Journal of Buddhist Ethics

An online journal of Buddhist scholarship related to ethics.

Archive for the ‘Volume 04 1997’


Early Buddhism and Ecological Ethics

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 4 1997

The Early Buddhist Tradition and Ecological Ethics

Lambert Schmithausen
University of Hamburg

This paper is concerned with ecological ethics, and examines the contemporary ecological crisis from the perspective of early Buddhism.
Through an examination of early texts (mainly the Pāli Canon) it asks to what extent ecological ethics has formed part of the teachings of Buddhism and whether contemporary ecological concerns can be integrated into this tradition. A range of divergent opinions held by modern authors are critically reviewed in the first section, followed in section two by a discussion of nature in the light of the Buddhist evaluation of existence. Section three considers the adequacy of the doctrine of Origination in Dependence as a basis for ecological thics, and section four discusses early Buddhist spirituality and ethics in the context of ecological concerns. Section five is devoted to evaluations of nature versus civilization and section six discusses the status of animals. The conclusion is that early Buddhism was impressed not so much by the beauty of nature as by its sombre aspects. It seeks not to transform or subjugate nature but to transcend it spiritually through detachment. However, although Buddhism does not romanticize nature it does not mean it is altogether impossible to establish an ecological ethics on the basis of the early tradition.

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A Shin Critique of Buddhist Ethics

ISSN:1076-9005 
Volume 4 1997

Teleologized “Virtue” or Mere Religious “Character”? A Critique of Buddhist Ethics From the Shin Buddhist Point of View

Stephen J. Lewis and Galen Amstutz

When comparative ethicists consider the question of ethics in Buddhism, they are tempted to implicate conceptions of teleology and virtue from Western philosophy. Such implications cannot apply to Mahāyāna exemplified in the Japanese Shin tradition. Shin is characterized not only by emptiness philosophy but also by its emphasis on spontaneous (tariki) enlightenment; both of these features undercut the notion that Buddhism can ultimately concern an intentional goal. But a teleological or virtue-oriented sensibility is not needed for the purposes of ordinary life. On the contrary, Shin social history has demonstrated that a powerful tradition of practical life based on Buddhist teaching can exist perfectly well without it. Such wisdom manifests itself both socially and at the individual level as a kind of character, if not ethics in the usual sense.

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Theravāda Ethics

ISSN:1076-9005
Volume 4 1997

The General and the Particular in Theravāda Ethics: A Response to Charles Hallisey

Kevin Schilbrack
Wesleyan College

In the most recent issue of JBE (volume 3, 1996), Charles Hallisey calls into question what he sees as a pernicious assumption at work in the study of Theravāda ethics. The problem, according to Hallisey, is that many scholars who study Theravāda ethics assume that the Theravāda tradition has only a single moral theory, and they therefore try to reduce the plurality of the tradition to fit their single-theory view. Hallisey recommends that scholars see the Theravāda ethical tradition as an instance of ethical particularism, a position he describes both as pluralistically including many theories and as having no theory at all. For this reason, Hallisey recommends that scholars abandon the abstract search for the nature of Buddhist ethics in general. After clarifying Hallisey’s recommendation, I argue that it is wrong. Although the Theravāda tradition, like any religious tradition, includes more than one ethical theory, there is no good reason not to inquire into its general or formal features. With Russell Sizemore, I recommend an inclusive understanding of comparative religious ethics that sees a place for both for the historical study of the particular and the philosophical study of the general.

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A Response To Kevin Schilbrack

ISSN:1076-9005
Volume 4 1997

A Response To Kevin Schilbrack

Charles Hallisey
Harvard University

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Masao Abe, Zen, and Social Ethics

ISSN:1076-9005
Volume 4 1997

Masao Abe, Zen Buddhism, and Social Ethics

Daniel Palmer
Purdue University

As the discourse in the West comes to focus more upon social issues, any form of understanding that is to remain alive must be able to respond to such concerns. If Western Buddhism is to survive it must illustrate how it can address these issues. I will argue that Abe recognizes that this has been an area in which Buddhism has been traditionally deficient, but that by reinterpreting several key Buddhist concepts Abe offers a new paradigm of Buddhism that does allow for the possibility of social critique while still retaining the essential insights of traditional Zen Buddhism. In the first section of the paper I will develop the specific nature of the criticisms in relation to the traditional understanding of Buddhist doctrine. In the second section I will show how Abe’s transvaluation of Zen Buddhism in light of his dialogical hermeneutic takes account of these criticisms and develops the resources within Zen thought to deal with them.

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Buddhism in the West

ISSN:1076-9005
Volume 4 1997

The Dharma Has Come West: A Survey of Recent Studies and Sources

Martin Baumann
University of Hannover

This survey article will point out and discuss existing studies and sources that provide historical information of Buddhist developments in Western, industrialized countries. The aspect of Buddhist influences on European philosophy and psychology as well as results of East-West interaction cannot, unfortunately, be dealt with here. The survey will begin by mentioning the few general overviews, followed by a stock-taking of the respective regional studies.

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Bibliography on Sinhala Buddhism

ISSN:1076-9005
Volume 4 1997

A Bibliography on Sinhala Buddhism

Mahinda Deegalle
Kyoto University

Scholars identify the Theravāda form of Buddhism that grew in Sri Lanka as Sinhala Buddhism. The adjective Sinhala is both a reference to an ethnic group—Sinhala people, the majority population in Sri Lanka—and to an Indo-European language—Sinhala, spoken by the Sinhala public. Thus, Sinhala Buddhism has two meanings—Buddhism in the Sinhala language and Buddhism practiced by the Sinhala people.

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Review Essay: Buddhist-Christian Dialogue

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 4 1997

Reflections On The Buddhist-Christian Dialogue In Its Second Decade: Issues In Theory And Practice

A Bridge to Buddhist-Christian Dialogue. By Seiichi Yagi and Leonard Swidler. New York: Paulist Press, 1990. 152 p. $9.95.

Zen Spirit, Christian Spirit: the Place of Zen in Christian Life. By Robert L.Kennedy. New York: Continuum, 1996. 144 p. $12.95.

The Emptying God: a Buddhist-Jewish-Christian Conversation. Edited by John B.Cobb and Christopher Ives. Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 1990. 212 p. $19.00.

The Meaning of Christ: a Mahāyāna Theology. By John P. Keenan. Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 1996. 312 p. $21.00.

Charles B. Jones
Catholic University of America

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Review: Chōmei’s Hōjōki

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 4 1997

Hōjōki: Visions of a Torn World by Kamo-no-Chōmei. Translated By Yasuhiko Moriguchi and David Jenkins, with illustrations by Michael Hofmann. Berkeley: Stone Bridge Press, 1996, 93 pages, ISBN 1-8806-5622-1 (paperback), $9.95.

Reviewed by David L. Gardiner

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Review: Personality, Consciousness and Nirvāṇa in Early Buddhism

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 4 1997

The Selfless Mind: Personality, Consciousness and Nirvāṇa in Early Buddhism. By Peter Harvey. London: Curzon Press, 1995, viii, 293 pages, 0-7007-0337-3 (paperback), £14.99; ISBN 0-7007-0338-1 (cloth).

Reviewed by Rupert Gethin

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Review: The Study of Buddhism Under Colonialism

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 4 1997

Curators of the Buddha: The Study of Buddhism Under Colonialism. Edited by Donald. S. Lopez, Jr. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1995, 298 pages, ISBN 0-2264-9309-1 (paperback), $16.95.

Reviewed by Ian Harris

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Review: Women in Tantric Buddhism

ISSN:1076-9005
Volume 4 1997

Passionate Enlightenment: Women in Tantric Buddhism. By Miranda Shaw. Princeton University Press, 1994, xv, 291 pages, ISBN 0-691-01090-0, $14.95 (paperback).

Reviewed by Roy W. Perrett

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Review: Henry Steel Olcott

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 4 1997

The White Buddhist: The Asian Odyssey of Henry Steel Olcott. By Stephen Prothero. Indiana: Indiana University Press, 1996, 242 pages, ISBN 0-253-33014-9 (cloth), $35.00.

Reviewed By Gananath Obeyesekere

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Review: Zen Handbook

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 4 1997

Le Guide du Zen. By Eric Rommeluere. Paris: Editions Le Livre de Poche, Collection les Guides Selene, 1997, 315 pages, ISBN: 2-253-17003-8, FF 79.

Reviewed By Alioune Kone-el-adji

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Review: A Zen Master’s Lessons

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 4 1997

Instructions to the Cook: A Zen Master’s Lessons in Living a Life That Matters. By Bernard Glassman and Rick Fields. New York: Bell Tower, 1996, ix, 171 pages, ISBN 0-517-70377-7 (cloth), $20.00.

Reviewed by Duncan Ryuuken Williams

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Review: Female Identity in Tibetan Buddhism

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 4 1997

Traveler in Space: In Search of Female Identity in Tibetan Buddhism. By June Campbell. New York: George Braziller Incorporated, 1996, x, 225 pages, ISBN 0-485-11494-1 (cloth), $27.50.

Reviewed by Karen Lang

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Review: Monasticism in Theravāda Buddhism and Medieval Catholicism

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 4 1997

Virtuosity, Charisma, and the Social Order: A Comparative Sociological Study of Monasticism in Theravāda Buddhism and Medieval Catholicism. By Ilana Freidrich Silber. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995, x + 250 pages, ISBN 0-521-41397-4, $54.95.

Reviewed by Mavis Fenn

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Review: The Human Being According to Early Buddhism

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 4 1997

Identity and Experience. The Constitution of the Human Being According to Early Buddhism. By Sue Hamilton. London: Luzac Oriental, 1996, xxxi, 218 pages, ISBN 1-898942-10-2, £40.

Reviewed by Damien Keown

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Review: Middle Length Discourses

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 4 1997

The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha. A New Translation of the Majjhima Nikāya. Translated from the Pāli. Original translation by Bhikkhu Ñāṇamoli. Translation edited and revised by Bhikkhu Bodhi. Boston: Wisdom Publications, 1995, 1412 pages, ISBN 0-8617-1072-X (cloth), $75.00.

Reviewed By L.S. Cousins

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Review: How Buddhism Began

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 4 1997

How Buddhism Began: The Conditioned Genesis of the Early Teachings. By Richard F. Gombrich. London and Atlantic Highlands, N.J.: Athlone, 1996.

Reviewed by Bhikkhu Bodhi

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Review: Gender, Religion, & Cultural Identity in the Nepal Himalaya

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 4 1997

Spirited Women: Gender, Religion, & Cultural Identity in the Nepal Himalaya. By Joanne C. Watkins. New York: Columbia University Press, 1996, xii, 347 pages, ISBN 0-231-10215-1 (paper), $18.50.

Reviewed by Karen C. Lang

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Review: Uses of the Heart Sūtra

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 4 1997

Elaborations on Emptiness: Uses of the Heart Sūtra. By Donald S Lopez, Jr. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996, xii, 264 pages.

Reviewed by Jay Garfield

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Review: Horrific Figurations of the Feminine

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 4 1997

Charming Cadavers: Horrific Figurations of the Feminine in Indian Buddhist Hagiographic Literature (Women in Culture and Society Series). By Liz Wilson. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996, 258 pages, ISBN 0-2269-0054-1, (paperback), $19.95.

Reviewed by Tessa Bartholomeusz

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Review: Ethical Issues in Six Religious Traditions

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 4 1997

Ethical Issues in Six Religious Traditions. Edited By Peggy Morton and Clive Lawton. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1996, 320 pages, ISBN 0-7486-0709-9 (paperback), £14.95, $24.50.

Reviewed by Martin Baumann

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Review: Buddhism, Biology, and Consciousness

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 4 1997

The Evolving Mind: Buddhism, Biology, and Consciousness. By Robin Cooper. Birmingham: Windhorse, 1996, 266 pages, ISBN 0-904-76674-8 (paperback), $21.95.

Reviewed by Charles B. Jones

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Review: Buddhism into the Year 2000

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 4 1997

Buddhism into the Year 2000. International Conference Proceedings. Bangkok and Los Angeles: The Dhammakaya Foundation, 1994, 345 pages, ISBN 974-89209-3-3 (cloth), £24.95; $39.95.

Reviewed by Martin Baumann

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Review: Japanese Buddhism and Comparative Philosophy

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 4 1997

The Social Self in Zen and American Pragmatism. By Steve Odin. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1996. Pp. xvi, 482. ISBN: 0-7914-2492-8 (paperback), $24.95.

Working Emptiness: Toward a Third Reading of Emptiness in Buddhism and Postmodern Thought. By Newman Robert Glass. Atlanta, Ga.: Scholars Press, 1995. Pp. ix, 146. ISBN: 0-7885-0080-5 (cloth), $38.95; ISBN: 0-7885-0081-3 (paperback), $25.95.

Reviewed by Steven Heine

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Review: Buddhist Women

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 4 1997

Walking on Lotus Flowers, Buddhist Women Living, Loving and Meditating. By Martine Batchelor. San Francisco: Thorsons, HarperCollins, 1996, xiv, 205 pages, ISBN 0-7225-3231-8, £9.99; $18.00.

Reviewed by Sylvia Wetzel

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Review: Friends of the Western Buddhist Order

ISSN:1076-9005
Volume 4 1997

Extending the Hand of Fellowship: The Relations of the Western Buddhist Order to the Rest of the World. By Sangharakshita. Windhorse Publications, 1996, 48 pages, ISBN 0-904766-62-4, $5.95.

Reviewed by Sandra Bell

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Review: Buddhist Nuns in Sri Lanka

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 4 1997

Women Under the Bo Tree: Buddhist Nuns in Sri Lanka. By Tessa Bartholomeusz. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994, xx, 284 pages, 0-5214-6129-4 (cloth), $59.95.

Reviewed by Kate Blackstone

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Review: Buddhist Studies in Germany

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 4 1997

Forschungsprojekt “Buddhistischer Modernismus”. Edited By Detlef Kantowsky. Forschungsberichte: Universitaet Konstanz, Arbeitsbereich “Entwicklungslaender und interkultureller Vergleich,” Konstanz, 1990-1996 (cont.)

Reviewed by Oliver Freiberger

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Review: Soka Gakkai in Britain

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 4 1997

A Time to Chant: The Soka Gakkai Buddhists in Britain. By Bryan Wilson and Karel Dobbelaere. Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1994, xi+267 pages, 0-1982-7915-9 (cloth), $39.95.

Reviewed by Brian Bocking

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