[Buddha-l] Re: [Karma and ethics [was: angels]

Randall Jones rjones at cm.ksc.co.th
Fri May 27 23:21:36 MDT 2005

At 10:05 AM 5/28/2005, Richard Hayes wrote:

>If one is striving to be historically accurate about Buddhist thinking,
>then it is somewhat misleading to describe Buddhist theories in terms of
>constructs that were alien to the settings where Buddhism evolved.

Aren't similar things said about readings of the U.S. constitution?  And 
doesn't Buddhist thinking continue?

I am reminded of the distinction between scripture and literature made in 
an essay by Ricoeur (maybe in _Interfaces of the Word_--I'm without books 
these days so not sure).  While literature is historically situated, 
scripture escapes history by opening into present life and is lived now . . 
. (I want to say scripture opens into present lives in ways that help 
constitute us as who we are, but I doubt Ricoeur said that.  I'm not even 
sure Ricoeur said any of this, come to think of it.)

OK, I'm finding it hard to say what I mean.  Nevertheless, I think this is 
a real and important distinction.  Buddhist writings aren't just 
literature, and to the extent they go beyond literature (i.e., are 
"scripture"), they escape history through a potential to enter into the 
living and changing conversation of now.

>That notwithstanding, I think it is
>a mistake to see Buddhist speech precepts as a subset of what in the
>West we call ethics. But I'm willing to be shown wrong. In fact, I have
>a graduate student right now who may do an excellent job of showing just
>how wrong I am.

I hope he will share his work, whether he shows you wrong or not.

Randall Jones

rjones at cm.ksc.co.th

PS:  Even if there is no classical Buddhist dialogue around ethics, can't 
we have one now? 

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