Fourth Precept of Buddhism Meaning, Folklore

The fourth precept of Buddhism explains the falsehood which is spoken by the people or harmful speech used by them.

Breaching this precept is considered to be a very serious crime and is overcome by speaking truth to others, showing honesty in your work, and being loyal to the superiors.

This precept says that a person who is lying is considered to have no shame and is capable of doing many wrong things.

The Five Precepts of Buddhism

The five precepts of Buddhism are considered to be the base of the Buddhist religion. These precepts are considered to be the system of morality for Buddhist people.

5 Precepts
5 Precepts

These are used for the development of character and the mind of the individual so that he or she can progress to the path of enlightenment.

These precepts have been compared with human rights several times because of their nature and the arguments made by some scholars that they have the potential to complement human rights.

The five precepts of Buddhism are listed below:

1. Not Taking Life

The first precept of Buddhism is the one that prohibits an individual from taking the life of another organism.

The First Precept
The First Precept

Taking a life is the will to kill someone who is a living organism to terminate him or her and remove them from the Earth.

In the case of animals, the killing of large animals is considered to be worse than the killing of small animals.

This is because the level of effort involved in the killing of large animals is far more than that involved in killing a small animal.

 In the case of human beings, killing is considered to be more blameworthy and a sinful act.

Factors like a living organism, the living being’s perception, the thought of murder, the action which carries it out, and finally death are the results of this particular precept.

2. Reject What is Not Given

The second precept of Buddhism emphasizes on the fact that one should not take what is not given to him or her.

In simple terms, it means that one should not steal anything from someone, one should not use anyone else’s property or one should not involve in activities like theft.

Five factors are involved in the second precept of Buddhism.

They include belonging to someone else, awareness of the fact that the thing belongs to someone else, the feeling of theft, the action of carrying out the theft, and taking away the particular material as a result of it.

3. Reject Sensuous Misconduct

The third precept of Buddhism focuses on sensuous misconduct. Here, the term sensuous refers to sexual and the term misconduct refers to extremely sinful and blameworthy behavior.

The Third Precept
The Third Precept

This precept gives the knowledge that one should not force himself or herself on someone and for making physical relations with them.

The men and women are under some sort of protection which is given by the mother, parents, sister, brother, father, family, co religion, clan, or even been claimed as a right from their birth time.

This protection can also be by the order of the king’s law.

4. Avoiding False Speech

The fourth precept of Buddhism tells that one should avoid speaking lies. It gives the knowledge that one should not deceive other people through their words or deeds.

The Fourth Precept
The Fourth Precept

The word false speech means something which is not real and is told in a way that it seems to be real. The extent of sin in this particular precept varies from one scenario to another.

If someone has not seen something from his or her eyes and claims that they have seen it, then it is considered to be a serious offense according to the fourth precept.

5. Rejecting any Intoxicating Substance

The fifth precept of Buddhism tells that one should refrain from consuming any kind of intoxicant.

The Fifth Precept
The Fifth Precept

This is because the consumption of intoxicants results in choking the mind and hence results in heedlessness.

Intoxicants include substances like alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, cigar, weed, or anything which has a negative impact on the mind of human beings.

This precept helps in detoxifying the minds and the bodies of the individual.

If one follows the fifth precept, then there are chances that the lifespan of that individual will increase as the body will remain healthy and the mind will function properly.

Meaning of Fourth Precept – Being True

Being truthful means not telling lies to someone in the religion of Buddhism. It also means that being honest and truthful to someone is a deed that every organism should do.

The Fourth Precept
The Fourth Precept

The usage of speech should be done in such a way that it does not hurt anyone. If the speed is dipped in ignorance, hate, and greed then it is considered to be a false speech.

If the motive behind the speech of an individual is to get something which they desire or even to hurt the sentiments of someone, then it is considered to be false speech according to the fourth precept.

Also, if the speech is made for making the individual see more important than others then it is again considered to be a false speech as per the fourth precept of Buddhism.

The most common example of false speech is repeating pathetic gossips about a person who is not liked by the individual.

It is pointed out by many writers that “all speech based on self-concern is false or harmful speech”.

These writers mean that any sort of sentences or words which are spoken for getting self-benefit or to demean someone else are all considered to be false speech.

The Fourth Precept and Buddhism

The teachings of Buddhism are based on the principles of four noble truths. Gautama Buddha taught everyone that life will always be unsatisfactory and frustrating and full of dukes.

Fourth Precept and Buddhism
The Fourth Precept and Buddhism

This is because of the greed, delusion, and anger of human beings. The only way to be liberated from all this frustration and anger is by following the eightfold path.

The fourth precept of Buddhism is directly connected with the right speech portion of the eightfold path.

It is quoted by the great Gautama Buddha himself:

“And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, and idle chatter: This is called right speech.” (Pali Sutta-Pitaka, Samyutta Nikaya 45)

Wisdom in the Speech

Speaking the truth always comes from the practice of truthfulness or the habit of being honest with everyone.

These two things are based on compassion which is rooted in wisdom.

The fourth precept of Buddhism teaches us to be aware of all the happenings around the world and grasp this knowledge.

This precept also helps the individual to escape the shackles of selfishness.

The famous writer Robert Aitken Roshi one said about the fourth precept of Buddhism:

“Speaking falsely is also killing, and specifically, killing the Dharma. The lie is set up to defend the idea of a fixed entity, a self-image, a concept, or an institution.

I want to be known as warm and compassionate, so I deny that I was cruel, even though somebody got hurt.

Sometimes I must lie to protect someone or large numbers of people, animals, plants, and things from getting hurt, or I believe I must.”

Not Being Nice Every time

Many people misunderstand the fourth precept of Buddhism and interpret it as never disagreeing or criticizing anyone.

But one should understand that sometimes there are scenarios where they need to speak up so that the harm and the suffering can be stopped.

It also means that if something wrong is being done with someone else and you can see it then you should be vocal enough to stop the harm and miseries caused to that person.


The fourth precept of Buddhism deals with the truthfulness of human beings. It states that one should not get indulged in false or ill speeches for any other individual or human being.

But, this perception should not be confused with the inability of the person to speak or criticize a person in the scene where he or she is wrong and involved in false speeches.

People Also Ask (FAQs)

Why do the followers of Buddhism respect the 5 precepts?

The followers of Buddhism respect the 5 precepts as these precepts form the general laws which are followed daily by the people for ensuring their well-being and proper harmony among themselves.

Do the followers of Buddhism consume meat?

No, meat and other related products are strictly prohibited for consumption in the religion of Buddhism. The consumption of any kind of intoxicant is considered to be a sin according to the fifth precept of Buddhism.

Does every Buddhist follow the concept of 5 precepts?

Yes, almost every Buddhist follows or tries to follow the concept of 5 precepts in their lives. They have a belief that if they follow these precepts without getting failed, then their lives will become pure and they will move on the path of enlightenment.