Thursday, July 26, 2007

Does Buddhism Even Advocate 'Human Rights'?

Good evening everyone. I am Professor Andy Ahmed. Since I'm a Buddhist and teaching courses on Buddhism at PUC, Prof. Stan kindly invited me to participate in your discussion.

Reading through the many comments so far, I notice that there are many questions about Buddhsim, but that most of them don't clearly relate to the issue of human rights. Therefore, in my first posts I will briefly outline my view on the topic and invite responses. Later, if I have time I will address other matters. Anyone who still has questions about Buddhist teachings, even if they are not related to human rights or your course, is very welcome to find me in South Campus and talk to me at any time when I'm free.

Okay; the title to my post is quite provocative, but serious. In my view, 'human rights' as a concept is mainly a fairly modern Western creation; thus, the very notion of 'human rights' does not form part of Buddhism. Please don't misunderstand this - I mean that when we analyse many individual human rights we find them in agreement with the Buddha's teachings, but that the principle itself is not Buddhist.

I'm assuming here that when we talk about 'human rights' we have in mind the idea of 'universal human rights' - these are rights that apply to every individual human being. Thus, at heart, they offer protection to the individual. Another, more philosophical term for this would be 'moral individualism'.

To keep my posts to a reasonable length, I'll put them up in the blog in stages. Here I'll pause for you to consider my views, before going on to apply them to Buddhism.


Stan Starygin said...

Hi Andy,

Welcome. It's a pleasure to have you.

Just quickly on the questions you posed and assertions made here:

-- yes, when we speak about human rights here we are referring to universal human rights embedded in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and other instruments that have sprung out of it in the past 6 decades.

-- i told the students that questions solely pertaining to Buddhist theology were admissible, as most of them never studied Buddhism prior to this, and therefore, likely will need to clear out what they have heard about the Buddhist doctrine living their entire lives in a Buddhist society, and which part of it is compliant with the teachings of Theravada Buddhism and which are mere concoctions of "popular Buddhism" spread by the word of mouth.


ravys2 said...

good everning sir i am happy to get your explainantion but i still not clearly about human righ tand buddhism ! for me i think human right it is universal law for man but i think it is form part buddhism ! but for your view you said human right as a concept fairly modern western creation , for my view i think even it is modern western creation it still as a form part of buddhism because it though western concept also part of buddhism! the buddhism is first doctrine that buddha enlignment forst then concept western maybe born in next time so i believe it also cop0y from buddhism theory ! for in view it is right or wrong ? i am happy to get your advice and waiting for more explaine from you.

sithanay said...

Dear all,i'm sorry if my explanation is clear. In the Buddha intruction or any principle, there is no decription about human right directly but he knew that people always get pain or hurt if any one make him hurt so it mean that evryone must hurt. The meaning is stated to protect human hights, human interest though she or he stay on any level.