The Open Buddhist University

Buddhist Ethics

In this course we cover ethics from three angles—theory, practice and mythology—believing that none is intelligible without the rest. A course that, hopefully, will engage your heart as well as your head.

What is Buddhist Ethics?

Buddhist Ethics is the training in virtuous conduct beloved by the Noble Ones. Its core principle is non-cruelty: abstaining from all intentional harm.

The grossest forms of cruelty are the ethical precepts common to all Buddhists and to most other religions besides: the renunciation of killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, false speech, and intoxication. The Buddha’s instructions, however, continue far beyond such perennial philosophy: to guarding the senses, the development of positive moral character, and (eventually) the complete eradication of the underlying tendencies towards greed, hatred, and delusion which cause cruelty in the first place.

The Buddha’s teachings on how to live thus outline a system of transformation that is aimed at awakening — powerful tools for us to use to transform our habits of body, speech, and mind so that they might both afford and accord with liberating insight.


Prior familiarity with Buddhism will be helpful but is not necessary for this course.

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