The Buddhist Sangha: Paradigm of the ideal human society
This study endeavors to show the Buddhist Sangha as a model of an ideal society, applying ethics to its politics. The moral and philosophical teachings of the Buddha provide historical evidence to support such an effort. A moral philosophy articulates the legitimate criteria of a moral standard. Its focus is on the sphere of ethical, social and political thought in Buddhist scriptures. This philosophy concentrates upon practical and altruistic values rather than abstract dialectical interests. The important issue of inequality amongst human beings is discussed here. The purpose of ethical practice is to engender order and peace on earth. This practice helps to formulate the concept of an ideal society in which there would be no inequality. The Buddha himself formulated a religio-political constitution which is still valid and adaptable to the constitutions of the world. His moral philosophy transcends the boundary of a class or caste system and views all human beings as equal from the same moral basis, regardless of this status. Greed, hatred and delusion are regarded as the causes of all evil in the world. The primary governmental aspects within the Sangha, conflict and its resolution, are discussed in light of ethical principles. The Buddha's democratic principles show the necessity of decentralization of power for a viable society. Ethics is imperative in a political or governmental regime, according to Buddhism. The Sangha, governed by advanced discipline, represents an ideal society in the democratic manner. Vinaya acts as the constitutional law, connecting the Sangha with the laity. By adhering to the vinaya rules the Sangha is systematic and democratic in determining and administering its affairs. All disciplinary rules are intended to organize the behavior of the Sangha members. The distribution of products, power and positions is similarly systematized by the vinaya rules. By pointing to its democratic nature, its emphasis on moral administration and understanding, and its harmonious interaction with kings and general public alike, this work proves the Sangha to be a unique model for an ideal society.