Śāntideva on self-interest and altruism

Authors: Amod Lele (Boston University), and Anna Lännström (Stonehill College)

 

Śāntideva is an eighth century Indian Buddhist philosopher from the Mahāyāna tradition. His most famous work is the short and largely accessible Bodhicaryāvatāra (Undertaking the way to awakening). The work had an important influence on the Tibetan Buddhist tradition.

The arguments for altruism (8.89 – 105) are perhaps the most famous parts of the work and can easily be excerpted. They occur in the context of the discussion of how to awaken the desire to become a bodhisattva (someone who wants to attain Buddhahood for the benefit of others). One of the steps he recommends for awakening that desire is meditating on the equality of oneself and others.

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Śāntideva on anger

Authors: Amod Lele (Boston University), and Anna Lännström (Stonehill College)

 

Śāntideva (Shantideva) is an eighth century Indian Buddhist philosopher from the Mahāyāna tradition. His most famous work is the short and largely accessible Bodhicaryāvatāra (Undertaking the way to awakening or Guide to the Bodhisattva way of life). This work was an important influence on the Tibetan Buddhist tradition generally and on the current Dalai Lama in particular.

Śāntideva’s discussion of anger is in chapter 6, where, arguing against anger, he praises the virtue of patient endurance (kṣānti). He treats anger as equivalent to hatred and singles it out as the most troublesome of the three root poisons (hatred, delusion, and craving) because, more than the others, it prevents us from developing compassion.

Śāntideva makes a psychological argument against anger, pointing out that it disturbs our relationships and our peace of mind. It makes us suffer, preventing us from being happy.

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Dalai Lama: “Redefining the Goal” from Ethics for the New Millennium

Author: Anna Lännström (Stonehill College)


In “Redefining the Goal,” the Dalai Lama contrasts transient and lasting happiness and argues that while other factors like friends, good health, liberty, and prosperity can contribute to our happiness, the most important component of happiness is inner peace and that, in turn, is largely about our own attitude. Without inner peace, these other factors can be a source of trouble (worry, frustration).

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Dalai Lama, Ethics for the New Millennium

Author: Anna Lännström (Stonehill College)


In Ethics for the New Millennium, the Dalai Lama argues that modern industrialized society tends to lead to excessive individualism and reduced dependence on others which in turn leads to isolation and neglect of our spiritual dimension, making us less happy despite our improved material situation.  He argues for a solution, a “spiritual revolution” which involves finding a way of caring for our inner dimension.  Crucial components of such care includes developing inner peace and a deeper compassion for other, and learning to focus less on ourselves.

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