Buddhism and Morality

Topics: Buddhism, Theravada, Gautama Buddha Pages: 5 (1990 words) Published: April 1, 2013
With Buddhism being non-theistic in nature, that is sharing no belief in a personal deity and or omnipotent creator, what and where is the source of its moral teachings? Based around this statement my paper will be comprised of the issue around the foundation of Buddhism’s moral and ethical compass based on its lack of a deity that seems to be the driving force behind other theistic religions. Along with this I will analyze how and why a particular set of rules/guidelines bring about a strong foundation of compassion and look into the possible cases of this moral structure crumbling for an individual and community and the case that it presents. With the Buddhism movement starting sometime around (in most recent opinions) 486-483 BCE to around 411-400 BCE by Siddhārtha Gautama; the ‘Buddha ‘or the ‘enlightened one’, his teachings are to this day the foundation of the Buddhist religion and philosophy. It is believed that after Siddhārtha’s death his teachings were rehearsed by a representative body of disciples, later systematized into a threefold division of Sutta, Vinaya and Abhidhamma, throughout time broken up into a number of separate schools and this day consist within the three main canons; Pāli Canon, Chinese Buddhist Canon and the Tibetan Kangyur. Within all three of these scriptures lie the fundamental aspect and teaching of karma where all moral and ethical decisions rest upon. Karma, the Sanskrit word meaning ‘action’ or ‘deed,’ is the principle of thought that one’s actions result in synonymous manifestations in this life or the next. This karma is the driving force behind the wheel of suffering and rebirth for every being; whether they choose to participate in good deeds (kusala) or bad deeds (akusala) these actions have repercussions. The belief is that these actions produce seeds within the mind that result in fruition of internal or external experiences within their current life or the one after. This concept works with the paradigm of thought that time is not linear consisting of a beginning or end but rather time exists, within Buddhist philosophy, as a continuous circle of death and rebirth where creation and destruction are the natural attributes and the wheel of life (Samsara) bringing with it the full circle of not only choices but the intentions of them. This ‘karma’ is fundamentally the foundation for morals and ethics within the Buddhist tradition as one’s intentions of a particular action or deed become part of their life that could either help or hinder their main goal of liberation. Liberation, which can be compared to salvation in other religions, has its significant differences. Within eastern Christianity salvation pertains to the seeking of holiness and drawing ever closer to God. Salvation, within The Church of Christ (Mormonism), directly applies to the obedience of the proclaimed facts of the gospel and within Islam it is seen as the eventual entrance into heaven bidding the belief in the ‘One God’ Allah. With the relation of salvation and liberation seen as both end goals of particular faiths, liberation within Buddhism pertains to the release from a state of clinging to impermanence as their world view is centered on the state of constant change. Since this impermanence permeates the entire fabric of existence for Buddhists, clinging to physical objects (materialism) and non physical objects (emotions/ mental states) brings with it eventual suffering. Now it must be noted that the comparison of Buddhism with other religious sects is an extremely complicated and multidimensional analysis that requires a great length of attention and analysis. Due to that fact the comparison I briefly mention here is merely touching upon the surface contrast between one’s faith ingrained interaction with their current environment. As numerous other religions, such as the ones mentioned above, their end goal seems to entail this salvation as taking action when this current life is over and...
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