Monday, July 23, 2007

Questions on Buddha and Human Rights

Dear All, Stan, Andy Ahmed, and Venerable Ka

Through what I have read some Buddha's theologies, it lead me to think that religion and law shape people rights, and their rights are limited and will bring people to unequal because all actions are bound by law and believe. For example, no reveng just forgiveness, and sow only good deeds, then equality is meaningless. Thus, if human rights exist in law and religions, there is no equality and my point of view is that people are born equal, but not free.

1. What is equality means in the Buddha's theory, and equal potential for self-realization?

2. Depends on the Dependent Origination, the Buddha said (1). the relationship between individual and society, (2). the relationship between man and nature, so could you please briefly explain me what are the role of Buddhism in political rights and activities?

3. Karma is the result of misdeed, relates to politics in Cambodia what should the leaders treat their people, and how each individual treat the others base on morality and human rights link to Buddha's theologies?


Stan Starygin said...

Hi Savoeun,

I will take question 1 of your thread.

Equal opportunity to realize yourself is embedded in both the Buddah's teachings and human rights, but this issue is seen in both from different angles. Buddhism doesn't require that this opportunity be created by other human beings to help their fellow human being achieve self-realization. Rather, Buddhism accentuates Buddha-nature with which all sentient beings are born with and which give them innate potential for attaining Buddhahood. There's no mandate in the Buddhist doctrine for either the state or individual to provide for the realization of Buddha-nature of a particular sentient being. On the contrary, in human rights it is the very idea that the state has the responsibility of creating an environment conducive to the realization of potential of individuals by creating opportunities to cater for some rights and refraining from adverse action to preserve the enjoyment of others.


Prof. Andy said...

Hello Savoeun,

I'll also respond to Q1; I touched on the others in my third post.

I agree with what Stan has written; I'll add a few more points. In my view, in the Buddha's teaching we are NOT born equal. Whilst he rejected the caste system that didn't allow people to change their social situation in this life, he never suggested that we are born with equal opportunities. The concepts of kamma and rebirth teach us WHY some are born in peaceful places to happy families while others are born into poverty and violence.

Here is an illustration I gave my students this week:

Consider a class of PUC students going into their final year. Some students (group A) have worked hard for three years and have a good GPA already. others (group B) have been lazy for three years and don't have many skills or much knowledge, and their GPA is low. The two groups do not have an equal opportunity to gain good degrees!

It is possible that one student in group A will get lazy and do poorly in the final exams, just as it is possible that a group B student will decide to work very hard and finish with a good degree.

The students all started the foundation year with equal potential but their differing situations as they begin the final year is a result of their efforts in previous years. So it is with rebirth.

Now, to touch again on your Q2-3, the student who has a good score so far but wastes the final year is like the citizen who has many social advantages but looks down on the poor and cares for himself. The poor person who accepts his or her situation but behaves honestly and kindly to others is like the group B student who finally decides to do his/her best.

Hope this helps!