept to get right for the Noble Path?

Post by DNS » Tue Jan 16, 2018 6:17 am

This is a good thought-experiment, but in reality they are all important. There is overlap among all of them and that is why there are 5 precepts, not 1.

When you kill, you are killing someone's access to truth, you are stealing their life.
When you steal, you are stealing a part of that person's life as well as their belongings.
When you engage in sexual misconduct, you might be stealing someone's partner and in almost all cases this leads to dishonesty to cover it up.
When you lie, you are stealing someone's access to the truth and lies can lead to killings (just look at politicians) and innumerable other things as noted in posts above.
When you engage in intoxicants, you might break all the other precepts, while under the influence.

Therefore, there is overlap among all the precepts. The best path is to follow all 5 all the time.

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Re: Which is the most important precept to get right for the Noble Path?

Post by lyndon taylor » Tue Jan 16, 2018 6:29 am

Well if the question was rephrased, by keeping which precept, are all the other precepts made easier to keep?? That would almost have to be sobriety.
18 years ago I made one of the most important decisions of my life and entered a local Cambodian Buddhist Temple as a temple boy and, for only 3 weeks, an actual Therevada Buddhist monk. I am not a scholar, great meditator, or authority on Buddhism, but Buddhism is something I love from the Bottom of my heart. It has taught me sobriety, morality, peace, and very importantly that my suffering is optional, and doesn't have to run my life. I hope to give back what little I can to the Buddhist community, sincerely former monk John

http://trickleupeconomictheory.blogspot.com/

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Re: Which is the most important precept to get right for the Noble Path?

Post by Dhammarakkhito » Tue Jan 16, 2018 7:32 am

At that time Ven. Rahula was staying at the Mango Stone. Then the Blessed One, arising from his seclusion in the late afternoon, went to where Ven. Rahula was staying at the Mango Stone. Ven. Rahula saw him coming from afar and, on seeing him, set out a seat & water for washing the feet. The Blessed One sat down on the seat set out and, having sat down, washed his feet. Ven. Rahula, bowing down to the Blessed One, sat to one side.

Then the Blessed One, having left a little bit of water in the water dipper, said to Ven. Rahula, "Rahula, do you see this little bit of left-over water remaining in the water dipper?"

"Yes, sir."

"That's how little of a contemplative there is in anyone who feels no shame at telling a deliberate lie."


Having tossed away the little bit of left-over water, the Blessed One said to Ven. Rahula, "Rahula, do you see how this little bit of left-over water is tossed away?"

"Yes, sir."

"Rahula, whatever there is of a contemplative in anyone who feels no shame at telling a deliberate lie is tossed away just like that."


Having turned the water dipper upside down, the Blessed One said to Ven. Rahula, "Rahula, do you see how this water dipper is turned upside down?"

"Yes, sir."

"Rahula, whatever there is of a contemplative in anyone who feels no shame at telling a deliberate lie is turned upside down just like that."


Having turned the water dipper right-side up, the Blessed One said to Ven. Rahula, "Rahula, do you see how empty & hollow this water dipper is?"

"Yes, sir."

"Rahula, whatever there is of a contemplative in anyone who feels no shame at telling a deliberate lie is empty & hollow just like that.


"Rahula, it's like a royal elephant: immense, pedigreed, accustomed to battles, its tusks like chariot poles. Having gone into battle, it uses its forefeet & hindfeet, its forequarters & hindquarters, its head & ears & tusks & tail, but keeps protecting its trunk. The elephant trainer notices that and thinks, 'This royal elephant has not given up its life to the king.' But when the royal elephant... having gone into battle, uses its forefeet & hindfeet, its forequarters & hindquarters, its head & ears & tusks & tail & his trunk, the trainer notices that and thinks, 'This royal elephant has given up its life to the king. There is nothing it will not do.'

"In the same way, Rahula, when anyone feels no shame in telling a deliberate lie
, there is no evil, I tell you, he will not do. Thus, Rahula, you should train yourself, 'I will not tell a deliberate lie even in jest.'
https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html
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