One of the most radical and attractive things about Buddhist ethics is that the rightness or wrongness of an action is not to do with some arbitrary set of rules developed by a deity, but is based on the intention behind the action.
If an action is fueled by craving, hatred, or delusion, then it’s considered to be unskillful, and if it’s not based on those qualities, but instead is based on qualities such as “renunciation” (which would include contentment and generosity), kindness, compassion, and mindfulness, then it’s considered skillful.
For this reason, Buddhism is often said to have an “ethic of intention.” This, however, can be misleading. What determines the ethical status of unskillful … Read more »
Daryl Cameron, Michael Inzlicht and William A. Cunningham: New York Times: One death is a tragedy. One million is a statistic.
You’ve probably heard this saying before. It is thought to capture an unfortunate truth about empathy: While a single crying child or injured puppy tugs at our heartstrings, large numbers of suffering people, as in epidemics, earthquakes and genocides, do not inspire a comparable reaction.
Studies have repeatedly confirmed this. It’s a troubling finding because, as recent research has demonstrated, many of us believe that if more lives are at stake, we will — and should — feel more empathy (i.e., vicariously …
James Stuart, Demand Media: Dharma and karma provide the the basis for Buddhist morality, but also influence the religion’s concept of justice. They form a cosmic path that guides the soul through reincarnation and toward the ultimate goal of enlightenment. This is possible because the two concepts are connected, with dharma teaching individuals to live in harmony with the world, allowing them to accrue positive karma and experience favorable events in this and the next life.
The concept of dharma, or dhamma, posits that the natural state of the world is one of harmony, and humans should do everything in their power to preserve it. Acts…
The Buddha ate meat. This is a fairly well attested fact. The issue of vegetarianism is addressed a few times in the Suttas, notably the Jivaka Sutta of the Majjhima Nikaya. The Buddha consistently affirmed that monastics were permitted to eat meat, as long as it was not killed intentionally for them. There are numerous passages in the Vinaya that refer to the Buddha or the monastics eating meat, and meat is regularly mentioned as one of the standard foods.
For these reasons, the standard position in Theravada Buddhism is that there is no ethical problem with eating meat. If you want to be vegetarian, that is a purely optional choice. Most Theravadins, whether lay … Read more »
I wonder what kind of “meditation” Anders Breivik — who shot 69 people on an island in Norway last year, as well as killing another eight with a bomb — was doing?
According to this report,
When prosecutors Friday asked Breivik whether he felt empathy for others, the killer said he taught himself to dull all emotions – “from happiness to sorrow, despair, hopelessness, anxiety, fear” through meditation.
It’s possible that Breivik was not doing anything resembling traditional Buddhist meditation, which encourages compassion and non-repression of emotions. I’d be 100 confident that Breivik was not practicing lovingkindness or compassion meditation!
Traditionally, meditation is only one part of the spiritual path, and it’s accompanied with … Read more »
Peggy Fletcher Stack (Salt Lake Tribune): Charles Prebish’s path through American Buddhism has taken him to cities and universities, libraries and seminars, academic tugs of war, Zen centers, meditation retreats and global online communities. It put him in the presence of the nation’s most influential Buddhist teachers and at the forefront of a burgeoning field.
Most unexpectedly, Prebish’s decades as a Buddhist scholar-practitioner even set him down at the end of his career in, as he put it, Mormonland.
Now in an eye-opening autobiography, An American Buddhist Life: Memoirs of a Modern Dharma Pioneer, Prebish spells out the spiritual and…
Joshua Rothman (Boston Globe): Buddhism is in vogue in the West, partly because Buddhist practices, especially meditation, are popularly associated with contentment and well-being. As religions go, Buddhism strikes many people as a sensible and practical lifestyle choice.
Owen Flanagan, a distinguished philosopher at Duke, thinks this purely practical approach to Buddhism misses the point. In a new book, “The Bodhisattva’s Brain: Buddhism Naturalized,’’ Flanagan argues Buddhism matters not just for practical reasons, but for philosophical ones. Subtract the “hocus-pocus” about reincarnation and karma, he argues, and you’ll find a rigorous, clear-eyed account of the universe and our place in it – one that would satisfy even the most ardent modern-day materialist. Buddhism matters, in … Read more »
Good news begets better people.
That was the conclusion of new research released Tuesday by the University of British Columbia, that found people with a strong sense of “moral identity” were inspired to do good when they read media stories about Good Samaritans’ selfless acts.
According to lead author Karl Aquino, who studies forgiveness and moral behaviour issues, four separate studies found a direct link between a person’s exposure to media accounts of extraordinary virtue and their yearning to change the world.
He said media reports could potentially play a crucial role in the mobilization of history makers if less attention was paid to negative coverage.
“Our study indicates that if more attention was devoted … Read more »