Does Buddhism operate with the concept "moral obligation"?

Buddhist ethical conduct including the Five Precepts (Pañcasikkhāpada), and Eightfold Ethical Conduct (Aṭṭhasīla).
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binocular
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Does Buddhism operate with the concept "moral obligation"?

Post by binocular »

Greetings.


Does Buddhism operate with the concept "moral obligation"?
According to Buddhist doctrine, is there even such a thing as "moral obligation"?


Thank you.

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Ceisiwr
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Re: Does Buddhism operate with the concept "moral obligation"?

Post by Ceisiwr »

Greetings,

I would say that if you vow to do X then you are obligated to stick to it.

Metta

:)
“For that is false, bhikkhu, which has a deceptive nature, and that is true which has an undeceptive nature—Nibbāna. Therefore a bhikkhu possessing this truth possesses the supreme foundation of truth. For this, bhikkhu, is the supreme noble truth, namely, Nibbāna, which has an undeceptive nature.” MN 140

SarathW
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Re: Does Buddhism operate with the concept "moral obligation"?

Post by SarathW »

In Buddhism, there are no moral obligations but there is morality.
ie: Dana (generosity), Sila (morality), Samadhi (concentration) and Panna (wisdom)
The generosity and morality are the foundation of wisdom.
There are no obligations but only Kamma (action) and Vipaka (results).
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

chownah
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Re: Does Buddhism operate with the concept "moral obligation"?

Post by chownah »

Ceisiwr wrote:
Fri Mar 20, 2020 11:58 pm
Greetings,

I would say that if you vow to do X then you are obligated to stick to it.

Metta

:)
The question is about buddhist doctrine.....so.....can you bring a sutta reference which supports what you say?
chownah

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Sam Vara
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Re: Does Buddhism operate with the concept "moral obligation"?

Post by Sam Vara »

binocular wrote:
Fri Mar 20, 2020 11:41 pm
Greetings.


Does Buddhism operate with the concept "moral obligation"?
According to Buddhist doctrine, is there even such a thing as "moral obligation"?


Thank you.
Yes, Pali has the imperative mood ("Do this...") and the future passive ("This is to be done..."). The Buddha often told people that they ought to do something rather than do another thing.

I can't recall the texts containing what Kant would call a categorical imperative, though. They are, implicitly at least, conditional imperatives. They say, in effect, "If you want this, do that", rather than "That should be done, come what may".

I think the ethical system expounded by the Buddha is naturalistic, and therefore doesn't have the absolute as a fixed point against which to lever an unconditional obligation.

binocular
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Re: Does Buddhism operate with the concept "moral obligation"?

Post by binocular »

Sam Vara wrote:
Sat Mar 21, 2020 12:14 pm
I can't recall the texts containing what Kant would call a categorical imperative, though. They are, implicitly at least, conditional imperatives. They say, in effect, "If you want this, do that", rather than "That should be done, come what may".
Yes, exactly.
The suttas contain conditional formulations to the effect of "This is to be done by one who wants to ..."
But I've never seen anything resembling a categorical imperative in the suttas.
I think the ethical system expounded by the Buddha is naturalistic, and therefore doesn't have the absolute as a fixed point against which to lever an unconditional obligation.
Indeed, which is what makes Buddhism so different from the ethical/moral systems most of us Westerners are used to. It's a difference so fundamental that it's easy to miss it.

The implication of this seems to be that in order to practice the Buddhist path properly, one has to abandon one's most fundamental ideas about morality that one has inherited as a Westerner!

Once one ditches objective morality, what's left?!

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Sam Vara
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Re: Does Buddhism operate with the concept "moral obligation"?

Post by Sam Vara »

binocular wrote:
Sat Mar 21, 2020 6:13 pm

Once one ditches objective morality, what's left?!
Everything else, including, of course,
The declaration, teaching, description, setting-forth, revelation, explanation, and making-plain of the noble truth of stress. The declaration, teaching, description, setting forth, revelation, explanation, and making-plain of the noble truth of the origination of stress... the noble truth of the cessation of stress... the noble truth of the path of practice leading to the cessation of stress.
(MN 141)

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Ceisiwr
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Re: Does Buddhism operate with the concept "moral obligation"?

Post by Ceisiwr »

chownah wrote:
Sat Mar 21, 2020 3:15 am
Ceisiwr wrote:
Fri Mar 20, 2020 11:58 pm
Greetings,

I would say that if you vow to do X then you are obligated to stick to it.

Metta

:)
The question is about buddhist doctrine.....so.....can you bring a sutta reference which supports what you say?
chownah
Greetings,

I’m not aware of any such sutta, except the ones that discuss obligations towards ones family, employees, employers etc for householders.

Metta

:)
“For that is false, bhikkhu, which has a deceptive nature, and that is true which has an undeceptive nature—Nibbāna. Therefore a bhikkhu possessing this truth possesses the supreme foundation of truth. For this, bhikkhu, is the supreme noble truth, namely, Nibbāna, which has an undeceptive nature.” MN 140

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Bhikkhu Pesala
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Re: Does Buddhism operate with the concept "moral obligation"?

Post by Bhikkhu Pesala »

Moral obligations are listed in the Siṅgāla Sutta, e.g.

Parents as the East
“In five ways, householder’s son, should a son minister to his parents as the east. My parents have supported me, I will support them in turn; I will manage affairs on their behalf; I will maintain the family traditions; I will be worthy of my inheritance; I will offer alms on behalf of my departed parents.

“In five ways, householder’s son, the parents ministered to as the east by a son show him compassion. They restrain him from evil, they exhort him to do good, they train him to acquire skills, they seek a suitable wife for him, they give him his inheritance when the time comes. In these five ways, householder’s son, the parents ministered to as the east by a son show him compassion. Thus the eastern direction is made secure, peaceful, and free from dangers.”
BlogPāli FontsIn This Very LifeBuddhist ChroniclesSoftware (Upasampadā: 24th June, 1979)

SarathW
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Re: Does Buddhism operate with the concept "moral obligation"?

Post by SarathW »

SarathW wrote:
Sat Mar 21, 2020 1:35 am
In Buddhism, there are no moral obligations but there is morality.
ie: Dana (generosity), Sila (morality), Samadhi (concentration) and Panna (wisdom)
The generosity and morality are the foundation of wisdom.
There are no obligations but only Kamma (action) and Vipaka (results).
I agree with Bhante Pesala.
Householders have moral obligations.
However, the Ariya persons (Sotapanna and above) do not have moral obligations as they have gone beyond morals.
Ariya people act on the basis of Brahama Vihara (Metta, Karuna,Muditha and Upekkha)
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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Bhikkhu Pesala
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Re: Does Buddhism operate with the concept "moral obligation"?

Post by Bhikkhu Pesala »

Recluses and Priests as the Zenith
“In five ways, householder’s son, should the son of a good family minister to recluses (samaṇa) and priests (brāhmaṇā) as the zenith. By kind actions; by kind speech; by kind thoughts; by keeping an open door for them; by providing their material needs.

“In six ways, householder’s son, the recluses and priests ministered to as the zenith by the son of a good family show him compassion. They restrain him from evil, they exhort him to do good, they maintain a compassionate mind towards him, they teach him what he have not heard, they explain what he has heard already, they point out the path to heaven. In these six ways, householder’s son, the recluses and priests ministered to as the zenith by the son of a good family show him compassion. Thus the zenith is made secure, peaceful, and free from dangers.”
BlogPāli FontsIn This Very LifeBuddhist ChroniclesSoftware (Upasampadā: 24th June, 1979)

chownah
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Re: Does Buddhism operate with the concept "moral obligation"?

Post by chownah »

SarathW wrote:
Sat Mar 21, 2020 9:17 pm
SarathW wrote:
Sat Mar 21, 2020 1:35 am
In Buddhism, there are no moral obligations but there is morality.
ie: Dana (generosity), Sila (morality), Samadhi (concentration) and Panna (wisdom)
The generosity and morality are the foundation of wisdom.
There are no obligations but only Kamma (action) and Vipaka (results).
I agree with Bhante Pesala.
Householders have moral obligations.
However, the Ariya persons (Sotapanna and above) do not have moral obligations as they have gone beyond morals.
Ariya people act on the basis of Brahama Vihara (Metta, Karuna,Muditha and Upekkha)
Perhaps it is not that householders have moral oblilgations.....perhaps it is that those who experience moral obligation are householders.....
chownah

SarathW
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Re: Does Buddhism operate with the concept "moral obligation"?

Post by SarathW »

it is that those who experience moral obligation are householders
Agree.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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