Ahimsa has been a part of Buddhist tradition since ancient times. In modern times. Non-violence is at the heart of Buddhist thinking and behaviour. The first of the five precepts that all Buddhists should follow is “Avoid killing, or harming any living thing.” … Many Buddhists have refused to take up arms under any circumstances, even knowing that they would be killed as a result.


In order to see oneself, to know oneself, to experience one’s own true nature, one must focus observation repeatedly, continuously, as a lifetime practice, on who one really is. This lifestyle of awareness, meditation, and observation requires open mindedness—hence the Buddha’s emphasis on freedom from rigid beliefs—but the path also requires patience, calm and integrity. To make mindful observations of oneself as a way of life, one needs a steady, focused mind. This can only be obtained when honesty, harmony, modesty and sincerity are already adhered to. It is for this reason that whenever the Buddha taught Dhamma, he started with the five moral precepts: not to steal, lie, use intoxicants, commit sexual misconduct… and not to kill. Nonviolence is a prerequisite to, and the first step of the Buddha’s teaching. It appears not as a belief, but as a practical necessity to the intentional and aware path of Dhamma. Initially, for the student of the Buddha, nonviolence is a psychological necessity for self-development.

What Scriptures Speak

To undertake the training to avoid taking the life of beings. This precept applies to all living beings not just humans. All beings have a right to their lives and that right should be respected.’

Source : Buddha.net, ‘Buddhist Ethics’ at https://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/budethics.htm [Accsessed 21st April 2018]

That one I call a brahmin who has put aside weapons and renounced violence towards all creatures. Such a one neither kills nor helps others to kill…That one I call a brahmin who is never hostile to those who are hostile toward him, who is attached among those who are selfish and at peace among those at war.

Source :Eknath Easwaran (trans) ‘The Dhammapada’ (Nilgiri Press: California,United States, 2008) P.250

All tremble at violence; all fear death.
Putting oneself in the place of another,
one should not kill nor cause another to kill.

Source : From the Dhammapada, verse 129

‘As I am, so are these.
As are these, so am I.’
Drawing the parallel to yourself,
neither kill nor get others to kill.

Source : It’s from a text called the Nalaka Sutta, which is found in the Sutta Nipata)

scripture images