A Basis for a Buddhist EthicAuthor: Ray McIntyrePublished: July 17, 2007This article looks at the basis for Buddhist ethics found in the desire to end thesuffering experienced by all sentient beings.Buddhist ethics are based in the belief that all sentient beings suffer. TheBuddha spoke of the causes of suffering and gave the Five Precepts as the means bywhich suffering could be ended. This article deals with the Five Precepts andtheir wider meanings.Where does Suffering come from?Human Suffering, according to the Buddha comes from aging; sickness; death;association with the unpleasant; Inability to get what you wish for. But the firststep of all is to realize that we do suffer and, in many ways, this first step isthe biggest. We all want life to be simple, we all want to have that which wedesire, money, fame, a good marriage, children, a career but sometimes, indeedmost times life does not work that way and we settle for less money, being knownonly to a few. a not too unhappy marriage, etc.When our desires are thwarted in this way we suffer and the Buddha talks of thissuffering coming from ignorance, we do not know HOW to live, HOW to have a goodmarriage, HOW to deal with our children. So we must first recognize that we sufferand that we do not know how to end that suffering. This is where the Five Preceptsare important for they tell us how we can live to minimize our suffering. So letus now look at those precepts.The Five Precepts.The five precepts, in their simplest form are:1. Not killing or causing harm to other living being2. Not taking the not-given.3. Avoiding sexual misconduct.4. Avoiding false speech.5. Abstaining from drink and drugs that cloud the mind.When we follow these precepts and apply their wider meanings to our lives (i.e.Not killing or causing harm does not just mean the avoidance of murder butincludes all forms of injury to others. It means that we recognize that all thingshave an equal right to live. It helps us to put friendliness, love, kindness andcompassion into place in our lives.) then we are able to move onto the next step.The Next Step.The next step is both the simplest and the hardest simultaneously, it is simplythis: Putting in place goals which help us to live so as to end suffering. Thehard part is that this means a lot of work in getting to know ourselves, findingout what it is in our own lives that causes us to suffer, what is it that we inparticular want and why do we feel thwarted. We can only end our suffering bygetting to know ourselves deeply and well.