The Five Wonderful Mindfulness Trainings below are Zen Master Thich Nhat’s Hanh’s translation of the 5 basic precepts as taught by the Buddha Shakyamuni. The Buddha offered these precepts to both his ordained and lay followers so that they could have clear guidelines to lead mindful and joyful lives on the path to awakening. Thich Nhat Hanh has updated the precepts so that they are beautifully appropriate and relevant in today’s society. In his book entitled “For a Future to be Possible”, Thich Nhat Hanh describes in detail how the Five Wonderful Mindfulness Trainings can be used by anyone in today’s world to create a more harmonious and peaceful life.
The First Mindfulness Training:
Aware of the suffering caused by the destruction of life, I vow to cultivate compassion and learn ways to protect the lives of people, animals, plants and minerals. I am determined not to kill, not to let others kill, and not to condone any act of killing in the world, in my thinking, and in my way of life.
Thich Nhat Hanh has a commentary on the 1st Precept.
The Second Mindfulness Training:
Aware of the suffering caused by exploitation, social injustice, stealing and oppression, I vow to cultivate loving kindness and learn ways to work for the well being of people, animals, plants and minerals. I vow to practice generosity by sharing my time, energy and material resources with those who are in real need. I am determined not to steal and not to possess anything that should belong to others. I will respect the property of others, but I will prevent others from profiting from human suffering or the suffering of other species on Earth.
Thich Nhat Hanh has a commentary on the 2nd Precept.
The Third Mindfulness Training:
Aware of the suffering caused by sexual misconduct, I vow to cultivate responsibility and learn ways to protect the safety and integrity of individuals, couples, families and society. I am determined not to engage in sexual relations without love and a long-term commitment. To preserve the happiness of myself and others, I am determined to respect my commitments and the commitments of others. I will do everything in my power to protect children from sexual abuse and to prevent couples and families from being broken by sexual misconduct.
Thich Nhat Hanh has a commentary on the 3rd Precept.
The Fourth Mindfulness Training:
Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful speech and the inability to listen to others, I vow to cultivate loving speech and deep listening in order to bring joy and happiness to others and relieve others of their suffering. Knowing that words can create happiness or suffering, I vow to learn to speak truthfully, with words that inspire self-confidence, joy and hope. I am determined not to spread news that I do not know to be certain and not to criticize or condemn things of which I am not sure. I will refrain from uttering words that can cause division or discord, or that can cause the family or community to break. I will make all efforts to reconcile and resolve all conflicts, however small.
Thich Nhat Hanh has a commentary on the 4th Precept.
The Fifth Mindfulness Training:
Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful consumption, I vow to cultivate good health, both physical and mental, for myself, my family, and my society by practicing mindful eating, drinking and consuming. I vow to ingest only items that preserve peace, well-being and joy in my body, in my consciousness, and in the collective body and consciousness of my family and society. I am determined not to use alcohol or any other intoxicant or to ingest foods or other items that contain toxins, such as certain TV programs, magazines, books, films and conversations. I am aware that to damage my body or my consciousness with these poisons is to betray my ancestors, my parents, my society and future generations. I will work to transform violence, fear, anger and confusion in myself and in society by practicing a diet for myself and for society. I understand that a proper diet is crucial for self-transformation and for the transformation of society.
Thich Nhat Hanh has a commentary on the 5th Precept.
(Excerpted from “For a Future to Be Possible: Commentaries on the Five Wonderful Precepts” (1993) by Thich Nhat Hanh, with permission of Parallax Press, Berkeley, California.) The book is also available on Amazon,