The central importance of ethics
The attempt to be a good, kind, compassionate person is of central importance to the Buddhist way of life in all forms of Buddhism, and for both monastics and lay people. Morality is a crucial part of the eightfold path to nirvana, and the bodhisattva path to Buddhahood, and the key to good karma and a better rebirth. Even to reach Amida’s Pure Land, living a good life is important alongside faith, at least in some traditions. Indeed, for most ‘ordinary’ Buddhists, who do not expect to reach nirvana or Buddhahood in the immediate future, kindness, compassion and good behaviour are what being a Buddhist is all about. Buddhist ethics can be summed up (as they are in the Pali Canon) as ‘cease doing evil and learn to do good’ or ‘love not hatred’, but of course these need unpacking.