Journal of Buddhist Ethics

An online journal of Buddhist scholarship related to ethics.

Archive for the ‘Volume 13 2006’


Socially Engaged Buddhism in the U.K.

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 13, 2006

The Sociological Implications for Contemporary Buddhism in the United Kingdom: Socially Engaged Buddhism, a Case Study

Phil Henry
University of Derby

This article addresses Buddhist identity in contemporary settings and asks what it means to be Buddhist in the West today. This is the overarching theme of my doctoral research into socially engaged Buddhism in the United Kingdom, which addresses the question of how socially engaged Buddhism challenges the notion of what it means to be Buddhist in the twenty-first century. The scope of this article is to portray part of that work, and, in so doing, it suggests methodological approaches for students of Western Buddhism, using my research into the identity of socially engaged Buddhists in the United Kingdom as a case study.

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Bodhisattva Precepts in Ming Society

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 13, 2006

Bodhisattva Precepts in the Ming Society: Factors behind their Success and Propagation

William Chu
University of California, Los Angeles

The wide popularization of versions of Bodhisattva precepts that were based on apocrypha coincided with certain medieval developments in technology and social/political developments. All these changes facilitated a much more pervasive “Confucianization” of Chinese society, notably during the Song dynasty (960-1279), and were accentuated in the Ming (1368-1643). Riding on these trends, it was only natural that the apocryphal Bodhisattva precepts that were so much tailored to Confucian ethical norms found a much greater popular basis at the same time. This paper also takes a cultural comparativist perspective and analyzes the propagation of the same apocryphal precepts in Japan, which could also be explained by comparable conditions in political and technological infrastructure.

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Aquinas and Dōgen on Poverty and the Religious Life

SSN 1076-9005
Volume 13, 2006

Aquinas and Dōgen on Poverty and the Religious Life

Douglas K. Mikkelson
University of Hawaii at Hilo

Recent efforts to articulate Buddhist ethics have increasingly focused on “Western” ethical systems that possess a “family resemblance” sufficient to serve as a bridge. One promising avenue is the employment of Aristotelian-Thomistic thinking in seeking to understand certain manifestations of Buddhism. More specifically, we can explore how the thinking of Thomas Aquinas may serve to illuminate the moral vision of the Zen Master Dōgen on specific topics, such as that of “poverty and the religious life.” Two texts seem particularly conducive as foci for this approach, namely IIaIIae 186.3 of the Summa Theologiae and the Shōbōgenzō Zuimonki. This modus operandi reveals how Dōgen’s views on poverty and the religious life are significantly similar to, and yet in certain respects distinctively different from, those of Aquinas.

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Privileged Lies

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 13, 2006

Musāvāda-virati and “Privileged Lies”

J. Duncan M. Derrett
University of London

A privileged lie cannot exist where (1) lies are totally forbidden, or (2) lying is so common that no excuse for it is expected. A lie is “privileged” where it is commonly excused, granted that lying in general is reprehended. A good illustration is to tell a terminally ill patient that there exist hopes of his recovery. In a system knowing privileged lies these are usually harmless to the hearer. The answer “Not at home” is conventional, a piece of politeness. “I do not know” may well be a lie, but may avoid much trouble. In Buddhism, where there are no privileged lies, one may conclude that lies are so injurious that no convenience can excuse lying.

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Chinese and Pāli versions of the Ten Courses of Action

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 13, 2006

The Saṃyukta-āgama Parallel to the Sāleyyaka-sutta and the Potential of the Ten Courses of Action

Ven. Anālayo
Philipps University

The present article offers a translation of the Saṃyukta-āgama parallel to the Sāleyyaka-sutta of the Majjhima-nikāya on the subject of the ten courses of action, followed by an examination of the differences found between the Chinese and Pāli versions. This comparison shows the degree to which oral transmission has influenced the shape of the two versions.

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Zen Social Ethics: Introduction

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 13, 2006

Introduction to “Zen Social Ethics: Historical Constraints and Present Prospects”

Taigen Dan Leighton
Institute of Buddhist Studies

This collection of papers is from a panel organized by Chris Ives for the Ethics Section of the American Academy of Religion meeting in Philadelphia in November, 2005. As Chair of that panel I offer this brief introduction. The topic addresses a clear concern, apparent to scholars but also to many practitioners, about the problematic approach to ethics of the Zen Buddhist tradition and the place of ethics in its modern context. One major impetus for this concern is the challenge to Japanese Zen from Brian Victoria in his Zen at War, and the revelation of the active support by eminent Zen figures for Japanese militarism and jingoism before and during World War II. One assumption of these papers is that Zen’s historical ethical failings may be symptomatic of internal problematics in the very structure of Zen philosophy and discourse, perhaps more heightened in its interface with the West and modernity.

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Zen Social Ethics: Zen as a Social Ethics of Responsiveness

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 13, 2006

Zen as a Social Ethics of Responsiveness

T. P. Kasulis
The Ohio State University

One reason traditional Chan or Zen did not develop a comprehensive social ethics is that it arose in an East Asian milieu with axiologies (Confucian, Daoist, and Shintō) already firmly in place. Since these value orientations did not conflict with basic Buddhist principles, Chan/Zen used its praxes and theories of praxis to supplement and enhance, rather than criticize, those indigenous ethical orientations. When we consider the intercultural relevance of Zen ethics today, however, we must examine how its traditional ethical assumptions interface with its Western conversation partners. For example, it is critical that Chan and Zen stress an ethics of responsiveness rather than (as is generally the case of the modern West) one of responsibility. This paper analyzes special philosophical problems arising when one tries to carry Zen moral values without modification into Western contexts.

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Zen Social Ethics: Satori and the Moral Dimension of Enlightenment

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 13, 2006

Satori and the Moral Dimension of Enlightenment

Dale S. Wright
Occidental College

This essay addresses the question posed by Brian Victoria’s description of “moral blindness” in twentieth-century Japanese Zen masters by claiming that since Zen monastic training does not include practices of reflection that cultivate the moral dimension of life, skill in this dimension of human character was not considered a fundamental or necessary component of Zen enlightenment. The essay asks what an enlightened moral sensitivity might require, and concludes in challenging the Zen tradition to consider re-engaging the Mahāyāna Buddhist practices of reflection out of which Zen originated in order to assess the possible role of morality in its thought and practice of enlightenment.

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Zen Social Ethics: Chinul, Sŏngch’ŏl, and Minjung Buddhism in Korea

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 13, 2006

Wisdom, Compassion, and Zen Social Ethics: the Case of Chinul, Sŏngch’ŏl, and Minjung Buddhism in Korea

Jin Y. Park
American University

This essay examines the possibility of Zen social ethics by contemplating the relationship between wisdom and compassion in two Korean Zen masters, Pojo Chinul and T’oe’ong Sŏngch’ŏl. Unlike the common assumption that wisdom and compassion naturally facilitate each other in Zen practice, I contend that in both Chinul and Sŏngch’ŏl, they are in a relationship of tension rather than harmony and that such a tension provides a ground for Zen social ethics. In this context the Minjung Buddhist movement in contemporary Korea is discussed as an example of Zen social activism that makes visible the social dimension of Zen philosophy and practice.

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Zen Social Ethics: Zen, Ideology, and Prophetic Critique

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 13, 2006

Not Buying into Words and Letters: Zen, Ideology, and Prophetic Critique

Christopher Ives
Stonehill College

Judging from the active participation of Zen leaders and institutions in modern Japanese imperialism, one might conclude that by its very nature Zen succumbs easily to ideological co-optation. Several facets of Zen epistemology and institutional history support this conclusion. At the same time, a close examination of Zen theory and praxis indicates that the tradition does possess resources for resisting dominant ideologies and engaging in ideology critique.

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Zen Social Ethics: A Response

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 13, 2006

Saving Zen From Moral Ineptitude: A Response to
Zen Social Ethics: Historical Constraints and Present Prospects

John C. Maraldo
University of North Florida

The four articles on the historical constraints and present prospects of a Zen social ethics are ethical essays in an exemplary sense: although they reflect on what Zen social ethics actually is or has been, their primary concern is with what a Zen social ethics could be or should be. Insofar as the papers are descriptive, they describe a lack or a failure of ethics in the Zen tradition, the failure for example to avert complicity in Japanese militarism and the suffering caused from it. Even where they point to ethical resources within the Zen tradition they do so in the awareness that such resources were not explored, much less utilized, in the past. Yet…

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Review: Dōgen, Mystical Realist

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 13, 2006

Eihei Dōgen – Mystical Realist. Revised, 3rd edition. By Hee-jin Kim. Boston: Wisdom Publications, 2004. 320 pages. Paperback. ISBN 0861713761.

Reviewed by M. T. Jarvis

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Review: Buddhist Sanskrit Literature of Nepal

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 13, 2006

Buddhist Sanskrit Literature of Nepal. By Shanker Thapa. Seoul: Minjoksa Publishing Company, 2005, 194 pages, ISBN: 8970096582 (paper).

Reviewed by Santosh K. Gupta

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Review: Social Ethics of Engaged Buddhism

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 13, 2006

Being Benevolence: The Social Ethics of Engaged Buddhism. By Sallie B. King.  Honolulu, HI: University of Hawai’i Press, 2005, 291 pages, ISBN 0824829352 (paper), US $28.00.

Reviewed by Ethan Mills

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Review: Just-war Ideology in Buddhist Sri Lanka

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 13, 2006

In Defense of Dharma: Just-war Ideology in Buddhist Sri Lanka. By Tessa J. Bartholomeusz. London: RoutledgeCurzon, 2002, 209 pages, ISBN 0700716823 (paper), US $37.95.

Reviewed by Annewieke Vroom

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Review: Bodhisattva Archetypes

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 13, 2006

Faces of Compassion: Classic Bodhisattva Archetypes and Their Modern Expression. By Taigen Dan Leighton. Boston: Wisdom Publications, 2003, 348 pages, ISBN 0861713338 (paper), US $14.95.

Reviewed by Amos Yong

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Review: Capping Phrases for Kōan Practice

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 13, 2006

Zen Sand: The Book of Capping Phrases for Kōan Practice. Compiled, translated, and annotated by Victor Sōgen Hori. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2003, 764 pages, ISBN: 0-8248-2284-6 (cloth), US $44.00.

Reviewed by Jiang Wu

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