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The Ethics of Buddhism

April Lu and Kaitlyn

Abortion highly personal, Buddhists take full responsibility for
actions & consequences
ethical consequences depend on the motive and
intention & how much decision was
considered/thought over
five conditions to enact a killing:
thing killed must be living
killer must know that it is alive
killer must intend to kill it
must be an effort to kill
being must be killed as the result

the first precept of Buddhism is not to kill

some argue if the child was handicapped, abortion

would be okay

abortion disrupts spiritual karma progress: soul is

deprived of the opportunities to earn good karma,
and is returned immediately to the cycle of birth,
death and rebirth

unique efforts and actions for Japanese Buddhists,


religion requires Buddhists to treat animals kindly

believe that is wrong to hurt or kill animals, since all beings are afraid of injury and death

both have Buddha-nature: have possibility of becoming enlightened, soul may be reborn as either

being born an animal is serious setback, because of past wrongdoings

since animals cant improve themselves, cant improve karma and continue to be reborn as animals
until karma runs out, only when they are reborn as humans can they continue towards enlightenment

this process of bad karma with animals led Buddhists to think animals were inferior and shouldnt have
same rights as humans
Capital Punishment
isnt unified policy since there are many forms of Buddhism
emphasis against violence and compassion for all living
things; first precept states that Buddhists should not injure
or kill any living creature
Buddha did not specifically talk about capital punishment,
but his teachings dont support physical punishment under
any circumstances
believes it interferes with Samsara (cycle of birth and
rebirth) of both the offender and punisher in future rebirths

since no country has Buddhism as their official religion,

there are many countries with large Buddhist populations
that continue to use the death penalty
acceptable if it prevents contraception,
but contraceptives that stop the
development of a fertilised egg are
unethical and are discouraged
believe that life begins or a
consciousness arises when an egg is
birth control methods, like IUD, which
kill the fertilised egg and prevent
implantation are wrong because they
harm the already embodied
Buddhism isnt pro-family and doesnt
see having children as a religious duty
Buddha doesnt condemn non-
reproductive sexual activity, does object
to the pursuit of sensual desire or lust
Buddhists seeking enlightenment
should not use birth control to pursue
sexual pleasure
Euthanasia and

voluntary euthanasia is wrong, since it shows one has let

themselves suffer physically, leading to their mental suffering
believe that meditation and pain killing drugs are solutions for
mental pain and to avoid suicide/euthanasia
argue that anyone helping someone commit suicide would put
them in a bad mental state, which should be avoided
great stress on avoiding harm and ending lives, since it goes
against Buddhist beliefs, certain Buddhist monastic codes have
explicitly forbidden intentional euthanasia
lay-people dont have a Buddhist code of law, so if a lay person
takes part in euthanasia, it is considered an error of judgement
death is viewed as a transition; deceased will be reborn into a new
life, whose quality depends on their karma
Organ Donation
no rules on organ donation; Buddhisms central
wish to relieve suffering
can be considered charity
potential donors intentions shouldnt be swayed or
compromised to save a life
death process is very important; body should be
treated with respect
no rules say body has to be entirely preserved
deceased should only be disturbed when
appropriate, for just reasons, and with special care
must consider the consciousness since surgery
would happen immediately after the donor has died
some, like Tibetan Buddhists, believe the
consciousness stays in the body for a while even
after the donor has passed
the body must remain undisturbed until the
consciousness leaves, so Tibetan Buddhists have
concerns surgery right after the death might
damage the consciousness and potentially harm
their future lives
but others see this act of generosity and can only
have positive effects.
Buddhism is a peaceful tradition and does
not support the use of violence as a

War way of resolving conflict

Buddhists can defend themselves, but are

never permitted to kill, even in self-

They develop forms of martial arts that have

strong spiritual and philosophical
elements, along with strict rules on
Animals in Buddhism. Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia, 31 Mar. 2015,
Bois, Paul. Burmas Population Control Bill Pushes Forced Contraception. Truth Revolt, 20 May 2015,
Buddhism. BBC,
McNeill, David, and Yomiuri. Unmasking Capital Punishment: A Wave of Executions, The Yomiuri and Japans Death Penalty. The Asian-
Pacific Journal: Japan Focus,
Vol. 47-3-08, 18 Nov. 2008,
Mittal, Neha. Meet These 10 Individuals Who Try And Imbibe Buddha's Teachings In Spite Of The Chaotic World Around Them. Polka Cafe,
11 Oct. 2016,
OBrien, Barbara. Ten Famous Buddhas: Where They Came From; What They Represent. Thought Co., About, Inc., 28 Feb. 2017,
Prominent Scientists Declare All Non Human Animals Are Conscious Beings. Buddha Weekly,
The Theoretical Foundation of Buddhist Ethics. University of South Wales,
Warner, Brad. Planned Parenthood, Abortion and Buddhism. Hardcore Zen, 30 Nov. 2015,
900-yr-old Temple that Nearly Started a WAR. Rediff, 12 Nov. 2013,