I resolve not to kill. 

Instead, I will respect and 

have compassion for all beings.  

The first vow of Samantabhadra Bodhisattva is to respect all Buddhas. Understanding that all beings have Buddha-nature and are future Buddhas, we also strive to respect all beings. Bodhisattvas vow to help all sentient beings.

We also should strive to have compassion for others, for we know too well that all beings suffer. That all beings fear violence and death. As our understanding and our respect and compassion for beings grow, we resolve not to take the life of any living being.

And yet, almost immediately, we fail.

How can we not take the life of other beings when our very existence entails killing?

Eating, breathing—our very existence—involves killing. Even so, we do have choices. Consume meat and dairy, or eat a plant-based diet? Walk on grass and step on an unseen ant, or use a walkway? Whack that spider or catch and release? We really do have choices.

We just need to make the right ones.



Do not envy others for what they have . . . (Click image for video)


An admonition is one thing.

An aspiration, quite different. 

Fully aware of our weaknesses, bad habits, and unfavorable conditions, the Buddha enumerated many sets of teaching guidelines. The most fundamental is do nothing evil, do good, and purify the mind.

The Buddha elaborated on these three qualities in the ten virtuous karmas of no killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, false speech, divisive speech, harsh speech, enticing speech, greed, anger, or ignorance. We want to cease committing harmful actions. With greater understanding and appreciation of the guidelines, we will be able to apply them more thoroughly, broadly, and, thus, more effectively. But we can do even more.

How? By viewing each one not as a prohibition but as an aspiration—as personal resolutions—to refrain from unvirtuous thoughts and behavior in order to benefit all involved.

By beginning each of the ten virtuous karmas with “I resolve not to,” we will gradually reach the level at which we benefit all beings.