Coyote wrote:I understand that Buddhists follow a set of morals laid down by the Buddha, but I am interested in knowing exactly where they come from and what the basis of morality in Buddhism is.
Is morality a set of universal laws, like the laws of nature, that were just discovered by the Buddha? If so, is there any value in trying to understand where morality comes from, or why morality is the way it is - why some things are bad and others are good? For example, if good things are good because they correspond to values that exist outside of the human mind, or if they are good because it benefits humanity and for no other reason? I am interesting in learning what exactly is the foundation for morality in Buddhism in terms of ontology.(I hope that means what I think it does).
Coyote wrote:How does Buddhism understand epistemology? For example: how can we know that what the Buddha teaches is correct or is not? Do you have to put complete faith in Buddha and trust that what he teaches is correct? As with morality, where does such a standard of evaluating truth come from and what is it's ontological foundation.
Coyote wrote:If everything is impermanent, then why does Buddhism teach that the Dhamma is eternal and always the same? And what about Nirvana - is that not permanent? If everything really is impermanent, they is that not a permanent truth? Will the Buddhas teaching one day change or break down?
Modus.Ponens wrote:I would like to add a few thoughts.
Buddhist ethics are different from our western values in the sense that the precepts are, in some cases, not about not hurting the others, but about not doing something that is unwholesome. For example, the 5th precept is to abstain from taking alchohol and intoxicants. There is also a precept to refrain from hearing music on days of uposatha. These rules are different from our western values of not hurting the others. By not drinking we are keeping our minds wholesome and therefore apropriate for meditation. The purpouse of ethics is to cultivate concentration, which in turn leads to wisdom. It so happens that what is considered a bad action in our western values, is also unwholesome, so buddhist ethics include basic western values.
Now why are things that are wholesome are good karma and conductive to nibbana? I think that's like asking why positive electric charges atract negative charges. It's just as it is. We can't have a reason for everything. Some things are axiomatic.
daverupa wrote:The idea that "the Dhamma is eternal and always the same" is something I've never heard before. The Dhamma has causes and conditions (cf. the Buddha), and therefore cannot be permanent or unchanging.
daverupa wrote: Nibbana (nirvana) is considered a special case: although it is neither dukkha nor impermanent (anicca) it is still characterized by anatta
Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:Teaching on morality is the basic path — the foundation on which concentration and wisdom can develop. Without the profound teaching of the Buddha on insight meditation, the Noble Path leading to nibbāna cannot be found. Morality, generosity, reverence, etc., lead only to the celestial realms and the happy course of existence, avoiding hell and other realms of intense suffering. Without the higher teachings on insight, no one can find the right path to nibbāna — not even Brahma gods or ascetics like Ālāra and Udaka who gained very deep concentration.
Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:All conditioned things are impermanent and unsatisfactory (Dhammapada v 277-278). Nibbāna is unconditioned so is not impermanent. However, it is also without self. All phenomena, both unconditioned and conditioned phenomena, are without self: “Sabbe dhammā anattā'ti.” (Dhammapada v 279)
from hereThe observance of sila leads to harmony at several levels — social, psychological, kammic, and contemplative. At the social level the principles of sila help to establish harmonious interpersonal relations, welding the mass of differently constituted members of society with their own private interests and goals into a cohesive social order in which conflict, if not utterly eliminated, is at least reduced. At the psychological level sila brings harmony to the mind, protection from the inner split caused by guilt and remorse over moral transgressions. At the kammic level the observance of sila ensures harmony with the cosmic law of kamma, hence favorable results in the course of future movement through the round of repeated birth and death. And at the fourth level, the contemplative, sila helps establish the preliminary purification of mind to be completed, in a deeper and more thorough way, by the methodical development of serenity and insight.
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