Journal of Buddhist Ethics

An online journal of Buddhist scholarship related to ethics.


Grief, Impermanence, and Upāya

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 23, 2016

“To Whom Does Kisā Gotamī Speak?” Grief, Impermanence, and Upāya

Richard K. Payne
Institute of Buddhist Studies, at the Graduate Theological Union

This article develops a perspective on the nature of Buddhist pastoral care by considering the needs of the bereaved. Differentiating the interpretive frameworks of different audiences and understanding different contexts of interpersonal relations are necessary for effective pastoral care. A distinction between the goal of realizing impermanence and the goal of resolving mourning is heuristically useful in theorizing Buddhist pastoral care. The discussion also seeks to underscore the value of upāya as a positive moral injunction on teachers, indicating the need to properly match their audience and to employ the textual tradition responsibly.

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Shabkar’s Response to Religious Difference

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 22, 2015

Rimé Revisited: Shabkar’s Response to Religious Difference

Rachel H. Pang
Davidson College

This article analyzes Shabkar Tsokdruk Rangdrol’s (1781–1851) Tibetan Buddhist response to interreligious and intersectarian difference. While there exist numerous studies in Buddhist ethics that address the Buddhist perspective on contemporary issues such as abortion, euthanasia, and terrorism, there has been considerably less attention paid to Buddhist responses towards religious difference. Moreover, the majority of the research on this topic has been conducted within the context of Buddhist-Christian dialogue. This article examines Shabkar’s non-sectarian ideas on their own terms, within the context of Buddhist thought. I demonstrate the strong visionary, apocalyptic, theological, and soteriological dimensions of Shabkar’s rimé, or “unbiased,” approach to religious diversity. The two main applications of these findings are: (1) they broaden the current academic understanding of rimé from being a sociological phenomenon to a theological one grounded in social and historical particularities; (2) they draw attention to the non-philosophical aspects of Buddhist ethics.

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Review: Introduction to Tantra

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 21, 2014

Introduction to Tantra: The Transformation of Desire. By Lama Yeshe. Compiled and edited by Jonathan Landaw. Boston: Wisdom Publications, 2014, ISBN 978-61429-155-8 (paper-back), $16.95.

Reviewed by Alyson Prude

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The Dalai Lama and the Nature of Buddhist Ethics

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 20, 2013

The Dalai Lama and the Nature of Buddhist Ethics

Abraham Vélez de Cea
Eastern Kentucky University

This article clarifies the nature of Buddhist ethics from a comparative perspective. It contends that the Dalai Lama’s ethics is best understood as a pluralistic approach to virtue ethics. The article has two parts. The first part challenges Charles Goodman’s interpretation of Mahāyāna Buddhist ethics as an instance of consequentialism. This is done indirectly, that is, not by questioning Goodman’s reading of Śāntideva and Asaṅga, but rather by applying to the Dalai Lama’s ethics the same test that Goodman uses to justify his reading of Mahāyāna ethics as a whole. The second part examines the Dalai Lama’s ethics in comparison to Christine Swanton, a representative of a pluralistic approach to virtue ethics in contemporary analytic philosophy. By comparing the ethics of the Dalai Lama and Swanton, the article does not wish to suggest that her pluralistic approach to virtue ethics is the closest western analogue to Buddhist virtue ethics. I use comparison, not to understand the Dalai Lama’s ethical ideas from the perspective of Swanton’s ethics, but rather to highlight what is unique about the Dalai Lama’s approach to virtue ethics, which is pluralistic in a characteristically Buddhist way.

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Making Suffering Sufferable

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 20, 2013

Suffering Made Sufferable: Śāntideva, Dzongkaba, and Modern Therapeutic Approaches to Suffering’s Silver Lining

Daniel Cozort
Dickinson College

Suffering’s positive side was elucidated beautifully by the eighth century Mahāyāna poet Śāntideva in his Bodhicāryavatāra. Dzongkaba Losang Drakpa, the founder of what came to be known as the Gelukba (dge lugs pa) order of Tibetan Buddhism, used Śāntideva’s text as his main source in the chapter on patience in his masterwork, Lam rim Chenmo. In this article I attempt to explicate Śāntideva’s thought by way of the commentary of Dzongkaba. I then consider it in the context of what Ariel Glucklich has called “Sacred Pain”—the myriad ways in which religious people have found meaning in pain. I conclude with some observations about ways in which some Buddhist-inspired or -influenced therapeutic movements such as Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and Positive Psychology are helping contemporary people to reconcile themselves to pain or to discover that it may have positive value.

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Tsongkhapa on Choice and Emotions

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 19, 2012

Emotions, Ethics, and Choice: Lessons from Tsongkhapa

Emily McRae
University of Oklahoma

This paper explores the degree to which we can exercise choice over our emotional experiences and emotional dispositions. I argue that we can choose our emotions in the sense that we can intentionally intervene in them. To show this, I draw on the mind training practices advocated by the 14th century Tibetan Buddhist yogin and philosopher Tsongkhapa (tsong kha pa blo bzang grags pa). I argue that his analysis shows that successful intervention in a negative emotional experience depends on at least four factors: the intensity of the emotional experience, one’s ability to pay attention to the workings of one’s mind and body, knowledge of intervention practices, and insight into the nature of emotions. I argue that this makes sense of Tsongkhapa’s seemingly contradictory claims that the meditator can and should control (and eventually abandon) her anger and desire to harm others and that harmdoers are “servants to their afflictions.”

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Review: Tsong-kha-pa’s Great Treatise

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 8, 2001

The Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path, Volume One. Translated by the Lamrim Chenmo Translation Committee. Joshua W.C. Cutler, Editor-in-Chief; Guy Newland, Editor Ithaca: Snow Lion Publications, 2000, 434 pages, ISBN 1–5593–9152–9 (paperback), US $29.99.

Reviewed by David Burton

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Review: Tsong-kha-pa’s Great Treatise

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 8, 2001

The Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment by Tsong-kha-pa, Volume One. Translated by the Lamrim Chenmo Translation Committee. Joshua W. C. Cutler, Editor-in-Chief; Guy Newland, Editor. Ithaca: Snow Lion Publications, 2000, 434 pages, ISBN: 1-55939-152-9 (cloth), $29.95.

Reviewed by Daniel Cozort

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Review: Emptiness in the Mind-Only School

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 6, 1999

Emptiness in the Mind-Only School of Buddhism: Dynamic Responses to Dzong-ka-ba’s The Essence of Eloquence: I. By Jeffrey Hopkins. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999, xiv + 528 pages, ISBN: 0-520-21119-7 (cloth), US$45.00.

Reviewed by Paul G. Hackett

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AAR Panel: Revisioning Buddhist Ethics

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 3 1996

Opening Statement

Charles Prebish

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Cutting the Roots of Virtue

Daniel Cozort

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Buddhism and Suicide: The Case of Channa

Damien Keown

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Ethical Particularism in Theravāda Buddhism

Charles Hallisey

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Are There Seventeen Mahāyāna Ethics?

David W. Chappell

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Response: Visions and Revisions in Buddhist Ethics

Christopher Ives

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Tsongkhapa on the Results of Anger

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 2 1995

Cutting the Roots of Virtue: Tsongkhapa on the Results of Anger

Daniel Cozort
Dickinson College

Anger is the most powerful of the kleśas that not only “plant seeds” for suffering but also “cut the roots of virtue” for periods of up to a thousand aeons per instance. This article examines and assesses the exegesis by Tsongkhapa, founder of the Tibetan Gelukba order, of Indian sources on the topic of anger. It argues that despite Tsongkhapa’s many careful qualifications he may not be successful in avoiding the conclusion that if the sūtras are to be accepted literally, there almost certainly will be persons for whom liberation from saṃsāra is precluded.

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