Theravada and Secular Law

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?

Do Theravadins have to obey the law of the land even if the law is discriminatory?

Yes
2
15%
No
5
38%
Not sure
6
46%
 
Total votes: 13

chownah
Posts: 8940
Joined: Wed Aug 12, 2009 2:19 pm

Re: Theravada and Secular Law

Post by chownah »

There is right view with effluents and right view without effluents. With effluents is concerned with being in the world while without effluents is concerned with being apart from the world I think. I think that most people fall into a category where they ascribe to both in varying degrees. Those people who tend more towards with effluents and who tend to being in the world will tend to have issues with whether to obey the laws or not while those who tend toward without effluents and who tend to being apart from the world tend to not having those issues.

This is all just my conjecture.
chownah
User avatar
DNS
Site Admin
Posts: 13345
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 4:15 am
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada, Estados Unidos de América
Contact:

Re: Theravada and Secular Law

Post by DNS »

retrofuturist wrote: Fri Jun 12, 2020 3:52 am As for lay people, I think more specifics of the apparent discrimination would need to be known, in order to see how the suttas apply.
Yes, I also think it depends on the specifics.

For example, if there's a law that all men must wear a hat when they go outside; that wouldn't be such a big deal and I guess I'd agree to go with the flow and wear a hat.

However, if there was a law that said one cannot study or practice Buddhism, then I'd have to disobey, for the sake of the Dhamma. (There actually are some nations that prohibit Buddhism and some other religions from being practiced).
chownah
Posts: 8940
Joined: Wed Aug 12, 2009 2:19 pm

Re: Theravada and Secular Law

Post by chownah »

DNS wrote: Fri Jun 12, 2020 4:11 am
retrofuturist wrote: Fri Jun 12, 2020 3:52 am As for lay people, I think more specifics of the apparent discrimination would need to be known, in order to see how the suttas apply.
Yes, I also think it depends on the specifics.

For example, if there's a law that all men must wear a hat when they go outside; that wouldn't be such a big deal and I guess I'd agree to go with the flow and wear a hat.

However, if there was a law that said one cannot study or practice Buddhism, then I'd have to disobey, for the sake of the Dhamma. (There actually are some nations that prohibit Buddhism and some other religions from being practiced).
I guess then that for a non-buddhist a law against buddhism might not be such a big deal and I guess that they might agree to go with the flow.
chownah
polaris
Posts: 91
Joined: Wed Apr 01, 2020 3:59 am

Re: Theravada and Secular Law

Post by polaris »

rhinoceroshorn wrote: Tue Jun 09, 2020 7:03 pm
Coëmgenu wrote: Tue Jun 09, 2020 6:55 pm If there was a theoretical law making it illegal to donate to monastics, it would be unethical for monastics to go out on alms runs, but it would be ethical to try to feed them and support them in other ways (whilst trying not to get caught). IMO.

I am thinking about various Chinese and Japanese anti-Buddhist persecutions where similar rules were used.

For instance, the Japanese Emperor once outlawed the following of most of the vinaya. I imagine maybe monks simply starting secretly following it and only having their forced-marriages be a shame. Maybe some of them caught their new (occasionally state-assigned) wives how to meditate and foulness of the body. It's possible.
Japanese Buddhism is pure gore.
I am reading a book about Kukai and Saicho and the little admiration I had for Mahayana Buddhist faded away.
This union of state and religion is a no no.
I agree Japanese Buddhism is pure gore. I read this book called "How Theravada is Theravada?"
I didn't know that Japanese Buddhism was such a pain in the behind in the past during the early 1900s. They insisted that Mahayana Buddhism in Japan was the traditional Buddhism handed down from Buddha's time and Japan was sort of a legitimate keeper of this branch of Buddhism. What a joke! They really had the guts to put forward this idea.
Some time in the 1900s there was a get together of all the Buddhist countries for a conference in Colombo(Sri Lanka) and they decided not to used the term "Hinayana"(means lesser vehicle) and replaced it with "Theravada" (meaning the teaching of the elders).
Japanese at that time were trying to spread the idea that Theravada was a degenerated form of Buddhism and they had T.S. Suzuki one of their well known pioneers in Japanese Buddhism who wrote few books on Japanese Buddhism (I think still available and in print today).
I studied Japanese language for a year in Tokyo and visited a Buddhist temple in small town outside Tokyo about 2 hours by train from Tokyo. It was a really hot summer and I witnessed Japanese monks drinking beers. We were a group of foreigners learning ZaZen meditation and we could see the wife of the head monk preparing lunch for us at the temple. Japanese monks are allowed to drink alcohol and also allowed to marry.
I don't think Japanese Buddhism is Buddhism taught by Buddha. Chinese Mahayana Buddhism is more authentic however the Chinese introduced too much rituals and prayers in their Buddhist teaching.
User avatar
rhinoceroshorn
Posts: 759
Joined: Fri May 01, 2020 7:27 pm

Re: Theravada and Secular Law

Post by rhinoceroshorn »

polaris wrote: Sun Jun 14, 2020 10:02 am I don't think Japanese Buddhism is Buddhism taught by Buddha. Chinese Mahayana Buddhism is more authentic however the Chinese introduced too much rituals and prayers in their Buddhist teaching.
I also got the same impression.
Funnily enough, my first contact with Buddhism was through Japan. Studying it further took me to Theravada.

At least they do the work of spreading the umbrella term "Buddhism".
Without resistance in all four directions,
content with whatever you get,
enduring troubles with no dismay,
wander alone
like a rhinoceros.
Sutta Nipāta 1.3 - Khaggavisana Sutta
Image
But if they hit you with a stick...?"
"...I will think, 'These people are very civilized, in that they don't hit me with a knife.'..."
"But if they hit you with a knife...?"
"...I will think, 'These people are very civilized, in that they don't take my life with a sharp knife.'..."
SN35.88
User avatar
seeker242
Posts: 1026
Joined: Thu Mar 08, 2012 3:01 am

Re: Theravada and Secular Law

Post by seeker242 »

Impossible to say until first knowing what the law of the land is and whether or not following it would be unethical.
chownah
Posts: 8940
Joined: Wed Aug 12, 2009 2:19 pm

Re: Theravada and Secular Law

Post by chownah »

seeker242 wrote: Sun Jun 14, 2020 12:44 pm Impossible to say until first knowing what the law of the land is and whether or not following it would be unethical.
I think it depends on what is meant by obeying the law of the land. If ones own ethics coincides with the law of the land one could act consistent with the law but one could be doing so because of ones own ethics and not because it was a law of the land. In this case I think it could be said that one is not obeying the law of the land but is rather obeying ones own sense of ethics.
Looked at another way: If someone is ignorant of the law of the land and only is aware of their own ethics and if they follow their ethics and their actions do not break any law are they obeying the law of the land?
chownah
User avatar
Mr Man
Posts: 3681
Joined: Tue Oct 04, 2011 8:42 am

Re: Theravada and Secular Law

Post by Mr Man »

From the law's perspective yes. There is no exemption for Theravadins as far as I know.
sentinel
Posts: 3236
Joined: Sun Jun 04, 2017 1:26 pm

Re: Theravada and Secular Law

Post by sentinel »

As a buddhist or not i am reluctant to comply if something is really out of strong biases .
In my country there previously exists laws that required the citizen of minority races company to provide 30% of its major shareholdings to citizens of the particular majority race , now it rises to 51 % . The citizens of that majority race has special rights in owning the lands , get 10% discounted in purchasing the property and houses , get 5% discounted purchasing cars , gets 7 to 10 % of interest in saving plans provided by the goverment and so on so forth . Any voice of objections to all of these would resulted in serious consequences . I remember there was a monk whom was invited to give talks in the buddhist society and the monk expressed something against the politician corruption in our country were then barred from giving talks again there .
Over the last three decades many businessman , entrepreneur and rich peoples of minority race moved to some other better choice country in comparison .
You always gain by giving
User avatar
Coëmgenu
Posts: 2702
Joined: Mon Jun 13, 2016 10:55 pm
Location: Whitby, Canada

Re: Theravada and Secular Law

Post by Coëmgenu »

sentinel wrote: Sun Jun 14, 2020 7:10 pm As a buddhist or not i am reluctant to comply if something is really out of strong biases .
In my country there previously exists laws that required the citizen of minority races company to provide 30% of its major shareholdings to citizens of the particular majority race , now it rises to 51 % . The citizens of that majority race has special rights in owning the lands , get 10% discounted in purchasing the property and houses , get 5% discounted purchasing cars , gets 7 to 10 % of interest in saving plans provided by the goverment and so on so forth . Any voice of objections to all of these would resulted in serious consequences . I remember there was a monk whom was invited to give talks in the buddhist society and the monk expressed something against the politician corruption in our country were then barred from giving talks again there .
Over the last three decades many businessman , entrepreneur and rich peoples of minority race moved to some other better choice country in comparison .
Are you living in Malaysia or Indonesia?
Bodhicitta is alien
to all things, meaning the aggregates,
the elements, the fields,
the grasper, and what is grasped.

The phenomena are selfless
and the mind is likewise.
At their root, they are fundamentally unarisen,
like the great void of self-nature.

As the Arhats, the Buddhas, the Lords,
the Bodhisatvas, rouse bodhicitta
and approach the bodhimaṇḍa,
may I too give rise to bodhicitta.

(Vairocanasūtra T848.46b23)
User avatar
seeker242
Posts: 1026
Joined: Thu Mar 08, 2012 3:01 am

Re: Theravada and Secular Law

Post by seeker242 »

chownah wrote: Sun Jun 14, 2020 2:24 pm
seeker242 wrote: Sun Jun 14, 2020 12:44 pm Impossible to say until first knowing what the law of the land is and whether or not following it would be unethical.
I think it depends on what is meant by obeying the law of the land. If ones own ethics coincides with the law of the land one could act consistent with the law but one could be doing so because of ones own ethics and not because it was a law of the land. In this case I think it could be said that one is not obeying the law of the land but is rather obeying ones own sense of ethics.
Looked at another way: If someone is ignorant of the law of the land and only is aware of their own ethics and if they follow their ethics and their actions do not break any law are they obeying the law of the land?
chownah
I would say yes as they would not be breaking any law, therefore they are following it. However, I was thinking more along the lines of: If the law of the land says you must do wrong action, etc, then no you don't have to follow the law. So it all depends on what the law says.
binocular
Posts: 8052
Joined: Sat Jan 17, 2009 11:13 pm

Re: Theravada and Secular Law

Post by binocular »

chownah wrote: Sun Jun 14, 2020 2:24 pmI think it depends on what is meant by obeying the law of the land.
Exactly. What are the intentions for obeying the law?
When one acts in accordance with the law, is this because one agrees with it, supports it, or for some other reason?
If ones own ethics coincides with the law of the land one could act consistent with the law but one could be doing so because of ones own ethics and not because it was a law of the land. In this case I think it could be said that one is not obeying the law of the land but is rather obeying ones own sense of ethics.
Indeed. Moreover, there's the possibility that one obeys the law primarily to avoid the potential trouble that would ensue from not obeying it. One weighs the benefit of not obeying the law and the potential trouble of not obeying it, and the probability of this potential trouble ensuing, and if the benefit doesn't outweigh the potential trouble or the probabilty of its ensuing, one will obey the law. In this, it doesn't matter what the law is about, or how ethical it is. This is a principle that many people seem to apply in regard to, for example, traffic laws or in the construction of private buildings (where building a house endangers other houses in the neighborhood).
Looked at another way: If someone is ignorant of the law of the land and only is aware of their own ethics and if they follow their ethics and their actions do not break any law are they obeying the law of the land?
In effect yes, but not in intention.
If you can't build with them, don't chill with them.
binocular
Posts: 8052
Joined: Sat Jan 17, 2009 11:13 pm

Re: Theravada and Secular Law

Post by binocular »

Ceisiwr wrote: Tue Jun 09, 2020 7:23 pmWhat if the law doesn’t discriminate against Buddhists but is considered discriminatory in other ways, such as racial segregation or slavery? For example if there was a law against race mixing should householders obey it or not, as Buddhists?
But do Buddhist actually live in such countries? Do people who have the kamma to be interested in Buddhism take birth in such countries?
I'm asking because not all scenarios are possible.


Secondly, what I find is more pertinent for modern Western societies is that there are written laws, officially in effect, but there is an unwritten, unspoken social law according to which those laws are not supposed to be respected. For example, there are many official laws against sexism in the workplace, but heaven help the person who would actually want to see them enforced, or who would take any action against those who transgress those laws. In such cases, the more ethically problematic aspect is to obey those seemingly humane and egalitarian laws, as doing so will possibly lead to a disadvantage to oneself, and others.
If you can't build with them, don't chill with them.
SteRo
Posts: 2961
Joined: Fri Oct 11, 2019 10:27 am
Location: अ धीः

Re: Theravada and Secular Law

Post by SteRo »

binocular wrote: Mon Jun 15, 2020 10:08 am
Ceisiwr wrote: Tue Jun 09, 2020 7:23 pmWhat if the law doesn’t discriminate against Buddhists but is considered discriminatory in other ways, such as racial segregation or slavery? For example if there was a law against race mixing should householders obey it or not, as Buddhists?
But do Buddhist ...
The topic is addressed to Theravadins not to buddhists generally
Exhaling अ and inhaling धीः amounts to བྷྲཱུཾ་བི་ཤྭ་བི་ཤུད་དྷེ
chownah
Posts: 8940
Joined: Wed Aug 12, 2009 2:19 pm

Re: Theravada and Secular Law

Post by chownah »

seeker242 wrote: Sun Jun 14, 2020 10:02 pm
chownah wrote: Sun Jun 14, 2020 2:24 pm
seeker242 wrote: Sun Jun 14, 2020 12:44 pm Impossible to say until first knowing what the law of the land is and whether or not following it would be unethical.
I think it depends on what is meant by obeying the law of the land. If ones own ethics coincides with the law of the land one could act consistent with the law but one could be doing so because of ones own ethics and not because it was a law of the land. In this case I think it could be said that one is not obeying the law of the land but is rather obeying ones own sense of ethics.
Looked at another way: If someone is ignorant of the law of the land and only is aware of their own ethics and if they follow their ethics and their actions do not break any law are they obeying the law of the land?
chownah
I would say yes as they would not be breaking any law, therefore they are following it. However, I was thinking more along the lines of: If the law of the land says you must do wrong action, etc, then no you don't have to follow the law. So it all depends on what the law says.
We are using different terminology....I am using "obey" the law (since the question in the pole reads "Do Theravadins have to obey the law of the land even if the law is discriminatory?"...while you are using "not breaking" the law and "following" the law.

I agree with you completely that if a persons actions are consistent with the law then they are "not breaking" the law but I think there is a distinctly differnt meaning when it comes to "obeying" and "following" the law. For instance, I don't steal but it is not that I am obeying the law or following the law....I don't steal because it is my own moral judgement....it is just a coincidence that my non-stealing is in compliance with the law....I don't steal even when stealing is sanctioned by law.

I do admit that having given this some thought since my last post and rereading some of what has been presented here that my comment might not quite fit correctly into the ongoing discussion but I think it is an important point nevertheless in that perhaps people should evaluate what it means to act in accordance with the precepts considering the difference between the case where someone acts in accordance with a precept because of the law and the case where someone acts in accordance with a precept as a result of their moral discernment.....or similarly with considering the difference between the case of where someone follows a precept because they believe it will give them a better rebirth and the case where someone follows a precept as a result of their moral discernment.
chownah
Post Reply