ETHICS IN BUDDHISM

Ten meritorious deeds

The Buddha thought ten meritorious deeds for us to perform in order to gain a happy and peaceful life as well as to develop knowledge and understanding. The ten meritorious deeds are: 1. Charity 2.Morality 3.Mental Culture 4. Reverence or respect 5. Service in helping others 6. Sharing merits with others 7. Rejoicing in the merits of others 8.Preaching and teaching the Dhamma 9. Listening to Dhamma 10. Straightening one’s views.

Moral conduct benefits all beings with whom one comes into contact. Mental culture brings peace to others and inspires them to practice Dhamma. Reverence gives rise to harmony in society. Service improves the lives of others. Sharing merits with others shows that one is concerned about others’ welfare.

Rejoicing in other’s merits encourages others to perform more merits. Teaching, listening to the Dhamma is important factor for happiness for both the teacher and the listener. Straightening one’s views enables a person to show to others the beauty of Dhamma.

Ten demeritorious deeds

There are ten demeritorious deeds from which the Buddhist are advised to keep away. These deeds are rooted in greed, hatred, and delusion and they will bring suffering to others. These ten deeds are divided into three sets: 1. Actions of the Body 2. Verbal Actions 3. Actions of the Mind.

1 .Bodily actions are killing of living beings, stealing, and unlawful sexual intercourse. 2. Four verbal actions are: Lying, Slander, Harsh Speech, and Meaningless Talk. 3. The other three actions of the mind are: Covetousness or being desirous especially of things belonging to others, ill-will, wrong views.

Buddhist morality judges an action good or bad basing on the intention or motivation from which it originates. If a person performs an action out of greed, hatred, delusion, his action is considered to be bad. On the other hand, if he performs an action out of love, charity and wisdom, his action is good. Love,
charity and wisdom are known as the “the three Good Roots.” Here the word ‘root’ refers to the intention from which that action originates.

In Buddhism a person’s first duty is to cleanse him of the mental defilements of greed, hatred and ignorance. The reason for doing this cleansing is not because of fear or desire to please some Divine beings. If this is so, that would mean that the person is still lacking in wisdom. He is only acting out of fear like the little child who is afraid of being punished for being naughty.

A Buddhist should act out of understanding and wisdom. He performs good actions because he realizes that by so doing he develops his moral strength, which provides foundation for spiritual growth, leading to liberation.

Five precepts

Telling about ten meritorious and ten evil actions, the Buddhism invites the lay Buddhists to adopt five precepts voluntarily to follow in order to live together in civilized communities with mutual trust and respect. Following these five precepts helps the lay Buddhist to make a spiritual journey towards liberation.

These five precepts are purely voluntary ones. A good Buddhist should remind himself to follow the five precepts daily they are as follows, I take the training rule to refrain from killing living creatures, Taking which is not given, Sexual misconduct, False speech, and Taking intoxicating drugs and liquor.

The precepts are the basic practice in Buddhism. They are also an indispensable basis for people who wish to cultivate their minds. Without some basic moral code, the power of meditation can often be applied for some wrong and selfish motive. These five refrains is called as Pancasila

Kindness and charity

The Lord Buddha proposes Universal Love or “Metta”. By this, Lord Buddha invites one to cultivate a boundless heart towards all beings. Speaking about charity Buddha says that the essence of true charity is to give something without expecting anything in return for the gift. A charitable person should not make other people feel indebted to him or use charity as a way of exercising control leaves both the giver and the recipient free.

A real charity must proceed from the whole person as an act of his body, heart and mind. It should not be an act of generosity but it should be a “Dana” when a person performs “Dana”, he gives as a means of cultivating charity as a virtue. It reduces one’s craving and his selfishness.

Love for Animals

The Buddhists are encouraged to extend love for all living beings without restricting only to Human beings. Since every living being has a right to exist so it is not right for us to take away the life of any living being. It is unfair for us to deprive their living rights. If we believe that animals were created by someone
for men, it would follow that men were also created for animals since some animals do eat human flesh.

Buddhism says the destruction of any creature represents a disturbance of the universal order. Man’s cruelty towards animals is another expression of his uncontrolled greed. Our own existence on this earth may not be guaranteed if we do not take stern measures for the survival of other creatures.