Translating Classical Buddhism to Modern English

The Numerical Discourses

Chapter 14: Five Precepts

3. Stealing

1. Thus I have heard: One time, the Buddha was staying at Anāthapiṇḍada’s Park in Jeta’s Grove of Śrāvastī.

2. It was then that the Bhagavān addressed the monks, “I don’t see anything in this assembly like one thing that when cultivated and cultivated often accomplishes the actions of Hell, actions of hungry ghosts, and actions of animal births. If they were born among humans, a person will be made impoverished by it. They won’t have clothes to cover themselves or enough food to eat. What is that one thing? It’s stealing.”

3. The Buddha told the monks, “If a person likes thinking about stealing and taking valuable possessions from others, then they’ll fall into Hell, among hungry ghosts, or among animals.[1] If they are born among humans, they’ll be made impoverished by it. Why is that? Because they ended the livelihood of others.

4. “Therefore, monks, you should always stay far away from taking what’s not given. Thus, monks, you should train yourselves.”

5. When the monks heard what the Buddha taught, they rejoiced and approved.


  1. they’ll fall into Hell, among hungry ghosts, or among animals.. C. 墮餓鬼、畜生中. The Taisho omits mention of Hell here, but an alternate reading includes it. I’ve adopted it as this is another obvious copyist omission. [back]

Translator: Charles Patton

Last Revised: 27 July 2023