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Buddhism Religious Tradition Depth Study. Asoka Contributions to: Development ◦ 3 rd Buddhist Council – unified the Theravada text into a canon ◦ Cleansed.

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Presentation on theme: "Buddhism Religious Tradition Depth Study. Asoka Contributions to: Development ◦ 3 rd Buddhist Council – unified the Theravada text into a canon ◦ Cleansed."— Presentation transcript:

1 Buddhism Religious Tradition Depth Study

2 Asoka Contributions to: Development ◦ 3 rd Buddhist Council – unified the Theravada text into a canon ◦ Cleansed the Sangha – forumulating the vinaya ◦ Propogation of the faith – edicts spread throughout his empire, on which were the dharma ◦ All the infrastructure, including hospitals, roads, education (significant!) ◦ His own model of compassion for living things Expression ◦ Increase in number of Buddhists ◦ More people were educated, and could read the edicts. This resulted in people using the dharma in their lives ◦ All the infrastructure – including roads, hospitals, etc as a reflection of his Buddhist beliefs ◦ His entire empire was governed with the Dharma

3 Asoka Impact ◦ Short Term: entire empire was exposed to Buddhism. Many people converted ◦ Short Term: purification of the Sangha & the Theravada texts ◦ Short Term: propagation of the faith ◦ Long Term: Buddhism moved from a sect within Hinduism to its own religion ◦ Long Term: Buddhism is one of the five major religious traditions in the world


5 Environmental ethics The Five Precepts ◦ To abstain from:  Harming living beings  Taking things not freely given  Sexual misconduct  False speech  Intoxicating drinks/drgs The Vinaya Pitaka ◦ Rules for monastic life ◦ 227 for monks, 311 for nuns

6 Environmental Ethics How do Buddhists view the environment? ◦ We are one with all existence, from our immediate environment to the entire universe ◦ Therefore, when people work on their inner-selves, they are affecting the environment around them Principal beliefs ◦ Annica – impermanence – all physical things will end (including our bodies, the wider environment, the universe) ◦ Karma – our actions towards all things have consequences. Damage to the environment will have a causal effect on us.

7 Environmental Ethics The Four Noble Truths… The Eightfold Path ◦ Right Action  Includes precept: “to abstain from harming sentient beings”  Includes hunting for sport, indirect (and direct) killing of animals in destructive/damaging actions – e.g. deforestation, pollution

8 Environmental Ethics The Eightfold Path (continued) Right Intention ◦ Can be described as a commitment to ethical self-improvement. ◦ Commitment to: nonviolence (ahimsa) which results in actions that are not destructive or harmful, loving-kindness (metta) and compassion ◦ Includes recycling, reducing waste & pollution, reducing carbon footprint, advocating for animal rights, etc Consider - global warming, as a result of burning fossil fuels—an activity which, in itself, seems fairly mild, though evidence indicates that if this is not reduced in the next few decades, it may reach an uncontrollable, self-sustaining level, that will be a great threat to much life on earth. To ensure the right intention was used, a person would need to become educated in the correct application of right mindfulness of the situation. This would presumably instil a greater awareness of the unintentional consequences of their actions in the minds of potential polluters.

9 Environmental Ethics The Eightfold Path Right Livelihood ◦ One should earn one’s living in a righteous way, peacefully and legally ◦ Buddha mentioned four specific activities that harm other beings and, so, should be avoided:  Dealing with weapons  Dealing with living animals (e.g. raising animals for slaughter, engaging in slave trade or prostitution)  Working in meat production and butchery  Selling intoxicants and poisons (e.g. alcohol)

10 Environmental Ethics Link the teachings back to the Five Precepts (especially “to abstain from harming living beings”) Link the teachings to the core ideals of Buddhism: ◦ Metta (loving kindness) ◦ Ahimsa (non-violence) Link the teachings to the principal beliefs of Buddhism: ◦ Karma, Samsara, Nirvana – what is the ultimate purpose for Buddhists? Discuss issues such as: ◦ Pollution, deforestation, logging, overpopulation, hunting for sport – basically, anything at all to do with the environment. Remember: humans are very much part of the environment, as all things are connected (interdependent origination) – from nature (plants and animals) to humans. SO when you are effecting nature, you are also affecting humans, and vice versa.

11 Environmental Ethics Some quotes Destruction of nature and natural resources results from ignorance, greed, and lack of respect for the earth's living things. This lack of respect extends even to the earth's human descendants, the future generations who will inherit a vastly degraded planet if world peace does not become a reality and if destruction of the natural environment continues at the present rate. (Dalai Lama) He who has understanding and great wisdom does not will for the harm of himself, of others, or of both. So willing, he wills for the welfare of himself, of others, of both, and of the whole world. Thus, monk, one has understanding and great wisdom. (Aguttara Nik ā ya.II.179) Monks, you have not a mother or a father who might tend you. If you, monks, do not tend one another, then who is there who will tend you? Whoever, monks, would tend me, he should tend the sick (Buddha) (Vin.I.302) Progress of men comes from the exhortation in favor of non-injury to life and abstention from killing living beings. (King Asoka)

12 Wesak Describe the practice & beliefs expressed: ◦ Wesak is – a celebration of the Birth, Enlightenment, Death of Buddha ◦ Typical symbols include:  Lighting of Candles (a symbol of enlightenment – the light of wisdom replaces the darkness of ignorance)  Releasing of caged animals (a symbol of the escape from Samsara)  Bathing of the Buddha statue (a symbol of cleansing oneself of bad karma)  Etc. ◦ Consider VARIANTS – make the connection between geographical/cultural differences in celebration and link to variants of Buddhism (Theravada, Mahayana, Vajrayana)

13 Wesak Significance to Individuals ◦ An annual reminder that we are all part of the Wheel of Life ◦ Hope for our own enlightenment ◦ A remembrance of Buddha as an ordinary man who was able to escape Samsara and enter into Nirvana Significance to Communities ◦ Community gathers to celebrate a common belief ◦ Community gathers to hear the Sangha teach its wisdom (through sermons) ◦ Sangha are celebrated and the community are reminded of the Three Jewels  Refuge in: Buddha, Dharma, Sangha

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