Journal of Buddhist Ethics

An online journal of Buddhist scholarship related to ethics.


Review: Vegetarianism and Animal Ethics in Contemporary Buddhism

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 24, 2017

Vegetarianism and Animal Ethics in Contemporary Buddhism. By James J. Stewart. London: Routledge, 2015, ISBN 1138802166 (hardback), $128.94.

Reviewed by Amy Defibaugh

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Monastic Comportment among Buddhist Nuns in Sri Lanka

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 24, 2017

Tradition, Power, and Community among Buddhist Nuns in Sri Lanka

Nirmala S. Salgado
Augustana College

This article focuses on the relationship between two aspects of monastic comportment among Buddhist nuns in Sri Lanka. How nuns present themselves is embedded both in a discourse of power and in a discourse of morality. Their comportment is the subject of public debate insofar as it relates to disputes about tradition and the recognition of the higher ordination of Theravāda nuns. Yet that comportment also relates to the cultivation of moral dispositions (sῑla), such as restraint and discipline, which are intrinsic to tradition and the daily work of nuns in the communal life of a nunnery. The article argues that nuns live a communal form of life in which their cultivation of moral dispositions relates to questions about power and tradition that they cannot ignore, even though they may seek to do so.

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Can Animals Understand the Dharma?

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 24, 2017

Dharma Dogs: Can Animals Understand the Dharma? Textual and Ethnographic Considerations

James Stewart
University of Tasmania

Pāli textual sources occasionally mention the existence of unusual animals with an aptitude for the Buddha’s dharma. In the Jātaka, clever animals do good deeds and are thus reborn in better circumstances. In the Vinaya, the Buddha declares to a serpent that he should observe Buddhist holy days so he can achieve a human rebirth. But can animals develop spiritually? Can they move towards enlightenment? In this article I will be examining textual and ethnographic accounts of whether animals can hear and understand the dharma. Using ethnographic research conducted in Sri Lanka, I will show that although animals are thought to passively benefit from being in proximity to dharma institutions, there seems to be agreement amongst the monks interviewed that animals cannot truly understand the dharma and therefore cannot practice it. Animals are therefore severely hampered in their spiritual advancement. However, these ethnographic and textual findings do indicate that passively listening to dharma preaching, whether it is understood or not, has spiritually productive consequences.

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Bhikkhunī Academy: A Case of Cross-Tradition Exchange

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 21, 2014

Bhikkhunī Academy at Manelwatta Temple: A Case of Cross-Tradition Exchange

Cheng Wei-yi
Hsuan Chuang University

This article is the result of an investigation continued from an earlier article on an exchange between Buddhists in Taiwan and Sri Lanka (“A Cross-Tradition Exchange Between Taiwan and Sri Lanka,” Journal of Buddhist Ethics, vol. 18, 2011). In that article, I investigated the exchange between a Mahāyāna Taiwanese nunnery and a Theravāda Sri Lankan missionary monk. After the initial exchange, described in the 2011 article, a more permanent institute for the education of Sri Lankan Buddhist nuns has been established. This article describes the cross-tradition exchange behind the founding of the educational institute and its implication for exchanges across different Buddhist traditions in Asia.

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Review: Buddhist Funeral Cultures of Southeast Asia and China

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 20, 2013

Buddhist Funeral Cultures of Southeast Asia and China. Edited by Paul Williams and Patrice Ladwig. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012, ISBN: 9781107003880 (paper-back), $39.99.

Reviewed by Nicolas Sihlé

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Affective Dimensions of the Sri Lankan Bhikkhunī Revival

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 21, 2014

“We Love Our Nuns”: Affective Dimensions of the Sri Lankan Bhikkhunī Revival

Susanne Mrozik
Mount Holyoke College

In this paper I examine lay responses to the Sri Lankan bhikkhunī revival of the late 1990s. Drawing on ethnographic research conducted between 2010 and 2012, I argue that laity have very different concerns than do the scholars, activists, government officials, and monastic authorities engaged in public debate over the scriptural validity of the controversial revival. The primary concern of laity is whether or not they can get their religious needs met at their local bhikkhunī temple, not whether or not the bhikkhunī revival conforms to Theravāda monastic regulations (Vinaya). Taking a rural farming village as a case study, I focus particular attention on the affective ties between laity and nuns, demonstrating that laity in this village express their support for the bhikkhunī revival in the language of love (Sinhala: ādayara, ādare). I analyze what laity mean by the word “love” in the context of lay-nun relationships, and what this can tell us about the larger dynamics of the Sri Lankan bhikkhunī revival.

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Some Problems with Particularism

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 20, 2013

Some Problems with Particularism

Damien Keown
Goldsmiths College, University of London

This article suggests that due to a restricted understanding of the nature and scope of ethical theory, particularism discounts prematurely the possibility of a metatheory of Buddhist ethics. The textual evidence presented in support of particularism is reconsidered and shown to be consistent with a metatheoretical reading. It is argued that writers who have adopted a particularist approach based on W. D. Ross’s “Principalism”—such as Tessa Bartholomeusz in her study of just war ideology in Sri Lanka—have failed to give a satisfactory analysis of the moral dilemmas they have identified. Although particularism rightly draws attention to stories as important sources of moral data, it fails to disprove that the diversity of such evidence can be explained by a single comprehensive theory.

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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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Review: Colonialism and Modernity in Sri Lanka

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 20, 2013

Locations of Buddhism: Colonialism and Modernity in Sri Lanka. By Anne M. Blackburn. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2010, xxii + 237 pages, ISBN-13 978-0-226-05 507-7 (cloth); ISBN-10 0-226-05 507-8 (cloth), $45.00.

Reviewed by Nathan McGovern

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A Cross-Tradition Exchange Between Taiwan and Sri Lanka

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 18, 2011

A Cross-Tradition Exchange Between Taiwan and Sri Lanka

Wei-Yi Cheng
Hsuan Chuang University

This paper uses as an example an alms-offering ceremony that took place on October 5, 2010 to illustrate cross-tradition exchanges between Asian Buddhists of different geographic locations. This ceremony had been intended to give alms to all of the bhikkhunīs in Sri Lanka and was thus itself noteworthy. However, the attention of this paper is on the two main players behind this ceremony. One is a Sri Lankan monk who has been a long term Theravāda missionary in Mahāyāna Taiwan, and the other is a Taiwanese nunnery which has not limited its works to Taiwan. This paper wishes to shed light on cross-tradition exchanges among Asian Buddhists.

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Review: Emotion in Sri Lankan Monastic Culture

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 18, 2011

Attracting the Heart: Social Relations and the Aesthetics of Emotion in Sri Lankan Monastic Culture. By Jeffrey Samuels. Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 2010, xxx + 167 pages, ISBN: 978-0824833855 (cloth), US $36.00.

Reviewed by Mavis L. Fenn

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The Eight Revered Conditions

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 15, 2008

Eight Revered Conditions: Ideological Complicity, Contemporary Reflections and Practical Realities

Nirmala S. Salgado
Augustana College

Scholarly debates focusing on the “Eight Revered Conditions,” a list of conditions suggestive of the dependence of nuns on monks in early Buddhism, have long been the focus of scholarly debates. These debates, centering on the legitimation of a patriarchal Buddhism, have reached an impasse. Here I argue that this impasse logically flows from questionable reconstructions of the imperative and authoritative nature of these eight conditions in early Buddhism, perceived as Buddhavacana, or the word of the Buddha. In contemporary Sri Lanka, practitioners’ reflections on the eight conditions suggest that they function less as imperative injunctions than as markers defining social and moral boundaries, in terms of which monastics conceptualize their world. I demonstrate that scholarly presuppositions of the hierarchical nature of the controversial conditions are contested by perspectives of current praxis, and may also possibly be questioned, at least theoretically, by the process of reconstructing earlier Buddhist realities.

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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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Conference: Buddhism and Conflict in Sri Lanka

SSN 1076-9005
Volume 10 2003

Bath Conference on “Buddhism and Conflict in Sri Lanka”

  

Theravāda Attitudes Toward Violence

Dr. Mahinda Deegalle

Recording, Translating and Interpreting Sri Lankan Chronicle Data

Bhikku Professor Dhammavihari

Response to Ven. Prof. Dhammavihari

Prof. Heinz Bechert

The Buddha’s Attitude Toward Social Concerns as Depicted in the Pāli Canon

Dr. Mudagamuwe Maithrimurthi

An Analysis of the Selected Statements Issued by the Mahanayakas on the North-East Problem of Sri Lanka

Ven. Akuratiye Nanda

The Place for a Righteous War in Buddhism

Prof. P.D. Premasiri

The Role of the Sangha in the Conflict in Sri Lanka

Prof. Asanga Tilakaratne

Buddhism, Ethnicity, and Identity: A Problem of Buddhist History

Prof. Gananath Obeyesekere

Review: Portraits of Buddhist Women

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 10, 2003

Portraits of Buddhist Women. By Ranjini Obeyesekere. Albany: SUNY Press, 2001. ISBN: 0791451127.

Reviewed by Justin McDaniel

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A Jātaka Defence for A Monk Accused

ISSN:1076–9005
Volume 5, 1998

Echoes of Nalinika: A Monk in the Dock

Enid Adam
Edith Cowan University

How can Nalinika, one of the Buddhist Jātaka tales, be used in the Perth District Court in Perth, Western Australia, as an illustration in the defence of a Buddhist monk from Sri Lanka? In the dock sat Pannasara Kahatapitye, a high-ranking monk from Colombo, facing eleven charges of sexual assault. Was this a case of cultural, religious, and political bias and misunderstanding, or of a monk breaking monastic vows and practicing immorally? Was this man a charlatan or a genuine monk being framed by dissident Sinhalese groups in Australia? Over ten days the drama developed as evidence was given before judge and jury. Throughout, the accused sat motionless in the dock, smiling benignly at all in the courtroom. Innocent or guilty? This paper describes how the issues were resolved as seen from the author’s role as a consultant to the crown prosecutor, and examines their implications for the general Buddhist community in Western Australia.

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Just-War Ideology in Buddhist Sri Lanka

ISSN:1076–9005
Volume 6, 1999

In Defense of Dharma: Just-War Ideology in Buddhist Sri Lanka

Tessa Bartholomeusz
Florida State University

Sri Lankan Buddhists avail themselves of a variety of Buddhist stories, canonical and post-canonical, to support their point of view regarding war. And because there are no pronouncements in the stories attributed to the Buddha or in those stories told about him that declare unequivocally and directly that war is wrong, the military metaphors of the stories allow for a variety of interpretations. Some Buddhists argue that the stories directly or indirectly permit war under certain circumstances, while others argue that war is never acceptable. Whether they justify war or not, these Buddhists engage the stories, sometimes the very same ones, to argue their points of view.

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Bibliography on Sinhala Buddhism

ISSN:1076-9005
Volume 4 1997

A Bibliography on Sinhala Buddhism

Mahinda Deegalle
Kyoto University

Scholars identify the Theravāda form of Buddhism that grew in Sri Lanka as Sinhala Buddhism. The adjective Sinhala is both a reference to an ethnic group—Sinhala people, the majority population in Sri Lanka—and to an Indo-European language—Sinhala, spoken by the Sinhala public. Thus, Sinhala Buddhism has two meanings—Buddhism in the Sinhala language and Buddhism practiced by the Sinhala people.

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Review: Fundamentalism and Minority Identities in Sri Lanka

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 6, 1999

Buddhist Fundamentalism and Minority Identities in Sri Lanka. Edited By Tessa J. Bartholomeusz and Chandra R. de Silva. New York: State University of New York Press, 1998, 320 pages, ISBN 0-7914-3834-1, US $19.95.

Reviewed by Mavis L. Fenn

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Review: Relics, Ritual and Representation in Sri Lanka

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 5 1998

Relics, Ritual and Representation in Buddhism: Rematerializing the Sri Lankan Theravada Tradition. By Kevin Trainor. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997, xiv + 223 pages, ISBN 0-521-5820-6, $60.00.

Reviewed by Tessa Bartholomeusz

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Review: Buddhism, Art, and Politics in Late Medieval Sri Lanka

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 5 1998

The Religious World of Kīrti Srī: Buddhism, Art, and Politics in Late Medieval Sri Lanka. By John Clifford Holt. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996, x + 147 pages, ISBN 0-19-510757-8, $26.95.

Reviewed by Mahinda Deegalle

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Review: Engaged Buddhism in Asia

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 5 1998

Engaged Buddhism: Buddhist Liberation Movements in Asia. Edited by Christopher S. Queen and Sallie B. King. New York: State University of New York, 1996, xii + 446 pages, ISBN 0-7914-2844-3, $24.95.

Reviewed by Mavis L. Fenn

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Review: Buddhist Nuns in Sri Lanka

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 4 1997

Women Under the Bo Tree: Buddhist Nuns in Sri Lanka. By Tessa Bartholomeusz. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994, xx, 284 pages, 0-5214-6129-4 (cloth), $59.95.

Reviewed by Kate Blackstone

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Review: Chronicles, Politics and Culture in Sinhala Life

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 3 1996

The Presence of the Past: Chronicles, Politics and Culture in Sinhala Life. By Steven Kemper, The Wilder House Series in Politics, History and Culture. Ithaca, N.Y. and London: Cornell University Press, 1991, xiv +244 pages, ISBN: 0-8014-2395-3, US$29.95.

Reviewed by Nirmala S. Salgado

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