Journal of Buddhist Ethics

An online journal of Buddhist scholarship related to ethics.


Laughter and Transmission of the Dharma

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 25, 2018

Language, Reality, Emptiness, Laughs

Soraj Hongladarom
Chulalongkorn University

Laughter, especially in connection with philosophy, reality, or language, is not much discussed in the vast literature of Buddhism. In the few places where it is discussed, however, there are two strands. On the one hand, laughter is frowned upon when it is seen as an attraction that leads one astray from the path. This is evident in the Tālapuṭa Sūtra, where the Buddha says that actors and comedians would find it very difficult to enter the Path. It is also found in the Vinaya, where the emphasis is on the proper behavior of monks. The Buddha often rebukes monks who laugh out loud in the villages where householders can see them. The other strand views laughter more positively. This strand is found more in the Mahāyāna literature, where the Buddha laughs when he realizes emptiness, that nothing is substantial. The attitude of Buddhism toward laughter is conditional. Laughter and playfulness have a soteriological role to play as a skillful means, and Buddhism is not always serious.

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Dependent Origination and the Value of Nature

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 24, 2017

Dependent Origination, Emptiness, and the Value of Nature

David Cummiskey and Alex Hamilton
Bates College

This article explains the importance of the Buddhist doctrine of dependent origination to contemporary environmental ethics and also develops a Buddhist account of the relational, non-instrumental, and impersonal value of nature. The article’s methodology is “comparative” or “fusion” philosophy. In particular, dependent origination and Nāgārjuna’s doctrine of emptiness are developed in contrast to Aldo Leopold and J. Baird Callicott’s conception of deep ecology, and the Buddhist conception of value is developed using Christine Korsgaard’s Kantian analysis of the distinction between intrinsic/extrinsic value and means/ends value.

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Review: The Ethics of Śaṅkara and Śāntideva

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 23, 2016

The Ethics of Śaṅkara and Śāntideva: A Selfless Response to an Illusory World. By Warren Lee Todd. Farnham, Surrey and Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2013, xii + 220, ISBN: 9781409466819 (hardback), $149.95.

Reviewed by Joseph S. O’Leary

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Review Essay: Personal Identity and Buddhist Philosophy

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 11, 2004

Personal Identity and Buddhist Philosophy: Empty Persons. By Mark Siderits. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2003. 231 pages. Cloth. ISBN 0-7546-3473-6.

Reviewed by Roger Farrington

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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: Lack and Transcendence

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 5 1998

Lack and Transcendence: The Problem of Death and Life in Psychotherapy, Existentialism, and Buddhism. By David Loy. Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey: Humanities Press International, 1996, 248 pages, ASIN 0391038605, US $49.95.

Reviewed by Michael F. Stoeber

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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: 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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