Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Buddhism and Society


http://www.flickr.com/photos/shoken/2261404825/

Question:(unedited)
Could you please tell me about Buddhism and its relationship with society

My comment:
When practising Buddhism, it is very important that we understand the concepts of truth. There are two types of truth. One is conventional truth. The other is ultimate truth. Some examples of conventional truth are our time of the day, our dates, our measurements, our traffic rules, and our currencies. These are based on the general acceptance by all the people. Should the people decide not to agree and accept all these ideas, they are no longer truths.

Whereas, ultimate truth is unchangeable and transcends race, culture, nationality, space and time. Examples of ultimate truth are birth, sickness, old age, and death.

Buddhism places great emphasis on self development to understand the true nature of this world and to live WITH this world in peace and harmony. Often times there are certain level of contradictions between conventional truth and ultimate truth. An example is the concept of desire. The ultimate truth of desire is that if we allow ourselves to go crazy with every desire, we will never be satisfied with whatever that we are having now. This will lead us to want more and more. We become obssessed with our desire, and greed builds up.

Conventional truth tells us that we should go and get all the things we WANT (rather than need). To do this we must work extremely hard to earn lots of money so that we can enjoy life. In this way our standard of living will improve. Beg, steal, or borrow!

The Buddha advised all those who place realization of ultimate truth as the utmost important mission in life, to renounce the worldly life. In Buddhist parlance, to become monks and nuns. In this way they are not directly involved with society. Their life-style will be drastically different from the average worldly person. However they do not pose any hindrance to society which places more emphasis on conventional truth.

However, for those Buddhists who still want to live as worldly citizens, that is, lay Buddhists, then they must ensure that they live a balanced life, being able to balance and reconcile the apparent contradictions between ultimate truth and conventional truth. In other words, we need to be practical Buddhists. In this way, we will not become a nuisance or pose any danger to society.

Buddhism advocates certain sets of principles for the followers to live by. These principles are universal values for the good of all. They encompass good values such as not destroying lives unnecessarily, being honest,
virtuous conduct, being truthful, and avoiding intoxicant.

It is the individuals who make up a society. If individuals have good values, the society will be reflected as such. As Buddhists, we are very conscious of spreading goodwill and showing compassion for all. We are taught to live in peace with ourselves as well as with others.

1 comment:

A true Malaysian said...

It's true. A complex thing can become simple, and a simple thing can become complex. It's all depends on how we look at things.

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