The first five precepts are mandatory for every Buddhist, although the fifth precept is often not observed, because it bans the consumption of alcohol. Precepts no. six to ten are laid out for those in preparation for monastic life and for devoted lay people unattached to families. The eight precepts put together number eight and nine and omit the tenth. Lay people may observe the eight precepts on Buddhist festival days. Ordained Theravada monks undertake no less than 227 precepts, which are not listed here.
I undertake to observe the precept to abstain from ...
- ...harming living beings.
- ...taking things not freely given.
- ...sexual misconduct.
- ...false speech.
- ...intoxicating drinks and drugs causing heedlessness.
- ...taking untimely meals.
- ...dancing, singing, music and watching grotesque mime.
- ...use of garlands, perfumes and personal adornment.
- ...use of high seats.
- ...accepting gold or silver.
(adapted from The Word of the Buddha, Niyamatolika, The Buddhist Publication Society, 1971, p xii)