Right action means abstaining from:
(1) Onslaught on living beings.
(2) Taking what is not given.
(3) Wrong conduct in regard to sensual pleasures.
Source: Excerpted and adapted from Peter Harvey, An Introduction to Buddhism: Teachings, History and Practices, 2nd ed, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013), page 83.
Right Action means our behavior is ethical, honorable, and responsible. Right Action comes naturally from Right Thought, since our actions are a direct expression of our thoughts. Our physical actions are based upon our mental volition or will. When our minds and hearts are overwhelmed with greed (attachment), anger (aversion), or delusion (ignorance) we have the strong tendency to engage in unwholesome, non-virtuous actions.
Whenever these mental and emotional states arise, we should face them, observe them objectively, embrace them, and understand them as impermanent and being the cause of suffering. This brings insight, wisdom, and Right Action.
Being in accord with Right Action, we are always compassionate, generous, nonviolent, and peaceful. We abstain from unwholesome behavior such as destroying life, taking what is not given (stealing), sexual misconduct, and dealing with others in hurtful or dishonest ways. We live a life of honesty, being always conscientious, with a heart full of sympathy, desiring the welfare of all living beings. To the best of our ability, we support others in leading a peaceful, nonviolent, and honorable life as well. Through Right Action we cultivate ethical conduct (personal integrity/sila), and establish the essential foundation of the Path.
Source: SourcePoint Global Outreach, The Heart of Dharma Collection (Mount Shasta, CA: Naljor Prison Dharma Service, n.d.) http://sourcepointglobaloutreach.org/what-we-offer/