Agree with this view on morality?

A forum for beginners and members of other Buddhist traditions to ask questions about Theravāda (The Way of the Elders). Responses require moderator approval before they are visible.

Agree with this view on morality?

Postby a modest mouse » Wed Jan 06, 2010 9:34 pm

"If morality is to function as an efficient guide to conduct, it cannot be propounded as a self-justifying scheme but must be embedded in a more comprehensive spiritual system which grounds morality in a transpersonal order. Religion must affirm, in the clearest terms, that morality and ethical values are not mere decorative frills of personal opinion, not subjective superstructure, but intrinsic laws of the cosmos built into the heart of reality." ~ Bhikkhu Bodhi (second president of the Buddhist Publication Society)

Would a Buddhist also agree with Socrates notion of the Good:

"in the region of the knowable the last thing to be seen, and that with considerable effort, is the idea of good; but once seen, it must be concluded that this is indeed the cause for all things of all that is right and beautiful – in the visible realm it gives birth to light and its sovereign; in the intelligible realm, itself sovereign, it provided truth and intelligence – and that the man who is going to act prudently in private or in public must see it"
a modest mouse
 
Posts: 8
Joined: Wed Jan 06, 2010 9:28 pm

Re: Agree with this view on morality?

Postby Kim OHara » Wed Jan 06, 2010 9:48 pm

Mostly.
Neither of the quotes is exactly how I would put my beliefs, but I would rarely disagree with anyone who agreed with, and followed, those statements.
:anjali:
Kim
User avatar
Kim OHara
 
Posts: 2900
Joined: Wed Dec 09, 2009 5:47 am
Location: North Queensland, Australia

Re: Agree with this view on morality?

Postby Calahand » Wed Jan 06, 2010 11:04 pm

a modest mouse wrote:" ...in the clearest terms, that morality and ethical values are not mere decorative frills of personal opinion, not subjective superstructure, but intrinsic laws of the cosmos built into the heart of reality." ~ Bhikkhu Bodhi (second president of the Buddhist Publication Society)



I agree with this quoted part of the first statement, I can't compare it to the second statement because quite frankly I don't understand what socrates is trying to say, is he saying that there is some source called "Good"? from which everything else good and beautiful arise? I have no idea.
Calahand
 
Posts: 63
Joined: Thu Dec 10, 2009 4:15 pm

Re: Agree with this view on morality?

Postby Cittasanto » Thu Jan 07, 2010 12:05 am

I see this is your first thread, so Hi & welcome to Dhamma Wheel!
:anjali:

as to the Socrates statement & Bhikkhu Bodhi's
"If morality is to function as an efficient guide to conduct, it cannot be propounded as a self-justifying scheme but must be embedded in a more comprehensive spiritual system which grounds morality in a transpersonal order. Religion must affirm, in the clearest terms, that morality and ethical values are not mere decorative frills of personal opinion, not subjective superstructure, but intrinsic laws of the cosmos built into the heart of reality." ~ Bhikkhu Bodhi (second president of the Buddhist Publication Society)

this isn't actually a statement on what morality is, but a statement on where morality comes from, and as that I do agree with it.
Would a Buddhist also agree with Socrates notion of the Good:

"in the region of the knowable the last thing to be seen, and that with considerable effort, is the idea of good; but once seen, it must be concluded that this is indeed the cause for all things of all that is right and beautiful – in the visible realm it gives birth to light and its sovereign; in the intelligible realm, itself sovereign, it provided truth and intelligence – and that the man who is going to act prudently in private or in public must see it"

this isn't about morality, but perception of reality.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
Upāsaka Cittasanto
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
User avatar
Cittasanto
 
Posts: 5668
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 10:31 pm
Location: Ellan Vannin

Re: Agree with this view on morality?

Postby AdvaitaJ » Thu Jan 07, 2010 12:16 am

I think Bhikku Bodhi got a bit too flowery at the end, but otherwise agree with the statement. As for Socrates, his statement was a bridge too far.

Regards: AdvaitaJ
The birds have vanished down the sky. Now the last cloud drains away.
We sit together, the mountain and me, until only the mountain remains.
Li Bai
User avatar
AdvaitaJ
 
Posts: 234
Joined: Sat Jan 24, 2009 1:17 am
Location: Michigan, USA

Re: Agree with this view on morality?

Postby Prasadachitta » Thu Jan 07, 2010 1:45 am

Religion must affirm, in the clearest terms, that morality and ethical values are not mere decorative frills of personal opinion, not subjective superstructure, but intrinsic laws of the cosmos built into the heart of reality.


I agree totally with the sentiment but I think it is somewhat confusing in the context of so many theists to say "built into the heart of reality". He could have just left it at "intrinsic laws".

Metta

Gabe
"Beautifully taught is the Lord's Dhamma, immediately apparent, timeless, of the nature of a personal invitation, progressive, to be attained by the wise, each for himself." Anguttara Nikaya V.332
User avatar
Prasadachitta
 
Posts: 973
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 6:52 am
Location: San Francisco (The Mission) Ca USA

Re: Agree with this view on morality?

Postby Ben » Thu Jan 07, 2010 2:41 am

Hi modest mouse
I suspect the two quotes you presented may actually be pointing, at the apparent level, towards two different things.
Certainly Socrates was concerned with 'public' morality or the morality of state. Secondly, from some of the Ancient greek philosophers we can see that another concern of theirs was something akin to Dhamma, that is 'the law universal' or 'the noble life'.
This is opposed, on the apparent level, to Bhikkhu Bodhi's quote which seems to be more about personal morality and the need for a code of conduct to be set within a greater spiritual context.
kind regards

Ben
"Only those who take to meditation with good intentions can be assured of success. With the development of the purity and the power of the mind backed by the insight into the ultimate truth of nature, one might be able to do a lot of things in the right direction for the benefit of mankind."

Sayagyi U Ba Khin


Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global Relief
UNHCR Syria Emergency Relief AppealTyphoon Haiyan Relief AppealKiva: (person to person micro-finance)

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com
User avatar
Ben
Site Admin
 
Posts: 15797
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:49 am
Location: Land of the sleeping gods

Re: Agree with this view on morality?

Postby a modest mouse » Thu Jan 07, 2010 3:08 am

Ben wrote:Hi modest mouse
I suspect the two quotes you presented may actually be pointing, at the apparent level, towards two different things.
Certainly Socrates was concerned with 'public' morality or the morality of state. Secondly, from some of the Ancient greek philosophers we can see that another concern of theirs was something akin to Dhamma, that is 'the law universal' or 'the noble life'.
This is opposed, on the apparent level, to Bhikkhu Bodhi's quote which seems to be more about personal morality and the need for a code of conduct to be set within a greater spiritual context.
kind regards

Ben


I don't know how you would call morality "personal", morality is interpersonal, it has to do with the relationship we have with others, in our community. And in contrast to consequentialist, and deontologist morality, the Good of Socrates and the greeks is the morality of virtue ethics, concerned with intrinsic qualities of a person, that render moral action as a habit of possession of those qualities. The spiritual context here, is the interior orientation of the soul.

I should have quoted Bodhi in full, he was criticizing the materialistic worldview, and claiming that morality needs to be grounded in a transpersonal order:

"By assigning value and spiritual ideals to private subjectivity, the materialistic world view, threatens to undermine any secure objective foundation for morality. The result is the widespread moral degeneration that we witness today. To counter this tendency, mere moral exhortation is insufficient. If morality is to function as an efficient guide to conduct, it cannot be propounded as a self-justifying scheme but must be embedded in a more comprehensive spiritual system which grounds morality in a transpersonal order. Religion must affirm, in the clearest terms, that morality and ethical values are not mere decorative frills of personal opinion, not subjective superstructure, but intrinsic laws of the cosmos built into the heart of reality."
a modest mouse
 
Posts: 8
Joined: Wed Jan 06, 2010 9:28 pm

Re: Agree with this view on morality?

Postby a modest mouse » Thu Jan 07, 2010 3:12 am

gabrielbranbury wrote:
Religion must affirm, in the clearest terms, that morality and ethical values are not mere decorative frills of personal opinion, not subjective superstructure, but intrinsic laws of the cosmos built into the heart of reality.


I agree totally with the sentiment but I think it is somewhat confusing in the context of so many theists to say "built into the heart of reality". He could have just left it at "intrinsic laws".

Metta

Gabe


But this seems to be more of a tautology than a distinction.
a modest mouse
 
Posts: 8
Joined: Wed Jan 06, 2010 9:28 pm

Re: Agree with this view on morality?

Postby a modest mouse » Thu Jan 07, 2010 3:18 am

Manapa wrote:I see this is your first thread, so Hi & welcome to Dhamma Wheel!
:anjali:


Well, hello to you too.

this isn't actually a statement on what morality is, but a statement on where morality comes from, and as that I do agree with it.


Actually it is a statement about what morality is. It's claim that morality is not relative.

I should of perhaps provided Bodhi's full quote to make this point clear:

"By assigning value and spiritual ideals to private subjectivity, the materialistic world view, threatens to undermine any secure objective foundation for morality. The result is the widespread moral degeneration that we witness today. To counter this tendency, mere moral exhortation is insufficient. If morality is to function as an efficient guide to conduct, it cannot be propounded as a self-justifying scheme but must be embedded in a more comprehensive spiritual system which grounds morality in a transpersonal order. Religion must affirm, in the clearest terms, that morality and ethical values are not mere decorative frills of personal opinion, not subjective superstructure, but intrinsic laws of the cosmos built into the heart of reality."

It is a claim that morality is grounded in a "transpersonal order".

this isn't about morality, but perception of reality.


Well Good, in greek thought is not the sort of good, we mean when we say it is "good" to eat vegetables. But is Good in the sense of virtues, or Good in the sense that we say morally "good". The Good here, is found here in Plato's allegory of the cave, behind illusions of the shadows, there's this notion of a Good, revealing a certain sort of way man is to live.
a modest mouse
 
Posts: 8
Joined: Wed Jan 06, 2010 9:28 pm

Re: Agree with this view on morality?

Postby Ben » Thu Jan 07, 2010 3:26 am

I thought I made it clear:
Socrates was concerned with public governance and the morality of officials and the tyrants. Hence I used the term 'public morality', where as Venerable is talking about morality as part of a transformative process, hence 'personal morality'. And I disagree with you. Fundamentally, morality is personal, as its effect from a Buddhist perspective, is personal. The first person one harms when engaged in immoral conduct, is oneself.

I should have quoted Bodhi in full...

Yes, you have decontextualised those quotes. I would appreciate it if in future, you cite your sources. Where was the quote from Socrates from? I suspect its from the Apology, though not sure.

The spiritual context here, is the interior orientation of the soul.


What soul?
"Only those who take to meditation with good intentions can be assured of success. With the development of the purity and the power of the mind backed by the insight into the ultimate truth of nature, one might be able to do a lot of things in the right direction for the benefit of mankind."

Sayagyi U Ba Khin


Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global Relief
UNHCR Syria Emergency Relief AppealTyphoon Haiyan Relief AppealKiva: (person to person micro-finance)

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com
User avatar
Ben
Site Admin
 
Posts: 15797
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:49 am
Location: Land of the sleeping gods

Re: Agree with this view on morality?

Postby Lampang » Thu Jan 07, 2010 3:42 am

By assigning value and spiritual ideals to private subjectivity, the materialistic world view, threatens to undermine any secure objective foundation for morality. The result is the widespread moral degeneration that we witness today. To counter this tendency, mere moral exhortation is insufficient. If morality is to function as an efficient guide to conduct, it cannot be propounded as a self-justifying scheme but must be embedded in a more comprehensive spiritual system which grounds morality in a transpersonal order. Religion must affirm, in the clearest terms, that morality and ethical values are not mere decorative frills of personal opinion, not subjective superstructure, but intrinsic laws of the cosmos built into the heart of reality.


"Morality is grounded in a transpersonal order" What does that mean? Does that give a reason for acting morally? Are we obeying the transpersonal order because it's good - and in which case, morality still needs to be explained and talk about transpersonal orders doesn't seem to help much - or is the transpersonal order just an arbitrary set of rules and we're in fact merely playing a game of chess which we can't get out of? I can't really see how the quotation sheds much light on morality but maybe I'm missing something.....and I'm always a touch cautious of appeals to the moral degeneration of our times. You'd be hard pushed to find a time that wasn't morally degenerate to some.
User avatar
Lampang
 
Posts: 56
Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2009 3:26 pm
Location: Thailand

Re: Agree with this view on morality?

Postby a modest mouse » Thu Jan 07, 2010 4:14 am

Ben wrote: And I disagree with you. Fundamentally, morality is personal, as its effect from a Buddhist perspective, is personal. The first person one harms when engaged in immoral conduct, is oneself.


But morality isn't 'merely' personal, it also has to do with our treatment of others. And i have a feeling we're not in disagreement but just misunderstood each other. And this perception of morality is also the perception of morality in greek thought, and the prevailing view of most ancient religions.

Socrates was concerned with public governance and the morality of officials and the tyrants. Hence I used the term 'public morality', where as Venerable is talking about morality as part of a transformative process, hence 'personal morality'.[....]Where was the quote from Socrates from? I suspect its from the Apology, though not sure.


Actually the quote from Socrates is from Plato's allegory of the cave, which is in fact talking about the Good as transformative process. Morality is explicitly intrinsic in greek thought, behaving immorally is as you say harmful to one's self, and is harmful to others as well.

What soul?


Well, the soul is representative of what it is that actually being harmed here. Behaving morally is good for the soul, and behaving immorally is bad for the soul. You claimed that the first person being hurt when one acts immorally is one self, but you don't mean it in the sense that his exterior body is hurt, like it is when we're cut, you're referring to something else about that person being hurt, and in greek and ancient religious thinking, this something is referred to as the "soul".
a modest mouse
 
Posts: 8
Joined: Wed Jan 06, 2010 9:28 pm

Re: Agree with this view on morality?

Postby Ben » Thu Jan 07, 2010 5:13 am

Thanks for the clarification, and yes, it appears we have misunderstood each other.
To be clear, I am not denying the transpersonal aspect of morality or immorality. Being moral isn't only good for ourselves, its good for others as well. It tends to create a platform for harmonious relationships. From a Buddhist perspective, morality (sila) is the foundation of practice, or the transformative process. It isn't merely a pre-requisite for practice, but a mind indulging in immoral activities is incapable of developing sammasamadhi (right concentration) and panna (wisdom). A mind indulging in immoral activity creates defilements which continue to cloud the mind and sow the seeds of immorality and suffering in the future. It also affects the state of mind (quality of consciousness) of the individual now and in the future.

Actually the quote from Socrates is from Plato's allegory of the cave, which is in fact talking about the Good as transformative process.

Thanks. Because I wasn't sure what the context of the quote, I alluded to this in my first post in this thread, indicating that some of the ancient greek philosophers were concerned with something that we call 'the Dhamma' which has various translations including 'the law universal', 'the noble life'. If you like, a guiding principle that when lived, becomes transformative.

You claimed that the first person being hurt when one acts immorally is one self, but you don't mean it in the sense that his exterior body is hurt, like it is when we're cut, you're referring to something else about that person being hurt, and in greek and ancient religious thinking, this something is referred to as the "soul".

In Buddhist doctrine the individual is composed of five aggregates which comprise nama (mind) and rupa (body). The Buddha refuted the existence of a soul or some 'essence' that passes from one life to another. One of the three salient characteristics of all phenomena (of nama and rupa) is anatta. Sabbe dhamma anatta! All dhammas (translated here as 'phenomena') are not-self. The other two characteristics is anicca (impermanence) and dukkha (suffering/unsatisfactoriness) So when I say the first person that gets hurt is oneself, I mean the effervescing continuum of being that is conventionally known as this individual 'oneself' is hurt.
kind regards

Ben
"Only those who take to meditation with good intentions can be assured of success. With the development of the purity and the power of the mind backed by the insight into the ultimate truth of nature, one might be able to do a lot of things in the right direction for the benefit of mankind."

Sayagyi U Ba Khin


Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global Relief
UNHCR Syria Emergency Relief AppealTyphoon Haiyan Relief AppealKiva: (person to person micro-finance)

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com
User avatar
Ben
Site Admin
 
Posts: 15797
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:49 am
Location: Land of the sleeping gods

Re: Agree with this view on morality?

Postby Cittasanto » Thu Jan 07, 2010 9:19 am

Hi a modest mouse,
bhodhi is talking about where morality needs to be based for it to be effective in peoples lives, not what morality is as such.
The Good was used in various ways in Greek thought, not solely referring to morality, the analogy of the cave, where your quote comes from, expresses plato's theory of ideas/forms, not morality it self.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
Upāsaka Cittasanto
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
User avatar
Cittasanto
 
Posts: 5668
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 10:31 pm
Location: Ellan Vannin

Re: Agree with this view on morality?

Postby Jechbi » Thu Jan 07, 2010 3:44 pm

Hello modest,

With respect to individual practice, one danger might be to view morality as something separate from and independent of oneself, something "out there." The reason this type of view can be counterproductive is because it reinforces the notion of a self in the first place, a self that stands on its own, separate from some other aspect of reality to be experienced.

The Buddha teaches that there is no such thing to be found. This, right here and now, is the all. The five physical senses, and your ideas. That's what you experience. That's why Ben talks about how the first person one hurts in breeching morality is oneself.

This approach seems to fit with the Socrates quote, in that when one sees with considerable effort the idea of good, it constitutes a greater knowledge of "the all" as defined by the Buddha.
Rain soddens what is kept wrapped up,
But never soddens what is open;
Uncover, then, what is concealed,
Lest it be soddened by the rain.
User avatar
Jechbi
 
Posts: 1268
Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2009 3:38 am


Return to Discovering Theravāda

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests