"An Interdisciplinary Approach To The Study Of The Life Of Siddhartha Gautama, Focusing On His Moral And Ethical Context In Terms Of Actions, Influence And Response"

1532 words - 7 pages

To obtain a clearer statement of the significant issues that fashioned the moral and ethical values of the Buddha, the responder has to enquire beyond the spiritual context, and examine the historical. In this sense, the historian should not dismiss myth and legend as "historically implausible" due to the fact that the ethical values of these texts emphasize the motivational forces behind the actions of the figure. In the case of Siddhartha Gautama, it is relevant to approach these texts with a manner of edification, particularly when considering his influence and response on society. There is a great deal of religious controversy surrounding the character Siddhartha Gautama and his ...view middle of the document...

Through literary and oral evidence, it is apparent that the morals and ethical values of Buddha played a pivotal role in influencing society. This includes several reasons as to why the Buddhist religion was accepted on such a grand scale. The gentle morals and precepts effecting "a slow but thorough transformation in the character of Aesthetic peoples, especially in the character of peoples in central Asia."One moral of Buddha, which contributed to the large number of followers, was the fact that he required no official conversion. Therefore, all of Asia could be justified as being Buddhist. Similarly, the fact that Buddha was apt to amalgamate other religions and assimilate their themes played a key role as to the number of converts. He "responded to the challenges of the day using the religious and cultural resources available to him" , allowing for society to embrace the new religion because of the general acceptance and openness.Also, preaching in the vernacular (Pali- language of the people) as opposed to Sanskrit (language of religion) had the effect of Buddhism seeming more approachable, resulting in support that was much greater than any religion from 5th Century had seen. The use of the common language allowed oral recounts, following personal interpretation rather than a set doctrine. This was another moral of Buddha that resulted in to greater support and enthusiastic acceptation.In fact, Buddha was particularly democratic in this, encouraging his disciples to study the Dharma critically, "without accepting it blindly" . These religious innovations provided radical social change in the context of Gautama; the morals of Buddha effected a change in the thought pattern of the people. In close reference to this, Buddha's values allowed for him to adjust his religion so that it was "situation specific, un-systemised, (and) open to further interpretation over time in contexts evolving individual and communal practice." Each individual was approached with a doctrine of 'regenerate personality', meaning derived through their own personal recourses. The term that Buddha gave to this process of assimilation was sampaticchanam , accepting and receiving the diverse range of minds.Essentially this adaptation and mission is summerised within Buddha's own definition, labeled the Doctrine of Skillful Means. He quotes; "For liberating truth to be authentically appropriated, persons must receive it through their own forms of thought, culture and aesthetics, not in just one rigidly, standardized way from a culture of origin." This provides a definite link between the morals and values of the Buddha, and how they influenced the social and cultural context of their age on such a grand scale. His skill of communication through both Buddhist and non-Buddhist modes of thought, and his ability to adjust his message according the "predispositions of his audience" 12, had a catalytic effect on the number of converts to his contemplation of...

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