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Buddhists/Ethical Dilemma



I am working on a religion essay and I chose to write about Buddhism. However, I have difficulties finding clear examples on Ethical Dilemmas in Buddhism, since I find it to be a "free" religion and it is much about who you are as a person and what decisions you make. Do you have know any Ethical Dilemmas in Buddhism, and if you do, can you give me any ideas for one?

Thank you!
Best Wishes,

Dear Sara,

Thank you for the opportunity to answer your questions.

Most of the ethical dilemmas in Buddhism stem from degree of tolerable suffering. Since all things emit some sort of suffering, it comes down to how much suffering you find acceptable and tolerable.

Most of the ethical dilemmas then fall under the precepts.

In case you don't know the five precepts:

1. Don't Kill
2. Don't Steal
3. Refrain from sexual misconduct
4. Refrain from harmful speech
5. Refrain from intoxicants

So some possible ethical dilemmas are:

1. Can you kill to protect someone?
1b. Can you kill someone trying to kill you?
1c. Can you kill someone to help them? (mercy killing)

2. Can you steal something someone no longer needs?
2b. Can you steal if they would probably give it to you if you asked.

3. Can you commit sexual misconduct if your wife never finds out?

4. Can you speak the truth, if it hurts someone?

5. Can you partake of intoxicants if you don't hurt anyone?

These are just a few examples off the top of my head. Any dilemma is a Buddhist dilemma, because Buddhism is all about choices and their consequences.

I hope I have answered your questions.


Phra Anandapanyo


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Anandapanyo Bhikkhu


I can answer questions about Buddhist practice, Buddhist understanding and how to apply Buddhism to daily life. I can help analyze Buddhist sayings and teachings. In addition, I can help with questions Buddhism stories, fables and Vinaya(rules). I have meditated for over 10 years and can help you start with meditation. In addition, I can help provide insight into what to do when you feel that you have hit a wall with your meditation. My main area of expertise is how to think in accordance with Sammaditthi (the right view - and number 1 in the Buddha's Noble Eightfold Path. If I cannot answer your question, I have many able teachers with over 20 years experience to help me, so chances are I will be able to find an answer for you.


I have been practicing Buddhism since I was born, but as a serious practice since 2003. I started studying under various famous Thai Theravada masters. Finally, I met and studied under Phra Acariya Thoon Khippapanyo who has recently passed away on Nov 11, 2008 and is widely accepted as a great Arahant (fully enlightened) teacher of our time. In addition, I have personally read and studied much of the Buddhist scriptures and popular literature available. I have recently undertaken the ordination vows and have become a Buddhist monk in the theravada forest monk tradition. I reside at a temple with many dedicated practitioners and great teachers. I have been practicing training my mind to be aligned with right view (sammaditthi) for over 10 years. I have also been meditating for over 10 years. In my time spent with Acariya Thoon, I learned many things and was able to incorporate them into my life. In addition to practicing Buddhism within temples and my home, I used to own two restaurants and managed commercial real estate. I had to deal with many different and problems. I learned how to use Buddhism to fix my problems, both externally (my environment) and internally (within me).

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