Perhaps no topic in Buddhist studies has been more subject to projection and romanticizing than the Buddhist ethics of violence. Euro-American cultures horrified by their own violence looked to Buddhism for an alternate ideal of pacifism, and colonial and postcolonial cultures have emphasized this perception as an emblem of cultural superiority. The subject is also complicated by its political implications for the Tibetan freedom movement and the civil war in Sri Lanka. The subject is also a significant issue for India, as the idealization of King Aśoka has been central to the development and symbolization of Indian nationalism. The uncritical construction of Buddhist pacifism has been ripe for deflation, and a burst of recent studies have emphasized the darker side of Buddhist history. However, it is important to discern whether and to what degree the realities of Buddhist history are dissonant with their own higher ideals, as are all religious traditions, or are instead dissonant with Euro-American fantasies. Buddhist ethical traditions are generally rooted in Indian Buddhist texts, and those sources are emphasized here. The reader should also note that this accords with the author’s research abilities as well and should judge the work here accordingly. The subject is potentially as broad as the vast cultural, geographical, and temporal expanse of Buddhist tradition itself: students should use this bibliography as a guide to further research in the sources noted here. Those interested in applying Western ethical approaches and categories should take care to note that Buddhist studies is still in its infancy, and a vast body of literature has not been translated. Buddhist ethical thought also tends to embrace ambiguity by expressing its ethical instincts in narrative, rather than systematically distilling clarifying principles from narrative as a Western theologian might. Understanding Buddhist ethics therefore requires a high tolerance for ambiguity, which tends to be foreign to Western philosophical and academic practice.
The following are general introductions, surveys, and collections of essays. Where appropriate, individual essays and articles are listed in the relevant sections in this bibliography. Among the collections, only Juergensmeyer and Jerryson 2010 and Zimmermann 2006 focus exclusively on Buddhist violence. Readers are advised to read sources in Jainism and Hinduism in Robinson 2003 and Houben and van Kooij 1999, as the development of Buddhist values regarding violence cannot be understood without reference to those traditions. Harvey 2000 is an ambitious general work on Buddhist ethics, and Keown 1992 is cited everywhere as an important attempt to analyze Buddhist ethics through the categories of Western philosophical ethics. Florida 2005 is an excellent general work framed by the concept of human rights that also offers important reflections on violence.
Florida, Robert. Human Rights and the World’s Major Religions. Vol. 5, The Buddhist Tradition. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2005.
Problematizes the interpretation of Buddhist ethics as pacifist nonviolence.
Harvey, Peter. An Introduction to Buddhist Ethics. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2000.
An expansive historical interpretive treatment of all Buddhist contexts and many central issues. Such a scope naturally creates opportunities for productive criticism. This is the only work of its kind and is a good place to begin for bibliographical resources and summaries of research.
Houben, Jan E. M., and Karel R. van Kooij, eds. Violence Denied: Violence, Non-Violence, and the Rationalization of Violence in South Asian Cultural History. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 1999.
Covers Hindu, Jain, and Buddhist violence in South Asia. Individual articles are noted throughout this bibliography.
Juergensmeyer, Mark, and Michael Jerryson, eds. Buddhist Warfare. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010.
Describes historical and theoretical validations and manifestations of Buddhist violence in a broad range of contexts. Individual articles are noted throughout this bibliography.
Keown, Damien. The Nature of Buddhist Ethics. London: Macmillan, 1992.
Keown’s work is a touchstone for those who study Buddhist ethics in the mode of Western meta-ethics.
Keown, Damien, ed. Contemporary Buddhist Ethics. Richmond, UK: Curzon, 2000.
Contains relevant articles on euthanasia, abortion, and animal rights as contemporary issues. Individual articles are noted throughout this bibliography.
Robinson, Paul, ed. Just War in Comparative Perspective. Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2003.
Contains excellent articles on Hindu and Theravada Buddhist perspectives on just warfare. Individual articles are noted throughout this bibliography.
Zimmermann, Michael, ed. Buddhism and Violence. Kathmandu, Nepal: Lumbini International Research Institute, 2006.
One of the few edited works devoted to Buddhist violence in particular. Zimmermann is a leading figure in this field. Individual articles are noted throughout this bibliography.
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- Abhijñā/Ṛddhi (Extraordinary Knowledge and Powers)
- Abortion, Buddhism and
- Ajanta Caves
- Ambedkar Buddhism
- Ancient Indian Society
- Archaeology of Early Buddhism
- Art and Architecture In China, Buddhist
- Art and Architecture in India, Buddhist
- Art and Architecture in Japan, Buddhist
- Art and Architecture in Nepal, Buddhist
- Art and Architecture in Tibet, Buddhist
- Art and Architecture on the "Silk Road," Buddhist
- Asceticism, Buddhism and
- Awakening of Faith
- Beats, Buddhism and the
- Bhāviveka / Bhāvaviveka
- Bodh Gaya
- Body, Buddhism and the
- Buddha, Three Bodies of the (Trikāya)
- Buddhism and Ethics
- Buddhism and Law
- Buddhism and Marxism
- Buddhism and Modern Literature
- Buddhist Art and Architecture in Sri Lanka and Southeast A...
- Buddhist Hermeneutics
- Buddhist Ordination
- Buddhist Theories of Causality (karma, pratītyasamutpāda, ...
- Buddhist Thought and Western Philosophy
- Buddhist Thought, Embryology in
- Buddhist-Christian Dialogue
- Cambodian Buddhism
- Canon, History of the Buddhist
- Caste, Buddhism and
- Central Asia, Buddhism in
- China, Esoteric Buddhism in, (Zhenyan and Mijiao)
- China, Pilgrimage in
- Chinese Buddhist Publishing and Print Culture, 1900-1950
- Colonialism and Postcolonialism
- Compassion (karuṇā)
- Cosmology, Astronomy and Astrology
- Culture, Material
- Dalai Lama
- Demons and the Demonic in Buddhism
- Dignāga and Dharmakīrti, The Philosophical Works and Influ...
- Dizang (Jizō, Ksitigarbha)
- Drigung Kagyu (’Bri gung bKa’ brgyud)
- Dzogchen (rDzogs chen)
- Early Buddhist Philosophy (Abhidharma/Abhidhamma)
- Early Modern European Encounters with Buddhism
- East Asian Buddhist Art, Portraiture in
- Ellora Caves
- Emptiness (Śūnyatā)
- Environment, Buddhism and the
- Ethics of Violence, Buddhist
- Family, Buddhism and the
- Feminist Approaches to the Study of Buddhism
- Four Noble Truths
- Funeral Practices
- Gandhāra, Buddhism in
- Gelugpa (dGe lugs pa)
- Gender, Buddhism and
- Hakuin Ekaku
- History of Buddhisms in China
- Image Consecrations
- India, Buddhism in
- India, Mahāmudrā in
- Internationalism, Buddhism and
- Intersections Between Buddhism and Hinduism in Thailand
- Iranian World, Buddhism in the
- Islam, Buddhism and
- Japan, Buddhism in
- Korea, Buddhism in
- Kyōgyōshinshō (Shinran)
- Laos, Buddhism in
- Linji and the Linjilu
- Literature, Chan
- Literature, Tantric
- Local Religion, Buddhism as
- Lotus Sūtra
- Mahayana, Early
- Mahāvairocana Sūtra/Tantra
- Malaysia, Buddhism in
- Mantras and Dhāraṇīs
- Merit Transfer
- Miracles, Buddhist
- Modernism, Buddhist
- Monasticism in East Asia
- Mongolia, Buddhism in
- Mongolia, Buddhist Art and Architecture in
- Mārga (Path)
- Music, and Buddhism
- Myanmar, Buddhism in
- New Medias, Buddhism in
- New Religions in Japan (Shinshūkyō), Buddhism and
- Śāntideva (Bodhicaryāvatāra)
- Nuns, Lives, and Rules
- Oral and Literate Traditions
- Pagan (Bagan)
- Perfection of Wisdom
- Perfections (Six and Ten)
- Philosophy, Chinese Buddhist
- Philosophy, Classical Indian Buddhist
- Philosophy, Classical Japanese Buddhist
- Philosophy, Tibetan Buddhist
- Pilgrimage in India
- Pilgrimage in Japan
- Pilgrimage in Tibet
- Preaching/Teaching in Buddhism Studies
- Psychology and Psychotherapy, Buddhism in
- Pure Land Buddhism
- Pure Land Sūtras
- Religious Tourism, Buddhism and
- Saṃsāra and Rebirth
- Self, Non-Self, and Personal Identity
- Sexuality and Buddhsim
- Shinto, Buddhism and
- Soka Gakkai
- South and Southeast Asia, Devatās, Nats, And Phii In
- Southeast Asia, Buddhism in
- Sri Lanka, Monasticism in
- Sōtō Zen (Japan)
- Stūpa Pagoda Caitya
- Suffering (Dukkha)
- Sutta (Pāli/Theravada Canon)
- Texts, Dunhuang
- Thai Buddhism
- Thích Nhất Hạnh
- Three Turnings of the Wheel of Doctrine (Dharma-Cakra)
- Tibet, Buddhism in
- Tibet, Mahāmudrā in
- Tibetan Book of the Dead
- Tri Songdetsen
- Uighur Buddhism
- Verse Literature, Tibetan Buddhist
- Vidyādhara (weikza/weizzā)
- Vietnam, Buddhism in
- Vision and Visualization
- Visualization/Contemplation Sutras
- Visuddhimagga (Buddhaghosa)
- Warrior Monk Traditions
- West (North America and Europe), Buddhism in the
- Wheel of Life (Bhava-Cakra)
- Women in Buddhism
- Women in the West, Prominent Buddhist
- Zen, Premodern Japanese