Non-Killing is the first principle. According to most Buddhist texts, the first sutra is that of ‘not taking any life’.
While this is of course, important, I think that ‘non-killing is actually a subset of a larger principle. That of compassion. If we start with compassion, non-killing will be a natural consequence (how can a compassionate person kill ?) . Compassion also requires an ability to accept people for who they are without insisting on changing them. Acceptance is another component of compassion.
So – when Buddhists start with ‘Thou shalt not kill’, what they really mean is ‘Thou shall show compassion in every dealing with the world…’
Thoughts ? Comments ?