By Nhat Quan
Buddhism appeared in India, a country with harsh class and racial discrimination from time immemorial. When the Buddha was born, he brought the truth, a new humanist philosophy to help people understand the issue of class clearly. Because the Buddha is an enlightened being who understands all aspects of life with the spirit of complete renunciation, such as ethical, political, and social issues...
Philosophy, politics, and society include issues related to human happiness such as equality, freedom, democracy, humanity, politics, and the military... So when talking about the source of Buddhist teachings, Humanist philosophy guides people to leave the world, not to care about human resources, but not because of that, you ignore the pain of people in society. Therefore, Zen masters have been national teachers, advising many politicians to defeat the enemy.
The source of the human teachings of Buddhism is nothing, the Buddha is not a socialist, not a politician, but he is above all these issues! From the political point of view, the Buddha did not participate, but he transformed many kings into wise men, loving the people as he loves his children, taking compassion and wisdom to rule the people. When it comes to equality and humanity... Buddhism carries the spirit of humanity, as well as absolute equality.
All sentient beings, regardless of status or class, are responsible for all that they have created, so society is made up of different people in many aspects, from class, status, rich, poor, to lowly... However, for Buddhist teachings, people are noble, or low, not based on class or status, because all human beings have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for oneself.
Class distinction is created by people and society, while each human being has equal rights in all rights in the spirit of cause and effect, karma. It is not because someone of the Brahmacarin lineage or the line of kings and mandarins can live, eat, work... but especially anyone can do what other classes have done and are doing and be liberated if that person knows how to practice.
Indeed, all human beings, whoever they are, are born from the mother's womb, so there is equality between the castes regarding the retribution of wholesome and unwholesome karma. And equal in the opportunity to develop life or practice in this world. Therefore, the Buddha rejected the theory that the four classes of Brahmins were born from Brahma's mouth, Kings were born from Brahma's chest, merchants were born from the belly, and slaves were born from Brahma's heels. It was according to the class divisions of the olden days. But in fact, in human society there are not four classes, but only two that are:
- Master and servant
And the limit of these two classes is also only relative, and temporary, for there are cases where slaves progress to become slave owners and cases where slave owners turn into slaves. At the same time, there were many cases of freed slaves becoming free people. Both masters and slaves have a transformation, which means that after being a master, they become a slave, and after being a servant, they become masters again.
But no matter who or what class, people are still subject to the same laws of birth, old age, illness, and death. Everyone can control their own destiny and create their own happiness, no one has the right to bless and bring disaster, and everyone is responsible before the law.
This is very clear about all classes having the same identity, equality in their own nature, eliminating inequalities in terms of class, race, skin color, etc., to express the spirit of equality in the Buddha's teachings.
It is this spirit of equality, selflessness, and altruism that creates humanity in Buddhism. So Buddhist disciples are not indifferent to the pain of others and always seek to bring them happiness with the power of a message of love and peace. This is also a source of strength to remove oppression and injustice in life, leveling all obstacles on the way to finding peace for you and others.
The Buddha often reminded people to rely on their own ability, if you want to get rid of birth, old age, sickness, and death, you have to practice by yourself, don't believe in bullshit myths, when you hear that there are only stages Brahmin born from the mouth of Brahma is noble, not old, sick, dead... Because, no matter who,... if you aim for a noble life, know how to practice good Dharma, and transform your mind... then you will surely be liberated. The door to liberation is not open for a particular class. Because of the equality of Buddhism, it does not favor anyone, whether rich or poor, beautiful or ugly; whether born in any caste, or whether male or female ... Once a human being, they are all equal without distinction. Like the water of a hundred rivers, although it is cloudy and clear when it is poured into the sea, it is transparent and has the same salty taste. Absolute truth, the result of liberation is not reserved for anyone. The proof is that in the Sangha there are many bhikkhus from the lower caste such as:
- Master Uu Ba Ly was a barber who later became the founder of the Vinaya.
- Ni De is a dung collector.
- Lien Hoa Sac prostitute,
- Brainless Killer...
All became Arahants. In particular, the Buddha allowed the establishment of the Bhikkhuni Sangha at a time and place where women were classified as the lowest in society. In doing this, the Buddha was the first person in human history to have elevated the position of woman to the most important level. This is a unique and unprecedented practice among the many known religious systems and schools of thought before and during the time of the Buddha. This is an extraordinary innovation, for it has enabled privileged women to receive Buddhist teachings, and thereby strive to develop their noble nature, their ability to instill profound wisdom on par with men.
The philosophy of equality in Buddhism has helped people have faith in life, especially those who are living in suffering. They seek enlightenment to free themselves. Thus, the Buddha is a shining example, his virtue transformed a society full of division, and injustice, back to a moral life. The Buddha's teachings are considered to be the Fountain of Absolute Equality, which has brought everyone in society together. Buddhism teaches that people should not have disdainful glances, even a gesture of ridicule.
Immersed in this spirit, today when people meet each other in the temple, they often greet each other with clasped hands respectfully, that is to show respect for the inherent equal Buddha Nature of each person, regardless of family or home-ordained, or rich generals, poor generals, high or low status. When greeting each other like this, people's hearts become humble and carefree, the spirit of equality in Buddhism is not seeing yourself bowing and not discriminating who receives the ceremony. That is a very beautiful and noble image of people who respect Equality in Buddhism.
Upholding the spirit of equality, the basic point of Buddhism, is the clarity of pure mind and body, training people in equal virtue with Buddha's mind and Buddha's nature. If you want to cultivate, you must destroy greed, anger, delusion, selfishness, and conceit, and return to the noble and true Fountain of Equality according to the Buddha's teachings. The respect for the dignity of all people, from actions of body, speech, and mind, comes from pure loving-kindness. Buddhism encourages people to cultivate their minds, cultivate their nature, open their wisdom, grow their good roots, and create many blessings, peace, and happiness everywhere.
In order to make people not doubt the equality in Buddhism, Buddhism introduced the theory of karmic rebirth, and let everyone know that this law governs all sentient beings. Because some people think that Buddhism says equality, everyone should be the same, but why are there rich and poor... Because this is the law that governs all living beings, so at first glance, You see rich people and poor people, and you think they are not equal. But in fact, the actions of the past are the causes of today's life, today's artifacts will be the foundation to create a future realm that each of you can take for yourself. This is absolute equality, equality on the matter of karma. Karma is a just judge, without hatred or favoritism. People are born differently because of karma, if you create a different cause, the result is also different, and you can change this when karma is not determined.
Thus, the reason why someone is born in this life in a lineage that lacks merit, is not virtuous, has no dignity, is born in a lowly or lowly lineage, has no wealth, is not wise, etc., is because of their previous life have not sown good deeds. On the contrary, people who are born into the royal line, Brahmin... have a righteous body, have dignity, is born into a noble lineage, have wealth, and are intelligent... because they have created good karma in the past.
Humans are governed by karma, so they are born with different lives and ways of life, but in the end, all sentient beings have in themselves the true essence, which is the eternal truth that does not arise and die. That is the absolute equality that helps humans in particular, and all sentient beings in general, can change their lives, towards a life of eternal happiness.
As you know, you all have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in this world, but you do not have the right to take the happiness of others, just as you cannot bear the suffering of someone. That you are solely responsible for your own pain and happiness, you inherit the past and control the future.
Like the flowers in a flower garden, each species has its own beauty and ugliness, but they all have the right to bloom and emit fragrance according to their ability. Likewise, you have the right to inherit all that you have created with your efforts and wisdom. That is the practical aspect of equality in everyday life, as Karl Marx once said:
- Work according to capacity, enjoy according to need.
This slogan is designed to call for a reward system commensurate with your efforts. In terms of reality, in life, you should give each person what they deserve, that is, those who contribute more must receive more, and those who contribute less will receive less. Regardless of the extent to which the distribution of wealth is determined that way, it has the character of an equitable distribution. From a relative perspective, this equality does not necessarily bring the wealth of a country. Because, the prosperity of a country cannot be built on the huge disparity between the rich and the poor, but it is fair to all subjects in life. And if you apply the method of taking from the rich and giving to the poor, it will not be able to eliminate inequality, if it already exists in society, inequality is really eliminated when people live with the pure morality inherent in a human being and sharing in the spirit of mutual love.
From the perspective of fairness, there can only be a classification between the rich and the poor... but no distinction can be made between those objects. Wealth or poverty is not an absolute, fixed thing, as it can be changed. Whether in all aspects biological, anthropological, social, legal... you are all born equal, all of you are subject to the penalty of the law if you break the law. And even if you can escape the law, one thing is certain you cannot escape the net of cause and effect. No matter what class you are in, if you do evil deeds, you will still have to suffer retribution. That is, you are also subject to the influence of merit or karma, and the law of impermanence, birth, old age, illness, and death. But the reason you have a long life, some you are too short of life, some you have not come out of the fetus and died because of the karma you have created. On the contrary, you have a long life and few diseases, because you have lived with compassion, and love for all sentient beings, without a mind of killing, so you now have a long life with few diseases. After your death, you will definitely be reborn in the human realm or the heavenly realm.
With such causes, not only in the present but also in the future, each of you, regardless of class, will receive good retribution if in the present life cultivate and sow good causes.
Although Buddhism is a religion of equality and altruism, the Buddha denied the unjust class and brought an equal regime to treat all types of people in society. He opened for women the path to liberation not only from a dark and lowly status, dependent on men but also brought women out of the narrow ego prison to reach Truth, Nirvana. He brought the light of the Buddha Dharma to the four regions of South, North, East, and West India. Carrying the message of love, regardless of skin color or race, sowing it in people's hearts. And it has been ingrained in the gentle, holy people from commoners to kings, so many leaders of pagans have become outstanding disciples of the Buddha, yet the status of the class still exists to this day.
As I once said, according to the phenomena of the world, humans exist by karma, except for Buddhas and Bodhisattvas who are born in this world because of the power of their vows, that is equal in terms of suffering or happiness. In addition, all sentient beings are equal in pure nature, apart from this nature you cannot find absolute equality anywhere. Because, standing in a certain aspect, if you look objectively, you will definitely find a certain fairness and equality. But in fact, when you say you look, you are already tinged with ego with the view that this is me, is mine, is my self. And that is also the cause of so many inequalities, racial discrimination, especially the distinction between men and women.
So many philosophies before and after the birth of the Buddha tried to find happiness for mankind, but there has not been a prominent philosopher who can see and can accept the essence of each species, sentient and inanimate beings. However, the Buddha saw this problem, so he accepted all castes, races, and female monastics. Because all sentient beings have tears of the same salt and blood of the same red, everyone wishes to have happiness. And when being a disciple of the Buddha, everyone lives in harmony in the dharma taste of liberation. The principle of Buddhist teachings is to guide living beings to the ultimate goal of enlightenment and liberation. If all sentient beings develop the mind to practice, they will achieve the same final results, and this is something that all of you can do. Buddha taught:
- The substance, true suchness is available in each species, and each person; Sentient beings may be different in shape and character, but Buddha nature is not different:
And the Sixth Patriarch Hui Neng also identified:
- Humans have north and south, but Buddha nature does not distinguish between north and south.
It is only because you are ignorant and confused, live with the false, and forget the true, in all activities and life, that you always attach the self to it, so all forms, conditions, and distinctions arise suffering. The Buddha has opened for all mankind a path to absolute happiness that guides you back to your original pure self. It does not change, does not disappear, just because the cloud of ignorance unconsciously covers the sky of self-nature so that the moon of wisdom cannot manifest. As long as you realize your original true nature, every reason for life becomes clear. In Buddhism, the ultimate equality is when everyone practices together to attain enlightenment and liberation:
- Buddha nature can be hidden, but only needs to be discovered, manifested when you open the veil of ignorance, and the distorted emotions caused by ignorance. Those veils of ignorance do not belong to Buddha-nature, they only cover but do not lose that Buddha-nature.
Because of ignorance, so in the eyes of the world, there are men and women, but pure nature is neither born nor destroyed, neither male nor female. Men and women are fake appearances created by karma, in the Lotus Sutra, Nagakanya turns into a man, and enough bodhisattvas conduct and become a Buddha. Chapter Devadatta, although Devadatta was a person who committed the five crimes of causing the Buddha's body to bleed, he was also prophesied by the Buddha to become a Buddha in the future, so you know the Buddha nature is equal to all sentient beings.
When people no longer see anyone as superior or inferior, there is no more pride and conceit. People always live in the lucid Buddha nature of the Fountain of Equals, that is, always live with the same mind as the Buddhas, then the true peace of people with equal minds affects those around them. It is also a very effective mirror of enlightened enlightenment. Although people who are confused or enlightened are not the same, Buddha's nature is equal.
Those who know how to cultivate, regardless of whether they are at home or monastic, have humility and equality and will reap many benefits in life. If you want to have merit and virtue, use it as a boat to cross the endless sea of suffering and afflictions from many lifetimes, you must try to do the following 10 things:
01- The mind seeks the path, and must be fervently diligent
02- To be ashamed, to be on guard, to be afraid of sin
03- Not poisonous, the mind should not hold grudges against people
04- Do not be envious, must be aware of the virtue of purity
05- Do not be stingy, loving-kindness must always be generous
06- Do not despise people, must be aware of a moral life
07- Cultivating virtues, the mind always cultivates the Buddhadharma,
08- Doing charity, always doing good to help people save lives
09- Know how to sacrifice, always for those who forget themselves.
10- Practicing the way, the mind is always clear and wise.
In addition, the Buddha also taught three subjects of Precepts, Concentration, and Wisdom as the basis, that is, if you follow the Buddha, you must light your own torch and walk, know the Way, and practice.
- Precepts are rules that keep you from creating evil karma.
- Concentration is the righteous practice to go to one-pointedness without disturbance.
- Wisdom is the clear enlightenment leading to liberation from birth and death, the cessation of ignorance.
In short, Buddhism is the path of enlightenment and liberation, the Buddha is the supreme compassion and wisdom. The wisdom of enlightenment is knowing life is impermanent, non-stop birth and death, knowing that people change from birth, and old age, to illness and death; and understanding the nondiscriminatory equality of Buddha nature.
Compassion mind brings people to the liberation of the afflictions of karma for many lifetimes. You know how to cultivate compassion, know how to keep precepts, practice, and cultivate wisdom. Self-cultivation will be liberated from suffering and samsara. That is the path to enlightenment, righteous enlightenment, that the Buddha walked and taught with great kindness and great compassion.
In the Lotus Sutra, Sataparibhuta had awakened to the noble equality of Buddhahood, and he said to everyone he met:
- I dare not despise you, because you will all become Buddhas.
The source of equality is the enlightenment and liberation of the Buddha mind, the Buddha nature in each human being.
Understand the equality in every human being. You are the people who have been living in this society, you should be a lamp of wisdom for yourself, using the Dharma as a refuge. Because the Buddha's righteous dharma is forever the way to perfect good and good behavior for each person in society and bring about a noble moral life so that human life no longer has the ego of suffering and trouble no more.
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