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Barbara O'Brien

Sins and Buddhism

By January 8, 2010

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I wrote earlier this week, "Buddhism has no concept of sin; therefore, redemption and forgiveness in the Christian sense are meaningless in Buddhism." Now I get an email (sender may remain anonymous unless he chooses to identify himself) which says,

Of course there are sins in Buddhism. We know because they are numbered as are most things in the faith. It is unfortunate that casual "buddhists" are seen as authorities, and not just someone with a laptop.

I can ignore the insult that I'm just some dilettante with a laptop. I don't claim to be an authority, exactly, and I'm certainly no teacher, just a sincere if imperfect student. However, today I'm a bit overwhelmed with some other matters and could use some help explaining the "no sins in Buddhism" thing.

Here's my quick take. First, let's be sure we all agree what "sin" means. The google toolbar coughed out these definitions:

  • estrangement from god
  • an act that is regarded by theologians as a transgression of God's will
  • sine: ratio of the length of the side opposite the given angle to the length of the hypotenuse of a right-angled triangle
  • (Akkadian) god of the Moon; counterpart of Sumerian Nanna
  • commit a sin; violate a law of God or a moral law
  • the 21st letter of the Hebrew alphabet
  • drop the ball: commit a faux pas or a fault or make a serious mistake; "I blundered during the job interview"
  • violent and excited activity; "they began to fight like sin"

So, while "sin" can refer, in casual speech, to any sort of misconduct -- not to mention the Akkadian god of the moon -- the formal definition infers a belief in God. Also, in Buddhism the only "law" we speak of is the law of dharma, the law of cause and effect. The Precepts are not approached as laws but as disciplines for training. Hence, breaking a Precept is unskillful, but not a "sin." Do we need to discuss this further?

Related -- first it was the Family Research Council twisting my meaning out of context, now it's Bill O'Reilly. I'm concerned that I've done something that's being used to slander the dharma.

January 8, 2010 at 11:00 am
(1) R Hayes says:

Judging by those who choose to attack you, you must be doing something right. (Which, by the way, I think you are). And it strikes me that the English word “sin” does not enhance my practice, so far as I can see.

On a tangent, is karma the law of consequences, intended or not?

January 8, 2010 at 11:09 am
(2) Barbara O'Brien says:

R Hayes — karma is cause and effect, and it also means “volitional action,” meaning it is caused by thoughts, words and deeds. Karma itself has no moral sense, so something done with good intentions that comes to a bad result is still an example of “unskillful” (I prefer that to “evil”) karma.

January 8, 2010 at 12:47 pm
(3) Jaime McLeod says:

Just to be precise, for readers’ sake (because I’m sure Barbara already knows this, and has probably even mentioned it before on this blog or elsewhere on the site) “karma” is not exactly the law of cause and effect, by itself. Rather, the word karma refers specifically to volitional action. The other side of the coin of karma – the effect which follows the karmic cause – is vipaka. Together, karma and vipaka make up the law of cause and effect. When we act, there are consequences. Sometimes those consequences are what we would call “positive.” That is, we enjoy the outcome. Sometimes they are “negative.” That is, we don’t enjoy them. And, by the way, the correlation between intention and outcome doesn’t much seem to matter. If I choose to throw my body between another person and a moving bus, I may die or, at the very least, wind up in traction for a long time. My action may have been motivated by “good,” unselfish intentions, but the outcome was still pretty lousy for me. Because we want life to make sense, we like to postulate that actions made out of good intentions have “good results,” and this is often true. When we are kind and humble toward others, they tend to be kind back to us, though this is not a hard and fast rule. When we practice, though, the vipaka side of the equation tends to matter less.

January 8, 2010 at 4:28 pm
(4) Yuri says:


I’m not a Buddhist, just a felow-traveler of sorts, but I’ve found the religion interesting for years, and I enjoy studying it. I also enjoy your blog very much, so it pains me to think that you feel you may have done something to harm the dharma.

I don’t believe you have. There are, sadly, many people in this country who enjoy lucrative careers and much fame stirring up hatred and divisiveness among Americans. One of their favorite tactics and methods involves taking others’ words out of context–violating the precept, common to many religions (including Christianity), not to misuse speech or bear false witness against others.

You can’t be held responsible for the misdeeds of others, especially people as morally myopic and spiritually primitive as Bill O’Reilly and the pharisees at the FRC. I, for one, think you have done, and continue to do, a great service to the Buddhist dharma. (For what that’s worth, coming from a sympathetic non-Buddhist.)

Keep up the good work. Illegitimi non carborundum!


January 8, 2010 at 5:14 pm
(5) J.Kru says:

Why would it be a problem for the dharma to be slandered?

January 8, 2010 at 5:23 pm
(6) Barbara O'Brien says:

J.Kru — I have taken vows to bring all beings to enlightenment. Slandering the dharma, giving people false information about Buddhism, is sort of counterproductive.

January 8, 2010 at 6:23 pm
(7) Ian C says:

The term “sin” is a loaded, if I may say, “western” term. As a Buddhist who has significant background in Christian theology and practice, I can say that the concepts are completely different and it is often counterproductive to borrow western words for Buddhist concepts.

Every religion in the world has a list of actions, thoughts, etc. which are considered to be negative. For those in theistic traditions, this represents the offending or transgressing the laws of some divine entity. For Buddhists, these are actions (causes) that will bring about natural consequences. So I can agree that Buddhists believe in “sins”, which is the common word used for these negative actions.

Buddhists, however have to be extremely careful when using this word, especially when speaking with or to non-Buddhists. We so easily get trapped when we debate with theists because our vocabularies and understandings are so completely different. The word “sin” brings with it theistic preconceptions. When we hear this word our brains immediately link it to offending God or some other divine figure. Whereas Buddhists have an understanding of negative actions that is divorced of these theistic notions of offending a divine entity.

Buddhism, at its core does not have a notion of offending a divine figure. Rather an all-encompassing notion that each action (cause) will have a corresponding effect somehow. So it’s not that you’re offending the Buddha or the myriad Bodhisattvas, rather you’re just setting yourself up for a lot of bad stuff in the future.

January 8, 2010 at 6:28 pm
(8) emr says:

In this debate session, Tsem Tulku Rinpoche makes it clear why “not doing anything” — e.g. when someone is making false imputations about Buddha Dharma — is actually a cause of harm.

The main point of the exchange is that both knowing/habitual and unknowing irresponsibility cause harm, and so incur negative karmic repercussions. In the case at hand, Brit Hume’s ignorance of Buddha Dharma has caused harm, and so generated negative karmic consequences for himself.

For someone who has taken Buddhist vows, to see such a thing and do nothing constitutes a breaking of those vows.

January 9, 2010 at 4:06 pm
(9) tani says:

Please do not slander others or judge from afar. So what if someone has an opinion which does not comport with yours.

January 9, 2010 at 6:57 pm
(10) Yossarian says:

I am not a Buddhist, so I’m no authority on the topic of “sins” in Buddhism, but I agree with Yuri. If Bill O’Reilly the “Guardian of American Morality” has a problem with you , then you are doing something right. The Fox News crowd dosen’t care about the facts regarding Buddhism. If it’s not their brand of Ultra-conservative Christianity, then it’s “devil worship” plain and simple. So please don’t feel bad , you’re doing a great job of sharing the dharma with us unenlightened apes. Seriously, I’ve learned alot on this blog. (My first exposure to Zen was reading Jack Kerovac’s “Dharma Bums” back in the early Nineties, and I’ve learned so much more since then.) Keep up the good work.

January 10, 2010 at 2:07 pm
(11) lisehull says:

Barbara, Yossarian says it perfectly. You do an outstanding job with this website and speak out for Buddhism in a clear and forthright manner than few can compete with. You present topics in a clear and highly researched manner that also reflects your years of personal devotion. Don’t let people like the Hume-ites cause you to doubt yourself.

January 10, 2010 at 4:57 pm
(12) Mila says:

I agree with Lise, Yossarian & Yuri that you’re doing a wonderful job with this website, Barbara. Until samsara is empty, there will always be the likes of Brit Hume & Bill O’Reilly etc. — whose opinions are not to be taken as reflective of anything even close to “reality.”

January 11, 2010 at 8:29 am
(13) JoeBuddha says:

I agree with much of the above. I would stress, having taken the same vow myself, that the slander of Buddhism isn’t just counter-productive but a “sin” (in the Buddhist sense ;) ) in itself, as it produces results you probably wouldn’t care for. Pointing this out is an act of compassion.

I’d also like to add my voice of support for this blog. Barbara is a great advocate of Buddhism, and even though we have some fundamental theological differences, she is very knowledgable and erudite, and a pleasure to spar with. I wish I had her level of ability to put the Dharma into words; unfortunately, mine comes in fits and starts unless I’m talking 1-on-1 with someone.

January 11, 2010 at 11:04 am
(14) Weasel Tracks says:

Once in a while, you say something that I think could have been expressed better. Once in a greater while you say something I disagree with. Can’t really think of any examples of the latter right now, they’re so rare.

I believe the Nikaya schools came out with five classes of causitive principles, Niyamas, of which kamma/karma is only one. Random chance can even be accommodated within this system.

In the Gospels, even Jesus made a comment on the difficulty of understanding the reasons why a certain man was born blind, finessing the circumstance with great cool and panache by healing him.

Your critic sounds like one of the perrennial gadflies that swarm Buddhist usenet. Reminds me of one in particular . . .

If you feel you done bad and need absolution, I can say, simply because I can:
Te absolvo, in nomine Buddhae, et Dharmae, et Congregationis Sanghae.

So there! No more feeling bad! Keep on keeping on.

January 11, 2010 at 12:00 pm
(15) Barbara O'Brien says:

Te absolvo, in nomine Buddhae, et Dharmae, et Congregationis Sanghae.

Oh, I so want that embroidered on a throw pillow!

January 11, 2010 at 5:46 pm
(16) alex seiberth says:

I agree with the positive comments in this string. I just feel I must say that the negative remarks against Fox and O’Reilly show a lack of knowledge or understanding of that topic and can be a harmful display of malice – unskillful.

January 11, 2010 at 6:33 pm
(17) Menda says:

Well I think you are wonderful.
I love the way you break the complex into clear, understandable segments.

In my mind, you are an expert and a good teacher!

January 12, 2010 at 2:37 pm
(18) mike fallon says:

I just wanted to post the definition of “papam”, the sanskrit term, or dig pa, the Tibetan term, for “sin”:
sdig pa 1) “Degradation”. Translation of the Sanskrit “papaṃ”. A general name for non-virtue and negativity. The word means “that which drags you down” so “degrading actions”, i) In Buddhism it refers to any kind of bad action, anything done that one shouldn’t do if one followed the laws of reality. It is actually the equivalent of the Christian word “sin” except that there are none of the theistic connotations with it. Therefore, in buddhist contexts it is usually not translated as “sin” but as “evil”, “evil deeds”, “negativity”, “negative actions” (from Tony Duff’s Illuminator Dictionary)

When you take refuge in the Tibetan system of Buddhism, it is considered a “sin” or “papam” to speak negatively of any religion.

January 12, 2010 at 2:49 pm
(19) Barbara O'Brien says:

It is actually the equivalent of the Christian word “sin”

Only if you change the definition of “sin.” Really, it’s far better to ditch the Abrahamic religion vocabulary and approach Buddhist teachings with a completely fresh mind, uncluttered by connotations and assumptions left over from some other religion. That’s a Zen way of looking at it, I suppose, but in Zen sanghas using the word “sin” is highly discouraged.

January 12, 2010 at 4:53 pm
(20) mike fallon says:

Nevertheless, the point is that you claimed that there is no concept of sin in Buddhism. If you define sin as straying from God then yes, there is no concept of straying from God in Buddhism, therefore no concept of “sin” in Buddhism. But there is a concept of sin in Buddhism without involving the concept of God; not as straying from God but using your body, speech, or mind in a negative manner.

The concept is the same; the reference point is different. The Buddha taught the four reliances; one of which states: rely on the meaning, not the words.

I take issue with this because, as a regular viewer of O’Reilly and a Buddhist, it pains me to see that a semantical issue misled his understanding of Buddhism.

Thanks for the response and discourse.

January 12, 2010 at 5:15 pm
(21) Barbara O'Brien says:

If you define sin as straying from God then yes, there is no concept of straying from God in Buddhism, therefore no concept of “sin” in Buddhism.

And since the formal definition of “sin” in the English language means a transgression of God’s rules or straying from God, there is no concept of sin in Buddhism. Thanks for agreeing with me.

Further, in Christianity the word “sin” carries a heavy judgmental connotation that we are all better off without; sin stains the soul of the sinner. It’s important in Buddhism not to think of an intrinsic, permanent “self” that is somehow being judged or stained by the actions of a “sinner.” And in most schools of Buddhism it is extremely important to understand that the Precepts are not laws to be broken as are the Ten Commandments. Whoever said there was anything in Buddhism that is equivalent to the Christian “sin” possibly had little understanding of Christianity, or of English.

Dude, you have lost this argument. Give it up.

November 19, 2011 at 5:34 am
(22) Tomas says:

“It’s important in Buddhism not to think of an intrinsic, permanent “self” that is somehow being judged or stained by the actions of a “sinner.””

According to your version of Buddhism, what survives after your physical death?

Also, according to all Eastern (traditional/orthodox Buddhism), your consciousness survives your death, and is a stream of consciousness, in cycles of rebirth.

Buddhism recognizes “wrongdoing”, they just don’t call it “sin”

Are you suggesting that Buddhism is a “religion” in which anything is allowed and there is no life after death?


January 12, 2010 at 5:06 pm
(23) TFitz says:

Hi everybody!
There are the five transgressions.
From Rev. Tetsuo Unnos’ Pureland glossary:
“Five Transgressions – Killing father, mother, monk, injuring the Buddha, and creating schisms in the Sangha (Hinayana Buddhism); vandalizing temples, statues, and scriptures, slandering the teaching, obstructing religious practices, violating the five precepts and committing ten evils (Mahayana Buddhism).”

The upshot is that committing one of these transgressions means one is not covered by Amitabhas vows to save all sentient beings. This makes no sense at all since it entirely contradicts the 18th vow which is all encompassing. I suspect that it was a bow to Confucianism in ancient China. So, there’s some Buddhist sins.

January 12, 2010 at 6:25 pm
(24) mike fallon says:

The point is not to win an argument, just to find the similarities amongst different religions. A negative action is a negative action, whether you are a Christian or a Buddhist, it does not matter what you call it.Obviously there is no Christian concept of sin in Buddhism; Buddhism is not Christianity. Even if there is no intrinsic “self”, karma is produced and the effects will be experienced.

Regarding your statement:
Further, in Christianity the word “sin” carries a heavy judgmental connotation that we are all better off without;

If the idea that you will be judged for your negative actions helps you be positive and avoid negativity, then this produces positive karma. Perhaps some are not better off without this understanding.

January 12, 2010 at 11:05 pm
(25) Barbara O'Brien says:

The point is not to win an argument, just to find the similarities amongst different religions.

Sometimes you really do have to know the differences, though. My purpose on this website is to educate people about Buddhism, and I do that as honestly as I can, but to genuinely understand Buddhism you have to let go of the conceptual frameworks of other religions. And, really, having put in a lot of time trying to explain Buddhism to people, I’d say the biggest hindrance to understanding most westerners have is that they keep trying to fit Buddhist doctrines into the conceptual framework of the Abrahamic religions, and it doesn’t work.

January 12, 2010 at 10:47 pm
(26) Akkadian Moon Goddess says:

“A negative action is a negative action, whether you are a Christian or a Buddhist, it does not matter what you call it.”

In terms of Buddha Dharma, actions themselves are not inherently negative or positive. Actions carried out on the basis of good, wholesome intentions create “good” karma, i.e. positive results. Actions carried out on the basis of bad, unwholesome intentions create “bad” karma, i.e. negative results.

Ultimately what “matters” in Buddhism is to avoid activities that enhance the “six poisons” (ignorance, attachment, anger, jealousy, pride & stinginess) – and engage in activities that will help us overcome and purify these defilements. The aim is not to “become a better person” but rather to transcend completely the notion of an egoic “I.”

It is this (mistaken) notion of an egoic “I” that gives birth to and is continuously reinforced by the defilements – which tend to be at the root of any action that a member of a Judeo-Christian culture might name as a “sin.” As long as we call ourselves “I,” these defilements are inevitable.

“Obviously there is no Christian concept of sin in Buddhism; Buddhism is not Christianity.”

So then it becomes a matter of upaya – skillful means – for us as Buddhists, in relation to choosing whether or not to use the word “sin” when discussing Buddhist doctrine. To the extent that this word is heavilyassociated with Judeo-Christian notions of “original sin” etc. – which is fundamentally at odds with Buddha Nature (i.e. “inherent goodness”) teachings – it would seem that sticking with words like “unskillful” or “unwholesome” actions or even “defilements” might be much more productive.

“Even if there is no intrinsic “self”, karma is produced and the effects will be experienced.”

In terms of the Buddhist Four Noble Truths, the causes of suffering are the defilements (the “six poisons”) which then give rise to karma. Anything that I think or do — “positive” or “negative”! – that is based on the notion of an egoic “I” is karma, and perpetuates the samsaric cycle of suffering.

Once this ignorant notion of an egoic “I” is unwound, all suffering is overcome. This is the “unbinding” of an Arhat, and entails a complete release from karmic cause-and-effect cycles.

So, from a Buddhist perspective, there never is “really” an intrinsic self. The (mis)perception of such a thing is what embroils us in karmic cause-and-effect; and overcoming this ignorance releases us from it.

“If the idea that you will be judged for your negative actions helps you be positive and avoid negativity, then this produces positive karma. Perhaps some are not better off without this understanding.”

The Buddhist notion of morality – central to the path to liberation – has to do, as Barbara points out, with aligning with the truth of the mechanisms of cause and effect. It’s simply answering the question: what do I need to do, in order to achieve what I want to achieve?

If I want to harvest wheat in the autumn, then the “moral” action is to plant wheat seeds in the spring. If I want to break a leg, the “moral” action is to jump out of a second-story window. If I want to get rid of my headache, the “moral” action is to take an aspirin. If I want to gain weight, the “moral” action is to eat lots of fatty foods.

As a Buddhist practitioner, my intention – the thing that I want to accomplish – is to become free of the suffering of samsara. In relation to this intention, “moral” actions are those that help overcome and purify the defilements (which hold in place the notion of an egoic “I”). Unskillful or “immoral” actions are those that enhance the six poisons, keeping me bound within the cycle of suffering.

So “morality” in a Buddhist context is not about some authority figure enforcing their rule against my egoic will, judging me as “good” or “bad” in relation to the degree to which I conform. It’s based in a code of conduct that I willingly take on, understanding it to be a skillful means to achieve what I wish to achieve – which, paradoxically, is the dissolution of the “I” that initially formed the intention.

January 12, 2010 at 11:07 pm
(27) Barbara O'Brien says:

Akkadian Moon Goddess — glad you dropped by. :-) That was a nice explanation; thank you.

January 14, 2010 at 5:02 pm
(28) Ann Edwards says:

Perhaps people will be curious enough to find out the truth or something/anything real about buddhism. I don’t watch Bill O’Reilly or Fox News. It doesn’t lend itself to my practice. But I hope that there are people who do watch or who have read other references to this “flap” and decided they wanted to know more. I’m sure there are open minded people who watch :) . Rather than slandering the dharma, perhaps you have revealed it to others. I’d like to think so anyway.

I’m not confident enough in my own understanding and other people have said things so well, this is just my two cents worth.

January 14, 2010 at 5:23 pm
(29) Eric Wilson says:

Barabara is 100% correct.

“Kusula” translated as “usefulness” is the basis for understanding the Precepts, the vows associated with the “Vinaya” and pertaining to the ordained, the Bodhisattva Vows, and the Tantric Vows. While in an imprecise way, we can try to communicate with Christians by associating “non-virtuous” and “un-useful” actions with “sins,” major problems often arise when theists and non-theists try to communicate by “splitting the difference.” While on an exoteric level sometimes we Buddhists may speak of Yama as “Lord of Death,” a judge of past actions; esoterically speaking, we need to understand our past actions within the context of karma. The Buddhas have been quite clear on this matter: karma is definite, it expands over time, and once an action is “completed” the consequences will follow until that karma has been “exhausted” or “purified.” Virtuous actions beget happiness; non-virtuous actions, suffering.

As Dharmatreya noted

The Buddhas cannot wash away “sins” with water, nor can they take away suffering with their hands; neither can they transplant their realizations into others. It is through teaching the truth of emptiness that they liberate.

While Christians often make Buddhism seem like a religion that offers very little in the way of “dealing” with wrong action, nothing could be further from the truth. All sentient beings can purify or, at least greatly reduce, negative karmic consequences by adopting the four opponent powers: regret, refuge, remedy, resolution.

As for attacks on “emptiness” as nihilism, deluded Christians are unable to truly understand the teaching of the Second Buddha, Najarjuna who said,

“Everything is possible for he for whom emptiness is possible.”


November 19, 2011 at 5:37 am
(30) Tomas says:

“The Buddhas have been quite clear on this matter: karma is definite, it expands over time, and once an action is “completed” the consequences will follow until that karma has been “exhausted” or “purified.” Virtuous actions beget happiness; non-virtuous actions, suffering. ”

Exactly. So “sin” is just explained differently in Buddhism…..LOL

BTW, what do you call “emptiness”…. :)

January 14, 2010 at 6:14 pm
(31) Steve Wehba says:

As I understand it — and I am certainly no Buddhist scholar but simply a struggling practitioner — Buddhism is based on a concept of karma, not sin. Again, as I understand it, Buddhism teaches that our actions predispose us to good/evil by setting up conditioned responses and patterns of behavior. Also, the consequences of our actions are immediate and continual. We need not wait for some moment of judgment, nor need we seek any third-party forgiveness.

Sin, at least in the Judeo-Christian sense, typically involves not only eventual punishment (if not made amends for) but also elicits a need for forgiveness.

After all is said and done, “sin” (intentionally lowercase) can probably be interpreted in a Buddhist sense, but not if it necessitates forgiveness, the judgment or intervention of a third-party (e.g. divine being), or eternal punishment.

January 14, 2010 at 9:59 pm
(32) lisbell says:

I’d just like to let you know that in no way do I believe you have slandered the dharma. I think you do a great job explaining things and I look forward to your email showing up every week. Thank you for what you do!

January 14, 2010 at 11:54 pm
(33) Rajeev G says:

Hi Barbara,

I read your blogs. You are much learned than me and I am happy to see the way you answer the blogs with at most compassion. You cannot be much deviated from Dharma of sure. Regarding the meaning of “Sin” as per bible I know is something to be forgiven by god. Also, all churches teach that from the beginning Eve had the “fruit” the mankind started sinning and we are all descendants of that chain. The only remedy as per Bible I know is to ask forgiveness day-in and day-out for forgiveness to god. I think looking at sin in this sense is discouraged in “Dhamma” pantheon. We know anyways the obvious reason.

Just do not get “discouraged” to walk your dhamma path by trying to explore being a “guru” and “disciple” at the same time…let the path appear more clear to you….I enjoy your discussions eventhough some times it is just an intellectual exercise…keep going…all the best

January 15, 2010 at 2:23 am
(34) Jerome Ullman akn. says:

I’d like to note that in the Greek, the word for sin is “amartanein” — which means “to miss the mark.” I believe that both Buddhism and Early Christianity have the sense of moral perfection and the possibility of either meeting it or of falling short of it.

January 15, 2010 at 9:38 am
(35) Suzi says:

:) I agree with Yuri’s comments completely. I love your blog and you are doing a great service!
Thank you , Happiness, Peace, Love & Music

January 15, 2010 at 7:56 pm
(36) Kim says:

I think a softer approach to your topics might benefit the seeker. I came to this site to see what Buddhism was about. It has seemed harsh at times. I’m looking for something where people do not need to debate belief. I appreciate what your doing, I just think there might be a kinder way to put it out there.

January 16, 2010 at 9:32 am
(37) Barbara O'Brien says:

I think a softer approach to your topics might benefit the seeker.

Buddhism isn’t a buffer from what hurts you. It’s a process to help you understand yourself and why you hurt. That process can be hard sometimes. If you want soft, buy some pillows.

November 19, 2011 at 5:47 am
(38) Tomas says:

I don’t think she was asking for a “buffer” was she Barbara?

And anyway, if Buddhism is not a “buffer” from what “hurts” people, what is it? Isn’t it supposed to be the ultimate way to alleviate “suffering” (the 4 Aryan Truths” and all that)


January 15, 2010 at 9:02 pm
(39) Wilfred says:

Persecution for the Brit Hume Witness by Peter Sprigg January 5, 2010
Peter Sprigg writes: The problem is, if Tiger Woods now gets out of this life what he’s put into his moral life, he’s in a heap of trouble. Buddhism is not tolerant of sexual libertinism–even Barbara the Buddhist Blogger agrees that it’s “fairly plain that Mr. Woods’s conduct has been falling short of the Third Precept.” If Buddhism is true, not only is there no redemption for him in this life, but because of reincarnation, Woods will be paying a price in the next life as well. According to Eerdmann’s Handbook to the World’s Religions, in Buddhism, “[G]ood works automatically bring about a good rebirth, bad works a bad one.”
Angulimala (the famous bandit and murderer of thousand people – refer: Life of the Buddha at http://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/buddhism/lifebuddha/29lbud.htm) during Budhha’s time was able to ‘redeem himself’ (pardon the Christian terminology which is alien to Buddhists).
Brit Hume, Peter Sprigg and Bill O’Reilly have implied that Tiger Woods will not be able to find solace in Buddhism. Perhaps they are ill-informed about Buddhism.
With metta

January 16, 2010 at 9:34 am
(40) Barbara O'Brien says:

Perhaps they are ill-informed about Buddhism.

There’s no “perhaps” about it. They don’t know Buddhism from spaghetti. I wrote about Peter Sprigg in an earlier post: “The Family Research Council Misrepresents Buddhism.”

January 15, 2010 at 9:51 pm
(41) Wilfred says:

This web podcast is gives a better description of Angulimala story

January 16, 2010 at 11:03 am
(42) E`e Yan says:

Re: original sin, for what it’s worth, Eckhart Tolle in his book, A New Earth, writes,
Sin is a word that has been greatly misunderstood and misinterpreted. Literally translated from the ancient Greek in which the New Testament was written, to sin means to miss to the mark, as an archer who misses the target, so to sin means to miss the point of human existence. It means to live unskilfully, blindly, and thus to suffer and cause suffering. Again, the term, stripped of it’s cultural baggage and misinterpretations, points to the dysfunction inherent in the human condition.
Isn’t language wonderful? It evolves, as hopefully, we do with it.

January 21, 2010 at 9:34 pm
(43) lee says:

Very good Barbara. I too love your work… keep it up.
Keeping the precepts or ‘commandments’ and causing suffering (sinning) within self or others is not so simple as most here seem to view it because an action may have many consequences. I may with good intent decide to act in a certain way. That act may benefit another and myself and at the same time cause suffering to another.
If it is wrong to kill and wrong to lie do I lie to protect the jew in my home in 1943 Stuttgart Germany or do I say yes that jew is here and allow them to be taken to death?
Practice for me is trying to see the reality..the truth…and then accepting the consequences of my actions… I pray for good intentions. I think most Christians trying to follow Jesus’s example do the same thing.

October 13, 2010 at 12:31 am
(44) V says:

Just read your article about sin and Buddhism as I was also curious. Growing up as a Hindu at home, going to catholic school and believing that there are truths to Buddhism, I wanted to look further into terms such as sin and karma myself after coming full circle in my life…Hinduism and Catholocism as well as Muslims have certain predfined rules on behavior. All of these stem from the distinctive existance of God in their beliefs. However, Buddhism is a road map as it does not mention God but only how to live a life that is moral, with compassion. However, it does incoporate karma and sin into it’s teachings. Karma – Basically you reap what you sew, however Buddhism says that you need to look inward as that is the place you will find a way out of pain and suffereing. Buddhism believes that sin is a general term and that anything can be a sin (even without a strict doctorine to follow from a God) as long as it goes against goodness and morality…

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