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Title : Buddhist Ethics in the Pannasa Jataka
Type: Master Degree Thesis
File Size : 728 KB
Date Submitted :
Author : Ms. Chea Bunnary


The problem of how to live ethically, that is, with morality and virtue is a common issue for human beings worldwide. This thesis, Buddhist Ethics in the Paññāsa Jātaka (Apocryphal Birth-Stories), provides an historical analysis of this important text and examines the essential role of ethics in Buddhism through an analysis of the non-canonical Jātaka stories. The author argues that these stories explicitly illustrate the core of Buddhist ethics.

These ethics are established through the law of kamma and exemplified by the Noble Eightfold Path. Morality and wisdom are considered necessary factors of the Noble Eightfold Path. The thesis argues that these two factors function synergistically. When they occur in the Paññāsa Jātaka, stories, it is to illustrate Buddhist ethics. On the other hand, the Paññāsa Jātaka is the work of monks; therefore, they illustrate both Buddhist ethics and knowledge.

Buddhism has influenced systems of morality and social relationships in every Buddhist country, including Cambodia. The author suggests that Buddhist ethics has influenced traditional Khmer conduct. This can be seen in the cpap’: codes of conduct composed by Khmer poets and writers who were ex-monks. It should not be surprising then, that the Buddhist vinaya (rules for monks) contains similarities to traditional Khmer ethics since, in fact, Buddhism appears to have influenced them.
In order to broaden the discussion, the author compared three similar kinds of ethics in western philosophy to Buddhist ethics. According to this comparison, both are similar in certain respects while they differ in others. Their similarity is indicated through their common emphasis on right action; their difference lies in the motivation behind the goal of the ethics. Some scholars think that the ultimate goal of Buddhist ethics is that attainment of nibbana, a spiritual transcendence of materiality; while in western ethics, the utmost goal is grounded in the material world. Irrespective of the goal, both ethical systems advocate good relationships between humans in society for the happiness of others and oneself. In the Buddha’s teaching, these ethical webs are shown in the circle of independent origination about cause and effect. These points are clearly illustrated in the didactic stories of the Paññāsa Jātaka.

Source: Buddhist Institute of Cambodia