Buddhism In A Nutshell - Chapter 4
Is Buddhism An Ethical System?
It no doubt contains an excellent ethical code which is unparalleled in its perfection and altruistic attitude. It deals with one way of life for the monks and another for the laity. But Buddhism is much more than an ordinary moral teaching. Morality is only the preliminary stage on the Path of Purity, and is a means to an end, but not an end in itself. Conduct, though essential, is itself insufficient to gain one's emancipation. It should be coupled with wisdom or knowledge (paññã). The base of Buddhism is morality, and wisdom is its apex.
In observing the principles of morality a Buddhist should not only regard his own self but also should have a consideration for others as well - animals not excluded. Morality in Buddhism is not founded on any doubtful revelation nor is it the ingenious invention of an exceptional mind, but it is a rational and practical code based on verifiable facts and individual experience.
It should be mentioned that any external supernatural agency plays no part whatever in the moulding of the character of a Buddhist. In Buddhism there is no one to reward or punish. Pain or happiness are the inevitable results of one's actions. The question of incurring the pleasure or displeasure of a God does not enter the mind of a Buddhist. Neither hope of reward nor fear of punishment acts as an incentive to him to do good or to refrain from evil. A Buddhist is aware of future consequences, but he refrains from evil because it retards, does good because it aids progress to Enlightenment (Bodhi). There are also some who do good because it is good, refrain from evil because it is bad.
To understand the exceptionally high standard of morality the Buddha expects from his ideal followers, one must carefully read the Dhammapada, Sigãlovada Sutta, Vyaggapajja Sutta, Mangala Sutta, Keranïya Mettã Sutta, Parãbhava Sutta, Vasala Sutta, Dhammika Sutta, etc.
As a moral teaching, it excels all other ethical systems but morality is only the beginning and not the end of Buddhism.
In one sense Buddhism is not a philosophy, in another sense it is the philosophy of philosophies.
In one sense Buddhism is not a religion, in another sense it is the religion of religions.
Buddhism is neither a metaphysical path nor a ritualistic path.
It is neither sceptical nor dogmatic.
It is neither self-mortification nor self-indulgence.
It is neither pessimism nor optimism.
It is neither eternalism nor nihilism.
It is neither absolutely this-worldly nor other-worldly.
It is a unique Path of Enlightenment.
The original Pali term for Buddhism is Dhamma which, literally, means that which upholds. There is no English equivalent that exactly conveys the meaning of the Pali term.
The Dhamma is that which really is. It is the Doctrine of Reality. It is a means of Deliverance from suffering, and Deliverance itself. Whether the Buddhas arise or not the Dhamma exists. It lies hidden from the ignorant eyes of men, till a Buddha, an Enlightened One, realises and compassionately reveals it to the world.
This Dhamma is not something apart from oneself, but is closely associated with oneself. As such the Buddha exhorts:
"Abide with oneself as an island, with oneself as a Refuge. Abide with the Dhamma as an island, with the Dhamma as a Refuge. Seek no external refuge." (Parinibbãna Sutta).
Thailand is an incredibly photogenic country, both for its landscapes and its people. Regardless of whether you enjoy large Asian cities, beaches and islands, or rice fields and mountains, Thailand has something for you and it is a dream destination for photographers.
One of the great things about visiting Thailand is that hotels are plentiful and a lot cheaper than in most other countries. Each link on the right will take you to the relevant page on the Agoda website where you can see photos, read reviews, and book on-line. I use Agoda to book all of my own hotels in Thailand and the Southeast Asia region. Agoda hotel rates are usually always the lowest and I have received good customer service, therefore I am happy to recommend the company to other people. Here is some analysis I did regarding booking hotels in Southeast Asia.
Booking.com used to be more expensive than Agoda, but when I have checked hotel prices recently I have found their rates to be quite competitive. Unlike Agoda, you don't need to pay at the time of booking with Booking.com - you can simply pay at the hotel when you check in. Also, Booking.com show you total prices whereas Agoda show you a price and then add on 17% for tax and service charge.
If you want to compare prices between different on-line travel agents (OTAs) for a specific hotel, you can use a company such as HotelsCombined.
Images of Thailand