Posted by: Michael Rickicki | 08/30/2014

The First Precept – Abhaya-cariya

I undertake the training rule to refrain from killing and injuring living things.

Throughout the next 36 days I want to focus each post on each of the training rules I’ve devised for myself or adapted from traditional sources. It’s hard not to feel a little presumptuous doing so but, having seen the benefits of following such a code, I feel that even if there is some pride and arrogance there it is outweighed by the fact that I am living my life in a less harmful way. So, without further ado, onto the first precept.

The first precept, the admonition not to kill any living, is one of the features of early Buddhism which distinguishes it from most other religions (Jainism being the only one I know of to go further in this direction).  Despite later ideas that entered the teachings about killing as a skillful means, it has always been pretty clear to me that there is no justification, any under circumstance, to kill any living being.  And, even as I say that, I openly admit to having found myself in a situation where I felt compelled to take the life of bed-bugs that we discovered a few years back in our apartment. The only redeeming aspect of my decision to kill these beings was the fact that I understood that what I was doing would lead to suffering for me later and that there was no rationalization to make it better.

One beautiful way in which I have found the precept rendered is in the Mahayana Brahmajala Sutra:

A disciple of the Buddha shall not himself kill, encourage others to kill, kill by expedient means, praise killing, rejoice at witnessing killing, or kill through incantation or deviant mantras. He must not create the causes, conditions, methods, or karma of killing, and shall not intentionally kill any living creature.


  1. I love to see the common threads running through spiritual traditions. The yamas, or ethical codes that help us to peacefully coexist with the world around us, make up the first limb of the eight-limbed path of raja yoga. The very first yama is ahimsa, or non-violence. It is the same idea as your first Buddhist precept–to not intentionally harm any living being, including yourself, and to remember that ahimsa can be practiced in thought, word, and deed.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Shillelagh Studies

A hub for the music, culture, knowledge, and practice of Irish stick-fighting, past and present.