Buddhist ethics

Sīla is an internal, aware, and intentional ethical behavior, according to one's commitment to the path of liberation. It is an ethical compass within self and relationships, rather than what is associated with the English word "morality" (i.e., obedience, a sense of obligation, and external constraint).

“Bhikkhus, there are these three grounds for making merit. What three? The ground for making merit consisting in giving, the ground for making merit consisting in virtue, and the ground for making merit consisting in mind-development. These are the three.

"...good conduct by way of body, speech, giving and sharing, taking precepts, observing the sabbath, paying due respect to mother and father, ascetics and brahmins, honoring the elders in the family, and various other things pertaining to skillful behaviors."

"Truth, principle, self-control, and restraint; giving, harmlessness, delighting in non-violence..."

"giving and helping others, kindly speech, and equal treatment, such action and conduct as brought people together..."

Giving (Dana) is an important Buddhist virtue. The community of monastics is seen as the most meritorious field of karmic fruitfulness.

Following the precepts is not the only dimension of Buddhist morality, there are also several important virtues, motivations and habits which are widely promoted by Buddhist texts and traditions. At the core of these virtues are the three roots of non-attachment (araga), benevolence (advesa), and understanding (amoha).

If then, the intention is purely to protect others from evil, the act of killing is sometimes seen as meritorious.

While abortion is problematic in Buddhism, contraception is generally a non-issue.

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"Everyone fears punishment; everyone fears death, just as you do. Therefore do not kill or cause to kill. Everyone fears punishment; everyone loves life, as you do. Therefore do not kill or cause to kill

Early Buddhist monastics spent a lot of time in the forests, which was seen as an excellent place for meditation and this tradition continues to be practiced by the monks of the Thai Forest Tradition.

Meat should not be eaten under three circumstances: when it is seen or heard or suspected (that a living being has been purposely slaughtered for the eater); these, Jivaka, are the three circumstances in which meat should not be eaten, Jivaka! I declare there are three circumstances in which meat can be eaten: when it is not seen or heard or suspected (that a living being has been purposely slaughtered for the eater); Jivaka, I say these are the three circumstances in which meat can be eaten.

The Buddha held that because the food is given by a donor with good intentions, a monk should accept this as long as it is pure in these three respects. To refuse the offering would deprive the donor of the positive karma that giving provides. Moreover, it would create a certain conceit in the monks who would now pick and choose what food to eat. The Buddha did state however that the donor does generate bad karma for himself by killing an animal. In Theravada Buddhist countries, most people do eat meat, however.

Forests and jungles represented the ideal dwelling place for early Buddhists, and many texts praise the forest life as being helpful to meditation. Monks are not allowed to cut down trees as per the Vinaya, and the planting of trees and plants is seen as karmically fruitful. Because of this, Buddhist monasteries are often small nature preserves within the modernizing states in East Asia. The species ficus religiosa is seen as auspicious, because it is the same kind of tree that the Buddha gained enlightenment under.

Buddhist nuns from the Tibetan tradition, volunteering in Kyegundo (Tibet Earthquake zone).

The Sigalovada Sutta states that a master should look after servants and employees by: "(1) by assigning them work according to their ability, (2) by supplying them with food and with wages, (3) by tending them in sickness, (4) by sharing with them any delicacies, (5) by granting them leave at times" (Digha Nikaya 31). Early Buddhist texts see success in work as aided by one's spiritual and moral qualities.