Rights/respect and Buddhist doctrine

Date: Fri, 06 Oct 1995 15:28:34 +0100
From: "peter.harvey" [email protected]
Subject: Rights/respect and Buddhist doctrine

Damien Kewon asks for a distinctive formulation of human rights in terms of Buddhist doctrine. How about this:

Those who have the good fortune to have a 'rare and precious human rebirth', with all its potential for awareness, sensitivity, and freedom, have a duty to not abuse the rights of other humans to partake of the possibilities of moral and spiritual flourishment offered by human existence. Such flourishing is only possible when certain conditions relating to physical existence and social freedom are maintained. Moreover, to repressas our basic quality of sympathy (//anukampaa//) by abusing other sentient beings, human or otherwise, cripples our own potential, and increases the amount of //dukkha// in the world- for both others and oneself. Conditioned Arising shows that the existence of any being, human or otherwise, is a conditioned one that is thus open to limitation and suffering. Abusing others can only be done when we are blind to this fact. As vulnerable beings in a conditioned world, the principle of solidarity indicates that whatever we can do to truly reduce the amount of //dukkha// in the world should be done. The principle of //anattaa// shows that //dukkha// does not really 'belong' to anyone. It arises, in the life-stream of various sentient beings. To try and reduce it in 'my' stream at the expense of increasing it in another life-stream is folly: both because this will in fact bring more suffering back to me (karma), and because it depends on the deluded notion that 'I' am an inviolable entity that is not dependent and can treat others as if only //they// are limited and conditioned.

Moreover, no government should pretend that it is; i) not impermanent, and subject to dissolution ii) not involving //dukkha//: so //dukkha// should not be unjustly imposed on citizens because they happen to be the occasion for some particular //dukkha// arising for government members. iii) Self-like, ie. some kind of sacred inviolable essence. Governments are conditioned by citizens compliance in their rule. The more willing, the happier all will be : citizens and government members.

No time for more today, unfortunately. have a good weekend; I'm tuning in again on Monday, as my computer is at work.

Peter Harvey


Date: Fri, 06 Oct 1995 13:59:38 -0400
From: "Don Swearer" [email protected]
Subject: Re: Rights/respect and Buddhist doctrine

Peter & Others,
I've only dipped in to the conversation but I was struck by the fact that Peter's remarks on rights/respect and Buddhist doctrine is thoroughly consistent with David Kaluphana's construction of Buddhist ethics in his new book, ETHICS IN EARLY BUDDHISM, which stresses the underlying principles of conditionality and mutuality.

Don Swearer