Journal of Buddhist Ethics

An online journal of Buddhist scholarship related to ethics.

Archive for the ‘Volume 07 2000’


The Ethics of Esteem

ISSN 1076–9005
Volume 7, 2000

The Ethics of Esteem

Maria Hibbets
California State University, Long Beach

This article discusses a number of South Asian discourses on the gift that were composed in the medieval period, mostly in the eleventh-thirteenth centuries C.E. I consider several Theravada anthologies on lay conduct that discuss dana, together with several Hindu Dharmasastra digests on the gift (dananibandhas) and Jain texts on lay morality (sravakacaras), and trace out quite remarkable similarities in their terminology, interests, and formal concerns regarding the gift. I am interested in how these discourses scrutinize the face-to-face hospitality encounter, and how this scrutiny is a kind of critical and second order reflection on ethical questions. I argue that these gift discourses articulate a moral point of view, which I call an “ethics of esteem,” in which the chief moral disposition that a giver should possess is a feeling of unquestioning esteem towards the recipient. Gifts are conceived to flow upwards to worthy recipients (usually monks, nuns and Brahmans) out of esteem and devotion. Conversely, gifts made out of compassion or pity to the needy are not so highly valued.

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A Buddhist Vision of Social Justice

ISSN 1076–9005
Volume 7, 2000

Selflessness: Toward a Buddhist Vision of Social Justice

Sungtaek Cho
State University of New York at Stony Brook

The difficulty of developing a theoretical framework for Buddhism’s engagement with contemporary social issues is rooted in the very nature of Buddhism as an ontological discourse aiming at individual salvation through inner transformation. It is my contention, however, that the concept of “selflessness” can become the basis of a Buddhist theory of social justice without endangering Buddhism’s primary focus on individual salvation. In this article, I show how the key concept of selflessness can provide a viable ground for Buddhist social justice by comparing it with one of the most influential contemporary Western theories of social justice, that of the American philosopher John Rawls. Drawing on the bodhisattva ideal and the Buddhist concepts of “sickness” and “cure,” I then demonstrate how selflessness can serve as a link that allows Buddhists to be socially engaged even while pursuing the goal of individual salvation.

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Dramatic Interdependence

ISSN 1076–9005
Volume 7, 2000

Family Matters: Dramatic Interdependence and the Intimate Realization of Buddhist Liberation

Peter D. Hershock
East-West Center
Asian Studies Development Program

In this paper, I assemble a set of narratives that will persuade us to refrain from seeing Buddhist families as either fundamentally biological or essentially cultural phenomena, but rather as dramatic communities in narrative motion away from saṃsāra toward nirvāṇa—communities intent on anuttara samyak sambodhi or utmost and all-encompassing enlightenment. Such a view of the family will stand in significant opposition to the interpretation of enlightenment as a peak and private experience; to the reduction (Buddhist) teachings to texts; and to the belief that it is on the basis of valorizing individuality and equality that we are best able to realize satisfyingly human community. Hopefully, it will also encourage us to question our own prejudices for minimally defining family and community in objective and institutional terms rather than in terms of dramatically exemplary or virtuosic relationships.

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Review Article: Reflexive Awareness

ISSN 1076–9005
Volume 7, 2000

We Are All Gzhan stong pas

Reflections on The Reflexive Nature of Awareness: A Tibetan Madhyamaka Defence. By Paul Williams. Surrey, England: Curzon Press, 1998, xix + 268 pp, ISBN: 0–7007–1030–2, $55.00.

Reviewed by Matthew T. Kapstein
The University of Chicago

The present review article discusses aspects of Paul Williams’s excellent and highly recommended book, which focuses on the question of “reflexive awareness” (Tib. rang rig, Skt. svasaṃvittiḥ, svasaṃvedana) in Tibetan Mādhyamika thought. In particular, I am concerned with his characterization of so so rang rig ye shes and its relation to Rdzogs-chen teaching, and his notions of the gzhan stong doctrine and its place in the intellectual life of Far-eastern Tibet. My critical remarks on these topics are in many respects tentative, and I would welcome correspondence about them.

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Bioengineering and Buddhist Values

ISSN 1076–9005
Volume 7, 2000

Nature, Nurture, and No-Self: Bioengineering and Buddhist Values

Michael G. Barnhart
Kingsborough Community College, CUNY

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Society, Urgency, and the Study of Asia

ISSN 1076–9005
Volume 7, 2000

Saving the Rainforest of Ethics: Society, Urgency, and the Study of Asia

William R. LaFleur
University of Pennsylvania

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Buddhist Approach to Restorative Justice

ISSN 1076–9005
Volume 7, 2000

How to Reform a Serial Killer: The Buddhist Approach to Restorative Justice

David R. Loy
Bunkyo University

This article considers how Buddhist perspectives on crime and punishment support the contemporary movement toward restorative (in place of retributive) justice. It begins by examining the two Pāli suttas that most directly address these issues: the Angulimala Sutta, about the reform of a serial killer, and the Lion’s Roar Sutta, about the responsibility of a ruler. Then it looks at the Vinaya, which has many implications for our understanding of motivation and reform, and finally at traditional Tibet to see how its criminal justice system embodied these Buddhist perspectives. It concludes with some reflections on why our present criminal justice systems serve the purposes of the state better than the needs of offenders and their victims.

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Review: Abhidhamma Studies

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 7, 2000

Abhidhamma Studies: Buddhist Explorations of Consciousness and Time. By Ven. Nyanaponika Thera. Edited By Bhikkhu Bodhi. Boston: Wisdom Publications, 1998, xxviii + 145 pages, ISBN: 0–86171–135–1 (paperback), US $16.95.

Reviewed By Rupert Gethin

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Review: Buddhist Dream Narrative, Imagery, and Practice

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 7, 2000

Dreaming in the Lotus: Buddhist Dream Narrative, Imagery, and Practice. By Serinity Young. Boston: Wisdom Publications, 1999, xxii + 296 pages, ISBN 0–86171–158–0, US $18.95.

Reviewed by James Gollnick

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Review: Art of Indian Buddhism

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 7, 2000

Imaging Wisdom: Seeing and Knowing in the Art of Indian Buddhism. By Jacob N. Kinnard. Richmond, Surrey: Curzon Press, 1999, xi + 210 pages, ISBN: 0–7007–1083–3 (cloth), US $55.00.

Reviewed by Kevin Trainor

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Review: Pilgrimage and Visionary Landscape in Southeast Tibet

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 7, 2000

The Cult of Pure Crystal Mountain: Popular Pilgrimage and Visionary Landscape in Southeast Tibet. By Toni Huber. N.Y./Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999, xxi + 297 pages, ISBN 0–19–512007–8, US $65.00.

Reviewed by Alex McKay

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Review: Nāgārjuna’s Philosophy

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 7, 2000

Emptiness Appraised: A Critical Study of Nagarjuna’s Philosophy. By David F. Burton. London: Curzon Press, 1999, xvi + 233 pages, ISBN 0-7007-1066-3 (cloth), £40.

Reviewed by Paul J. Griffiths

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Review: Mental Culture in Burmese Crisis Politics

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 7, 2000

Mental Culture in Burmese Crisis Politics. By Gustaaf Houtman. Tokyo: ILCAA Study of Languages and Cultures of Asia and Africa Monograph Series, no. 33, Publication of the Institute for the Study of Languages and Cultures of Asia and Africa, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, 1999, viii + 392 pages, ISBN 4-87297-748-3 (paperback), Free.

Reviewed By Karen Derris

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Review: Tashi Jong

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 7, 2000

Tashi Jong: A Traditional Tibetan Community in Exile. Producer/Videographer: Barbara Green; Editor: Nathaniel Dorsky; Narrator: Dechen Bartso; Singer: Thrinlay Choden. 45 Minutes. ISBN: 0–9675021–0–x, Available from Tibetan Video Project, 2952 Pine Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94705. (510)540–8401, bcgreen@attglobal.net, http://www.tibet.org/tashijong, US $35.00 for individuals, US $108 for institutions.

Reviewed by Daniel Cozort

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Review: Buddhism and Africa

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 7, 2000

Buddhism and Africa. Edited By Michel Clasquin and Jacobus S. Krueger. Pretoria, South Africa: University of South Africa Press, 1999, 133 pages, ISBN 1–86888–139–3 (paper), Rand 35.00, US $10.00.

Reviewed By Martin Baumann

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Review: Buddhist Communities in Toronto

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 7, 2000

Many Petals of the Lotus: Five Asian Buddhist Communities in Toronto. By Janet McLellan. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1999, xii + 264 pages, ISBN 0–8020–4421–2 (cloth), 0–8020–8225–4 (paper), $60.00 (cloth), $24.95 (paper).

Reviewed by Lionel Obadia

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Review: The Zen Works of Stonehouse

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 7, 2000

The Zen Works of Stonehouse: Poems and Talks of a Fourteenth-Century Chinese Hermit. Translated by Red Pine. San Francisco: Mercury House, 1999, xvi + 231 pages, ISBN: 1–56279–101–X, US $14.95.

Reviewed by Eric Reinders

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Review: Religion in Japan

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 7, 2000

Practically Religious: Worldly Benefits and the Common Religion of Japan. By Ian Reader and George J. Tanabe, Jr. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1998, xii + 303 pages, ISBN: 0–8248–2065–7 (Hardback), ISBN: 0–8248–2090–8 (Paperback), US $45.00 (Hardback), US $22.95 (Paperback).

Reviewed by Fabio Rambelli

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Review: Buddhism, A Very Short Introduction

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 7, 2000

Buddhism: A Very Short Introduction. By Damien Keown. Oxford: Oxford Paperbacks, 1996, xiii + 141 pages, ISBN: 0–1928–5386–4, US$8.95.

Reviewed by James G. Mullens

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Review: Dharmakīrti in Tibet

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 7, 2000

Recognizing Reality: Dharmakirti’s Philosophy and Its Tibetan Interpretation. By Georges B. J. Dreyfus. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1997, xxi + 622 pages, ISBN 0–7914–3097–9 (hardcover), ISBN 0–7914–3098–7 (paperback), US $68.50 (hardcover), US $22.95 (paperback).

Reviewed by Pascale Hugon

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Review: Environmental Philosophy and Ethics

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 7, 2000

Environmental Philosophy and Ethics in Buddhism. By Padmasiri de Silva. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Macmillan Press Ltd., 1998, xviii + 195 pages, ISBN: 0-333-67906-7, £50.

Reviewed By Pragati Sahni

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Review: Buddhism in America

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 7, 2000

Buddhism in America. By Richard Hughes Seager. New York: Columbia University Press, 1999, xviii + 314 pages, ISBN: 0–231–10868–0, $35.00.

Reviewed By Alioune Koné–el–Adji

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Review: Structural Violence, Social Development, and Spiritual Transformation

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 7, 2000

Global Healing: Essays and Interviews on Structural Violence, Social Development, and Spiritual Transformation. By Sulak Sivaraksa. Bangkok: Thai
Inter-Religious Commission for Development and Sathirakoses-Nagapradipa Foundation, 1999, 164 pages, ISBN: 974-260-156-9, US $15.00.

Reviewed by Donald K. Swearer

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Review: The Purṇavadana

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 7, 2000

The Glorious Deeds of Purṇa: A Translation and Study of the Purṇavadana. By Joel Tatelman. Surrey: Curzon Press, 2000, xii + 228 pages, ISBN 0–7007–1082–5 (cloth).

Reviewed by Jonathan S. Walters

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Review: Bodhisattva Archetypes

SSN 1076-9005
Volume 7, 2000

Bodhisattva Archetypes: Classic Buddhist Guides to Awakening and their Modern Expressions. By Taigen Daniel Leighton. New York: Penguin Arkana, 1998, xviii + 364 pages, ISBN: 0–14–019556–4 (paper), US $14.95.

Reviewed by Franz Aubrey Metcalf

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