16 Pages

Buddhism and Bioethics

ByDamien Keown

What the West knows as “Buddhism” is a body of religious teachings attributed to an historical individual who lived in North East India in the fifth century B.C. Following a profound spiritual transformation achieved at the age of thirty-five he became known by the honorific title of “Buddha” (“enlightened one”). The Buddha claimed no divine provenance or authority for his teachings and understood them as a form of natural philosophy. For this reason the word for the teachings, Dharma, also refers to the immutable laws of both the natural and moral orders in which they are thought to be grounded. The religious life in Buddhism consists in living in accordance with Dharma, and it is believed that anyone who follows Buddhist teachings can replicate the spiritual transformation achieved by the founder.