Beginner’s Tip of the Week: Practice Non-Harming

The tip for today is to investigate the First Precept. The precepts are a set of training rules that many Buddhist lay practitioners and monastics undertake. The first precept is to refrain from killing any sentient beings. This includes humans, animals, insects, etc. The point of this precept, as with the other four, is to create a safe environment in which people may live and practice. A point made by many teachers is that not only should we not kill, we should also make an effort not to encourage or endorse killing. Many people don’t eat meat, wear leather, or purchase goods made by companies that cause suffering.

A good way to start with this practice is to start small. Literally. Notice your reaction when you see an insect. Do you kill it? Put it outside? You don’t need to immediately care deeply about each insect you come across. Try to change the action, and see what thoughts arise along with it. It may seem simple, but it can be extremely helpful to see our reactions and change our responses. Not killing helps us keep a clear head.

I also offer Beginner’s Tips on my podcast “Dharma Talk.” Listen to a friend and me talk about these tips in more depth at

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