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6. Examine the ethical teachings found in ancient India.

At the time of the Buddha there were many religious groups that held to the different
kinds of ethics and they had different views of it. One can discuss the religious and
philosophical traditions. There were two major systems of thought such as materialism
and the externalism. The materialists were not much interested in ethics but the
externalists gave a very special significance to ethics.
The materialists only emphasized the material significance of the phenomenal world.
According to them the mind factor is not important when dealing with world of
phenomena and the mind element has no any influence on human behaviour. According
to the sources there were many teachers depending on materialism know as Carvaka,
Brahaspratya, Lokayata etc. They gave a little important to the ethics and therefore they
were called Niyativadins, Akiriyavadins etc.
According to them material elements play a vital role in the function of human beings of
existence. They said that the mind is made of great primary elements such as Pathavi,
Apo, Dejo and Vayo. When they dissolve his life also comes to an end and there will be
no more future births. Nothing will remain for the next life, so it is no use to speak of
future existence. Ethics, customs, and such practices are not important in human society.
They do not believe the doctrine of Kamma, rebirth, dependent origination and such
teachings become useless for them. Early Buddhism has rejected such teachings as
extremist and the term used is Kamasukhanlikanuyoga. Hence, their way of life came to
know Kamasukhanlikanuyogo and the philosophy was materialism.
According to Buddhism person means the composition of mental and material elements.
Therefore the both elements have an equal importance and the mind elements influences
ones behaviour and ones behaviour influences the mind elements. There is a relative
existence between the mental and physical behaviour. Hence an extremist concept fails to
build up a right philosophy and an ethical system in society.
As Buddhism gives a special significance to mind and mind related element, ethics
becomes vital in Buddhist teachings. The first step of deliverance of human beings
depends on ethics, which is know as Sila and it is the first factor of the Noble Eight Fold
Path, which leads to the control of ones physical behaviour. This leads to a positive
development of ones mental behaviour, which helps the social development. All such
positive qualities come from mind owing to Buddhism. Therefore, when one understands
oneself and behaves in good conduct, the society becomes very peaceful and very useful
to live in.