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Thích Nhất Hạnh: The Fourteen Precepts of Engaged Buddhism

1. Do not be idolatrous about or bound to any doctrine, theory, or ideology, even Buddhist ones. Buddhist systems of thought are guiding means; they are not absolute truth.

2. Do not think the knowledge you presently possess is changeless, absolute truth. Avoid being narrow-minded and bound to present views. Learn and practice non-attachment from views in order to be open to receive others’ viewpoints. Truth is found in life and not merely in conceptual knowledge. Be ready to learn throughout your entire life and to observe reality in yourself and in the world at all times.

3. Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education. However, through compassionate dialogue, help others renounce fanaticism and narrowness.

4. Do not avoid contact with suffering or close your eyes before suffering. Do not lose awareness of the existence of suffering in the life of the world. Find ways to be with those who are suffering, including personal contact, visits, images, and sounds. By such means, awaken yourself and others to the reality of suffering in the world.

5. Do not accumulate wealth while millions are hungry. Do not take as the aim of your life fame, profit, wealth, or sensual pleasure. Live simply and share time, energy, and material resources with those who are in need.

6. Do not maintain anger or hatred. Learn to penetrate and transform them when they are still seeds in your consciousness. As soon as they arise, turn your attention to your breath in order to see and understand the nature of your hatred.

7. Do not lose yourself in dispersion and in your surroundings. Practice mindful breathing to come back to what is happening in the present moment. Be in touch with what is wondrous, refreshing, and healing both inside and around you. Plant seeds of joy, peace, and understanding in yourself in order to facilitate the work of transformation in the depths of your consciousness.

8. Do not utter words that can create discord and cause the community to break. Make every effort to reconcile and resolve all conflicts, however small.

9. Do not say untruthful things for the sake of personal interest or to impress people. Do not utter words that cause division and hatred. Do not spread news that you do not know to be certain. Do not criticize or condemn things of which you are not sure. Always speak truthfully and constructively. Have the courage to speak out about situations of injustice, even when doing so may threaten your own safety.

10. Do not use the Buddhist community for personal gain or profit, or transform your community into a political party. A religious community, however, should take a clear stand against oppression and injustice and should strive to change the situation without engaging in partisan conflicts.

11. Do not live with a vocation that is harmful to humans and nature. Do not invest in companies that deprive others of their chance to live. Select a vocation that helps realize your ideal of compassion.

12. Do not kill. Do not let others kill. Find whatever means possible to protect life and prevent war.

13. Possess nothing that should belong to others. Respect the property of others, but prevent others from profiting from human suffering or the suffering of other species on Earth.

14. Do not mistreat your body. Learn to handle it with respect. Do not look on your body as only an instrument. Preserve vital energies (sexual, breath, spirit) for the realization of the Way. (For brothers and sisters who are not monks and nuns) Sexual expression should not take place without love and commitment. In sexual relationships, be aware of future suffering that may be caused. To preserve the happiness of others, respect the rights and commitments of others. Be fully aware of the responsibility of bringing new lives into the world. Meditate on the world into which you are bringing new beings.


Thích Nhất Hạnh, born as Nguyen Xuan Bao (1926 – 2022) was a Vietnamese Thiền Buddhist monk, peace activist, prolific author, poet, teacher, and founder of the Plum Village Tradition, historically recognized as the main inspiration for engaged Buddhism. Known as the “father of mindfulness”, Nhất Hạnh was a major influence on Western practices of Buddhism. In the mid-1960s, Nhất Hạnh co-founded the School of Youth for Social Services and created the Order of Interbeing. He was exiled from Vietnam in 1966 after expressing opposition to the war and refusing to take sides. In 1967, Martin Luther King Jr. nominated him for a Nobel Peace Prize. Nhất Hạnh established dozens of monasteries and practice centers and spent many years living at the Plum Village Monastery, which he founded in 1982 in southwest France near Thénac, travelling internationally to give retreats and talks. Nhất Hạnh promoted deep listening as a nonviolent solution to conflict and sought to raise awareness of the interconnectedness of all elements in nature. He coined the term “engaged Buddhism” in his book Vietnam: Lotus in a Sea of Fire. After a 39-year exile, Nhất Hạnh was permitted to visit Vietnam in 2005. In November 2018, he returned to Vietnam to his “root temple”, Từ Hiếu Temple, near Huế, where he lived until his death on January 22, 2022, at the age of 95. [adapted from Wikipedia]

Thích Nhất Hạnh

3 comments on “Thích Nhất Hạnh: The Fourteen Precepts of Engaged Buddhism

  1. randomyriad
    July 17, 2022

    Reblogged this on Myriad Ways.

    Like

  2. Glen Brown
    July 17, 2022

    Thank you for sharing these essential precepts, Michael. If only these ideals could become universal practice and understanding!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Vox Populi
      July 17, 2022

      I agree, Glen. Only a few people can actually live these precepts. The rest of us can only to aspire.

      >

      Liked by 1 person

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