II.V.THE ETHICAL DIMENSION

Smart states that "throughout history we find that religions usually incorporate a code of ethics" (The Religious Experience of Mankind, 3rd edition, p.9). In Buddhism, for example, it is taught that one's actions should be controlled by the Five Precepts -- refrain from killing, from stealing, from lying, from wrongful sexual acts and from intoxicants. Judaism has the Torah (law) which contains not only the Ten Commandments but also many other moral, as well as ritual, prescriptions. Likewise Islam has the Shari'a (law) prescribing various moral and ritual duties. In Christianity, Jesus summed up his ethical teaching in the commandment "love your neighbour as yourself." At least in some measure, the ethical dimension of a religion may tie in with parts of its doctrinal and mythic dimensions. For example, the Buddha's injunction to refrain from intoxicants is consistent with his perception that such substances would obstruct self-awareness. The Christian teaching on love toward others is consistent with narratives of Christ's own behaviour and with the doctrine that God is love. And the stern moral prescriptions in the Shari'a are consistent with Islamic teaching that each person will ultimately be subject to God's judgment.
 

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