Fundamental Tenets of Buddhism

Topics: Buddhism, Morality, Five Precepts Pages: 7 (2607 words) Published: January 29, 2006
The Fundamental Tenets
Of Buddhist Ethics
The Moral Dilemmas

Word Count: 2,521

To live is to act, and in doing so our actions can have either harmful or beneficial consequences for oneself and others. Buddhist ethics is concerned with the principles and/or practices that help one to act in the ways that are helpful rather than harmful. ( Primary to the human factor is the fact that work implies equally to any setting, a supermarket or the stock market. No matter where we work, we've got to find a way to get along well with the people around us. (McLeod, 2004) Some claim that Buddhism cannot encourage one to be good, because then you would become attached to goodness. Is it not better to find a middle ground where one does enough good that there cannot be criticism of this action? Buddhist many find that even this middle ground is not enough for their spiritual enlightenment. It may be that as one works on improving themselves through good, a natural process of compassion for others may develop. It is important to note that three fundamental forms of training are practiced in Buddhism. These practices consist of morality, mental culture, and wisdom. (Plamintr, 1994) Each of these practices is implemented with regards to the five precepts. These practices are the basic objectives behind the precepts rather than the practice themselves. Morality is translated to sila in Buddhist terms. Sila is a state of normalcy, and when practiced it will return one to one's own basic goodness or original state of normalcy. (Plamintr, 1994) Greed, hatred, anger, jealousy are just some factors that alter individuals nature, making them into something other than their own true self. Sila trains individuals to preserve their true nature while overcoming negative forces. When viewing morality it is easy to understand that there is, and will be corruption. This in turns effects society, and can be seen when viewing what society is experiencing presently. Whether or not this effect is direct or indirect, it shows the lack of some form of good morality. Without morality one may never achieve the right concentration, and without the right concentration wisdom will not be fully perfected. How good morality is determined, may be viewed by whether or not an action is either good or evil, right or wrong. (Wangu, 2002) When viewing an action it must be evaluated by some mean, and this may be accomplished through the use of a few simple questions. What were the intentions that motivated the action, what repercussions resulted from this action, and what effect does this action have on others, can show whether or not the action was precipitated with good or evil intent. For the Buddhist these moral precepts are based on Dhamma, and reflect eternal values. (Wangu, 2002) The percepts help one to live those ideals, and teach one to do the right things while avoiding the wrong things. Moral precepts are not like commandments, such as those used in many Christian religions, they are more a course which one trains willingly in order to obtain a desired objective. The precepts are not practiced to please a supreme being, but are for the good of oneself and the good of society. Training is based on the concept that all human beings have the potential for development. And development may be realized through distinct standards by which individuals may train themselves. Observance of the five precepts represents the minimal moral obligation for the practicing Buddhist. This practice deeply affects the follower's personal life, as well as their social life. The precepts assist in leading a moral life and advancement on the spiritual path, both on a personal level and on a social level. The five precepts are a means to an end, they are observed for specific reasons. (Plamintr, 1994) They represent the groundwork for promoting higher virtues, mental development and spiritual enlightenment. The first precept...

Cited: Gyatso, Geshe Kelsang. Introduction to Buddhism. England: Tharpa Publications, 2001
McLeod, Melvin. The Best Buddhist Writing. Boston & London: Shambhala. 2004
Plamintr, Sunthorn. Getting to Know Buddhism. Bangkok: Buddhadhamma Foundation, 1994
Wangu, Madhu Bazaz. Buddhism World Religion. New York: Facts on File, Inc., 2002
BuddhaNet Basic Buddhism Guide. Buddhist Ethics. 20 Oct. 2005
Geocities. 1 Jan 2005. 12 Oct. 2005
Park Ridge Center. Buddhist Ethics. 1 Mar. 2005. 20 Oct. 2005
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