The Ethical Standards Much Praised by the Aristocrats
The Fourth Dimension of Streamwinning
These are referred to as 'training rules' or 'the householder's seeker's path'. They should be taken on with the idea: "Let me train myself to abstain ..."
(1) pāṇa-tipātā veramaṇī, abstention from injury to breathing things. This is intentional injury. But it is 'injury', not just 'killing,' and 'breathing things' includes plant life.
(2) adinn'ādānā veramaṇī abstention from taking what is not given.
(3) abrahmacariyā veramaṇī abstention from carrying on in an ungodly (non-Brahma; not-the best) way. Forgetting ethical standards in the pursuit of pleasure. Often translated abstention from adultery or chastity, but this is too narrow. As with #5 below the idea is the abstention from injurious behavior caused by pursuit of pleasure, not the specific pleasure. Where sexual transgressions are specifically described the idea for laymen — the rules for bhikkhus, and the practices leading to the higher attainments such as non-returning are much more restrictive — is abstention from sexual intercourse in cases where the result would be dangerous to the self or harmful to another: i.e., with another person's mate(s) or betrothed, with those still living with their parents, with those protected by the state or powerful individuals.
(4) musā-vādā veramaṇī abstention from negligent speech. The idea of 'musā-vādā' is that which is said carelessly, not only lies but also thoughtlessly saying things that are not true, exageration, slander, passing along rumors, cussing, intentionally hurtful, provocative, insulting speech and name-calling, gossip, and speech which just wastes time;
(5) surā-meraya-majjapamāda-ṭṭhānā veramaṇī abstaining from careless behavior resulting from fermented or distilled drinks. This is alcohol. For us, with our plethora of intoxicants, drugs, psycho-active chemicals and insideous influences in our commodities, the general rule would be where the use of a thing causes careless behavior or neglegance. This 'rule' was a later addition to the first four and is really encompassed by them, and we can see in the case of SN 5.55.4 and other similar cases, that the emphasis is on the consequence in neglegance, not the use of the substance.