Thursday, July 26, 2007

Does Buddhism Even Advocate Human Rights 2

Okay, to continue.

I'd like to pick up three terms I referred to in the last post. Firstly, 'human rights'. The Buddha did not draw an absolute distinction between human and non-human beings. His concern was for all sentient beings - i.e. any creature capable of feelings - in particular capable of feeling pain.

Secondly, 'moral individualism'. Morality is certainly at the heart of the Buddha's teaching (which I'll return to) but what about the second term? The more philosophical aspect of the Buddha's teaching is centred on the claim that there is no such thing as an individual 'Self'. Thinking about yourself is actually the root error that causes suffering. This is a deep and complex matter which I won't develop here but it is fundamental to Buddhist thinking.

Keeping away from the philosophy, therefore, I'll try to explain the implication of the last point for our discussion on human rights. The Buddha never talked about anyone's rights; what he did talk about, at great length, was our responsibilities, or duties.

A central term in Buddhism is 'Dhamma'. It has many connected meanings - some are 'The Truth', 'The Way Things Really Are', 'Natural Law'. It is the way the universe operates when not interfered with by ignorant beings. It is therefore also the way we should behave to be in harmony with the universe - thus it also means the Buddha's teaching (which tells us how to do this) and our duty. The Buddha, therefore, taught kings how to rule according to Dhamma, and he taught children how to follow their Dhamma in relating to parents and teachers etc.

You could argue, as D. Keown does in the article in your coursebook, that if one person or group has duties, by implication another has rights. Thus, if people have a duty not to steal, we have a right to protection of our property. Personally, I'm not persuaded by this argument.

I'll explain why in the next post!


Blog.Ponnarith said...

Dear Prof. Andy! I would like to ask you
Two wonderings cus I’m still not clear!

Four Noble Truths

1. Suffering exists
2. Suffering arises from attachment to desires
3. Suffering ceases when attachment to desire ceases
4. Freedom from suffering is possible by practicing the Eightfold Path Noble Eightfold Path

On the third perspective, getting sorrowful is a result/caused of love, namely, the root of sadness comes from desire, no see, no wish, no miss, no need, no love, no lose, and no sad. Meditation only can reach Nirvana (desire ceases). But Human natures always develop their lives by thinking and desire never end.
1. Being asked what kind of attachment shall I have if I decide to teach bad/illiterate person to become a good person in a society (I want them good) and I try to generate my personal growth by doing anything especially endeavor to be a moral one sense of humor (my desire is to make my self best) in order to reach Nirvana?
2. And is that called a duty (right thing to do) for myself and to the others?


Prof. Andy said...

Good questions! I answered them in the other post.

Blog.Ponnarith said...


Blog.Ponnarith said...


Blog.Ponnarith said...

How do you do prof. Andy! i want to carry on my last question. you wrote “Many times in your sincere attempts to help poor or 'bad' people you will find that some people will disappoint you, take advantage, lie and otherwise behave badly. What is your reaction? If you get angry or sad, is it because you were attached to the project or the results?”
Surely, I’ve attachment/desire to the project/result is I want them “good” or they angry me somehow, I will get sad.
- Therefore, I help them without “Meta” & “Karuna” ?
- The true donor never want/expect something back? Even hearing the one we help gets good or bad result in her/his life? Like parents sending out children to study abroad, what is their purpose, Meta? Karuna? Desire ? Duty?……………

Thanks you so much for reveal me.