Journal of Buddhist Ethics

An online journal of Buddhist scholarship related to ethics.


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

Read article

Review: Monasticism in Theravāda Buddhism and Medieval Catholicism

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 4 1997

Virtuosity, Charisma, and the Social Order: A Comparative Sociological Study of Monasticism in Theravāda Buddhism and Medieval Catholicism. By Ilana Freidrich Silber. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995, x + 250 pages, ISBN 0-521-41397-4, $54.95.

Reviewed by Mavis Fenn

Read article

AAR Panel: Revisioning Buddhist Ethics

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 3 1996

Opening Statement

Charles Prebish

Read article

Cutting the Roots of Virtue

Daniel Cozort

Read article

Buddhism and Suicide: The Case of Channa

Damien Keown

Read article

Ethical Particularism in Theravāda Buddhism

Charles Hallisey

Read article

Are There Seventeen Mahāyāna Ethics?

David W. Chappell

Read article

Response: Visions and Revisions in Buddhist Ethics

Christopher Ives

Read article

Two Notions of Poverty in the Pāli Canon

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 3 1996

Two Notions of Poverty in the Pāli Canon

Mavis Fenn
McMaster University

The paper is divided into two sections. The first focuses on an analysis of the Cakkavatti-Sīhanāda Sutta, a sutta that provides the most extensive discussion of poverty as deprivation in the Nikāyas. Poverty in this text is primarily a socio-political issue that effects the spiritual development of all members of society. The second section of the paper focuses on the notion of poverty as simplicity, a notion associated with renouncers who are akiñcana, “without anything,” “lacking possessions.” Central to this section is an analysis of the Aggañña Sutta.

Read article

Kusala in Canon and Commentary

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 3 1996

Good or Skilful? Kusala in Canon and Commentary

L. S. Cousins
University of Manchester

This paper examines the use of kusala in the commentarial sources and finds that, although the commentators are aware of various senses of the word kusala, they tend to give primacy to meanings such as “good” or “meritorious.” A detailed examination of the canonical Pāli sources gives a rather different picture. The original meaning of kuśala (Sanskrit) in the sense with which we are concerned would then be “intelligent.” Its sense in early Buddhist literature would be “produced by wisdom.” The paper concludes with a brief discussion of the concept of puñña—”fortune-bringing action” rather than “merit.”

Read article

Review: Ultimate Values in Theravāda

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 3 1996

Desire, Death, and Goodness: The Conflict of Ultimate Values in Theravāda Buddhism. By Grace G. Burford. New York: Peter Lang Publishing, Inc., 1991, xii, 213 pages, $38.95.

Reviewed by Mavis Fenn

Read article

Review: Theravāda Psychology and Soteriology

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 3 1996

The Five Aggregates: Understanding Theravāda Psychology and Soteriology. By Mathieu Boisvert, Editions SR Vol.17: Canadian Corporation for Studies in Religion/Corporation Canadienne des Sciences Religieuses, Wilfred Laurier Press, 1995, xii +166 pages, ISBN: 0-88920-257-5, US$24.95.

Reviewed by Peter Harvey

Read article

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

Read article

Review: Two American Theravāda temples

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 3 1996

Old Wisdom in the New World. By Paul Numrich. Knoxville, Tennessee: University of Tennessee Press, 1996, xxiv + 181 pages, ISBN 0-87049-905-X, $25 (cloth).

Reviewed by Martin Baumann

Read article

Unwholesomeness of Actions in Theravāda

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 2 1995

Criteria for Judging the Unwholesomeness of Actions in the Texts of Theravāda Buddhism

Peter Harvey
University of Sunderland

After briefly reviewing the role of ethics on the path in Theravāda texts, the article moves on to discuss the various criteria for distinguishing between wholesome and unwholesome actions. It then explores the gradation of unwholesomeness of actions according to several variables, and then applies this to wholesome actions, here highlighting the importance of right view. Finally, the question of the relation between precept-taking and the moral worth of actions is assessed.

Read article

Ethics in the Kurudhamma Jātaka

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 2 1995

The Kurudhamma: From Ethics to Statecraft

Andrew Huxley
University of London
Law Department, School of Oriental & African Studies

This article compares two literary treatments of a Buddhist ethical motif. In the prose sections of the Kurudhamma Jātaka the motif is expanded into a collection of ethical casuistry. In the Kurudhamma kaṇḍa pañho, it is expanded into a series of job descriptions for the king and ten of his subordinates. Description of these provokes discussion of the history of the practice of ethics by Buddhist monks and Buddhist courtiers.

Read article

Review: Perspectives on Buddhist Ethics

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 2 1995

Perspectives on Buddhist Ethics. Edited by Prof. Mahesh Tiwary. Delhi: Department of Buddhist Studies, Delhi University, 1989. Rs 150.00.

Theravāda Buddhist Ethics with Special Reference to Visuddhimagga. Dr Vyanjana. Calcutta: Punthi Pustak, 1992. Rs 275.00.

Reviewed by Roger Farrington

Read article

A Buddhist Ethic Without Karmic Rebirth?

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 1 1994

A Buddhist Ethic Without Karmic Rebirth?

Winston L. King
Vanderbilt University

Is a viable and authentic Buddhist ethic possible without the prospect of rebirth governed by one’s karmic past? This paper explores traditional and contemporary views on karma with a view to determining the importance of this doctrine for practical ethics in the West. The Theravāda emphasis on the personal nature of karma is discussed first, followed by a consideration of the evolution of a social dimension to the doctrine in the Mahāyāna. The latter development is attributed to the twin influences of the Bodhisattva ideal and the metaphysics of Nāgārjuna and Hua Yen. Following this survey of traditional perspectives, attention is turned for the greater part of the paper to a consideration of the relevance of the notion of karmic rebirth for Buddhist ethics in the West. The notion of “social kamma” advanced by Ken Jones in The Social Face of Buddhism is given critical consideration. The conclusion is that a doctrine of karmic rebirth is not essential to a viable and authentic Buddhist ethic in the West.
Read article

Vinaya in American Theravāda Temples

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 1 1994

Vinaya in Theravāda Temples in the United States

Paul David Numrich
University of Illinois at Chicago
 
Vinaya (the monastic discipline) plays an essential role in defining traditional Theravāda Buddhism. This article examines the current state of vinaya recitation and practice in the nearly 150 immigrant Theravāda Buddhist temples in the United States, and also speculates on the prospect of traditional Theravāda’s firm establishment in this country. Specific vinaya issues discussed include the pātimokkha ceremony, the discussion about vinaya adaptation to the American context, adaptations in the areas of monastic attire and relations with women, and principles of adaptation at work in Theravāda temples in the United States. 

Read article

Buddhist Economic Ethics

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 17, 2010

Sufficiency Economy and Santi Asoke: Buddhist Economic Ethics for a Just and Sustainable World

Juliana Essen
Soka University of America

Mainstream economic thought and practice has resulted in wide-spread socioeconomic disparity and environmental devastation in all corners of the world, unmitigated by a multi-billion dollar development industry informed by these same economic models. To reverse this trend, the dominant forms of economic thought and practice must be reunited with ethics that are more caring of the human-nature base. Such ethics may be found in alternative economic models based on religious, spiritual, environmental, or feminist values. This essay considers one such alternative: Buddhist economics. After outlining a theory of Buddhist economics, this essay considers two models: the Royal Thai Sufficiency Economy Model and the approach adopted by the Santi Asoke Buddhist Reform Movement of Thailand. Both are conducive to economic activity that is more socially just and environmentally sustainable, particularly due to their ethics of self-reliance, moderation, and interdependence.

Read article

Buddhism, Brain Death, and Organ Transplantation

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 17, 2010

Buddhism, Brain Death, and Organ Transplantation

Damien Keown
Goldsmiths College, University of London

This article raises concerns about the degree to which potential donors are aware that their layman’s understanding of death may not be the same as that enshrined in protocols employing the criterion of brain death. There would seem to be a need for greater public education of a kind which acknowledges the debate around the practical and conceptual difficulties associated with brain death, and makes clear what the implications of a diagnosis of brain death are for the donor and his or her relatives. The remainder of the article explores the discrepancy between the modern concept of brain death and the traditional Buddhist understanding of death as the loss of the body’s organic integrity as opposed to simply the loss of its cerebral functions.

Read article


Academic Technology services: GIS | Media Center | Language Exchange