The Precepts are a description of enlightened action and serve as a guide. They are never imposed, but may be taken freely by anyone who wishes.
The final authority is wisdom born of the compassionate heart, but we should develop the humility to check our understanding with the Buddha's teaching (the Scriptures) and with the Sangha, the living community of those who follow the Buddha's Way. We are all human and even the greatest teacher can make a mistake; however, if the Precepts are taken seriously, they provide the necessary safeguards.
A rather beautiful precepts chant .
The Three Pure Precepts
Cease from evil: By refraining from that which causes confusion
and suffering, the Truth will shine of itself.
Do only good: Doing good arises naturally from ceasing from evil.
Do good for others. To cease from evil is
to devote one's life to the
good of all living things.
The Ten Precepts
Do not kill.
Do not steal.
Do not covet.
Do not say that which is not true.
Do not sell the wine of delusion, whether drink, drugs or the emotional
appeal of delusive thinking.
Do not speak against others.
Do not be proud of yourself and devalue others.
Do not be mean in giving Dharma, teaching, or wealth.
Do not be angry
Do not defame the Three Treasures: do not deny the Buddha within yourself or others