A Basis for a Buddhist Ethic Author: Ray McIntyre Published: July 17, 2007 This article looks at the basis

for Buddhist ethics found in the desire to end the suffering experienced by all sentient beings. Buddhist ethics are based in the belief that all sentient beings suffer. The Buddha spoke of the causes of suffering and gave the Five Precepts as the means by which suffering could be ended. This article deals with the Five Precepts and their 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 first step of all is to realize that we do suffer and, in many ways, this first step is the biggest. We all want life to be simple, we all want to have that which we desire, money, fame, a good marriage, children, a career but sometimes, indeed most times life does not work that way and we settle for less money, being known only to a few. a not too unhappy marriage, etc. When our desires are thwarted in this way we suffer and the Buddha talks of this suffering coming from ignorance, we do not know HOW to live, HOW to have a good marriage, HOW to deal with our children. So we must first recognize that we suffer and that we do not know how to end that suffering. This is where the Five Precepts are important for they tell us how we can live to minimize our suffering. So let us 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 being 2. 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 but includes all forms of injury to others. It means that we recognize that all things have an equal right to live. It helps us to put friendliness, love, kindness and compassion 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 simply this: Putting in place goals which help us to live so as to end suffering. The hard part is that this means a lot of work in getting to know ourselves, finding out what it is in our own lives that causes us to suffer, what is it that we in particular want and why do we feel thwarted. We can only end our suffering by getting to know ourselves deeply and well.

For many Buddhists this means daily meditation perhaps on the Buddha's teachings, perhaps on the Noble Eightfold Path or on the Five Precepts or simply on human suffering. The Promise. Buddhists believe that if we earnestly desire to end our suffering in the endless cycle of our births and rebirths then we can achieve that end. We can enter into Nirvana but we have to do the hard work first, Buddhism is not a system which says that you can make an intellectual assent or decision for 'the Buddha' and that then you will be 'saved.' But it does promise that if you work at getting to know yourself, getting to know what drives you and how that relates to your suffering then, one day that suffering will cease. May all things lead you to the end of suffering.