Buddhist socialism

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Buddhist socialism is a political ideology which advocates socialism based on the principles of Buddhism. Both Buddhism and socialism seek to provide an end to suffering by analyzing its conditions and removing its main causes through praxis. Both also seek to provide a transformation of personal consciousness (respectively, spiritual and political) to bring an end to human alienation and selfishness.[1] People who have been described as Buddhist socialists include Buddhadasa Bhikkhu,[2] B. R. Ambedkar[citation needed] S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike, Han Yong-un,[3] Seno’o Girō,[4] U Nu, Uchiyama Gudō[5], and Norodom Sihanouk.[6][7]

Bhikkhu Buddhadasa coined the phrase "Dhammic socialism".[2] He believed that Socialism is a natural state[8] meaning all things exist together in one system.[8]

Look at the birds: we will see that they eat only as much food as their stomachs can hold. They cannot take more than that; they don’t have granaries. Look down at the ants and insects: that is all they can do. Look at the trees: trees imbibe only as much nourishment and water as the trunk can hold, and cannot take in any more than that. Therefore a system in which people cannot encroach on each other’s rights or plunder their possessions is in accordance with nature and occurs naturally, and that is how it has become a society continued to be one, until trees became abundant, animals became abundant, and eventually human beings became abundant in the world. The freedom to hoard was tightly controlled by nature in the form of natural socialism.[8]

Han Yong-un felt that equality was one of the main principles of Buddhism.[3] In an interview published in 1931, Yong-un spoke of his desire to explore Buddhist Socialism.

I am recently planning to write about Buddhist socialism. Just like there is Christian socialism as a system of ideas in Christianity, there must be also Buddhist socialism in Buddhism.[3]

Tenzin Gyatso, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama of Tibet has said that:

See also[edit]


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  1. Shields, James Mark; Liberation as Revolutionary Praxis: Rethinking Buddhist Materialism; Journal of Buddhist Ethics. Volume 20, 2013.
  2. 2.0 2.1 What is Dhammic Socialism? [archive]
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Tikhonov, Vladimir, Han Yongun's Buddhist Socialism in the 1920s-1930s, International Journal of Buddhist Thought and Culture 6, 207-228 (2006). PDF [archive]
  4. Shields, James Mark; Blueprint for Buddhist Revolution The Radical Buddhism of Seno’o Girō (1889–1961) and the Youth League for Revitalizing Buddhism, Japanese Journal of religious Studies 39 (2), 331-351 (2012) PDF [archive]
  5. Rambelli, Fabio (2013). Zen Anarchism: The Egalitarian Dharma of Uchiyama Gudō. Institute of Buddhist Studies and BDK America, Inc.
  6. Cambodia Under the Khmer Rouge [archive]
  7. Monarchy in South-East Asia: the faces of tradition in transition [archive]
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Dhammic Socialism Political Thought of Buddhadasa Bhikku, Chulalangkorn Journal of Buddhist Studies 2 (1), page 118 (2003) PDF [archive]
  9. Tibet and China, Marxism, Nonviolence [archive]

External links[edit]