Journal of Buddhist Ethics

An online journal of Buddhist scholarship related to ethics.


Why Buddhism and the West Need Each Other

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 20, 2013

Why Buddhism and the West Need Each Other: On the Interdependence of Personal and Social Transformation

David R. Loy

The highest ideal of the Western tradition has been the concern to restructure our societies so that they are more socially just. The most important goal for Buddhism is to awaken and (to use the Zen phrase) realize one’s true nature, which puts an end to dukkha—especially that associated with the delusion of a separate self. Today it has become more obvious that we need both: not just because these ideals complement each other, but also because each project needs the other. The Western (now world-wide) ideal of a social transformation that institutionalizes social justice has achieved much, yet, I argue, is limited because a truly good society cannot be realized without the correlative realization that personal transformation is also necessary. On the other side, the traditional Buddhist emphasis on ending individual dukkha is insufficient in the face of what we now understand about the structural causes of dukkha. This does not mean simply adding a concern for social justice to Buddhist teachings. For example, applying a Buddhist perspective to structural dukkha implies an alternative evaluation of our economic situation. Instead of appealing for distributive justice, this approach focuses on the consequences of individual and institutionalized delusion: the dukkha of a sense of a self that feels separate from others, whose sense of lack consumerism exploits and institutionalizes into economic structures that assume a life (and motivations) of their own.

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Buddhist Reflections on “Consumer” and “Consumerism”

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 20, 2013

Buddhist Reflections on “Consumer” and “Consumerism”

Peter Harvey
University of Sunderland

This article starts with a characterization of “consumerism” and the idea of “the consumer.” It then explores Buddhist attitudes on wealth and “Buddhist economics” before drawing on these to develop a critical assessment of consumerism as an ineffective and wasteful route to human happiness.

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Buddhist Lessons from “King Lear”

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 14, 2007

Shakespeare, Buddha, and King Lear

Melvin Sterne
Florida State University

Given Shakespeare’s status as “the secular Bible,” it is surprising that his work has not been examined more closely to consider its spiritual teachings. As Buddhist studies increase in popularity in the West, more and more Buddhist scholars are being drawn to evaluate Shakespeare’s work in light of Buddhist traditions. Of special interest today is the perception of Shakespeare’s works as points-of-resistance to the dominant global-consumerist ideology. According to Stanley Wells, Lear’s “non-naturalistic interpretation of action” lends itself to the interpretation of its “moral and philosophical concepts.” This article considers the developing relationship between Shakespeare and Buddhism, and through a close read of King Lear establishes some of the methods and questions which may prove Shakespeare fertile ground for Buddhist scholars.

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Review: Mindfulness in the Marketplace

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 10, 2003

Mindfulness in the Marketplace: Compassionate Responses to Consumerism. Allen Badiner (ed.), Berkeley: Parallax Press, 2002. 264 pages. Paperback. ISBN: 1888375248.

Reviewed by Eric Sean Nelson

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