Extract from Daily Buddhist Devotions by Venerable K. Sri Dhammananda
Panatipata Veramani Sikkhapadam Samadiyami
I voluntarily undertake the precept of abstaining from killing
Adinnadana Veramani Sikkhapadam Sammadiyami
I voluntarily undertake the precept of abstaining from stealing
Kamesu Micchacara Veramani Sikkhapadam Samadiyami
I voluntarily undertake the precept of abstaining from sexual misconduct
Musavada Veramani Sikkapadam Samadiyami
I voluntarily undertake the precept of abstaining from lying
Suramerayamajjapamadatthana Veramani Sikkapadam Sammadiyami
I voluntarily undertake the precept of abstaining from liquor, alcohol drinks or intoxicants that be-cloud the mind
The Five Precepts are observed by every Buddhist the first thing in the morning and the last thing at night. These precepts are also recited before the commencement of all Buddhist meetings or gatherings. By reciting these before the commencement of any meeting or activity, Buddhists are reminded to observe these principles and to purify their minds while carrying out their responsibilities.
Buddhists do not regard these precepts as commandments but observe them voluntarily. At the same time, they do not believe that there win be divine punishment for those who do not follow the precepts;although those who violate these universal principles have to face the consequences according to the natural laws of cause and effect. Every Buddhist must remember these noble precepts in his daily life and try to live up to them.
If Buddhists adjust their way of life according to these five precepts, they can, on the one hand live happily and peacefully in this world, and on the other hand, help others to live likewise. To observe the precepts is like putting up a fence to protect one's house against robbers. A person without virtue not only endangers himself but also others around him.
These precepts indicate the five arterial directions in which a Buddhist has to exercise his self-control. Thus the first rule calls upon him to control the passion of anger, the second the desire for material possessions, the third the lust of the flesh, the fourth cowardice and malevolence(the cause of untruthfulness) and the fifth,the craving for unwholesome excitement.
The practice of precepts helps one to cultivate five ennobling virtues which correspond to each of the precepts. The first is the cultivation of compassion; the second, generosity and non-attachment, the third, contentment;the fourth,truthfulness ;and the fifth, mindfulness and clarity of the mind.
Every Buddhist should observe these five precepts in order to elevate himself morally and spiritually. Morality is the first step in the path towards eternal bliss. It is the basic spiritual foundation. Without this base,there can be no human progress and spiritual advancement
After establishing the moral foundation, a person can proceed to develop his mind and wisdom This practice will lead him from the lower level to the progressively higher levels of mental development,and finally, to the summit of all attainments-Enlightenment!