Would using YouTube or other social media, where one is exposed to music or forced advertising/entertainment, be breaking the rules for monks?

"the watching of entertainments are stumbling blocks"

This makes watching any of YouTube (Number 7 of the eight precepts) an area of concern.


5 Answers 5


It is my personal experience that frequent games, movies, TV, YouTube, smart phone use and browsing definitely reduce one's mindfulness.

This is a fundamental question about all entertainment - why must entertainment be eschewed? The nature of boredom is that it arises out of a mind that isn't at ease with itself. The nature of thought at the moment a bored mind arises is to gravitate towards the outside world - towards sense pleasures.

Distracted thought gets reinforced with every application of distraction, so much so, we live in a world where hardly anyone reads long pieces of text voluntarily and people find even Twitter too difficult to concentrate on.

The nature of boredom is that it gets excited by violence rather than peace. It reinforces duality, of the entertainer and the entertained. It is thus a quality of mind to be safe guarded against.

YouTube itself is just a tool, it is neither good nor bad, it is the nature of the mind that watches YouTube that is the determining factor. There are a good many dhamma talks on YouTube for example.


I have seen many references to this such as http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/nanavara/uposatha.html

The seventh precept speaks of refraining from dancing, singing and the playing of musical instruments. Is it not proper for one to ask another to perform so that one may watch? It is not proper.

I guess that in a strict order of Buddhism, this precept may have its place as a form of discipline. In other areas I have studied, this would be considered the letter of the law. It makes sense if you want to keep the passions cool, do not raise them with music and drumming and dancing with members of the opposite gender.

However, in the spirit of the law, Zen Shakuhachi flute music can be part of a practice in meditation as is archery, sword, and flower arranging. Listening to or playing this music for purpose of going deeper into meditation seems perfectly sensible under the spirit of the law.

When you meet a restriction on personal liberty, it can be instructive to examine the intent of the rule and also examine the intent of the practitioner of not following it strictly. In a monastery, breaking the rules can be an exit sign. In life, the rules are guidelines for novices. Those who have broken the wild stallion can refine the art of riding far beyond the initial guidelines for taming the wild thing.

If you go to youtube to hear music that is not filled with words, and does not stir up the passions, in other words pure music, then that can be an aid in meditation practice just as sitting, walking and lying down meditation all have their place. Intention is the key to understanding ourselves and the path we walk.

Thank you for the question.

  • I think I'm right: 7 says:
    – jmkjuy
    Commented Jan 25, 2015 at 20:03
  • 1
    You most certainly are right in some contexts. Unfortunately in being right, you are also immediately subject to being wrong. Uncertain is closer to the middle and less likely to engage inner conflicts.
    – soulsings
    Commented Jan 31, 2015 at 5:24

Youtube is just a tool... one doesn't watch youtube, one watches a movie, a vídeoclip or a Dhamma talk.

Think in youtube as a simple channel of communication, if you use it right, watching, let's say, Dhamma talks or guided meditation, how can that be bad or breaking a precept?


No not necessarily because Youtube is not synonymous with entertainment although the masses do use it for this aim. In fact, Youtube is one of the best learning programs in existence. With all the video tutorials and such.

Also, use an adblocker. It DOES go against mental self-cultivation to be exposed to all the inappropriate content on the internet including blatant advertisements and sex appeal. It will unsettle you and break your vows to be exposed to all sorts commentary and "sexual education" material as well. Focus on Buddhadharma videos and videos relelvant to your particular trade (e.g. business, cooking, product development, etc.).

Another thing, customize your feeds. If you do not customize your feeds you will not get the particular educational programs that you are looking for (if you're a java programmer, java feeds will show up, thus improving Right Livelihood).


Householder jmkjuy, interested,

good to consider for your self whether such entertainings and use of given with string will lead to debtslessness and toward liberation at first place.

Yet one can walk on not without debts but one is wise to consider toward whom and what. What and who gives toward release?

Regardless of kammic impact and long term happiness or bonds of such for all in all modes of life being a natural law: watching entertainments, music, films... all of that is breaking even the basic eight precepts, not at all proper and given for monks.

Using not personal giving resources, aside of "emergency cases", similar to approach common charity alms food, touches in many cases even ease thieving, aside of possible ceating, not able to keep or go into contracts.

Sharing Dhamma for commercial and even bad use with approve, maintain others trade with it with approve, also this can be easy thieve, at least total improper.

See also on explainings and encouragements on social media use.

Giving the heritage of the Sangha intentional away for commercial use or such as common propaty (both incl. bad use by law, even non-commercial and creatives, open-sources... are incl. bad use by law!) is simply thieving from the Sangha and often very aware, yet based on wrong views.

May all take care and be wise enought to build on their good conditions in all regards.

(Note that this is not given for trade, exchange, stacks, entertainment and akusala deeds, but as a share of merits and to continue such for release)

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