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Ethics in Religion Test 1

Terms in this set (29)

Theravada is the dominant form of Buddhism in most of southeast Asia -- Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia, Laos, Sri Lanka and Thailand. It claims about 100 million adherents worldwide. Its doctrines are taken from the Pali Tipitaka or Pali Canon, and its basic teachings begin with the Four Noble Truths. Above all, Theravada emphasizes direct insight gained through critical analysis and experience rather than blind faith. Theravada emphasizes individual enlightenment; the ideal is to become an arhat (sometimes arahant), which means "worthy one" in Pali. An arhat is a person who has realized enlightenment and freed himself from the cycle of birth and death.
Beneath the arhat ideal is an understanding of the doctrine of anatman -- the nature of the self -- that differs from that of the Mahayana. Very basically, Theravada considers anatman to mean that an individual's ego or personality is a fetter and delusion. Once freed of this delusion, the individual may enjoy the bliss of Nirvana.
Mahayana, on the other hand, considers all physical forms to be void of intrinsic, separate self. Therefore, according to Mahayana, "individual enlightenment" is an oxymoron. The ideal in Mahayana is to enable all beings to be enlightened together.Theravada teaches that enlightenment comes entirely through one's own efforts, without help from gods or other outside forces. Some Mahayana schools teach this also; others do not. Theravada accepts only the Pali Tipitika as scripture. There are a large number of other sutras that are venerated by Mahayana that Theravada does not accept as legitimate.
The primary means of realizing enlightenment in the Theravada tradition is through Vipassana or "insight" meditation. Vipassana emphasizes disciplined self-observation of body and thoughts and how they interconnect. WRITTEN IN PALI. These texts, written
in the Pali language and referred to as the Tripitika, the "three baskets," include:
• the suttas (discourses or sayings of the Buddha, often presented in story form);
• the Vinaya (ethical rules of conduct or discipline for monks and nuns who have joined the
monastic order, the sangha); and
• Abhidhamma (more complex philosophical teachings).
sixth book of Mahabharata epic Bhagavad-Gita,
1. that the Gita is an "ethical guide book," or what Mahatma Gandhi called a "dictionary for life;"
2. that the hero of the Gita is the warrior, Arjuna, who faces the ethical dilemma of leading battle in
war, thus the possibility of killing his own kin;
3. this ethical dilemma is examined through a dialogue that takes place between Arjuna and his
charioteer, Krishna;
4. Krishna turns out to be an avatar of the divine Vishnu;
5. the Gita dialogue comprises a synthesis of some Upanishad teachings and the introduction of
some new ideas;
6. that Krishna's counsel to Arjuna centers on the ethical notion of dharma, duty or moral
responsibility, the obligation that he must fulfill as a member of the warrior caste;
7. the ethical principle that Krishna articulates for Arjuna is "non-attached action;"
8. in explaining this principle of acting in accord with one's duty but without attachment to the fruits
of these duties, Krishna reaffirms the teaching put forward in the Upanishads: that only the
eternal self, atman, is real, and that identification with one's temporal self binds one to samsara,
endless rebirth;
9. the Gita suggests that the path to moksha, ethical and spiritual realization (these two are one
and the same in Hinduism) is meditation (the yoga of knowledge);
10. the Gita also introduces the notion that the yoga of devotion and compassionate service (bhakti)
to Vishnu and his avatars, including Krishna, is another path to ethical realization (a third path,
added to the path of ritual and the path of meditation); and
11. the Gita teaches readers about the nature of the ultimate, as comprising both prakriti (material
nature, matter) and purusha (spiritual nature, supreme being)
The term Upanishad means "to sit close by," referring to the place of a student or novice at the feet
of a spiritual teacher. In keeping with this meaning, the texts the Upanishads, composed between
4000 BCE and 600 BCE, are speculative and reflective. They represent the transition from a tradition
based in ritual and the duties associated with its communal performance, to a tradition that is more
introspective, contemplative, and individualized. The Upanishads teach the student of Hinduism all
that is required to achieve insight into the spiritual ground of reality, into the essence of things. The
Upanishads are also called "Vedanta," or "the end of the Vedas." While the four Vedas are studied
as guides to the understanding and performance of ritual, the Upanishads, which conclude the
Vedas, are studied for perfection of knowledge, for insight into the truth through which ignorance is
destroyed. These texts have dominated the Hindu philosophical and mystical tradition for thousands
of years, and even now are studied as spiritual and ethical source texts.
The first four Vedas refer to many gods and goddesses, but the Upanishads represent the transition
to one supreme reality, Brahman, from which all other reality is considered to stem, and of which all
other Vedic gods are said to be manifestations. Moreover, while the first four Vedas are, as the
Anthology of World Scriptures puts it, "world-affirming" texts that seek "blessing in this world" and
communion with it, the Upanishads suggest a more "world-negating" outlook, that "seeks release
from samsara, the continually reincarnated existence in this world. The Upanishads form the core of Indian philosophy. They are an amazing collection of writings from original oral transmissions, which have been aptly described by Shri Aurobindo as "the supreme work of the Indian mind". It is here that we find all the fundamental teachings that are central to Hinduism — the concepts of 'karma' (action), 'samsara' (reincarnation), 'moksha' (nirvana), the 'atman' (soul), and the 'Brahman' (Absolute Almighty).
The Four Noble Truths comprise the essentials of Buddhist teaching and the essentials of Buddhist
ethics. The following is a summary of Young's discussion:
• The First Noble Truth is the truth concerning suffering. It tells us that all life is suffering
(dukkha), that suffering is the fate of all who live. Young illustrates this truth with the famous
story of the mustard seed. In this story, a woman who is overcome with despair when her
only son dies learns that she is not alone in grief, and that no one is free of the sorrow of
death. As Buddhaghosa puts it in his Visuddhimagga, the truth of suffering is a disease that
afflicts all who live.
• The Second Noble Truth is the truth concerning the origin of suffering. In this truth, Buddha
offers a diagnosis of the cause of the disease that afflicts all who live: Suffering is caused by
craving for, or attachment to, this material world. Young's discussion compares this Buddhist
analysis of the cause of human ill to that found in the Hindu and Jain traditions.
• The Third Noble Truth is the truth concerning the stopping of suffering. With this truth,
Buddha, the healer, offers a cure for the disease that afflicts all who live: let go of craving.
With the cessation of craving, suffering ends, and one becomes a "worthy one" (an arhat),
liberated from the cycle of rebirth (samsara). With the cessation of craving, one achieves
enlightenment or nibbana (nirvana).
The Fourth Noble Truth is the truth concerning the way that leads to the cessation of
craving. With this truth, Buddha presents his Middle Way, his ethical Eightfold Path (magga),
as the medicine that will cure one of craving and make one an arhat. The Eightfold Path
recalls a point we have already made: In Buddhism, the moral life is conceived of as a way
or a journey that progresses from one stage to another until enlightenment is reached. It may
take several lives to achieve the final goal of enlightenment, and thus to be released from
samsara, the cycle of rebirth. Generally speaking, in early Buddhist society, monks and nuns
comprised a "morally elite" class and were considered to have progressed to more advanced
stages along the Eightfold Path