Instead of making statements
intended to divide or create enmity between people one
should always speak words which promote friendship and
harmony between people.
Instead of speech which
is angry and bitter, which cuts into the hearts of others,
one's speech should always be soft, gentle and affectionate.
Idle chatter and gossip
one should speak words which are meaningful, significant
These show the tremendous power locked up in the
faculty of speech.
Right action is concerned with bodily action. It includes
destruction of life — abstaining from killing
of other living beings, animals and all
other sentient beings, e.g., hunting, fishing
taking what is not given — stealing,
cheating, exploiting others, gaining wealth by dishonest
and illegal ways etc.
sexual misconduct — illicit types of
sexual relations such as adultery, seduction, etc. (For
those ordained as monks, the observance of celibacy.)
Although the principles of right speech and right action
are worded negatively, some reflection will suggest that
positive psychological factors of great power go along
For each of these negatively-worded abstinences
we can find a positive virtue that has to be cultivated
simultaneously. For example:
Abstaining from the taking of life implies a commitment
to compassion, respecting the life of other beings.
Abstaining from stealing implies a commitment to honesty
or respect for others' rights of ownership.
Abstaining from false speech implies a commitment to
The Buddha teaches his disciples to avoid any occupation
or job that causes harm and suffering to other living beings
or any kind of work that leads to one's own inner deterioration.
Instead the practitioner should earn a living in an honest,
harmless and peaceful way.
While the specific occupations the Buddha
mentions to avoid are relevant to his time, he teaches
that his followers should avoid deceitfulness, hypocrisy,
high pressure salesmanship, and trickery, or any kind of
dishonest way of acquiring means of support.
These three factors — right speech,
right action and right livelihood — deal with the outer
conduct of life. The next three factors are concerned with
the training of the mind.