So I enjoy Dungeons and Dragons a bunch, and have recently begun trying to follow the first 5 precepts of Buddhism. I'm not a practicing Buddhist, but I think they are a good way to live my life. So I have lots of PDF's that I didn't pay for bookmarked so I can use them, but since I didn't buy them would that count as breaking the do not steal precept? Thank you!

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    – user382
    Aug 5, 2015 at 13:54
  • 2
    You might be interested in this thread which is probably asking the same question.
    – user382
    Aug 5, 2015 at 13:55
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    By downloading the PDF you are not depriving the original owner of its use. Buddhist rules don't consider this stealing. See Ven. Yuttadhammo's excellent answer on this topic: buddhism.stackexchange.com/a/2869
    – Buddho
    Aug 5, 2015 at 15:13

3 Answers 3


The 2nd precept states:

"2. Adinnadana veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami

I undertake the precept to refrain from taking that which is not given."

In order to break the precept 5 factors must be fulfilled.

Conditions that Break the Precept

The five factors of the second precept are:

  • para-parigga-hitam -- article(s) with a concerned owner.

  • para-parigga-hita-sannita -- one knows there is a concerned owner.

  • theyya-cittam -- the intention to steal.

  • upakkamo -- the effort to steal.

  • tena haranam -- the article(s) is (are) stolen through that effort.

All of the above factors must be fulfilled in order to break the precept. So if you can answer no to one or more of them you didn't break the precept.


Consider the intent of the originator. We live in a world that has Copyright, which didn't exist at the time of the Buddha. If I walk into your house and remove your favourite object - how do you feel? If I make use of something that you have been led by the law of your land to believe that I am not allowed to use, how do you feel? The second precept is all about respecting others - we must not look at it in a legalistic way, as if it is a set of rules to be understood and then actioned rigidly. The intent is simply that we act in accordance with the first precept - with kindness, consideration, and respect. That, alone, would cause me to think very hard before copying something to which I do not have the rights.


Yes. And Sadhu for the answer by Upayavira.

The word "steal" should be always replaced with "taking/using what is not given". If using "stealing" it leaves many doors for justification to ones normal social usuals in tolerating unskillfulness for common or individual gain.

Althought there are many unvirtuouse "Buddhist" even scholars and monks around, using even Abhidhamma and wording of higher virtue to justify their ways, still with honest and reflective answers of your own conscious or people displaying such. The "smart" are of no worth and impure lineage.

It might be good to know what to do if having falken into a transgression.

  1. Confess it in a group or to an individual who have not fallen into same transgression.

  2. If possible pay compensation and/or accepted pardon if possible. Otherwise, if no further damage can be expected, forfeit the unrightous gained.

  3. Resolve to abstain from it in future (good if making it in formal way by taking, asking the precepts anew).

  4. Try to find assossiation with people where taking what is given is taken serious to possible grow and not to tend upwards naturally.

Further and related explaing can be found here.

[Note: This is a gift of Dhamma and not meant for commercial purpose or other low wordily gains by means of trade and exchange.]

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