According to this answer, it seems like masturbation is not considered sexual misconduct or breaking the third precept.

However, the whole point (in general) of keeping the precept is to make good kamma both in mind and body. Masturbation alters the mind state and creates bad mind-made kamma. So ideally, shouldn't it also be considered as sexual misconduct and breaking the third precept?

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    from my understanding it does not break the 3rd precept for lay people unless they are, for example, on a meditation retreat where they often temporarily take on more precepts. That said, while we should at minimum follow the five precepts, if we are serious about following the dhamma, then we will want to minimize mental and physical actions that fan the flame of lust. Rather than checking off the minimal fulfilment of a precept off a list, it's up to each individual to make right effort from moment to moment.
    – CodeToad
    Commented Dec 20, 2016 at 11:08
  • I would like an answer to this based on dhamma dacts rather than guesswork of what precepts are about. For example for first precept there are 5 clear conditions to satisfy. Are there any conditions to satisfy specified by Lord Buddha so the third precept is broken? Commented Dec 27, 2019 at 3:07
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    @ShamalKarunarathne I think this answer says what's specified in the sutta and its commentary.
    – ChrisW
    Commented Dec 27, 2019 at 3:38
  • @ChrisW thanks for pointing it out, but in the answer Conclusion is misleading. Only a person reads the last paragraph get's the real answer. Commented Dec 28, 2019 at 14:00

11 Answers 11


Argumentation is a tricky thing; it's easy to skip a step and before you realize it, you've got an argument whose premises don't actually necessitate their conclusion.

Premise: The whole point (in general) of keeping the [third] precept is to make good kamma both in mind and body.

Premise: Masturbation alters the mind state and creates bad mind-made kamma.

Conclusion: [Masturbation should] also be considered as sexual misconduct and breaking the third precept.

I'm not sure if you actually meant that the point of keeping the precepts in general is to make good kamma, or just the third, but either way, whether this premise is true or not, it doesn't necessitate the conclusion. We can see this by substituting the word "masturbation" with "consensual sex", "gambling" or even "dancing" - just because an act is unwholesome doesn't mean it violates any of the precepts, let alone the third.

You might have a better argument if your second premise pointed out that masturbation created bad karma relating to sexuality; we can maybe assume this was implied as obvious. Still, if masturbation is breaking the third precept, why is not consensual sex, or even romantic kissing or fondling?

The third precept does not cover all unwholesome activity relating to sexuality, just as the first precept does not cover all acts of violence. They are specific rules designed to keep people from breaking a basic moral code that would otherwise lead them to be reborn in the lower realms.

ANSWER: So, while masturbation may be unwholesome (and a cause of addiction), it does not by any means break any of the five precepts. It does violate the eight and ten precepts, and is a major offence against the vinaya for a bhikkhu.


Masturbation is unwholesome just like getting angry is unwholesome. Getting angry is not recommended, but it is not against a precept.

I think there is confusion with abrahmacariya precept taken with 8 and 10 precepts. This precept replaces the third sexual misconduct precept of regular followers and requires complete celibacy. Abstinence from sensual pleasures are covered in this rule and also in the other higher precepts included in the eight/ten group. These precepts are taken by serious lay followers and novice monks.

Bhikkhus must do manata/parivasa (probation) if they do such an act. It is very serious for a monk to do such a thing and very serious legal act to rehabilitate. Often, separate "prison monasteries" are set up for this purpose in Asia because of the difficulties in the logistics to carry out such a task.

Novice monks ask to do chores (danda kamma) if they break this. It should be noted that the only difference in precepts of a layperson and a novice monk is the tenth precept of not using the money. As far as the third precept (sexual misconduct) is concerned for the five precept yogi; "It takes two to tango."


From what I've heard, masturbation or fantasizing about people other than your partner won't break the 3rd precept. But it weakens it. Just like harming animals doesn't break the 1st precept until you actually kill. But it will weaken any merits you get by keeping to the 1st precept apart from creating lot of bad Karma for yourself.


There are multiple answers in the link you posted that explain what sexual misconduct is and masturbation cannot be considered among the ranks of actions named sexual misconduct.

Now you MAY have a case if you use the word sensual misconduct as the translation, then actions like over eating and excessive masturbation could be considered abuse of the senses.

Masturbation does not alter the mind state. If you look deep enough, masturbation is done BECAUSE of a mind state. Masturbation is only an issue for monastics, and is not something the laity need to go fret too much about, at least until such time as the practice starts to show them the futility of sexual actions, then it naturally falls away.

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    "Masturbation does not alter the mind state." Maybe not, but the intention to masturbate is mind-altering, as is the affirmation of the pleasure gained through the act. While the physical act is purely functional, it is practically-speaking an unwholesome act and therefore mind-altering. Commented Jul 3, 2014 at 10:43

Masturbation does not transgress the 3rd precept.

Yet, pursuing thoughts of sexuality is considered unskillful as they contribute to further becoming (bhava), which in turn leads to further dukkha.

However, long term forced sexual repression only for the sake of keeping a precept is also counterproductive. I have met a few people who have decided to be brahmachari while living a household life and developed very negative and hostile views towards women.

Sexual desire should be uprooted from the root with wisdom and compassion, not suppressed because of a rule.

Monastics have to abstain from all sexual activity. This is extremely difficult for the average man. This requires a proper environment, internal (mind) and external, proper preparation, developing proper views and thoughts, and proper support.

For lay people, the Buddha recommended abstaining from all sexual activity including masturbation, any sort of entertainment, at least once a week by under taking the Uposatha precepts.

"For all their lives the arahants dwell having abandoned unchaste conduct, they are of chaste conduct, living aloof, refrain from sex which is the way of common society; so today I dwell, for this night and day, having abandoned unchaste conduct, I am of chaste conduct, living aloof, refraining from sex which is the common way of society. By this practice, following after the arahants, the Uposatha will be entered on by me"

Visakhuposatha Sutta: The Discourse to Visakha on the Uposatha with the Eight Practices

"It's no gain for you, it's ill-gotten, that in this life so endangered by grief, in this life so endangered by death, you sometimes observe the eight-factored uposatha and sometimes don't."

The Sakka Sutta where the Buddha strongly urges the keeping of the Uposatha


This is an issue you really have to investigate for yourself whilst being mindful of what has been said elsewhere. Masturbation should be meditated upon and an attempt made to analyse what you are doing. Partly that is also about the rights and wrongs of it.

Imagine a man sees a woman who is a complete stranger to him during the day and is aroused, or sees an online picture, and later masturbates by bringing the image of her into his mind. Having never had the opportunity to have met the woman and found out if she resonated with him on other levels of being such as the emotional, is this then really just pure lust for her physical form?

After all suppose they actually met face to face. Perhaps they would have nothing in common, didn't actually like each other etc etc.

It helps to consider the reality that the form is just one aspect of the woman, and that relationship with her in reality would not just involve the form that is known about, but those other aspects of her being which are not known about.

That is the woman is considered in her totality.

Furthermore relationship in reality is a two - way thing. In reality she just might not be interested in the least.

It helps to try and draw reality into the created fantasy.

Anyway I think I've given a flavour of the kind of considerations that might be helpful.


Look, from what I experienced during vipassana, is this: and after a masturbation session after the retreat was done:

  • Step 1: You look at some romantic porn
  • Step 2: Your sense lightens up or some emotion, and the mind creates, "oh wow I want that kind of romantic sex, I need a girl friend".
  • Step 3: In reality you are not searching for an authentic relationship because the mind was clouded by judgment because you were not observing what was happening when you felt horny and needed to expulse some toxic waste. In truth, that sensation is the you want to just have sex for personal gain, and to numb that pain if you feel lonely for example (my case) ANICCA. For this reason, I CANNOT masturbate, and need to continue cleaning myself until I find an authentic girlfriend or wife for the right reasons. Sex and masturbation in marriage and with a GF is OK if the person and you have pure love and both judgments are not clouded, but usually in Traditional Chinese medicine there has to be exchange of yin and yang, so, if you do expulse makes sure you are observing what is happening on the surface and inside of the body...

I now understood why I could not just find a girlfriend: because it would have caused her a lot emotional pain and it was not right, and pornography and masturbation caused a lot of suffering which I was ignorant from, just like a drug addict or a carrot addict.

Don't be surprised you fall in love with women all the time, but make sure to do vipassana and read the Ananda sutta to see more insight. Sex and love are terms that are very well clouded because of our unawarness... which leads to SUFFERING.. I mean look, I am typing something, and boom! the urge to just launch off some nuclear sperm comes to my mind with a tons of PORNO, and wanting a wife. what to do if your a vipatator ( vipassana meditator)?

-1 I accept that face that I am horny and cannot do anything about besides be EQUANIMOUS... -2 My sensation of hornyness is on my stomach and chest, -3 Heart Beats 130 Round per minute lol, breathing becomes faster -4 I decide if I want to or not, but I observe and I am aware, and no shame... -5 it disappears after a while, 10 minutes later comes back again! ANNICCA, same process... observe. Nothing ever lasts, everything changes.....

Sleeping with random women too, creates suffering for them and you.

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    I cleaned up the spelling -- I'd guess most people find slang and abbreviations hard to understand, please try to use a more standard english if you can. There are three of your words that I wasn't sure of: 1) I replaced one **** with horny, but perhaps you meant to write like shit instead. 2) I guessed that M was marriage? 3) I couldn't figure out what TCM is an abbreviation for.
    – ChrisW
    Commented Aug 1, 2016 at 17:03
  • oh yes sorry, I will, it was for traditional chinese medicine, and it was horny, the M was for masterbation, I am just like still a bit confused after my retreat on what kind of words to use in order to not offend, and I will use more longer english then slang! Gotcha thanks you very much! :D
    – kernx
    Commented Aug 1, 2016 at 18:55

The Third Precept

The third precept entails that individual should refrain from engaging in sexual relationships with those who are married, engaged, imprisoned, protected, or practicing celibacy. In Buddhism, this precept underscores the importance of respecting others and avoiding any form of violence.


Masturbation is a normal activity that humans typically engage in during their teenage years (even adult). It involves self-stimulation without the physical involvement of another partner, relying solely on mental imagination.

The violation of the third precept occurs when an individual engages in sexual acts (oral, anal, or vaginal) with any of the aforementioned partners. To fully transgress this precept, three stages must be met:

  1. Choosing the wrong partner
  2. Intending to have sexual relations with that partner
  3. Engaging in sexual activity with that partner and deriving pleasure from it

We can observe instances where monks violate the ‘vinaya’ by engaging in sexual activities, as detailed in the ‘Pārājika’ section of the Vinaya Pitaka. (Monks are required to abstain from sex). A monk commits a Pārājika offense when he engages in sexual penetration involving the mouth, anus (his own, another human’s, an animal’s, a corpse’s, or even a ghost’s), or vagina. Other types of sexual activities do not result in ‘Pārājika’. They may instead be classified as ‘Saṅghādisesa’ or ‘Dukūla’.

However, it’s important to note that masturbation itself does not break the precept. Nevertheless, it can stimulate desires and potentially accumulate negative karma (because one might think about inappropriate partners). For instance, if someone masturbates while thinking of a celibate woman who is following a religious path, they may accrue some negative karma as a result of these thoughts. However, this does not constitute a breach of the precept.

Aside from these considerations, addiction to masturbation and pornography is not good at all.

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    – 555
    Commented Sep 27, 2023 at 14:04
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    In brief, the term "protected" can be interpreted in various ways, such as referring to "all single women", "all dependent women", or "only underage/young teen girls", among others. However, I personally hold the view that "adult women not in that category." Engaging in (oral/anal) sex does not, in itself, break the precept. Commented Sep 27, 2023 at 14:18

If you hold the 5 precepts, it will not break the precept.

Otherwise it breaks the 3rd of 8,10 precepts.

But if others give you, that will break all the 3rd of 5,8 and 10 precept.


Depending on your goals with Buddhism, frequent masturbation is generally violating that precept because it harms the body.

Frequent masturbation is all sorts of sexual misconduct and harms the body-mind:

  • Taoist bioenergetics standpoint: "losing jing"
  • Usually accompanied by porn, this trains the mind is various erroneous ways


That being said, masturbation performed with the intention to cultivate one's biophysical energies rather than lose them, e.g. kegel practice, multiple orgasm self-training, is good for oneself in the long-run.


Masturbation in and of itself is neither harmful, not not harmful. It becomes misconduct and breaks the precept when it involves thoughts of harm to others. If you look at pornography carefully, you realize the purpose of this form of sexually charged communication is mostly about degradation, disrespect for others, a desire to revel in filth, or to rape, harm others, to act against their wishes, the violation of another person, of a child, or of a mother for example, these are inherently harmful in and of themselves. To make that a part of the self-gratification experience is a violation. Supporting sexual slavey in the pornographic industry, sex workers, etc.

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