upsc ethics-Buddhism has a strong ethical tradition

Ethics Materials for UPSC

"Ethics of Buddhism | Ethics Answer Writing | UPSC Mains Ethics"

Buddhism has a strong ethical tradition.

Ethics in Buddhism are neither arbitrary norms devised by humans for their own self-serving ends, nor are they enforced in this way.

In Buddhist ethics, there is no place for rules or social practises imposed by others.

The immutable rules of nature serve as the basis for Buddhist ethics, not the shifting social norms that inspire it.

Buddhism has a strong moral code.

Morality in Buddhism is based on whether an activity has good or harmful motivations behind it.

Greed, hate, and selfishness are all referred to be Akusala Kamma in Hinduism.

It’s termed Kusala Kamma when an action stems from the values of charity, love, and wisdom.

Three Life-Changing Essentials

Wisdom (Prajna), Ethical behaviour (Sila), and Concentration are considered the three most important virtues in Buddhism.

With the appropriate perspective comes wisdom, and with that comes the right purpose.

Right views and intents serve as guidelines for ethical behaviour, such as right speech, right action, right living, and right effort. Right speech, right action.

To have proper mindfulness and proper concentration, one must practise concentration – directed attention.

Wisdom, ethics, and focus become a way of life when they become a way of life for someone. This person becomes enlightened.

The Pancasila (Five Refrains)

To live in civilised societies of mutual trust and respect, Buddhism asks its adherents to freely follow five precepts.

In order to reach freedom, the Buddhist must adhere to these five commandments. One cannot commit any of the following crimes while under the influence of intoxicants or any of the prohibited substances listed above:

  • Greed, hate, and illusion all lead to pain, therefore it’s best to stay away from them if you want to do good for others.
  • To make it easier to remember, I’ve broken them down into three categories:
  • Death, theft, and illicit sexual activity are all examples of bodily behaviours that violate the first principle.
  • Falsehood, defamation, rudeness, and pointless speaking are all examples of verbal actions.
  • Actions of the Mind include covetousness, ill-will, and holding incorrect beliefs about things belonging to others.

Jainism’s view on ethics

Jainism offers a three-step route to salvation called as Triratna (the three jewels): right faith (Samyag Darsana), right knowledge (Samyag Jnana), and right action (Samyag Caritra).

There is trust in the efficiency of the drug, knowledge gained through the usage of the real intake of the medicine, proper behaviour.


According to Jaina morality, the most important thing to do is observe Pancha-mahavratas, which are the fundamental principles for doing the right thing. These are their names:


Non-violence is abstention from all forms of injury to life, whether in the form of a mobile (vehicle) or sthavarian harm (immobile).

To the Jain, all life is equal, hence murdering a human or any sentient entity is considered violence.

The act of intentionally inflicting emotional harm on another person via the use of insults and by making them suffer verbally is also considered violence.

Since a householder cannot live without violence, it is important to carry out his or her worldly duties with the least amount of harm to others as possible.

However, it is illegal to kill animals only for the purpose of eating them.

Attitude of Satyam – Absence of deception; instead of saying what is truthful and good.

It’s important to speak the truth even if it puts your life in jeopardy.

However, if the truth results in damage to others, it is best to keep it a secret for the sake of others around you.

Abstaining from stealing is known as asteyam.

This includes taking someone else’s property or encouraging others to steal, as well as accepting stolen stuff or holding on to it with the slogan “finders keepers”.

Buddhism teaches Brahmacharya, or the abstention from all sensual and extramarital pleasures, as the way to happiness.

It’s not okay to have a bad attitude toward women.

Show courtesy to people of different genders.

Avoiding greed or any form of attachments is known as Aparigraha (the abstention from accumulating riches).

Everyone in the home needs money to make ends meet, yet amassing riches carelessly leads to misery and dissatisfaction.

One must thus learn to be satisfied while having just the bare necessities.

Buddhist Ethics

According to Buddhism, the foundation of ethics is the pañcaśīla (five rules), which

advocates refraining from killing, stealing, lying, sexual misconduct and intoxicants.

5 thieves in Sikhism

In Buddhism, the two most important ethical virtues are compassion (karuna) and ̣

friendliness (maitrī).

Buddhist ethics is based on The Four Noble Truths which also contains the essence of

the Buddha’s teachings. •Life is full of suffering (Dukkha)•There is a cause for suffering

(Samudāya)•There is a way to remove it (Nirodha)•It can be removed (Magga) (through

the eight-fold path) •It advocates the path of righteousness (dhamma).

The fourth Noble Truth, in which the Buddha set out the Eightfold Path, is the

prescription, the way to achieve a release from suffering. These are,1. Right

understanding (Samma ditthi)2. Right thought (Samma sankappa)3. Right speech

(Samma vaca) 4. Right action (Samma kammanta)5. Right livelihood (Samma

ajiva) 6. Right effort (Samma vayama)7. Right mindfulness (Samma sati)8. Right

concentration (Samma samadhi)

The three roots of evil or three ultimate causes of suffering according to Buddhism1.

Greed and desire, represented in art by a rooster2. Ignorance or delusion,

represented by a pig3. Hatred and destructive urges, represented by a snake

Nirvana•Nirvana means extinguishing. Attaining nirvana – reaching enlightenment –

means extinguishing the three fires of greed, delusion and hatred.•Someone who

reaches nirvana does not immediately disappear to a heavenly realm. Nirvana is better

understood as a state of mind that humans can reach. It is a state of profound spiritual

joy, without negative emotions and fears.•Someone who has attained enlightenment is

filled with compassion for all living things.

Buddhist Perfections

The Mahāyāna path to awakening, like many textual discussions of that path, is

organized around the qualities known as the Six Perfections (Skt. pāramitā). The

Six Perfections are:

  • Generosity (dāna)Moral discipline (śīla)Patience endurance
  • (ksānti) ̣ Perseverance (vīrya)Meditative stability (dhyāna)Wisdom (prajñā)
  • Ksānti, the third perfection, is a complex concept, dif ̣ ficult to render with a single English
  • word. It has three main aspects. One is the ability to endure and maintain one’s calm and
  • clarity of intention in the face of obstacles such as frustrations, delays, and unpleasant
  • sensations. “Patience” would be a plausible translation for this aspect of ksānti. The ̣
  • second, and most important, aspect of the perfection is the ability to remain peaceful, not
  • becoming angry, when other people harm us or cause difficulties for us
  • This second and primary aspect could justify a translation as “forbearance”. When
  • insulted, someone with strong moral discipline would not retaliate, but might
  • become angry and restrain the expression of the anger; someone with strong
  • patient endurance would not become angry in the first place
  • Perseverance, the fourth perfection, is the ability to pour energy enthusiastically into
  • constructive activities that benefit oneself and others
  • Meditative stability, the fifth perfection, is the ability to maintain clear, stable attention
  • during meditation practice.
  • Any interpretation of Buddhist ethics must find room for the absolutely crucial role of
  • intention. There are many contexts in which Buddhism seems to emphasize the intention
  • with which an act was performed much more than the benefit or harm that actually
  • resulted. One case often cited is that of Channa, who presented a gift of food to the
  • Buddha which gave him dysentery and thus caused his death.
  • The virtue ethics approach begins from the undoubted fact that Buddhist texts devote a
  • great deal of attention to what kind of people we should strive to be and what virtues we
  • should seek to cultivate in ourselves.
  • In this respect, Buddhist ethics may seem more similar to the views of ancient
  • Greek thinkers such as Aristotle than to more modern Western thought. For
  • Aristotle, the goal we should aim at in life is eudaimonia, often translated
  • “happiness” or “human flourishing.” This condition of eudaimonia is the good for
  • humans. Keown argues that the role of Nirvana in Theravāda ethics is analogous:
  • Nirvana is the good
  • According to Mahāyāna philosophers such as Asaṅga and Śāntideva, an advanced
  • practitioner who is motivated by compassion may sometimes see that an action which is
  • forbidden by the usual rules of Buddhist moral discipline would actually be more effective
  • at preventing suffering and promoting happiness than any action the rules would permit.
  • Under such circumstances, that practitioner can permissibly break the rules out of
  • compassion.
  • For example, Asaṅga tells us that it would be permissible to tell a lie to save
  • another sentient being from being killed or seriously harmed. If someone takes up
  • with bad friends, it would be permissible to criticize those friends to him, a case of
  • divisive speech, in order to protect him from being corrupted by them. It would be
  • permissible to overthrow a wicked king or remove a corrupt temple administrator
  • from office. If a thief steals items belonging to the monastic community, it would be
  • permissible to steal them back in order to protect him from the severe bad karma of
  • consuming those items.
  • animals are sentient beings and possess consciousness, just as humans do, there is one
  • reason why human lives are more precious than animal lives. Only in a human body can
  • one attain awakening; in an animal body, this is not possible. Therefore, Buddhists
  • maintain that it is worse to kill a human than to kill an animal.
  • The Buddhist tradition generally sees war and violence as deeply morally problematic.
  • War is seen as tragic and typically unnecessary, and the position of a soldier is seen as
  • highly karmically dangerous. Violence directly causes harm and suffering to sentient
  • beings, pollutes the minds of those who use it, and creates cycles of hatred and
  • retribution that can inflict terrible damage, both physical and psychological.
  • Traditional Buddhist beliefs imply that to die mindfully, with full awareness of the
  • processes of death, is a powerful spiritual practice. The vivid, direct experience of
  • impermanence and the strong sense of non-attachment that result from dying this way
  • could contribute profoundly to the spiritual progress of that person in future lives.
  • Jain Ethics
  • Jainism is another important religion of this land. It places great emphasis on three most
  • important things in life, called three gems (triratna). •These are: right vision (samyaka
  • drṣ ṭī), right knowledge (samyaka jñāna) and right conduct (samyaka cāritra). ̣
  • Pāpa is the result of evil deeds generated by vice and punya is the result of good deeds ̣
  • generated by virtuous conduct
  • The most important thing in Jainism is the practice of non-violence (ahimsa), or
  • abstaining from inflicting injury on any being.
  • In Jainism, the other cardinal virtues are: forgiveness, humility, simplicity, noncovetousness, austerity, restraint, truthfulness, purity, renunciation and celibacy.
  • Mahavira taught that: “there is no quality of soul more subtle than non-violence and no
  • virtue of spirit greater than reverence for life”
  • Jains believe that life (which equals soul) is sacred regardless of faith, caste, race, or
  • even species.
  • ‘Ahimsa paramo dharmah’ (Non-violence is the supreme religion)Jains believe that
  • violence in thought and speech is as bad as physical violence, so they try to control
  • things like anger, greed, pride and jealousy.Jains also believe that getting others to do
  • harm, or allowing others to do harm, is as bad as doing harm yourself.
  • Jains believe that all living creatures depend on each other. One text says “All life is
  • bound together by mutual support and interdependence.” Mahavira said: “One who
  • neglects or disregards the existence of earth, air, fire, water and vegetation disregards
  • his own existence which is entwined with them”
  • Anger, greed, fear, and jokes are the breeding grounds of untruth. To speak the truth
  • requires moral courage. Only those who have conquered greed, fear, anger, jealousy,
  • ego, and frivolity can speak the truth.Jainism insists that one should not only refrain from
  • falsehood, but should always speak the truth, which should be wholesome and pleasant.
  • One should remain silent if the truth causes pain, hurt, anger, or death of any living
  • being.Truth is to be observed in speech, mind, and deed. One should not utter an
  • untruth, ask others to do so, or approve of such activities.
  • Jainism believes that the more worldly wealth a person possesses, the more he is likely
  • to commit sin to acquire and maintain the possession, and in a long run he may be
  • unhappy. The worldly wealth creates attachments, which will continuously result in greed,
  • jealousy, selfishness, ego, hatred, violence, etc. Lord Mahavir has said that wants and
  • desires have no end, and only the sky is the limit for them.

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