The Six Paramitas 18

The Second Paramita: Morality

The second paramita is morality or sila. It means conducting oneself in accordance with the Buddhist precepts. The precepts one takes depend on one's stage of practice. At the most basic level are the three cumulative pure precepts: to refrain from harmful deeds, to cultivate virtue, and to benefit all sentient beings.

Other types of individual liberation precepts are taken to complement or uphold the three cumulative pure precepts. These vary depending on whether one is a layperson, a novice, or an ordained monastic. We can also uphold the precepts of a shravaka who practices for personal liberation, or we can uphold the precepts of a bodhisattva who vows to liberate sentient beings. We can take the shravaka precepts for the present lifetime, or we can take the bodhisattva precepts continuously, lifetime after lifetime.