Let’s say that my face was itchy but just before I scratch it, I just remember that there might be face mites living on my face and I might be killing them. And as I’m scratching my face, I keep thinking that I might be killing the face mites. My original intention was to scratch my face but if I think I might be killing the face mites but continue to scratch my face because it’s itchy then does that count as breaking the first precept?

  • interesting also in that itching could be illusory in some contexts, and that when the mterial was written down, & presently, lots of persons weren't/ aren't aware of such mites, &, whether the relief or illusion of relief from the illusion would be recieved as pleasant/ desirous, etc; and whether each thusly demised mite or if demise of a flock of mites would be just one infraction, or a flock of infractions, then extrapolating as for the rest of the question; general cleanliness; and the inconsistent level of consideration re the situation might also be of interest in the context of the q
    – M H
    Sep 23, 2020 at 12:08
  • if Asker could please indicate if asking only re Therevada texts, or for all contexts of Buddhisms answers, could be helpful for replying
    – M H
    Sep 23, 2020 at 12:13

2 Answers 2


The first precept is:

Panatipata veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami.

I undertake the precept to refrain from destroying living creatures.

Conditions that Break the Precept

(By Ñanavara Thera)

The five factors of the first precept are:

* pano -- presence of a living being.
* panasannita -- one knows that it is a living being.
* vadhacittam -- the intention to kill.
* upakkamo -- the effort to kill.
* tena maranam -- the resulting death of that being.

All factors must be fulfilled in order to break the first precept.

If you can answer yes to all of them then the first precept is broken. If you can answer no to one of them the precept is not broken.

  • 1
    This is a great answer. It's clear, doesn't digress and has a reference!
    – user11699
    Sep 22, 2020 at 10:05
  • Thank you Erik:)
    – user19771
    Sep 22, 2020 at 11:45

Aside of possible akusala actions (which is as soon as mental approve or wishing death, factor of intention), good householder, there are those factors to prove whether a full offence or not:

  1. Object: living being, (In Vinaya a wording of "even small as a egg of a bed-bug" is found, here also perception of living being matters, of course)
  2. Intention: knowingly, consciously, deliberately, and purposefully wanting to cause that beings death. “Knowingly” also includes the factor of —
  3. Perception: perceiving the object as a living being.
  4. Effort: whatever one does with the purpose of causing that being to die.
  5. Result: The life-faculty of the being is cut as the result of one's act.

So the matter of the perception isn't that easy here (from seeing it, till thinking it might be). Acting in doubt, of course is another wrongdoing, but an other. Also wheter alive and whether death on one action may make it difficult to know.

Don't forget for example that one "knowns" that there are being under the soil where stepping on, or doesn't he actually?

Most importand, how ever, is intention. It's actally an not easy topic and my person currently struggle with sand fleas, which actually need to be removed as well. Since month heavy disease because of those tiny beings. Knowing things in detail often makes things not easier. For many years not known that this "throns" are parts of living beings.

In any case, may one always be most patient and try all to cause most less harm => Sila, Metta.

Enduring just pains is of cause a very needed practice to cut off certain fermentaions arising on it. Circumstances, how ever, are always different and proves can be at east only by oneself if honest and discerning enoug.

[Note that this isn't given for stacks, exchange, other world-binding tade but for escape from this wheel, a gift for such]

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