Buddhism and Abortion Links
Maintained by J. Hughes, Changesurfer Consulting
and Abortion: A Western Approach
in Buddhism and Abortion. Editor: Damien Keown. 1998.
once believed it important to determine the “Buddhist view” on many social
and political questions. Today I'm much more circumspect. Buddhist texts offer
few coherent views outside of the core doctrinal elements. Consequently,
Buddhists, to an even greater degree than most religionists, are required to
address contemporary problems in the spirit of their teachings, rather than
according to the letter of their law.
the case of abortion, classical Buddhist texts, from the Pali canon through the
Mahayana sutras, offer no specific guidance. Even if there was a specific,
classical Buddhist text addressing the moral status of the fetus and the act of
abortion, it would not be consistent with “Buddhism” to accept this teaching
uncritically. Buddhism encodes with its teachings a reflexive, dynamic,
self-critical element, beginning with the Kalama
Sutra, which encourages Buddhists not to simply follow scriptures, but to
continually adapt the Dharma to new audiences.
a Buddhist approach to abortion has more to do with approaching the issue with a
characteristic set of concerns, and in dialogue with a vast body of texts and
teachers. It therefore comes as little surprise that most Western and Japanese
Buddhists come away believing in the permissibility of abortion, while many
other Buddhists believe abortion to be murder. In this essay I would like to
sketch some of the reasons why most Western Buddhists accept abortion as an
unfortunate but necessary part of women's reproductive health care.
it is important to note that Buddhism, unlike many other religions, does not
hold that humans have a responsibility to procreate, and forbids the
consecration of marriage or birth by Buddhist monks and nuns. The religions most
opposed to abortion, notably Catholicism, believe that sex is for procreation,
and that procreation is a duty and gift from God. In these theistic traditions,
an abortion is an usurpation of God's will.
Buddhism however, the monastic life is of a higher order than the householder
life. Unlike the pro-procreative religions, in Buddhism masturbation and
homosexuality were seen as morally equivalent to heterosexuality.
One entire book of the Pali canon, the Therigatha,
is devoted to the description of the misfortunes of maidens, married women and
mothers, and the joyous liberation they discovered in the nuns” order. This
radical indifference to family life was one of the principal sources of
Confucian hostility to Buddhism in China.
The late Trevor Ling
pointed out that the Sinhalese embrace of contraception and abortion was so
enthusiastic in the 1960s, compared to Sri Lanka”s Muslims, Catholics and
Hindus, that racialist monks began to argue, with little success, that Buddhists
had an obligation to “race-religion-nation” to reproduce.
itself, a denigration of sexuality and reproduction does not lead to the
condoning of abortion, and these attitudes do not explain Western Buddhists”
views on abortion. On the contrary, Western Buddhists have been drawn to the
strains of Buddhism more tolerant of sexuality, principally Japanese Buddhism
and Tibetan Tantra.
Even Western Theravadan communities tend to de-emphasize anti-carnality.
course, in Asia and in Asian Buddhist immigrant communities in the West, monks
often do officiate in marriages and birth blessings, and Buddhism has developed
a “pro-family” lay theology. In these communities the sexual mores are not
that different from Christianity. Nonetheless, the core images and ethos of
Buddhism do not sacralize family and reproduction, and this in itself is
probably part of the attraction for Western counterculture Buddhists, and part
of the explanation of our attitudes towards abortion.
Ethics of Abortion
in Asia and in the West have adopted many different moral logics.
All of these logics can be used to argue both for and against the permissibility
of abortion. Some are more consistent with the textual and historical record of
Buddhism, but authentic Buddhist ethicists could hold any of these positions.
For instance, the most simple-minded approach to morality is the letter of the law, and one of the top five precepts of the Buddhist is not to kill. Asserts one American Theravadan Buddhist:
David Stott, the British student of Tibetan Buddhism asserts:
While it may sound like sophistry, the question that this
precept leaves unanswered is whether an embryo or fetus is alive. While there
was a minority tradition in classical Hindu embryology that held that
incarnation does not occur till as late as the seventh month,
most Buddhist commentators have adopted classical Hindu teachings that the
transmigration of consciousness occurs at conception, and therefore that all
abortion incurs the karmic burden of killing. Before modern embryology, however,
in both Buddhist countries and the West,
ideas about conception were scientifically inaccurate, and often associated the
beginning of life with events in the third or fourth month of pregnancy. The
medieval descriptions of the incarnation of the skandhas in the fetal body do not discuss the fusing of sperm and
egg, the growth of a central nervous system and so on.
Therefore, not only do their writings lack canonical weight, but they lack
problem in early Buddhists” embryology is their assumption that the
transmigration of consciousness is sudden rather than gradual. Based on the
findings of modern neuro-embryology, Buddhists today might maintain that the
fetus does not fully embody all five skandhas
(the “aggregates”, or factors of individuality) and the illusion of
personhood until after birth. Gradual embodiment of personhood is the argument
developed by most Western ethicists to defend abortion.
If the fetus is not yet a fully embodied person, then the karmic consequences of
abortion would be even less than the killing of animals, which Buddhism clearly
teaches do have moral status. This neurological interpretation of the skandhas
may be more consistent with Western Buddhism, which often sees the doctrine of
rebirth as peripheral or interprets rebirth metaphorically rather than
popular, and probably the dominant, interpretation of Buddhist ethics in the
West is utilitarian; that the Buddhist should
seek the greatest happiness for the greatest number. Under a utilitarian ethics,
a particular abortion, and legal abortion in general, can be ethical so long as
the suffering of all beings is lessened. The factors that a utilitarian Buddhist
would take into account are the relative amounts of suffering experienced by
mothers of unwanted children versus women who have abortions; the suffering of
unwanted children versus the “suffering” experienced by a fetus during
abortion; the suffering of societies that permit abortion, versus the suffering
of societies that don't. Utilitarian Buddhists would consider abortions more
moral if the child will be disabled, or lead a painful, unhappy life for some
other reason such as poverty; if the mother's life or health is endangered; and
if the society or world is threatened by over-population or famine. In a
consequentialist, utilitarian ethics, abortion may be ethical in some cases and
not others, and for some societies and not others.
critics are quick to point out, utilitarianism can legitimate many repugnant
actions, murder among them, and most utilitarians add two modifications to
address this “yuck factor”: general rules of thumb and a hierarchy of
happiness. Since the estimation of the consequences of every action is
impossible, most utilitarians accept general principles that will lead to
greater happiness in the long run, among them freedom of speech, “a right to
life,” and so on. For these rule utilitarians, the abortion question returns
to whether a fetus is a moral person with a right to life, or more precisely,
whether suffering will be less if we treat fetuses as moral persons. Even if the
fetus is not a person, permitting abortion may create a cognitive slippery slope
to the murder of infants, and then mentally disabled children, and then adults.
On the other hand, if clear and defensible distinctions can be made between
fetuses and other human life, then it makes more sense to have two separate
rules to apply to them.
clear, defensible line is derived, I believe, from the second utilitarian
caveat, the hierarchy of pleasures. This refinement of utilitarianism was
articulated by John Stuart Mill in reaction to Bentham's version of
utilitarianism which held that a life spent in an opiated stupor was just as
moral as a life spent in creative endeavor. Instead, Mill posited the very
Buddhist idea that there were higher states of mind which should be factored
into any utilitarian calculus as more important than simple pleasures. To the
extent that the fetal nervous system exists at all, its “sufferings” and
“pleasures” are clearly of a rudimentary order compared to those of the
pregnant woman. In other words, the suffering experienced by a self-conscious
child when murdered is qualitatively different from that experienced by an
infant when aborted, and thus the first can and should be forbidden, while the
latter may be acceptable.
In reference to the slippery slope argument, LaFleur notes:
Japanese history of abortion offers an example of moral practices going the
other way. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the Japanese practiced
birth control almost entirely through infanticide, when there was no other real
option. In the twentieth century,
the Japanese have virtually eliminated infanticide, substituting it with
abortion. Now, more and more, abortion is being supplanted by contraception.
both modern Buddhist ethics and Western bioethics the “sentience” of a being
is considered in evaluating the morality of ending it's life; not all life is
equal and therefore not all killing is equal. Most Western bioethicists believe
that human beings and animals take on ethical significance, a “right to
life,” to the extent that they are “persons.” Some Western ethicists
would set a standard which would exclude almost all animals, newborns, and the
severely retarded or demented. When they specify which elements of sentience and
neurological integrity create the illusion of personhood, Western bioethicists
begin to sound remarkably Buddhistic: “the awareness of the difference between
self and other; the ability to be conscious of oneself over time; the ability to
engage in purposive actions”.
psychological analysis is consistent with an ethical distinction between three
kinds of beings: those that do not feel pain, those that feel pain, and those
with individuated consciousness, i.e. “persons.” The insensate are
considered by almost all Western philosophers, except the “deep ecologists,”
some of whom are also Buddhists, and the Catholics, to be
morally inconsequential. The deep ecologists would extend a right to life to
viruses, plants and eco-systems, while the Catholics would extend it to the
significance of pain is more universally recognized, leading to the
establishment of organizations and laws protecting animals from unnecessary
cruelty as domestic pets or in research. Similarly, pediatricians have become
increasingly sensitive to the sensitivities of infants receiving shots or
circumcision. Buddhism and bioethics would clearly argue for respecting the
extent to which the fetus is sensate in the carrying out of abortion, though the
end is obviously quick.
moral significance of murder, however, comes with the development of the
illusion of self some time after birth. A Buddhist ethics that tied the
significance of killing to the sentience of the being would, in turn, be
consistent with laws such as the U.S. Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision, and
the laws of many European nations, which allow unrestricted abortion in the
first trimester of a pregnancy and more restricted abortion rights in latter
stages of pregnancy.
third ethical logic, and the one argued for by Damien Keown,
is a virtue-ethics interpretation of Buddhism. Virtue-oriented Buddhists view
the intentions and psychological state of the actor as determining the morality,
and karmic consequences, of an act. In this case the mental attitude and
motivations of the pregnant woman and her collaborators would determine the
ethics of an abortion.
Along this line, Tworkov argues that the karmic skillfulness of an abortion is related to whether the woman became pregnant and made her decision to abort with serious mindfulness. From this perspective, aborting a fetus conceived without an effort at contraception or without serious moral reflection would be more karmically significant, in fact a breaking of the precept against sexual misconduct, than an abortion necessitated in spite of contraception, and undertaken without moral reflection. Tworkov argues that while hardening the heart against fetal life may appear to make the abortion choice easier, in the long run it is important to keep an open heart to the painfulness of the choice. Similarly, in her description of an abortion after she began practicing Zen Buddhism, Margot Milliken says:
fact, I believe that most Western Buddhists employ both utilitarian and virtue
ethics, in the paradoxical unity of
compassion and wisdom. On the one hand, our personal karmic clarity is most
related to our cultivation of compassionate intention, but on the other hand we
also need to develop penetrating insight into the most effective means to the
ends. We do not believe that the person who helps others without any intention
of doing so to have accrued merit, while we look upon the person who causes
others suffering with the best intentions a hapless fool. Similarly, in
approaching the abortion decision, both the mindset of the actors and the
utilitarian consequences are important.
Difference Between Social Ethics and Personal Ethics
distinction between the personal karmic consequences of abortion, and the
general social consequences, are yet another cause of Western Buddhists
tolerance toward abortion. While many Buddhists feel conflict about the moral
status of the act for themselves, they fear dire consequences for women and
society if abortion were to be re-criminalized. These concerns are in line with
those of liberal democracy, but they are also unwittingly in line with a
Buddhist traditional of a liberal state.
Buddhists are only slowly becoming aware of the social and political ethics of
the Buddhist canon. The early Pali canon's image of traditional monarchs was of
arrogant egotists pursuing imperialistic, unjust policies, guided solely by
greed, hatred and ignorance. When Siddhartha Gautama was born it was predicted
that he would either be a world-conqueror or a world-saviour, in line with the
Great Man mythos. Though his father tried to steer him toward conquest of the
world, Siddhartha conquered himself instead. The symbol of secular power was the
wheel of the war chariot, “the wheel of power,” but the symbol of the Buddha's
awakening was “the wheel of Truth” (dharmachakra)
of which he was the “wheel-turner” (chakravartin).
Buddhists found that radical disjuncture between dharma and power untenable, and
a concept of the righteous king developed. If the king could be converted and
brought under the sway of the Sangha, he could be taught to rule with
compassion, selflessness and wisdom. Such a qualitatively transformed monarch
was called a dharmaraja, or dharma-king. By
subordinating himself to the way of truth, the dharmaraja
allows the dharmachakra to turn the
wheel of power. A dharmaraja, as portrayed most significantly in the The
Lion Roar of the Wheel-Turning Monarch Sutra, provides for all the people
and animals of the realm, listens to the counsel of the wise, controls his
passions, and most importantly, makes sure that there is no poverty in his
kingdom. The first Buddhist emperor, Asoka, attempted to fulfill these
obligations of righteous governance by setting out edicts on stone posts
throughout India, proclaiming social welfare measures, amnesty for sacrificial
animals and encouragement for lay people to practice meditation.
the dharmaraja/Asoka tradition has
inspired many Buddhists to take an active role as a moral force in governance,
this model is also one of tolerance. The dharmaraja
texts and Asoka himself were tolerant and respectful of non-Buddhist religious
groups. The Vajjian Sutra suggests in
fact that the support and free movement of religious mendicants of all kinds is
a precondition for social health. Internally, the Buddhist order was not to
establish a “true” faith, but to simply to schism when major disagreements
Asian Buddhists have often shown a less tolerant side when Buddhism was made the state religion, Western Buddhists have evinced no interest in evangelism or the institutionalization of Buddhist moral edicts as state policy. In other words, the Western liberal moral stance that “I personally disagree with abortion, but I believe it should be legal,” is a common stance among Western Buddhists as well, and is consistent with the general moral tolerance of Buddhist governance. Again in the words of Margot Milliken:
in a pamphlet from the Japanese-American Buddhist Churches of America:
stance has its limits. Few Buddhists would say
“I”m personally opposed to slavery and torture, but I think they
should be legal.” That many Buddhists are politically tolerant of abortion
despite personal reservations suggests their recognition that their discomfort
with abortion is not a fundamental moral objection, as with slavery or torture,
but a personal and emotional one. In most Buddhist societies the occupation of
butcher is considered unclean, but no Buddhist society has ever imprisoned or
executed butchers. In Buddhist law as well as ethics, abortion is more of the
status of killing animals, a matter of personal karmic consequences not
is certainly possible for a Buddhist to legitimate authoritarian and
non-democratic forms of government, and many have, especially in the 20th
century in reaction to, and in support of, communism.
In the West, however, this Buddhist spirit of tolerance has entered into
dialogue with the liberal democratic tradition to develop an model of
enlightened citizenship in some Buddhist groups. The liberal democratic model of
citizenship, consistent with Buddhism, implies that the citizen's of a society
will develop the greater wisdom and insight when they have the freedom to make
the Sadness of the Choice
What happens to the consciousness of a baby that is aborted, or dies very young? What can the parents do to help the baby? Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche explained:
Sogyal Rinpoche's recent and welcome suggestion, Japan is apparently the only
society in the world that has developed a ritual, the mizuko kuyo, for the blessing of the aborted fetuses spirit, and the
expiation of the guilt of the reluctant parents. The mizuko kuyo is performed by
Buddhist priests, who then place a small statue, a jizo, in the Buddhist
cemetery to represent these good wishes. William
is thus far the principal interpolator of this practice to the West, and he
suggests that the practice may be a model for a Western moral approach to
Aitken Roshi, a successor of the Japanese Zen teacher Yasutani Roshi, took up this challenge in his Hawaiian Zen community, the
Diamond Sangha. Adapting and translating the mizuko kuyo ceremony, the Diamond
Sangha uses the following ceremony:
Western Buddhists could make quite a contribution to the
abortion conflict by offering these sentiments, reflections and rituals for
adaptation by our Christian and secular neighbors.
Robert. 1984. The Mind of Clover: Essays
on Zen Buddhist Ethics. San
Francisco: North Point Press.
1986. “Buddhist Views on Abortion,” Spring
Wind 6 (1-4).
A Shin Buddhist Stance on Abortion.
San Francisco: Buddhist Churches of America.
Stephen. 1992. “Rebirth: A Case for Buddhist Agnosticism,” Tricycle: the Buddhist Review: 16-23.
Michael. 1989. “Personhood from a Neuroscientific Perspective.” Pp. 83-86 in
Abortion Rights and Fetal Personhood,
eds. Ed Doer and James Prescott. Centerline Press.
Anne Page. 1981. “Mizuko Kuyo and Japanese Buddhism” Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 8:119-47.
Jose Ignacio, ed. 1991. Buddhism,
Sexuality and Gender. SUNY Press.
Kenneth. 1973. The Chinese Transformation
of Buddhism. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press
Yeshi. 1980. “Embryology in Tibetan Medicine”, in Tibetan Medicine. Dharamsala: Library of Tibetan Works and Archives.
Hoshino and Takeda Dosho. 1987. “Indebtedness and comfort: the undercurrents
of mizuko kuyo in contemporary Japan”, Japanese
Journal of Religious Studies 14:305-20.
Joseph. 1979. Humanhood: Essays in
Biomedical Ethics. Buffalo: Prometheus Books.
R. 1991. “Buddhist Approaches to Abortion”, Asian
Michael J. 1985. “Neuromaturation of the human fetus.” Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 10:237-251.
Lenore. 1987. Daughters of Lion's Yawn:
Women Teachers of Buddhism in America.
Boulder, CO: Shambhala.
Rita M. 1992. Buddhism after Patriarchy: A
Feminist History, Analysis and Reconstruction of Buddhism.
James. 1986. “Buddhist Feminism,” Spring
Wind (Toronto): 36-45.
Ryo. 1984. “The Shin Buddhist Stance on Abortion,” Buddhist Peace Fellowship Newsletter 6: 6-7.
Ken. 1989. The Social Face of Buddhism.
Winston. 1994. “A Buddhist Ethics Without Karmic Rebirth? “ Journal
of Buddhist Ethics 1:33-44.
Anne. 1994. Meeting the Great Bliss Queen:
Buddhists, Feminists and the Art of the Self.
Lawrence. 1981. The Philosophy of Moral
Development. New York: Harper and Row.
Mark G. 1994. “Whose Will Is It
Anyway? A Discussion of Advance Directives, Personal Identity and Consensus in
Medical Ethics”, Bioethics, 8(1): 27-48.
William R. 1992. Liquid Life: Abortion and
Buddhism in Japan. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
1990. “Contestation and Confrontation: The Morality of Abortion in Japan. “ Philosophy
East and West 40:529-42.
1995a. “Silences and Censures: Abortion, History, and Buddhism in Japan. A
Rejoinder to George Tanabe.” Japanese
Journal of Religious Studies 22/1-2:185-196.
1995b. “The Cult of Jizo: Abortion Practices in Japan and What They Can Teach
the West. “ Tricycle, Summer : 41-44.
Philip A. 1987. “A Buddhist View of Abortion,” Journal of Religion and Health 26:214-18.
Trevor. 1969. “Buddhist Factors in Population Growth and Control,” Population
1973. The Buddha. London: Pelican.
1980. “Buddhist Values and Development Problems: A Case Study of Sri Lanka,”
World Development, 8.
J. J. 1989. “The Classical Hindu View on Abortion and the Moral Status of the
Unborn,” in Hindu Ethics, ed. H. G.
Coward, J. J. Lipner, and K. K. Young, 41-69. Albany, New York: State University
of NewYork Press.
John P. 1993. “Persons and death: what's metaphysically wrong with our current
statutory definition of death?” Journal
of Medicine & Philosophy 18:351-74.
Kristin. 1984. Abortion and the Politics
of Motherhood. University of California Press.
Margot Wallach. 1986. Not Mixing Up
Buddhism: Essays on Women and Buddhist Practice. eds. Kahawai Collective.
Fredonia, NY: White Pine Press: 74-77.
Dorothy. 1983. “The Politics of Personhood,” Milbank Quarterly 61(1): 101-12.
Text Society, trans. 1980. Therigatha.
London: Pali Text Society.
Derek. 1984. Reasons and Persons.
Oxford University Press.
Geoffrey. 1980. Sex in the World's
Religions. London: Sheldon Press.
John, Joanna Macy, Pat Fleming, Arne Naess. 1988. Thinking Like a Mountain: Towards a Council of All Beings. New
Bardwell. 1988. “Buddhism and Abortion in Contemporary Japan: Mizuko Kuy‡
and the Confrontation with Death,” Japanese
Journal of Religious Studies 15:3-24.
Stuart. 1992. “Freedom's just another word,” Tricycle, Fall: 34-39.
Rinpoche. 1992. The Tibetan Book of Living
and Dying. Harper Collins.
David. 1985. A Circle of Protection for
the Unborn. Bristol: Ganesha Press.
Robert. The Politics of Enlightenment.
1992. “The Politics of Enlightenment,” Tricycle,
1988. “Nagarjuna's Guidelines for Buddhist Social Activism”,
in F. Eppsteiner, ed. The Path of
Compassion: writings on socially engaged Buddhism. Berkeley: Parallax Press.
Sallie. 1994. “Nothing Special: The Buddhist Sex Quandry,” Tricycle, Winter: 44-48.
Michael. 1984. Abortion and Infanticide.
Oxford University Press.
H. 1992. “Anti-abortion/pro-choice: taking both sides.” Tricycle: the Buddhist Review: 60-69.
Z. (1984) “Mizuko Kuy‡; Notulae on the most important ÒNew ReligionÓ of
Japan,” Japanese Journal of Religious
Studies 18, pp. 295-354.
Kate. 1994. “Vinaya Vignettes: or, why the buddha had to make some rules,” Tricycle,
Leonard. 1992. “Homosexuality as seen in Indian Buddhist texts,” Buddhism,
Sexuality and Gender ed. Jose« Ignacio Cabezon. NY: SUNY Press.
 Parrinder, Geoffrey. 1980. Sex in the World's Religions. London: Sheldon Press.
 Zwilling, Leonard. 1992. “Homosexuality as seen in Indian Buddhist texts,” Buddhism, Sexuality and Gender ed. Jose« Ignacio Cabezon. NY: SUNY Press. Wheeler, Kate. 1994. “Vinaya Vignettes: or, why the buddha had to make some rules,” Tricycle, Summer: 84-89.
 Chen, Kenneth. 1973. The Chinese Transformation of Buddhism. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
 Ling, T. 1969. “Buddhist Factors in Population Growth and Control,” Population Studies 23:53-60.
 See especially Sallie Tisdale's essay in Tricycle (Winter 1994: 44-48) “Nothing Special: The Buddhist Sex Quandry.”
 The principal exception to this appears to be the British Friends of Western Buddhist Order, directed by the British monk Sangharakshita, though even in this case sexuality itself is not seen as problematic, but rather sex roles and behavior patterns.
 I refer here to the work of Kohlberg (1981), though the ethical logics I discuss do not correspond to his schema directly.
 Leonard Price. 1985. “A Buddhist View of Abortion,” Washington Buddhist 16, 4: 3-13.
 Stott, David. 1985. A Circle of Protection for the Unborn. Bristol: Ganesha Press.
 Lipner, J. J. 1989. “The Classical Hindu View on Abortion and the Moral Status of the Unborn”, In Hindu Ethics, ed. H. G. Coward, J. J. Lipner, and K. K. Young, 41-69. Albany, New York: State University of New York Press.
 See for instance Luker's 1984 investigation of beliefs about the onset of pregnancy in American history.
 For a discussion of traditional Tibetan embryology, see Dhonden, 1980 and Lecso, 1987
 See for instance Tooley, 1984; Flower, 1985; Bennett, 1989.
 See for instance Batchelor, 1992; King, 1994.
 Keown, Damien. 1992. The Nature of Buddhist Ethics. St. Martins Press.
 Of course, this raises the question of the painless death, which leads to another rule of thumb, that we”ll all be happier if we know we are protected from murder, no matter how humane our assassins.
 LaFleur, 1995b:44.
 See for instance Tooley, 1984
 See for instance, Fletcher, 1979
 See for instance Seed, John, Joanna Macy, Pat Fleming, Arne Naess. 1988. Thinking Like a Mountain: Towards a Council of All Beings. New Society Publishers.
 Keown, 1992.
 Tworkov, H. 1992. “Anti-abortion/pro-choice: taking both sides.” Tricycle: the Buddhist Review: 60-69.
 Milliken, Margot Wallach. 1986. Not Mixing Up Buddhism: Essays on Women and Buddhist Practice. eds. Kahawai Collective. Fredonia, NY: White Pine Press: 74-77.
 My thoughts on Buddhist social and political ethics are drawn largely from Trevor Ling's The Buddha, 1973, London: Pelican.
 See especially Robert Thurman's radical interpretation of the ideal Buddhist state (1988).
 See Smithers (1992) for an interesting discussion of the historical tension between the precepts and antinomian freedom in Buddhism, and the parallel tension between morality and liberal state in the United States.
 See for instance, Imamura, 1984 and Lecso, 1987
 Milliken, 1986: 76.
 Anonymous. A Shin Buddhist Stance on Abortion. San Francisco: Buddhist Churches of America.
 Sogyal Rinpoche. 1992. The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. Harper Collins: 376.
 LaFleur 1990, 1992, 1995a, 1995b.
Aitken, Robert. 1984. The Mind
of Clover: Essays on Zen Buddhist Ethics.
San Francisco: North Point Press: 22.