Journal of Buddhist Ethics

An online journal of Buddhist scholarship related to ethics.

Archive for the ‘Volume 12 2005’


Brain-Centered Criteria for Death

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 12, 2005

Buddhism and Death: The Brain-Centered Criteria

John-Anderson L. Meyer
University of Hawai’i

This essay explores the two main definitions of human death that have gained popularity in the western medical context in recent years, and attempts to determine which of these criteria—“whole-brain” or “cerebral”—is best in accord with a Buddhist understanding of death. In the end, the position is taken that there is textual and linguistic evidence in place for both the “cerebral” and “whole-brain” definitions of death. Because the textual sources underdetermine the definitive Buddhist conception of death, it is left to careful reasoning by way of logic, intuition, and inference to determine which definition of death is best representative of Buddhism.

Read Article

Authentic Love and Compassion

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 12, 2005

No Real Protection without Authentic Love and Compassion

John Makransky
Boston College

The focus of modern technocratic societies on material means for well being tends to ignore the significance of motivation: What sort of motive force drives the social policies and development strategies of our societies, and how does that affect the outcome of our endeavors to establish social stability and well-being? This paper will draw upon teachings from the Ornament of the Mahāyāna Scriptures (Mahāyāna-sūtra-alaṃkāra, ascribed to Maitreya circa the fourth century CE), teachings that focus on the motive power of boundless love and what happens where it is lacking. I will try to apply insights from that text to contemporary problems of social fragmentation and violence.

Read Article

Zen Social Ethics in Japan

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 12, 2005

What’s Compassion Got to Do with It? Determinants of Zen Social Ethics in Japan

Christopher Ives
Stonehill College

Judging from pronouncements by contemporary Engaged Buddhists, one might conclude that historical expressions of Zen social ethics have rested on the foundation of compassion and the precepts. The de facto systems of social ethics in Japanese Zen, however, have been shaped largely by other epistemological, sociological, and historical factors, and compassion should best be understood as a “theological virtue” that historically has gained specificity from those other factors.

Read Article

Groundwork for a Metaphysic of Buddhist Morals

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 12, 2005

Groundwork for a Metaphysic of Buddhist Morals: A New Analysis of puñña and kusala, in Light of sukka

Martin Adam
University of Victoria

This paper offers a new basis for assessing the nature of Buddhist moral thinking. Although consistent with Damien Keown’s view that Buddhist eth­ics may be considered a form of virtue ethics, the account outlined here does not aim to determine which western ethical theory Buddhism most closely matches. It suggests instead that Buddhist discourse presupposes different kinds of moral agency, distinguishable on the basis of the spiritual status of the agent. The moral language characteristically employed in different texts of the Pāli Canon differs accordingly. This accounts for some of the difficul­ties experienced by modern authors attempting to make comparisons with western traditions. Apparent inconsistencies among the texts can be resolved if one takes careful note of the spiritual status of the moral agents under dis­cussion. The argument is based upon an analysis of a particular conceptual schema found in the Pāli Canon, namely, the tetrad of four logical categories of action based upon the pair of the bright and the dark (sukka and kaṇha). This schema is employed in order to clarify the relationship of two more commonly discussed terms, puñña and kusala.

Read Full Article

Filial Piety in Early Buddhism

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 12, 2005

Filial Piety in Early Buddhism

Guang Xing
University of Hong Kong

Buddhist scholars like Kenneth Ch’en thought that filial piety was a special feature of Chinese Buddhism. Later, John Strong employed “popular Buddhist stories” to show that filial piety was also important in Indian Buddhism, but he asserted that it was “a Buddhist compromise with the Brāhmanical ethics of filiality operating at the popular level.” On the other hand, Gregory Schopen, who mainly used Indian Buddhist epigraphical material in his research, pointed out the same idea but he could not find definitive support from the early Buddhist textual sources. My investigation of the early Buddhist texts and analysis of the relevant passages clearly shows that filial piety is one of the important aspects of the early Buddhist ethical teachings. Filial piety was practiced by the early Indian Buddhists (1) as a way of requiting the debt to one’s parents; (2) as a chief ethical good action; and (3) as Dharma, the social order. And on this basis it also shows that the early Indian Buddhists practiced filial piety not as a “compromise with the Brāhmanical ethics of filiality” but as an important teaching taught by the master.

Read Article

Conference: Revisioning Karma

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 12, 2005

Papers from the JBE Online conference

on “Revisioning Karma”

 

Honorary Chairman and Convener: Dale Wright
Occidental College, Los Angeles

 

Critical Questions Towards a Naturalized Concept of Karma in Buddhism

Dale Wright
Occidental College

Groundwork for a Metaphysic of Buddhist Morals: A New Analysis of Puñña and Kusala, in Light of Sukka

Martin Adam
University of Victoria

Merit Transfer in Mahāyāna Buddhism

Barbra Clayton
Mt. Allison University

Reflections on Kant and Karma

Bradford Cokelet
Northwestern University

Karma, Rebirth, and Mental Causation

Christian Coseru
College of Charleston

Is the Buddhist Doctrine of Karma Cognitively Meaningful?

James Deitrick
University of Central Arkansas

Valuing Karma: A Critical Concept for Orienting Interdependence with Wisdom, Attentive Mastery and Moral Clarity

Peter Hershock
East-West Center

Karma, Rebirth, and the Problem of Evil

Whitley Kaufman
University of Massachusetts, Lowell

Karma, Character, and Consequentialism

Damien Keown
Goldsmiths College, University of London

Karma in the Later Texts of the Pāli Canon

Jessica Main
McGill University

Karma: Buddhism and the Phenomenology of the Ethical

Eric Nelson
University of Massachusetts, Lowell

Dark and Bright Karma: A New Reading

Abraham Velez
Georgetown University

The Reactionary Role of Karma in 20th Century Japan

Brian Victoria
University of Adelaide

Review: Western Psychology and Buddhist Practice

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 12, 2005

Buddhist Practice on Western Ground. By Harvey B. Aronson. Preface by Huston Smith. Boston and London: Shambhala, 2004. 253 pages. Paperback. ISBN 1590300939.

Reviewed by Amos Yong

Read Article

Review: Tibetan Buddhist Monk’s Education

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 12, 2005

The Sound of Two Hands Clapping: The Education of a Tibetan Buddhist Monk.By Georges B. J. Dreyfus. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2003. 445 pages. ISBN: 0-520-23260-7.

Reviewed by William Edelglass

Read article

Review: Religion, Identity and Difference

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 12, 2005

Colors of the Robe: Religion, Identity and Difference By Ananda Abeysekara. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2002. xvi + 271 pages. ISBN: 1570034672.

Reviewed by Joseph Walser

Read article

Review: Presenting Japanese Buddhism to the West

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 12, 2005

Presenting Japanese Buddhism to the West: Orientalism, Occidentalism, and the Columbian Exposition. By Judith Snodgrass. London and Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003. 351 pages. ISBN: 0-8078-5458-1 (paperback); 0-8078-2785-1 (cloth).

Reviewed by Jason Ānanda Josephson

Read article

Review: Sōtō Zen in Tokugawa Japan

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 12, 2005

The Other Side of Zen: A Social History of Sōtō Zen Buddhism in Tokugawa Japan.By Duncan Ryūken Williams. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2005. xiv + 241 pages. ISBN: 0-691-11928-7.

Reviewed by Steven Heine

Read article

Review: Meditation on Good and Evil

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 12, 2005

Living with the Devil: A Meditation on Good and Evil. By Stephen Batchelor. New York: Riverhead Books (Penguin Imprint). Pp. 224. ISBN 1573222763.

Reviewed by Michael Keating

Read article

Review: Buddhism and Animal Rights

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 12, 2005

The Great Compassion: Buddhism and Animal Rights. By Norm Phelps. New York: Lantern Press, 2004. 208 pages. Paperback. ISBN 1590560698.

Reviewed by L. A. Kemmerer

Read article

Review: A Buddhist Social Theory

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 12, 2005

The Great Awakening: A Buddhist Social Theory. By David R. Loy. Boston: Wisdom Publications, 2003. 228 pages. Paperback. ISBN 0861713664.

Reviewed by Dan Arnold

Read article

Review: Being a Buddhist Nun

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 12, 2005

Being a Buddhist Nun: The Struggle for Enlightenment in the Himalayas. By Kim Gutschow. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2004. 333 pages. Cloth. ISBN 0-674-01287-9.

Reviewed by Joanna Kirkpatrick

Read article

Review: Zen Environmental Ethics

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 12, 2005

Zen Buddhism and Environmental Ethics. By Simon P. James. Hampshire, UK: Ashgate, 2004. 142 pages. ISBN: 0754613674.

Reviewed by Eric Sean Nelson

Read article

Review: New Studies in Engaged Buddhism

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 12, 2005

Action Dharma: New Studies in Engaged Buddhism. Edited by Christopher Queen, Charles Prebish and Damien Keown. London: RoutledgeCurzon, 2003. 365 pages. ISBN 0-7007-1594-0 (paperback); 0-7007-1593-2 (cloth).

Reviewed by Alexander Soucy

Read article