Dialogue with Supreme Court of Justice of Bhutan


Buddhist Defense on Social Justice

The perspective of Buddhist Law is that poverty, together with war, ignorance and pollution, are aberrations and crimes against humanity, peace and justice. If the apprentice seeks the Truth, then he cannot fail to perceive this oppressive and alienating fact. Although Maitriyana is in favor of a lifestyle based on humility and simplicity, it is certainly against poverty and depravity (daliddiya).[1] By implementing teachings of compassionate wisdom (karuna-prajna) in society, the Buddhist Law is the maximum advocate of social justice, seeking to create a world without poverty. This goal is the path to which libertarian meditation is aimed, which is a form of thought and solidary action that seeks the Salvation of all beings, without distinction of social class or economic and political status.[2] Obviously, this passion for the Liberation and Cure (Nirvana) of society entails breaking unjust norms, just as Gautama did,[3] who provided a revolutionary system of ethical education as a way to fight against social injustice. In this way, the Maitriyana seeks the Awakening (Bodhi) of the entire great human family, realizing that the ill of a member is the ill of all, given the fundamental interconnection of the world. In this sense, the spiritual master teaches that the concept of subject separated from the others is an illusion. Thus, the Buddhist Law states that an ethical and righteous government is the one that provides refuge and protection to all segments of society, including animals, redistributing wealth to the poor,[4] such as the radical structure of a socialist commune does.[5] In this sense, the Free and Enlightened Being (Arhat-Bodhisattva) rejects the idea of individual Salvation to work for the good of the world.[6] This self-sacrificial love is the impulse to purify the mind and society, because one cannot be completely free while the others are not. Undoubtedly, this means challenging the dominant political, economic and cultural system, denouncing the oppressive, malignant and despotic powers.[7] The spiritual commune (sangha) is clearly a revolutionary counterpower that coexists with governments as long as they are not socially unjust.

The Maitriyana recalls that the Buddhist Civilization of antiquity was a social system in which there was a relationship of mutual interdependence or balance between the State, society and the spiritual community (sangha), since the State and the people protected and supported the spiritual commune (Sangha), while it ethically corrected the State when it deviated from the Law (Dharma), at the same time it acted as a spokesperson for the conscience of the people in cases of violation of their welfare or depredation of their collective rights.[8] The ethical framework of Buddhist Law to perform this supervisory function was the assignment of ten duties of the government (dasa-raja-dhamma): charity (dana), ethics (sila), self-sacrifice (pariccaga), honesty (ajjava), Kindness (maddava), austerity (tapa), non-anger (Akkodha), non-violence (Avihimsa), patience (khanti) and social integration (Avirodha). These principles constitute the basic guidance of the spiritual master in order that the governments act legitimately, so that the spiritual communes (sanghas) have a duty to report when governments violate this model of social justice. Thus, the Maitriyana seeks to reestablish the tripartite relationship of the Buddhic Civilization in which the government, society and the spiritual commune (sangha) functioned harmoniously. However, when governments are despotic, as is the case of the military dictatorship of contemporary Burma,[9] The monopoly of Power considers the institution of the spiritual commune (sangha) as a powerful rival, which always has a tendency to maintain its autonomy in the face of the State. While governments follow the principles of violence, force and oppression, the Buddhist Law rather follows the foundations of tolerance, love and non-violence to be sure that the international community lives in peace, harmony and social justice.

Maitriyana is an international movement that expresses the utopia of achieving the Cure (Nirvana) from suffering or dissatisfaction (dukkha) of society, creating a just, wise and compassionate civilization. This implies criticizing the social injustice of political, economic, cultural and environmental structures. In this way, the Buddhist Law created by Gautama takes care of achieving social justice, which has been shared by Confucius, Plato, Aristotle, Marx and Rawls,[10] among others. For the Free and Enlightened Being (Arhat-Bodhisattva), social justice is the realization of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity, understanding at all times that the apprentice interexists with society. Thus, in Maitriyana, Justice is the realization or Awakening (Bodhi) of the dharmic nature of human being, so that the correct action is inseparable from an authentic way of being.[11] This vision of social justice is characterized as a process of spiritual development of all humanity in its relationship with the Real, so it is positioned as a trans-cultural metadiscourse. Through paradoxical dialectical logic (koan), the spiritual master expresses a pluralistic and holistic vision in his approach to Truth. On this basis the Buddhist Law positions itself as a global juridical system that is concerned with the human rights and environmental rights, overseeing that governments and international organizations comply with ethical and legal standards.

Maitriyana’s ethics committees and courts of conscience have the Purpose (Dharma) to build peace and reconciliation in the world, seeking the restoration of justice and harmony in society, which is essential for the survival and evolution of civilization. This means that the laws established by Gautama in the legal code (vinaya) have objectives similar to the State Law,[12] despite the fact that the orientation of Buddhist Law is certainly not the condemnation but teaching, by solving problems with the power of reconciliation and not with the power of violence. In fact, spiritual love (metta) and solidarity are capable of solving the problems of society and the environment peacefully. Thus, the Free and Enlightened Being (Arhat-Bodhisattva) shows that forgiveness (Abhayadana) is fundamental for psychic harmony and social justice.

Maitriyana is inheritor of a social justice system even older than the French revolution of the XVIII century, since the Buddhist Law has an antiquity of two thousand six hundred years in the defense of the dignity of human being, which has been the basis of politics, economy, culture and environment of the Buddhic Civilization. This ethical and humanistic system of rights and duties harmoniously unifies the Liberation with Responsibility, demonstrating that Gautama was a champion of social justice and human rights, by highlighting Liberty, Equality and Fraternity against tyranny, hierarchization and conflictivity.[13] This contributes to the creation of a civilization governed by the rule of law (Dharma) and justice, where each individual is the architect of his own destiny, since Liberation is intrinsic to the nature of the human being. However, for this to happen, Maitriyana establishes that civilization must be ethically regulated by the interdependence of the spiritual commune (sangha), society and the State.[14] In fact, the harmony or balance between these three powers can be called social justice, which is the expansion of the compassionate wisdom (karuna-prajna) in the world, since the spiritual master is deeply interested in the cooperation and reconciliation of peoples.[15] In conclusion, without the guidance of the Free and Enlightened Being (Arhat-Bodhisattva) it is impossible to reach the Kingdom of Righteousness or Pure Earth where humanity reaches the Middle Way between opulence and need. This concept of work proposed by Buddhist Law helps the apprentice to abandon egocentricity and also to join others in a common Purpose (Dharma), functioning in a way that is similar to the Marxist economic system. Certainly, the cooperative collective functioning that was introduced by the spiritual commune (sangha) constitutes a primeval socialism.[16] Thus, to reach the Cure (Nirvana) from the suffering of all humanity, it is essential to achieve a system of civilization based on social justice. Therefore, the Maitriyana positions Gautama as a socially reformist spiritual master who provides teachings with political, economic, cultural and environmental implications,[17] for the Buddhist Law establishes a framework that protects the rights of children, students, women, the sick, the elderly, prisoners, dying persons, drug addicts, homosexuals, the poor, the marginalized, refugees, indigenous peoples, animals and even ecosystems.


[1] M. Fenn, Two notions of Poverty in the Pali Canon.

[2] R. A. Ray, Buddhist saints in India: A Study in Buddhist Values and Orientations.

[3] Drew Miller, Buddhist perspectives on Social Justice and Poverty.

[4] Cakkavatti-sihanada Sutta.

[5] Drew Miller, Buddhist perspectives on Social Justice and Poverty.

[6] R. A. Ray, Buddhist saints in India: A Study in Buddhist Values and Orientations.

[7] S. Mydans, Monks protest is challeging Burmese junta.

[8] Ven. Rewata Dhamma, Buddhism – Human Rights and Justice in Burma.

[9] Ven. Rewata Dhamma, Buddhism – Human Rights and Justice in Burma.

[10] J. Rawls, A Theory of Justice.

[11] Michael von Brück, An Ethics of Justice in Buddhism seen in a Cross-Cultural Context.

[12] Phramaha Hansa Dhammahaso, Buddhist Values towards Conflict and Peace: Truth, Justice, Forgiveness and Reconciliation.

[13] Abha Singh, Social Justice: one of the greatest gifts of Buddhism to the world.

[14] Abha Singh, Social Justice: one of the greatest gifts of Buddhism to the world.

[15] Brahmajala Sutta.

[16] Abha Singh, Social Justice: one of the greatest gifts of Buddhism to the world.

[17] V. P. Varma, Early Buddhism and Its Origins.

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