Journal of Buddhist Ethics

An online journal of Buddhist scholarship related to ethics.

Archive for the ‘Volume 28 2021’


The Existential and Soteriological Value of Saṃvega/Pasāda in Early Buddhism

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 28, 2021

Aesthetic Emotions: The Existential and Soteriological Value of Saṃvega/Pasāda in Early Buddhism

Lisa Liang and Brianna K. Morseth
Dharma Realm Buddhist University

Across the globe, our continued existence in light of present conditions is uncertain. Rapid spread of disease and risk of complications endanger the human population. Such challenging circumstances may shock and devastate us, inducing mass panic and pandemonium amid the pervasive threat of pandemic. Yet according to Buddhist philosophy, existential unease can also spawn deep transformation. In this paper, we examine a pair of aesthetic emotions (saṃvega/pasāda) from the early Buddhist tradition that together hold the potential to induce critical reflection and productive engagement in response to existential threat. By referring to saṃvega/pasāda as aesthetic emotions, we intend to draw out their distinctive, often visually-oriented soteriological function. While initially disorienting and perhaps even paralyzing, saṃvega and pasāda are ultimately reorienting and motivating factors on the path to liberation from the suffering entailed by cyclic existence.

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Review: The Culture of Giving in Myanmar

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 28, 2021

The Culture of Giving in Myanmar: Buddhist Offerings, Reciprocity and Interdependence. By Hiroko Kawanami. London and New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2020, xv + 185 pages, ISBN 978-1-350-12417-2 (hardback), $115.00/978-1-350-12418-9 (e-book), $103.50.

Reviewed by Jason Carbine

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Review: Wilfrid Sellars and Buddhist Philosophy

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 28, 2021

Wilfrid Sellars and Buddhist Philosophy: Freedom from Foundations. Edited by Jay L. Garfield. Routledge Studies in American Philosophy. London and New York: Routledge, 2019, 254 pages. ISBN 978-0-367-11209-7 (hardback), $128/978-1-03-209415-1 (paperback), $39.16/978-0-429-02794-9 (e-book), $44.05.

Reviewed by Matthew T. Kapstein

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Buddhist Lessons in Pandemics and Politics

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 28, 2021

Coronavirus and Ill-fated Crowns: Buddhist Lessons in Pandemics and Politics

Alexander McKinley
Loyola University Chicago

Synthesizing three retellings of the story about the Buddha curing a plague in the ancient city of Vesāli, this article argues that lessons from the narrative can help us analyze the modern coronavirus pandemic and critique political responses to it. From the ancient Pāli commentary of Buddhaghosa to Sinhala vernacular retellings by a medieval monk named Buddhaputra and a colonial-era layman named Vijēvikrama, the critical force of the story has seemingly grown over time. Along the way, these authors emphasize how the endless expansion of the city due to the material desires of its rulers was bound to exacerbate suffering by their grasping at impermanent forms. This philosophical insight is applicable to current problems, where the limitless materialism of global capitalism has also been overextended, altering climates and ecologies to generate new pathogens like the coronavirus. Countries that promised uninterrupted economic growth during the pandemic have in turn suffered its worst consequences. The story of Vesāli therefore remains ripe for many more retellings in the modern world, teaching that attention to a higher ideal of transcendent truth is more fruitful than material enrichment alone.

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Review: The Ethics of AI and Robotics

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 28, 2021

The Ethics of AI and Robotics: A Buddhist Viewpoint. By Soraj Hongladarom. Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books, 2020, 236 pp., ISBN 978-1-4985-9729-6 (hardback), $100.00.

Reviewed by James J. Hughes

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Review: The Meaning of Life in Asian and Western Thought

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 28, 2021

Cross-Cultural Existentialism: On the Meaning of Life in Asian and Western Thought. By Leah Kalmanson. London and New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2020, 194 pp., ISBN 978-1-350-14001-1 (hardback), $115.00.

Reviewed by Nathan R. B. Loewen

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Review: A Concise Analysis of Buddhist Ethics

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 28, 2021

Buddhist Ethics. Cambridge Elements in Ethics. By Maria Heim. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020, 66 pp. ISBN 978-1-108-70662-9 (paperback), $20.00.

Reviewed by Emily McRae

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Is Buddhism Individualistic? The Trouble with a Term

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 28, 2021

Is Buddhism Individualistic? The Trouble with a Term

Donna Lynn Brown
University of Manitoba

Western scholars have been calling expressions of Buddhism “individualistic”—or denying the charge—since the 1800s. This article argues that “individualism” and related terms are sometimes problematic when applied to Buddhism. Because they are associated with Western modernity, they contribute to hegemonic discourses about Asia and Buddhism, skew representations, and reinforce stereotypes. Because their referents have been many and varied—including escaping caste and family, asociality, lay practice, and racism—their use leads to imprecision, confusion, and lack of comparability among analyses. And because they have moral connotations, they can blend observation with valuation and polemic. The article examines selected scholarly works that maintain or deny that Buddhism is individualistic, highlights problems associated with the term, and concludes that, in many cases, more precise and less value-laden descriptors should be found.

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Review: The Teaching and Practice of Avataṃsaka Buddhism in Twentieth-Century China

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 28, 2021

The Huayan University Network: The Teaching and Practice of Avataṃsaka Buddhism in Twentieth-Century China. By Erik J. Hammerstrom. New York: Columbia University Press, 2020, 288 pp., ISBN 978-0-231-19430-3 (hardback), $65.00.

Reviewed by Gregory Adam Scott

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Review: Mindfully Facing Climate Change

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 28, 2021

Mindfully Facing Climate Change. By Bhikkhu Anālayo. Barre, Massachusetts: Barre Center for Buddhist Studies, 2019, 206 pp., ISBN 978-1-7067-1988-5 (paperback), $9.95. Open access e-book: https://www.buddhistinquiry.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/MindfullyFacingClimateChange.pdf.

Reviewed by Abhinav Anand

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Review: Vipassana Meditation and the Embodiment of the Self

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 28, 2021

Inward: Vipassana Meditation and the Embodiment of the Self. By Michal Pagis. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 2019, x + 216 pp, ISBN 978-0-226-36187-1 (paperback), $27.50.

Reviewed by Joseph Loss

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Review: Buddhism, Politics, and Violence

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 28, 2021

If You Meet the Buddha on the Road: Buddhism, Politics, and Violence. By Michael Jerryson. New York: Oxford University Press, 2018, 240 pp., ISBN 978-0-19-068356-6 (hardback), $115.00.

Reviewed by Manuel Litalien

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Review: Readings of Dōgen’s Treasury of the True Dharma Eye

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 28, 2021

Readings of Dōgen’s Treasury of the True Dharma Eye. By Steven Heine. New York: Columbia University Press, 2020, 312 pp., ISBN 978-0-231-18229-4 (paperback), $35.00.

Reviewed by Zuzana Kubovčáková

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Review: South Asia in the Formation of Modern Japanese Buddhism

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 28, 2021

Seeking Śākyamuni: South Asia in the Formation of Modern Japanese Buddhism. By Richard M. Jaffe. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 2019, xvi + 309 pp., ISBN 978-0-226-39115-1 (paperback), $32.50.

Reviewed by Melissa Anne-Marie Curley

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