Buddhist Ethics

Barbra R. Clayton

in The Oxford Handbook of World Philosophy

Published in print May 2011 | ISBN: 9780195328998
Published online September 2011 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 Buddhist Ethics

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In what is remembered in Buddhist traditions as the first discourse of the Buddha, the Buddha outlined Four Noble Truths that framed the basic doctrine of the early Buddhist tradition and the Theravāda tradition today. The four truths specify that, firstly, existence is characterized by “unsatisfactoriness” or suffering, literally a lack of ease; secondly, suffering has a cause, identified as aversion, craving, and ignorance; and thirdly, because suffering has a cause it can also come to an end, a state known as nirvāna. The fourth truth outlines the Noble Eightfold Path to the cessation of suffering. In one common formula, that path comprises “three trainings”: insight, moral conduct, and mental discipline. This article identifies the teachings that formed the basis of Buddhist moral traditions in India and which were more or less influential in the various traditions of Buddhism that spread across Asia and more recently to the West.

Keywords: Buddhist philosophy; Indian Buddhism; Buddha; Four Noble Truths

Article.  7343 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Non-Western Philosophy

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