A question for Buddhists

From my very limited understanding of Buddhism (and Hinduism) there are no absolute morals (that one action or another isn’t per se good or bad), but rather every action we generally consider “bad” will bring about a negative impact (suffering), while actions we consider “good” bring about a lessening of suffering.

Because of this we don’t necessarily have any actual obligation, or moral imperative, to do good based off of anything intrinsic to our human nature, as Catholics maintain. Instead, it’s that we ought to do good so that we can collectively avoid suffering and achieve nirvana. Hence it is “unwise” or “wise” rather than “wrong” or “right” to do or not do something.

So here’s the question: did I get that right? :slight_smile:

I’ll never heard such a thing. The first and most basic thing the buddha taught was generosity. And there are very much morals. Just like the church. Bad or good actions don’t mean anything when it comes to suffering because all suffering is self induced. Self is “creature nature” that Aquinas talks about that must be “dispised” or deposed of. One can volunteer to go to hell and if he is realized not suffer. We are human. Why shouldn’t we do good? If you don’t do good you’ll never get to “nirvana”

HTH some

Correct. In Buddhism there are no moral absolutes.
There is ethical behaviors left to each person
to discern whether he should participate or not
based primarily on his own self examination
of his ego involvement. The goal is to not
operate at all from ego and eliminate desire for the
good or the bad. Therefore complete pacification is the
is primary achievement and it is necessary to
reject anything that suggests of a transcendence to
a personal God.

Very simplistic explanation but a good general overview.
So for example a man who is miserly suffers from
a wrong desire so is counseled to give freely to
those with nothing. Not to help the poor but to
help himself not be materialistic.

I don’t know I guess it’s from the school you’re with. I’ve been in the Tibetan Kagyu lineage before I was Catholic and never left it I just became Catholic too. The 2 are very compatible as I understand them. www.accesstoinsight.org talks about the buddha talking about “Brahma” or a personal creator God. Something has to give us the gift of existence.

The non-doing of any evil,
the performance of what’s skillful,
the cleansing of one’s own mind:
this is the teaching
of the Awakened.

Buddhist religious writings have not been as widely and plainly organized for modern consumption the way Biblical and Catholic doctrinal teachings have.

"The Four Noble Truths are beliefs that underlie most of Buddhist epistemology. They are:

  1. The nature of suffering: Birth, aging, illness and death are suffering, as is attachment and aversion.
  2. The origin of suffering: craving for things we think will bring us pleasure.
  3. The cessation of suffering: freedom from attachment and aversion.
  4. The way leading to the cessation of suffering: The eightfold path includes right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration.
    What these mean is that we are mistaken or deluded about the true nature of reality, and we have cravings for things we think will bring us pleasure, and aversion for those things we think won’t. We think that not getting what we want is what makes us suffer, when it is really the attachment to some things and aversion to others that cause suffering. If we examine the nature of reality deeply, using certain techniques, and cultivate compassion for all beings, we will discover the true nature of reality."

wiki.answers.com/Q/What_are_the_main_tenets_of_Buddhism

They are not clear about what happens when you do “X” because this is dictated precisely by the “karmic” need or reaction. We weigh the same sin differently based on what was in the hart of the sinner at the time or motive. They do as well but the mechanics are different.

In Buddhism though, the process of finding relief is different. We sincerely are sorry for our sins and stand ready to do penance. We then confess our sins and follow the instructions.

Buddhists go through one life after another earning bad or good karma through works, detachment, and prayer [of a sort] The goal is ultimately to become pure as soul and escape the wheel of reincarnation and become part of God. There is no savior, only teachers. Hell is not everlasting for them, but simply a cycle or a debt that is experienced and paid in full. Then they move on to the next life. The concept of mercy seems to be that of “works” which earns them “good” karma. Lust and what we think of as sin, leads to misery, so while there is nothing about things like contraception and so on, for every action there is a reaction. Like us, they do not worship statures.
It is all very pretty, it is peaceful, it has merit of sorts, but it is not my way, though there are things that I can take from the way they lead their lives which does focus highly on charity and kindness.

An other thing that helps with those 4 noble truths and overcoming suffering is the sacraments of reconciliation and eucharist. I’ve done it all.
And a good sadhanna.

Whenever asking questions about a different religion
I find it most useful to go to sources that actually
practice the religion and stick to the major
sects and principles. One can find exceptions to
every rule in any religion but the exceptions are
not a major description of that religion. For example
one does not get the full view of the Catholic Church
by speaking to a lay person in SSPX. Wouldn’t you
agree?

There are three major sects in Buddhism and a
bunch of tinier ones. With the three major sects
there is NO belief in a “god” and in fact any such belief
would hold the seeker back on the path to enlightenment.

So over all do Buddhists believe in a “God”?
Short answer and most accurate- no.

And without any belief in a “god” any similarity between
Buddhism and any if the major Judeo Christian religions
would be purely accidental and somewhat delusional.

Here is WHY Buddhists reject the concept of a God
written by Buddhists for future Buddhists.
buddhanet.net/ans73.htm

I have heard that there are buddhist teaching that shakyamuni simply didn’t get into the idea of a creator God. not so much as a denial or atheistic view but more of a non-theistic view. Yes I understand that too. And that’s what I learned first.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nontheism

That’s more or less not taking a view either way. He didn’t feel in what he was trying to get across that theism would help but as you say hinder.

Different schools of Buddhism differ, but in general Buddhism shies away from all ‘absolutes’, whether in morals or in anything else. There is no concept of sin, merely actions and the effects of those actions:

Mind precedes all conditions,
mind is their chief, they are mind-made.
If you speak or act with an evil mind then suffering will follow you,
as the wheel follows the draught ox.

Mind precedes all conditions,
mind is their chief, they are mind-made.
If you speak or act with a pure mind then happiness will follow you,
as a shadow that never leaves.

– Dhammapada 1:1-2

Actions are not intrinsically wrong, but they do have effects. If you want to avoid the effects then avoid the actions that cause them. There is neither sin, nor forgiveness of sin; just actions and unavoidable consequences.

Because of this we don’t necessarily have any actual obligation, or moral imperative, to do good based off of anything intrinsic to our human nature, as Catholics maintain. Instead, it’s that we ought to do good so that we can collectively avoid suffering and achieve nirvana. Hence it is “unwise” or “wise” rather than “wrong” or “right” to do or not do something.

Nirvana is not attained through moral actions alone. Moral actions are necessary, but not sufficient. Meditation is also required:

To avoid all evil,
to cultivate good,
and to cleanse one’s mind -
this is the teaching of the Buddhas.

– Dhammapada 14:5

If you continue to act in an unwise manner, then you will continue to be reborn and you will continue to suffer:

[The Buddha said:] “What do you think, monks: Which is greater, the tears you have shed while transmigrating and wandering this long, long time — crying and weeping from being joined with what is displeasing, being separated from what is pleasing — or the water in the four great oceans?”

“As we understand the Dhamma taught to us by the Blessed One, this is the greater: the tears we have shed while transmigrating and wandering this long, long time — crying and weeping from being joined with what is displeasing, being separated from what is pleasing — not the water in the four great oceans.”

"Excellent, monks. Excellent. It is excellent that you thus understand the Dhamma taught by me.

“This is the greater: the tears you have shed while transmigrating and wandering this long, long time — crying and weeping from being joined with what is displeasing, being separated from what is pleasing — not the water in the four great oceans.”

– Assu sutta, Samyutta Nikaya 15.3

So here’s the question: did I get that right? :slight_smile:

What you said was pretty much correct. There is a lot more behind it that you didn’t say. It would be a mistake to fill in the pieces you left out with assumptions taken from the Abrahamic religions. Buddhism has a very different set of underlying assumptions.

rossum

Glad your here Rossum! Now you’ll get some answers :slight_smile:

Cool. That’s what I thought.

Nirvana is not attained through moral actions alone. Moral actions are necessary, but not sufficient. Meditation is also required:

To avoid all evil,
to cultivate good,
and to cleanse one’s mind -
this is the teaching of the Buddhas.

– Dhammapada 14:5

If you continue to act in an unwise manner, then you will continue to be reborn and you will continue to suffer:

[The Buddha said:] “What do you think, monks: Which is greater, the tears you have shed while transmigrating and wandering this long, long time — crying and weeping from being joined with what is displeasing, being separated from what is pleasing — or the water in the four great oceans?”

“As we understand the Dhamma taught to us by the Blessed One, this is the greater: the tears we have shed while transmigrating and wandering this long, long time — crying and weeping from being joined with what is displeasing, being separated from what is pleasing — not the water in the four great oceans.”

"Excellent, monks. Excellent. It is excellent that you thus understand the Dhamma taught by me.

“This is the greater: the tears you have shed while transmigrating and wandering this long, long time — crying and weeping from being joined with what is displeasing, being separated from what is pleasing — not the water in the four great oceans.”

– Assu sutta, Samyutta Nikaya 15.3

This seems somewhat reminiscent of faith and works in Catholicism, albeit it’s a completely different conception of what reality is.

What you said was pretty much correct. There is a lot more behind it that you didn’t say. It would be a mistake to fill in the pieces you left out with assumptions taken from the Abrahamic religions. Buddhism has a very different set of underlying assumptions.

rossum

Thanks for the help/clarification! :slight_smile:

:thumbsup: a little off :blush:

buddhism and morality

"The Pancha Shila, or five moral precepts:

  1. Avoid killing, or harming any living thing.

  2. Avoid stealing – taking what is not yours to take.

  3. Avoid sexual irresponsibility, which for monks and nuns means celibacy.

  4. Avoid lying, or any hurtful speech.

  5. Avoid alcohol and drugs which diminish clarity of consciousness.

To these, monks and nuns add…

  1. One simple meal a day, before noon.

  2. Avoid frivolous entertainments.

  3. Avoid self-adornment.

  4. Use a simple bed and seat.

  5. Avoid the use of money.

Full monastic life adds over two hundred more rules and regulations!

The Paramita

The Perfections or Virtues – noble qualities that we should all strive to achieve. Here are two versions:

  1. Generosity (P: dana)
  2. Moral discipline (P: sila)
  3. Patience and tolerance (P: khanti)
  4. Wisdom or (full-) consciousness (P: pañña)
  5. Energy (P: viriya)
  6. Renunciation (P: nekkhamma)
  7. Truthfulness (P: sacca)
  8. Determination (P: adhitthana)
  9. Loving kindness (P: metta)
  10. Equanimity (P: upekkha) 1. Generosity (dana)
  11. Moral discipline (shila)
  12. Patience and tolerance (kshanti)
  13. Energy (virya)
  14. Meditation (dhyana)
  15. Wisdom or (full-) consciousness (prajña)
  16. Skilled methods (upaya)
  17. Vow or resolution (pranidhana)
  18. The ten powers or special abilities (dashabala)
  19. Knowledge (jñana) "

to do good in buddhism

  • viewonbuddhism.org/where_beginner_study_practice_meditation.html

    here is also a little bit one knows about hindu morality

      "Ethics, which concerns itself with the study of conduct, is derived, in Hinduism, from certain spiritual concepts; it forms the steel-frame foundation of the spiritual life. Though right conduct is generally considered to belong to legalistic ethics, it has a spiritual value as well. Hindu ethics differs from modern scientific ethics, which is largely influenced by biology; for according to this latter, whatever is conducive to the continuous survival of a particular individual or species is good for it. It also differs from utilitarian ethics, whose purpose is to secure the maximum utility for a society by eliminating friction and guaranteeing for its members a harmonious existence. Hindu ethics prescribes the disciplines for a spiritual life, which are to be observed consciously or unconsciously as long as man lives.
    

Hindu Ethics is Mainly Subjective or Personal

Hindu ethics is mainly subjective or personal, its purpose being to eliminate such mental impurities as greed and egoism, for the ultimate attainment of the highest good. Why Hindu ethics stresses the subjective or personal value of action will be discussed later. Objective ethics, which deals with social welfare, has also been considered by Hindu thinkers. It is based upon the Hindu conception of Dharma, or duty, related to a man’s position in society and his stage in life. Objective ethics, according to the Hindu view, is a means to an end, its purpose being to help the members of society to rid themselves of self-centredness, cruelty, greed, and other vices, and thus to create an environment helpful to the pursuit of the highest good, which transcends society. Hinduism further speaks of certain universal ethical principles which apply to all human beings irrespective of their position in society or stage in life.

Social welfare

The ethical doctrines of the Hindus are based upon the teachings of the Upanishads and of certain secondary scriptures, which derive their authority from the Vedas. But though their emphasis is mainly subjective, the Upanishads do not deny the value of social ethics. For instance, we read: “As the scent is wafted afar from a tree laden with flowers, so also is wafted afar the scent of a good deed.” Among the social virtues are included ‘hospitality, courtesy, and duties to wife, children, and grandchildren.’ In one of the Upanishads, a king, in answer to a question by a Rishi regarding the state of affairs in his country, says: “In my kingdom there is no thief, no miser, no drunkard, no man without an altar in his home, no ignorant person, no adulterer, much less an adulteress.”

Ethical actions calculated to promote social welfare is enjoined upon all who are identified with the world and conscious of their social responsibilities. Without ethical restraint there follows social chaos, which is detrimental to the development of spiritual virtues."

so, in short; Dharma and karma are the underlying principles of nearly all conceptions of morality and ethics in Hinduism.
Vision for Society

The Hindu understanding of the ideal society is that it must be coherently and cohesively organized and maintained to promote order, dharma.

whereas doing good constitutes

cont …

"Hinduism believes in the concept of reincarnation. What determines the state of an individual in the next existence is karma which refers to the actions undertaken by the body and the mind.

In order to achieve good karma it is important to live life according to dharma. This involves doing what is right for the individual, the family, the community and also for the universe itself.

Dharma is like a cosmic norm and if one goes against the norm it can result in bad karma. So, dharma affects the future according to the karma accumulated. Therefore, one’s dharmic path in the next life is determined by their past karma"

the interesting buddhism is monotheistic and hinduism can be monotheistic ( depending on what discipline or school one belongs to )

God bless

Be careful too. My Lama told me not to believe everything you read that comes across the internet. For example you have to receive at least a “reading transmission” for a sadhanna in order to have been “given permission” to do it. Then you get an “empowerment” from a Rinpoche. Im my lineage. But what everyone’s talking about here is basically the Pali cannon as I understand it. Very basic teachings. I’m sure rossum would agree. And this btw is all after taking a buddhist vow and being given a dharma(dhamma) name.

I could not agree with you more. I am a devout Catholic.

Indeed. Another wise man said exactly the same thing:

Don’t trust everything you read on the internet.

– Abe Lincoln

For example you have to receive at least a “reading transmission” for a sadhanna in order to have been “given permission” to do it. Then you get an “empowerment” from a Rinpoche.

Disbelieve anyone who claims to be telling you Buddhist “secrets”. Those secrets are only given orally as part of a transmission. Part of the transmission is to promise not to reveal those secrets to those for whom they would not be useful. Different people need different techniques to help them. Hence any “secrets” on the internet will come either from someone who has not been initiated, and so are fiction, or else will come from someone who has broken their promise and so is not worth listening to.

But what everyone’s talking about here is basically the Pali cannon as I understand it. Very basic teachings. I’m sure rossum would agree. And this btw is all after taking a buddhist vow and being given a dharma(dhamma) name.

Much of the Pali canon is suitable for everyone. Not all of the meditation techniques are suitable for everyone, though there is guidance as to the various personality types and the relevant suitable techniques in the Visuddhimagga.

rossum

Nothing exists inherently in (most forms of) Buddhism. You may think of it as the exact opposite of the idea of substance vs. accident as found in Greek philosophy and the doctrine of Transubstantiation. There is no substantial “self” to be found anywhere. Not in objects, not in persons. So, nothing is inherently evil or good. Good or evil is determined by context, intent etc… The five basic precepts of lay Buddhists are patterns we can abstract from the behavior of enlightened minds. Meaning that someone enlightened will almost always live in accordance with the following precepts:

  • Harm no living being / practice loving kindness
  • Take nothing that is not given /practice generosity
  • Don’t commit sexual misconduct / practice contentment
  • Refrain from false speech / practice truthful communication
  • Don’t use intoxicants / practice mindfulness

They are not, however, absolute rules. There are situations where one might have to break one or more precept for the sake of compassion. If a hunter asks where a deer went, compassion for the deer dictates that one may lie to the hunter etc (or if you think animals are of less worth than humans, then the example may be Jews in the basement vs. Nazis knocking at the door)…

As for moral imperatives, it is rather simple. Everyone wishes to be happy. This is a brute fact. Some ways of acting will bring about happiness for oneself and for others. Other kinds of behavior will not. Furthermore, we are not islands to ourselves (we have no separate substantial selves), therefore what we do to others is going to affect us, and vice versa.

As you say I like to speak in terms of skillfull and unskillfull actions.
Unskillfull actions are born from greed, illwill and ignorance of the correct path (Dhamma).
These lead to bad results.

Skillful actions are based on nongreed, nonillwill and knowleadge of the right path. Note the terms nongreed and nonillwill. These are literal translations. Normally some translate these as Generosity and Love.

These actions lead to good results.

There are two ways to measure Good and Bad in buddhism. One for laypeople indulged in everyday life and the other for serious practitioners and monastics. They have the same root.

In short all good and bad is wayed against nirvana. A bad action is one that keeps you from attaining Nirvana.

There are 5 Major transgressions that will keep you from reaching nibbana.

  1. Drawing the blood of a Sammasam Buddha
  2. Killing an Arahant (enlightend one)
  3. Causing a breach in the Sangha (the Community of Noble Disciples)
    4 and 5. Killing a Parent.

But not even these will keep anyone from nibbana for ever. As I understand it.

/Victor

Correct, at most entry into nibbana/nirvana is delayed. Even Mara (the rough equivalent of Lucifer) will attain nirvana eventually.

rossum

Isn’t Mara considered to be Buddhist mythology? Stories concerning Shakyamuni to teach the “babes” as Christianity might put it? The real enemy is the non-existant self?

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