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What is Buddhist ethics and explain its role in the development of

What is Buddhist ethics?
A; Ethics is a subject, which examines human conduct in terms of good and bad, right and
wrong, duties and obligations. It is not a descriptive study. For Buddhism ethics is important
because it is the first step in the three-fold training (Sila, Samadhi and Parma). Without virtue
or Sila one cannot progress in the other two aspects that is concentration and wisdom. As
Buddhism aims to transform man, there are various discussions dealing with problem of ethics.
In Dhamapada puddha vagga sutta, the Buddha says that he is recommending good
behaviour because people can avoid bad behaviour and cultivate good behaviour. Since man
has this capacity, the Buddha is teaching ethics. This means the man has the capacity for
moral development. Buddhism understands human behaviour is highly complex. Therefore, the
person and his situation, the time and place, in which he is active, all these have to be
considered to discover the nature of human behaviour.
Buddhist ethics is confined to the spiritual progress and Buddhism deals with it in so far it
is relevant to that ideal. In the form of basis Buddhist ethics is given as five precepts meant for
layman person. These precepts advise to refrain from killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, lying
and taking drugs and intoxicant form the very basis of Buddhist life. There five precepts at first
side appear negative because here the follower is advised to refrain from five forms of bad
behaviour. But that is not so when these precepts are explained in detail both the negative and
positive sides are described. This we get in the description of virtues as found in the first sutta of
Buddhism accepts human behaviour is complex. So, to judge a particular action as good
or bad is a difficult task. One has to consider ail the aspects that lead to the performance of the
particular acts. Therefore, Buddhism has suggested several five criteria to decide his problem.
There are several lists in Buddhist literature, that divided into three: ( I ) Dana- charity (2) Sflamorality, and (3) Bhavana-meditation. Then another seven: (4) Apacitti-pa\ ing respect, (5)
Veyyavacca- attendant or sender, (6) Patti dana- transference of merit, (7) Pattanumotanarejoicing in others' merit, (8) Desana- teaching, (9) Savana-listening to the Dhamma (10)
Ditthi-uju karnma-justification of view. These actions are known as Punna-merit. The opposite
of these are Papa-dement.
The actions coming under Kusala can be easily understood by considering the opposite
of Kusala-wholesome actions. They are divided into three: bodily action that is to avoid from
killing, stealing and sexual misconduct. Verbal action is to avoid from lying, slandering, harsh
speech and frivolous talk. And mental action is to refrain covetousness, ill-will and wrong
view. There is a different between Punna and Kusala when considered the consequence of
particular actions. But considering the nature of man Buddhism has encouraged performing
meritorious actions as well as wholesome actions depending on the spiritual maturity of the
To conclude, to attain the ideal of Buddhism the person has to either to perform
meritorious action or wholesome action and refrain from doing ill-will actions, which will hinder
his aim. Buddhism has come out with several criteria to judge whether particular action is
ethically good or bad.
(Words 534)