Excerpt from Chapter 7 – “Morality and Religion”

Published June 11, 2017

Another important aspect of Shin Buddhism is that it clearly distinguishes religion from morality. It is true that many religious doctrines are based on morality. A very typical belief says that there is some kind of judgment at the end of one’s life and if one has not lived a moral life, one goes to hell, so one must accumulate good deeds to essentially buy a ticket to heaven. Most religions have a set of rules or a creed that one should observe, so if one observes all these rules, that person is considered to be religious. Some religions even establish ranking in their memberships based on the accumulation of good deeds, which often include the amount of money donated to the religion’s organizations.

If we apply the criterion of universality to moral standards, we see clearly that moral standards are not universal. Moral standards change from time to time and vary from culture to culture and from society to society. We have seen many revolutions and restorations change the value systems of societies overnight, and the moral values of a society can even be manipulated by authorities for the benefit of those authorities.