I still remember vividly taking the Five Mindful Trainings vow in 2002 from Thich Nhat Hanh at Stonehill College in Massachusetts. By now, the Trainings are written in my heart, but I still look at them once a week, renewing my vow and sending to Thây, his monks and nuns, and his students, any merit I may have gained through my own dharma work.
No matter what tradition you may follow, I think these Five Mindfulness Trainings are a wonderfully skillful way to train the heart and mind in the way of Awakening. May they be a help and inspiration to you as well!
The Five Mindfulness Trainings
by Thich Nhat Hanh
Brothers and sisters, please listen. The Five Mindfulness Trainings are the basis for a happy life. They have the capacity to protect life and to make it beautiful and worth living. They are also the door that opens to enlightenment and liberation. Please listen to each mindfulness training, and answer yes, silently, every time you see that you have made the effort to study, practice, and observe it.
The First Mindfulness Training:
Aware of the suffering caused by the destruction of life, I am committed to cultivating compassion and learning 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.
This is the first of the Five Mindfulness Trainings. Have you made an effort to study and practice it during the past two weeks?
The Second Mindfulness Training:
Aware of the suffering caused by exploitation, social injustice, stealing and oppression, I am committed to cultivating loving kindness and learning ways to work for the well-being of people, animals, plants, and minerals. I am committed to practicing 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 shall respect the property of others, but I shall prevent others from profiting from human suffering or the suffering of other species on Earth.
This is the second of the Five Mindfulness Trainings. Have you made an effort to study and practice it during the past two weeks?
The Third Mindfulness Training:
Aware of the suffering caused by sexual misconduct, I am committed to cultivating responsibility and learning 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 shall do everything in my power to protect children from sexual abuse and to prevent couples and families from being broken by sexual misconduct.
This is the third of the Five Mindfulness Trainings. Have you made an effort to study and practice it during the past two weeks?
The Fourth Mindfulness Training:
Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful speech and the inability to listen to others, I am committed to cultivating 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 am committed 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 shall refrain from uttering words that cause division or discord, or that can cause the family or the community to break. I shall make all efforts to reconcile and resolve all conflicts, however small.
This is the fourth of the Five Mindfulness Trainings. Have you made an effort to study and practice it during the past two weeks?
The Fifth Mindfulness Training:
Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful consumption, I am committed to cultivating good health, both physical and mental, for myself, my family, and my society, by practicing mindful eating, drinking, and consuming. I am committed 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 shall 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.
This is the fifth of the Five Mindfulness Trainings. Have you made an effort to study and practice it during the past two weeks?
UPDATE: A dear dharma brother has brought to my attention that Thây has recently revised the wording of the Five Trainings in the hope of offering a comprehensive global Buddhist ethic. Since these earlier vows have a special in my heart, I won’t update them here, but instead, point you to Thây’s Plum Village site for the revision: