Harmlessness (Sila)

Harm Reduction, Relapse Prevention and Addiction Recovery 

Living skillfully and wisely through the guidance of the Five Precepts.
The Five Precepts (Sila) are the original harm reduction programme steering you away from avoidable suffering.  Training in the Five Precepts is a commitment to non-harming of ourselves and others.

The Buddha said that to practice mindfulness without the Precepts (Sila) is like trying to row your boat to the other shore without first untying it from the bank. You might put in a lot of effort but you’re not going to get very far!

The Five Precepts (Sila) are essential to any mindfulness-based recovery programme.  The Precepts are like a harm reduction programme and when combined with mindfulness they function as relapse prevention tools.
The Five Precepts are like a Karmic Compass, pointing us in a wise and skillful direction away from harm and suffering.

By adopting the Five Precepts (Sila) we cultivate self-respect for ourselves, self-trust for our actions; and consequently we move towards freedom from guilt and remorse.

The Five Precepts are:

  1. Not to harm ourselves or others.
    – I will train myself to refrain from killing and harming living beings including myself.
  2. Not to take what has not been freely given.
    – I will train myself to refrain from stealing and taking that which is not mine.
  3. Not to cause ourselves or others harm through our sexual relationships.
    – I will train myself to refrain from causing harm through sexual misconduct.
  4. Not to speak untruthfully, unkindly, gossip or slander.
    – I will train myself to refrain from false speech, harmful speech, gossip, and slander.
  5. Not to take intoxicants.
    – I will train myself to refrain from intoxicants such as alcohol or drugs that cause carelessness or loss of awareness.

The Five Precepts (Sila) support Sajja, they promote harmonious living; and in any Buddhist tradition they are essential to develop a meditation practice.

They are also essential for spiritual maturity.


Related resources:

Topics for contemplation & investigation :  Harmlessness (Sila)

Webpage :  The Five Precepts : An Original Harm Reduction Programme

Webpage :  The Healing Power of the Precepts by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Webpage :  The Five Mindfulness Trainings by Thich Nhat Hanh

Webpage :  A Discipline of Sobriety by Bhikkhu Bodhi

Webpage :  The Rahula Rules adapted by Vince Cullen

Audio Link :  The Precepts – a talk by Gil Fronsdal (41:09)

Audio Link :  Not Killing – a talk by Gil Fronsdal  (47:14)

Audio Link :  Not Stealing – a talk by Gil Fronsdal  (33:05)

Audio Link :  Not Committing Sexual Misconduct – a talk by Gil Fronsdal (51:33)

Audio Link :  Not Lying – a talk by Gil Fronsdal   (45:32)

Audio Link :  Not Taking Intoxicants – a talk by Gil Fronsdal  (44:25)