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Volume 6 no 4


Five Forms of Great Giving

While the Buddha was at Jetavana, Sravasti, he spoke to the bhiksus. "There are five forms of great giving in this world, what are they? They are:

1. Refrain from killing
2. Refrain from stealing
3. Refrain from sexual misconduct
4. Refrain from lying
5. Refrain from consumption of intoxicants

Why are these considered to be great forms of giving?

If all of us observe the first precept and refrain from killing any sentient being, then the world would be free from the fear and terror of wars and killings. This is called the Giving of Fearlessness. Due to the Giving of Fearlessness, the world is free of enmity, resentment, anger and hatred, and the evil intention of inflicting harm on one another. Consequently, in the minds of the innumerable sentient beings, there is neither fear nor terror. This means that there is no enmity, no hatred and harmlessness prevails, resulting in a world of peace, security and happiness.

If all of us observe the second precept and refrain from stealing, then the world would be free of sufferings arising from cheating, robbery, and theft or looting. This is known as the Giving of Peace and Happiness in Life. There is no need for us to worry about being left cold and hungry as a result of being cheated or robbed, and therefore we will be able to live in peace, happiness and contentment.

If all of us observe the third precept and refrain from sexual misconduct, and view and respect another's wife, daughters, or sisters as their own, then people would understand the ill effects or harm caused by sexual misconduct and refrain from it. Consequently, there is no endless stream of sex-related crimes, thereby resulting in a peaceful society. This is known as Giving of World Peace and Happiness and enables all people, regardless of gender or age, to live peacefully and happily.

If all of us observe the fourth precept and refrain from lying, frivolous and meaningless talk, tale-bearing and using slanderous speech, and instead everybody is honest and trustworthy, and uses loving-kindness, consoling and encouraging words, then the mind will be peaceful and pure. There will be no conflicts or differences. This is known as the Giving of Loving-kindness Words. In this way, people will live happy and peaceful lives.

If all of us observe the fifth precept and refrain from consuming intoxicants, this will not only brings about a healthy body but also peace in the society. Regardless of gender or age, if we do not consume intoxicants, we will be able to maintain a clear and sober mind. Our intelligence remains intact and we enhance our wisdom. This is known as the Giving of Wisdom. Because we have wisdom, we bring brightness to the world, thereby enabling one and all to live in peace and happiness.

The above is a concise description of the benefits of observing the Five Precepts. The full benefits of which are indeed vast and boundless for a detailed discussion here. In summary, the Five Precepts, are indeed the five forms of great giving.

Copyright 2002.Jen Chen Buddhism Centre