Teaching Children to Live by the Five PreceptsWe shall not kill.It is not an overstatement to say that teaching children to abide by the Five Precepts is the most important responsibility of their parents; parents owe this to their children and to society. In this respect, they are actually the ones determining the future of their children and the country. Why is this issue so important?Memorizing the Five Precepts but not Abiding by ThemBuddhists are able to recite the Five Precepts, but when asked the meaning of the word, “precept,” most of them do not know, Since adults cannot even answer this question, how can we expect the younger generation to see the importance of observing the precepts? This unfortunate situation has led more people to disregard the precepts until ignorance has become the norm. And when someone does live by the precepts, he is regarded as strange or quaint. This has further reduced the number of people observing the Five Precepts, the moral legacy left by our ancestors.Since they have received no guidance from home on the Five Precepts, young people are unable to resist the temptations thrown at them by society. This has led to behavioral problems such as brawling, prostitution, fraud, illegal drug use, and so on. Ignorance of the precepts has become the cause of social ills. Parents are ready to point fingers, punish their children and blame society or television, and conclude that the cure must come from someone else.When these youngsters have been rehabilitated and sent home from juvenile detention, they are still not instructed about the Five Precepts. Consequently, they will fall into the some cycle of bad behavior and even criminal activity. They grow up to be trouble makers and a menace to society.If we fail to get to the root of the problem, that is, the failure to cultivate the Five Precepts in children, how can we break the cycle of social anguish?We shall not steal.The Five Precepts That Parents Should KnowTeaching their children to abide by the Five Precepts is the utmost important responsibility of parents to help counteract social deterioration. However, before they are capable of doing this, they must know:1. What is a precept?2. What do the Five Precepts have to do with human nature?3. Why does the failure to abide by all five Precepts move a person away from human nature?The understanding of these three points will enable parents to instill the Five Precepts in their children.What is a Precept?The word precept means nature. Everything has its own nature. The rain will fall during the rainy season. If it does not, then it is not natural. The horse always stays on its feet even while sleeping. If it lies down then it is sick, and not in its natural state. Therefore, the real meaning of the word precept is preserving the nature of the human being in oneself and refraining from bringing trouble to oneself and others.What is the Nature of Human Beings?The nature of human beings consists of five characteristics.1. By nature, humans will not kill.A human who takes life has deviated from the nature of humankind. He has turned animalistic, like tigers, bears, or crocodiles which have to kill to survive. Therefore, the first Precept reminds human beings not to kill so as to keep our nature.2. By nature, humans will not steal.It is the nature of animals to fight for and steal food. But people do not have to do that. We are able to produce our own and trade for our sustenance. Hence the second Precept reminds us not to steal, act corruptly, and embezzle so as to keep our nature.3. By nature, humans will not commit adultery.Animals, which by nature cannot control themselves to be content with one mate, will fight to mate each year with another’s partner. Some even fight to the death to satisfy this instinct during the mating season. But it is not human nature to do this; as a being not governed by instincts alone, a person can be content with one spouse. Hence the third Precept reminds us not to commit adultery in order to maintain our nature.4. By nature, humans will not lie.People should always speak the truth. They should always be honest and sincere to one another. Hence the fourth Precept reminds us not to lie.5. By nature, humans will not consume intoxicants.Many animals are physically stronger than people, but they lack the faculty to turn their strengths toward meaningful purposes. They possess no conscience and therefore act according to their instincts. For instance, we do not see animals taking care of their parents. But human beings possess a conscience, as revealed by their feelings of gratitude and love towards their parents.Conscience is enduring. It can withstand starvation, exhaustion, and sickness. But intoxicants such as alcohol and drugs can destroy all these qualities. An intoxicated person is capable of appalling acts, even attacking, harming, or killing his parents. He is devious and is closer to being an animal than a human being. The Fifth Precept reminds us not to eonsume intoxicants.We shall not consume intoxicants such as addictive drugs and alcohol.The Five Precepts are:1. We shall not kill.2. We shall not steal.3. We shall not commit adultery. We should be faithful to our spouse.4. We shall not lie, utter profanity, speak nonsense, or use divisive words.5. We shall not consume intoxicants such as addictive drugs and alcohol.These Precepts are needed to keep peace on earth.When the Five Precepts are not ObservedThe Five Precepts were here even before the birth of the Lord Buddha. He, through the incomparable power of His enlightenment, came to know the existence of the Five Precepts and passed on this knowledge to us. They can also be employed to quantify human behavior, that is:If we can observe all the Five Precepts, then we are 100% human.If we can only maintain four, then we are only 80% human, 20% animalistic.If we can only maintain four, then we are only 60% human, 40% animalistic.If we can only maintain two, then we are only 40% human, 60% animalistic.If we can only maintain one, then we are only 20% human, 80% animalistic.If none of them are observed, that person is no longer a human being. He only exists in human form. He will have no peace, no happiness. He only exists to produce trouble for himself and society. Unfortunately, today, as more and more people deviate from the Five Precepts, not following the Five Precepts has become acceptable. This lack of a moral code has changed a peaceful country into a murderous, fraudulent, adulterous country. Its citizens are dissatisfied and afraid, yet nobody can do anything about it.If parents do not care to teach their children to abide by the Five Precepts, there is no hope that society will improve. The hope that their children will grow up to be responsible adults is empty. Teaching children to live their lives everyday by the Five Precepts is the most important responsibility that parents have towards their children to brighten their future and essential to the health, peace, and happiness of society as a whole.
Teaching Children to Live by the Five Precepts
It is not an overstatement to say that teaching children to abide by the Five Precepts is the most important responsibility of their parentsDhamma Articles > Meditation Articles and Techniques > Meditation for Peace
[ May 12th, 2012 ] - [ : 10729 ]