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Hot-Button Issues and Buddhism

A Buddhist View of Modern Controversies

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Global warming, Wall Street and embryonic stem cells were not concerns during the Buddha's life. On the other hand, there was war, sexism and abortion 25 centuries ago. What does Buddhism have to teach about these and other contentious issues?

Sex and Buddhism

What does Buddhism teach about issues such as homosexuality and sex outside of marriage? Most religions have rigid, elaborate rules about sexual conduct. Buddhists have the Third Precept -- in Pali, Kamesu micchacara veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami -- which is most commonly translated "Do not indulge in sexual misconduct." However, for laypeople, the early scriptures are hazy about what constitutes "sexual misconduct."

Buddhism and Abortion

The U.S. has struggled with the issue of abortion for many years without coming to consensus. We need a fresh perspective, and I believe the Buddhist view of the abortion issue may provide one.

Buddhism does consider abortion to be the taking of a human life. At the same time, Buddhists generally are reluctant to intervene in a woman's personal decision to terminate a pregnancy. Buddhism may discourage abortion, but it also discourages imposing rigid moral absolutes.

See also "Election 2008: Abortion and the Middle Way."

Buddhism and Sexism

Buddhist women, including nuns, have faced harsh discrimination by Buddhist institutions in Asia for centuries. There is gender inequality in most of the world's religions, of course, but that's no excuse. Is sexism intrinsic to Buddhism, or did Buddhist institutions absorb sexism from Asian culture? Can Buddhism treat women as equals, and remain Buddhism?

Buddhism and the Environment

Care of the earth and all living creatures has always been an essential part of Buddhist practice. Which teachings connect directly to environmental issues?

Economic Policies and Buddhism

We don't normally link issues like banking, finance and the stock market to Buddhism. But current events show us the wisdom of the middle way.

Church-State Issues and Buddhism

"Wall of separation of church and state" is a metaphor coined by Thomas Jefferson to explain the religion clauses of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The concept behind the phrase has been controversial for more than two centuries. Many religious people argue that it is hostile to religion. But I argue that separation of church and state is good for religion.

Morality, Ethics and Buddhism

The Buddhist Approach to morality avoids absolutes and rigid commandments. Instead, Buddhists are encouraged to weigh and analyze situations to come to their own decisions about what is moral.

War and Buddhism

Is war ever justified in Buddhism?

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