By Damien Keown
The latter half the 20th century witnessed a transforming into curiosity in Buddhism, and it keeps to seize the mind's eye of many within the West who see it as both another or a complement to their very own non secular ideals. quite a few introductory books have seemed lately to cater to this transforming into curiosity, yet virtually none devotes recognition to the particularly moral dimensions of the culture. for numerous complicated cultural and old purposes, ethics has now not got as a lot realization in conventional Buddhist notion because it has within the West. Written through Damien Keown, one of many few specialists around the globe who focuses on the world, Buddhist Ethics illustrates how Buddhism may possibly strategy more than a few modern morals starting from abortion to euthanasia, sexuality to cloning, or even conflict and economics.
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Additional info for Buddhist Ethics: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)
By comparison, if we look at Western literature of roughly the same period as the Pa ¯li canon, we ﬁnd authors like Plato and Aristotle not only exploring such dilemmas but also composing major treatises on ethics and politics. Plato’s Republic is an extended treatment of three interwoven themes – politics, justice, and ethics – and many of Aristotle’s major works, notably the Nicomachean Ethics and the Politics, focus on these subjects. However, there appears to be no treatise by any Buddhist author which compares with these works; it is as if these subjects simply do not feature in the classical canon of Buddhist learning.
The wheel of life Each of the six realms is accorded a separate status and nature, and there is a clear hierarchy among them. Animals occupy one realm and humans occupy another one, and it is clearly preferable to be born in the latter than the former. At the same time, there is a constant movement of beings within the different realms and no stage is permanent. It is worth noting, however, that a ‘precious human rebirth’ is given particular prestige, even greater than that of rebirth among the gods, for this is the most auspicious form of rebirth from which to attain liberation due to its special mix of happiness and suffering.
Da ¯ na One of the most important virtues for lay Buddhists in particular is da ¯ na, which means ‘giving’, or generosity. The primary recipient of lay Buddhist generosity is the sangha – since monks and nuns possess nothing, they are entirely dependent upon the laity for support. The laity provides all the material needs of the monastic community, everything from food, robes, and medicine to the land and buildings which constitute the monastic residence. In the kathina ceremony, which takes place following the annual rains ˙ retreat in countries where Therava ¯da Buddhism is practised, cotton cloth is supplied to the monks by the laity for the purpose of making robes.
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