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Mindfulness and Morality

  • Richard K. Payne
Chapter
Part of the Mindfulness in Behavioral Health book series (MIBH)

Abstract

Questions regarding the relation between mindfulness practice and training in morality have initiated a variety of responses. This chapter undertakes a threefold task. First is an examination of the different ways in which the relation between mindfulness practice and morality training is conceived. This analysis identifies three common ways in which the relation is presented: inherent, integral, and modular. These three are defined, and examples of each are provided. This is a rhetorical analysis and does not seek to engage the technical aspects of philosophical ethics. The second task is to problematize the assumptions underlying the importance given to morality training. The argument here is that since the nineteenth century, religion has been defined both as a general category that includes Buddhism and as being the foundation for ethics. The expectation that Buddhist teachings, including a secularized version such as mindfulness, would include training in morality is overdetermined, that is, it follows as much from those expectations as from the character of the Buddhist tradition itself. The third task is an examination of the differences between the Buddhist and Christian traditions’ understandings of the role of morality. The differences are based on differing conceptions of the fundamental issues of human existence, ignorance in the case of Buddhism, and sinfulness in the Christian. The three parts of the inquiry constitute a progressive development, each laying the groundwork for the next. Identifying the conceptions of the relation between mindfulness and morality by examining the rhetoric employed provides a basis for examining the idea that religion is the foundation for morality and in turn the role of morality in Buddhism as contrasted with Christianity.

Keywords

Mindfulness practice Morality training Philosophical ethics Christian traditions Buddhist traditions Human existence Ignorance Sinfulness 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This is an expanded version of a brief article titled “What does morality have to do with it?” that appeared on the Tricycle website, 14 May 2015, https://tricycle.org/trikedaily/whats-ethics-got-do-it/. My thanks to Alex Caring-Lobel for his encouragement and Fabio Cutro for editorial assistance on that version.

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard K. Payne
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Buddhist StudiesBerkeleyUSA

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