In Buddhist Ethics and Western Moral Philosophy, William Edelglass asserts that “
Buddhist traditions have devoted much attention to the moral significance of thoughts and feelings, intentions and actions, consequences and character, duties and commitments,” because of the inability of other cultures such as the Western Culture to define ethics using the Buddhist perspective (Edelglass 2013, 476). From this observation, readers are exposed to a challenging situation that provokes their thought process using the ability to interact with aspects that define humanity. Today, different cultures have a comprehensive approach that determines their existence by dictating the nature of strategies people can have with their peers. By focusing on the Buddhist way of life, people understand the significance of ethics and the impact of morality on different outcomes taking place in the contemporary world. The concept of morality is one of the most conflicted topics that people are exposed to because of their role in stirring conversations that compel individuals to reflect on their decisions and how they affect others.
Buddhist traditions offer many insights to individuals that guide their interactions by determining the nature of conversations people can have with their peers in the surrounding environment. Regardless of the situation, one is exposed to, the Buddhist lifestyle illuminates and inspires hope to humanity, making it one of the commonly studied religions in the world today. In many instances, people tend to focus on values promoted by their cultural beliefs and value system, an aspect that encourages them to overlook outcomes taking place in their surroundings. Given the changing nature of individuals, people should identify specific elements that trigger different issues, which provoke their thought process. Understanding the numerous aspects that are addressed by Buddhism and relating the values to events taking place in the world today exposes one to a realistic environment where they can experience the impact of making informed decisions and translating their views to positive outcomes influencing their perspectives on topical issues.
Morality as Captured in Buddhism
Many scholars who have explored Buddhism believe that the lifestyle is based on the concept of consequentialism, where individuals are punished for their mistakes and rewarded for their abilities. In undertaking different processes that inspire hope in the world today, people are encouraged to be optimistic about the impact of certain events that take place in their surroundings. Despite the childhood experience of individuals and the effects of the environment they grew up in, the exposure extended to them by the learning environment plays a significant role in shaping people’s perspectives towards life. One of the commonly disputed elements of life is morality and the different interpretation it is exposed to, as one moves from one culture to another. However, Damien Keown argues that Buddhism aspires to improve human existence through its insistence on the path of morality and virtues that inspire the perspectives of individuals towards life (Flanagan 2017, 150) By pursuing Keown’s school of thought, the world has managed to understand the Buddhist concept of morality and how it illuminates hope to the modern world.
When people are pursuing Buddhism and aligning it with their lifestyles, they are exposed to the fundamental principles of the religion that dictate the nature of interactions between individuals. Firstly, Buddhism is defined by the process of reincarnation, where people are reborn immediately after their death. Firm believers of the Buddhist way of life are aware of the measures they should undertake to overcome challenges affecting them in their life. Importantly, the process of rebirth and reincarnation play a significant role in defining the rules adopted by individuals and how one can make informed decisions whenever they encounter challenges in their surrounding environment (Ariyabuddhiphongs and Joseph 2016, 910). While the concept of rebirth rules out a person’s return to earth as an individual, it encourages believers to focus on their future existence by building their relationship with their deity during their human life. By accomplishing these aspects, one is believed to have achieved a certain level of higher morality that equips them with the power to control the universe.
Basic Teachings of Buddha
Gautama Buddha expanded the concept of Buddhism and contributed immensely towards its rapid growth and development around the world. Buddha, who existed between the 5th and 4th centuries BCE, is credited with the realization of the religious philosophy that now dictates various outcomes that control the global view on ethics and morality. By undergoing a series of different processes and events, Buddha managed to overcome the challenges affecting him and his ability to connect with the outside world (Sacamano and Jennifer 2016, 1590). By finding the path to enlightenment, Buddha developed basic teachings that guide individuals through the way of suffering and rebirth. These principles include the three universal truths, the four noble truths, and the noble eightfold path. By adhering to these guidelines, people understand the significance of morality and how it inspires hope to individuals in their interactions with other people around the globe.
The Three Universal Truths
Nothing is Lost in the Universe
By understanding that nothing is lost in nature, individuals are exposed to an enabling environment where they can experience various issues affecting their ways of life. Acknowledging the differences that define people’s interactions in the world today presents an essential aspect of conversations people can have about their perspectives towards life. Whenever an individual engages in certain activities that affect another person’s way of life, they should bear the consequences whenever they arise during their afterlife. In exploring the aspects affecting people’s lives, the belief that nothing is lost dwells on the ability of individuals to consider their approaches towards life, and how they can connect with individuals in their surroundings. Overcoming challenges taking place today creates an enabling environment where people can make informed decisions that influence their decisions and interactions with other people.
In life, people must be prepared for change because of the existence of aspects such as growth and development that shape the lifestyles of individuals. By tracing the process of growth among children and how they transition towards their adulthood phase highlights the aspect of change that influences the nature of decisions made by individuals during their interactions with others (Sahibzada and Saba 2018, 107). When making informed decisions, people are expected to realize their contribution to the growth of others and how they determine the aspects influencing the consequences that face individuals in their interactions with others. By acknowledging that nothing is permanent, one can prepare for the future and embrace any new developments caused by specific processes and shifts that define people’s interactions.
The Law of Cause and Effect
For every action, there is a reaction that is triggered by the input of an individual and how he or she connects to the rest of the world. In many instances, these outcomes vary in intensity and expose individuals to an enabling environment where they can get an opportunity to change their future. When exposed to a practical situation, many people will likely embrace the most accessible path that leads them out of the following situation. However, a few people will be willing to face the consequences because of their ability to understand the impact of their actions on the results (Ng 2020, 94) From this realization, exploring the issues affecting the nature of conversations is based on the level of enlightenment that defines an individual’s perspective towards life. When connecting to the questions that border on the problems affecting individuals, people’s actions can be justified through the emphasis of the limited options one could access to resolve the issue in their surroundings.
The Four Noble Truths
Buddha’s four noble truths emphasize the impact of human suffering and the way individuals should handle the outcomes associated with their actions (Dobkin 2018, 3). When exploring the aspects affecting people’s lives, people are expected to endure suffering to discover its impact on emotional wellbeing and why they should avoid it altogether.
By acknowledging that suffering exists, individuals are exposed to a real-time experience where they encounter problems and develop solutions that address these issues. In many instances, individuals are expected to discover their potential and align it with the changing needs of individuals. When overcoming solutions affecting people’s problems, individuals should consider the situations that hinder growth, among other aspects of development. In recreating and exploring these problems, people encounter various hardships that determine the decisions people will make at any given time. Life in itself is suffering because of the multiple events such as sickness, failure, and loss that define a person’s moment of existence. Everyone, regardless of their social status and position in life, must endure suffering, an aspect that Buddha believed promoted equality in the world.
When trying to understand suffering, individuals encounter certain aspects of life that define their perspectives towards outcomes in their surroundings. In many instances, pain is caused by attachment to issues of life, such as poor eating habits, bad friendships, the inability to control desires. While some of the types of pain endured by individuals are uncontrollable, many are associated with the desire to have things under one’s control. For instance, jealousy, hatred, and fear are caused by external factors that people might lack the power but desire to possess the aspects in question, creating a challenging environment where a person cannot focus on solving problems taking place in their surroundings. In such a situation, people are expected to balance their emotions and overcome the suffering because of its limited impact on their ways of life.
Despite the impact of suffering on a person’s life, it has a deadline. Buddha believed that despite the effects caused by outcomes that exposed individuals to suffering, the unfortunate event usually came to an end. Even though the period taken by the aspect causing suffering might be shorter or longer, the perspectives of individuals towards life determined their ability to survive the unfortunate event. By terminating attachment that results in suffering, people are exposed to specific outcomes that dictate the nature of the conversations they have with other people in their immediate environment. Nirvana is a phase of enlightenment when an individual discovers the issues affecting his or her lifestyle. When an individual becomes enlightened, they become free of any aspect causing suffering in their life. During this process, the mind is liberated, and they become free from any element, causing pain and exposing them to suffering, which affects their focus towards life.
While suffering is a continuous process, individuals are supposed to consider various aspects affecting their focus on life. At any given time, individuals are supposed to overcome challenges that influence their perspectives towards interacting with other people in their surroundings. However, for one to completely overcome the process of suffering, Buddha recommended an eightfold path that lists the expectations they should meet through their behavior with other people. In exploring the aspects that lead to distress, people are expected to discover their potential and overcome any challenges that hinder them from realizing their potential in life. Accomplishing this milestone requires individuals to have a dedicated mindset that defines the nature of interactions they can have with other people. Given the fact that Buddha recommended a path for completing the process of suffering, people can become what they need to be in their life.
The Eightfold Path
Buddha’s recommendation about the path people should follow is described by the need to overcome specific issues affecting individuals in their immediate environment. However, the eightfold way is a culmination of the three universal truths and the four noble truths that people must embrace to overcome specific problems affecting their interactions with other people (Bardach and Eric 2019, 12) The eightfold path is categorized into three groups that include Panna, Sila, and Samadhi, which are discussed below.
Panna refers to discernment and wisdom that people should utilize when making informed decisions in their immediate environment. Samma Dithi requires people to use their understanding of the four noble truths. In contrast, Samma Sankappa requires one to think clearly to avoid the impact of attachment that is caused by the inability to make the right decisions. By avoiding aspects such as hate, vengeance, and jealousy, a person becomes whole and can make informed decisions that resonate with the changing needs of individuals affecting their focus towards life.
Sila is inclined towards the aspect of virtue and morality that enhances the opinions of individuals by shaping the nature of interactions people can have with their peers. When interacting with different people in the world today, many individuals tend to lie with the hope of benefitting from a short-term outcome initiated by activities taking place in their surroundings (Huang 2019, 155). Samma Vaca restricts individuals from lying, gossiping, and the use of harsh language while Samma Kamanta requires people to abstain from certain behaviors that expose other people to pain and suffering. Samma Ajiva proposes specific ways of life that dictate the nature of interactions between individuals when trying to make an honest living.
When making informed decisions, people are supposed to meditate and concentrate on exploring a topical issue and analyzing the aspects that are likely to emerge when the concept is introduced in their immediate environment. In Samma Vayama, people are supposed to embrace positive thoughts that guide them through the process of overcoming situations, which neutralize negative energy in their surroundings. Samma Sati focuses on addressing the right state of mind where individuals are aware of their bodies, mind, and emotions. Samma Samadhi requires one to concentrate on an issue and think clearly through meditation with the hope of becoming better in their craft. Looking at the three aspects of Samadhi, individuals are supposed to discover their potential and overcome problems affecting them in their immediate environment.
Buddhist Teachings for Modern Society
Buddhism provides an opportunity for individuals to reflect on the consequences of their actions and evaluate their conduct in creating viable solutions that appeal to the changing needs of individuals. By realizing aspects such as national unity, enhancing moral standard, and the thought process of the public, Buddhism challenges existing structures that hinder meaningful interactions between individuals and those in their immediate environment (Davis 2013, 194). In India, Buddhism has contributed to national unity and created an enabling environment where foreigners can utilize the philosophies raised by Buddha to overcome problems in their surroundings. Buddha’s views on morality are commonly referred to because of their simplistic nature that elucidates the measures that should be embraced by the public to overcome challenges in their immediate environment.
Understanding the numerous aspects that are addressed by Buddhism and relating the values to events taking place in the world today exposes one to a working environment where they can experience the impact of making informed decisions and translating their views to positive outcomes influencing their perspectives on topical issues. Exploring the teachings of Buddha exposes individuals to an enabling environment where people can discover their potential and overcome problems that limit them from experiencing the unfortunate events of life. Aspects such as suffering are caused by actions and emerge as consequences that seek to remind individuals about the need to embrace a certain level of morality. While Buddha recommends a strategy to overcome suffering and other challenges facing human existence, the religion recommends specific measures people can follow to become morally upright.
Ariyabuddhiphongs, Vanchai and Joseph Li. 2016. “Buddhist Good Karma of Giving, Optimism, and Happiness among Thai Female Sex Workers.” Social Indicators Research 127 (2) (06): 903-917.
Bardach, Eugene, and Eric M. Patashnik. A practical guide for policy analysis: The eightfold path to more effective problem solving. CQ press, 2019: 12.
Davis, Gordon Fraser. “Moral realism and anti-Realism outside the West: A meta-ethical turn in Buddhist ethics.” Comparative Philosophy 4, no. 2 (2013): 194-194.
Dobkin, Patricia Lynn. “Mindful congruence, four noble truths and healing relationships.” International Journal of Whole Person Care 5, no. 1 (2018): 1-5.
Edelglass, William. “Buddhist ethics and western moral philosophy.” 2013). A Companion to Buddhist Philosophy. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell (2013): 476.
Flanagan, Owen. A Mirror is for Reflection: Understanding Buddhist Ethics. Oxford University Press, 2017: 17-336.
Huang, Miss Kan-Ju. “Development of UG5 Retreat Programs on Enhancing the Noble Eightfold Path Practice in Modern Daily Life.” PhD diss., Mahachulalongkornrajavidyalaya University, 2019: 151-162.
Ng, Ernest CH. “Buddhist Ethics and Moral Life.” In Introduction to Buddhist Economics, pp. 89-101. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham, 2020.
Sacamano, James, and Jennifer K. Altman. “Beyond mindfulness: Buddha nature and the four postures in psychotherapy.” Journal of religion and health 55, no. 5 (2016): 1585-1595.
Sahibzada, Mehwish, and Saba Zaidi. “Deconstruction of self and everything as metanarratives in the perspective of Buddhist theory: A comparative analysis through blankets.” (2018): 105-110.
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