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A few questions - morality and knowledge - Dhamma Wheel

A few questions - morality and knowledge

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.
Coyote
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Location: Wales - UK

A few questions - morality and knowledge

Postby Coyote » Mon Sep 19, 2011 9:01 pm

I'll just jump right in: If anyone knows of any relevant threads or on-line resources then please point me towards them.

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).

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.

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?

I hope what I have written makes sense. I'm sure my questions have been asked many times but please take that time to help me out.

Kind regards
"If beings knew, as I know, the results of giving & sharing, they would not eat without having given, nor would the stain of miserliness overcome their minds. Even if it were their last bite, their last mouthful, they would not eat without having shared."
Iti 26

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daverupa
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Re: A few questions - morality and knowledge

Postby daverupa » Mon Sep 19, 2011 10:07 pm


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Modus.Ponens
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Re: A few questions - morality and knowledge

Postby Modus.Ponens » Mon Sep 19, 2011 10:58 pm

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.
He turns his mind away from those phenomena, and having done so, inclines his mind to the property of deathlessness: 'This is peace, this is exquisite — the resolution of all fabrications; the relinquishment of all acquisitions; the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; Unbinding.'
(Jhana Sutta - Thanissaro Bhikkhu translation)

Nicro
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Re: A few questions - morality and knowledge

Postby Nicro » Tue Sep 20, 2011 12:49 am


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Bhikkhu Pesala
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Re: A few questions - morality and knowledge

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Tue Sep 20, 2011 3:55 am

Whether a Buddha arises in the world or not, it remains a fact that all conditions are impermanent and unsatisfactory. Whether a Buddha arises in the world or not, it remains a fact that craving is the cause of suffering. If no Buddha arises in the world, no one knows the right path leading to the cessation of suffering and the realisation of nibbāna. When a Buddha awakens to the truth, he points out a path that was lost and unknown to gods and mankind. The Buddhadhamma is the teaching that points out that path.

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.

All conditioned things are impermanent and unsatisfactory (). 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.” ()



‘To associate with the wise, even only on one occasion is of great advantage;
to associate with the foolish even on many occasions is of no benefit.’

‘One should associate with the wise and listen to their teaching;
one who does will become noble-minded,
no harm comes from learning the teaching of the wise.’

‘The splendid royal chariots, once so beautiful, grow old and decay,
but the teaching of the wise is ageless and never changes,
this is what the wise talk about among themselves.’

‘The sky is very far from the earth, and the earth is very far from the heavens,
but farther apart than these are the teaching of the wise and the teaching of the foolish.’
• • • • (Upasampadā: 24th June, 1979)

Coyote
Posts: 845
Joined: Mon Sep 19, 2011 12:42 pm
Location: Wales - UK

Re: A few questions - morality and knowledge

Postby Coyote » Tue Sep 20, 2011 3:24 pm

"If beings knew, as I know, the results of giving & sharing, they would not eat without having given, nor would the stain of miserliness overcome their minds. Even if it were their last bite, their last mouthful, they would not eat without having shared."
Iti 26

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daverupa
Posts: 5980
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Re: A few questions - morality and knowledge

Postby daverupa » Wed Sep 21, 2011 2:42 pm

It is the case that:

sabbe sankhara anicca
sabbe sankhara dukkha
sabbe dhamma anatta

Sabbe means "all, every", and of course anicca means "impermanent". This first line is what is causing confusion for you, but altogether the three lines, when understood, will answer your questions about anicca as well as nibbana.

So understanding these three lines will at first hinge on understanding the term "sankhara", since "sabbe" and "anicca" are relatively straightforward. To that end, you will benefit by carefully reading .

:heart:

nameless
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Joined: Tue Jul 27, 2010 2:25 pm

Re: A few questions - morality and knowledge

Postby nameless » Sat Oct 22, 2011 9:40 am



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