Perfection of Ethics


This paramita is the enlightened quality of virtuous and ethical behavior, morality, self-discipline, impeccability, personal integrity, honor, and harmlessness.  

The essence of this paramita is that through our love and compassion we do not harm others; we are virtuous and harmless in our thoughts, speech, and actions.  

This practice of ethical conduct is the very foundation for progressing in any practice of meditation and for attaining all higher realizations on the path. Our practice of generosity must always be supported by our practice of ethics; this ensures the lasting results of our generosity.  

We should perfect our conduct by eliminating harmful behavior and following the Bodhisattva precepts. We abstain from killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, lying, divisive speech, harsh speech, gossip, greed, malice, and wrong views.  

Following these precepts or guidelines is not meant to be a burden or a restriction of our freedom. We follow these precepts so we can enjoy greater freedom, happiness, and security in our lives, because through our virtuous behavior we are no longer creating suffering for ourselves and others.  

We must realize that unethical behavior is always the cause of suffering and unhappiness. If we give even the slightest consideration to the advantages of cultivating ethical behavior and the disadvantages of unethical behavior, we will certainly develop great enthusiasm for this practice of ethics.  

Practicing the perfection of ethics, we are free of negativity, we cause no harm to others by our actions, our speech is kind and compassionate, and our thoughts are free of anger, malice, and wrong views.  

When our commitment is strong in the practice of ethics we are at ease, naturally confident, without stress, and happy because we are not carrying any underlying sense of guilt or remorse for our actions; we have nothing to hide.  

Maintaining our personal honor and integrity, our moral impeccability, this is the cause of all goodness, happiness, and even the attainment of enlightenment.

Source: Used with permission from Neil Cohen at Naljor Prison Dharma Service, PO Box 1177, Mount Shasta CA 96067.

Following is a chart listing the ten non-virtuous and ten virtuous actions: 



Ten Non-Virtuous/Virtuous Actions 



Non-Virtuous Actions  



Virtuous Actions  



Actions of Body 





Protecting life  





Generosity; giving 



Sexual misconduct 


Loyalty and trustworthiness 



Actions of Speech 






Truthfulness; honesty   


Divisive speech  




Tolerance, reconciliation, and harmony 



Harsh speech  


Kind speech 



Meaningless talk /  

idle gossip 



Meaningful, positive and beneficial talk 




Actions of Mind 



Craving (covetousness) 



Contentedness; gratitude  




Aversion (ill-will) 



Love; compassion 


Wrong view (delusion) 



Right view (wisdom) 










©  Alexander Peck 2013  



A PDF copy of this table can be downloaded by clicking on Ten Non-Virtuous / Virtuous Actions.

Photo Credit: Intellimon Ltd.