When you adopt a set of standards, it's important to know whose standards they are and to see where those standards come from, for in effect you are joining their group, looking for their approval, and accepting their criteria for right and wrong. In this case, you couldn't ask for a better group to join: the Buddha and his noble disciples. The Five Precepts, in the words of the Buddha, are "standards appealing to the noble ones." From what the texts tell us of the noble ones, they aren't people who accept standards simply on the basis of popularity. They have put their lives on the line to see what leads to true happiness and seen for themselves, for example, that all lying is pathological, and that any sex outside a stable, committed relationship is spiritually and emotionally, as well as physically, unsafe. Other people might not respect you for living by the Five Precepts, but noble ones do, and their respect is worth more than that of anyone else in the world. You can look at the standards by which you live and breathe comfortably as a full-fledged, responsible human being. For that's what you are.

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