By HAMPTA SCAN KFRONE
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Even "Buddhist ethics" as the designation of a scholarly focus, one that can be the subject of a cluster of articles in the Journal of Religious Ethics, can generate considerable uncertainty for an uninitiated student of Buddhism or ethics who might happen to listen in on our collective discussions about the purposes of and methods for studying Buddhist ethics. Ours is a motley academic community that makes appeals both to cross-cultural interpretive perspectives that tend to highlight historical particularity and to universalist analyses that originated historically in the modem West.
86) that this doctrine has been carried so far as to hold that rejoicing in the good deed of another may be more meritorious than performing the deed oneself. For example, a Sinhalese village monk who had spent 5,000 rupees on a public religious ceremony to celebrate his fiftieth birthday told me that a villager who felt sympathetic joy in the merit he was earning might thereby earn more merit than he did himself, without spending a cent. This seems to go further than the New Testament story of the widow's mite.
I stress that even this passage can be rationalized by reference to the doctrine of intention; but the more obvious interpretation of the passage would be to regard merit as a kind of spiritual money. And a characteristic of money is that when you have used it you no longer have it. The equation of merit with money becomes virtually explicit in a story from the commentary to the Dhammapada about two brothers and some sugarcane. l dassiimi). 22 Of course, this again is not a doctrinal treatise; but it is clear that the merit and the money are on an equal footing and that the giving of the merit will have nothing to do with benevolence or purity of thoughts.