Buddhism and Human Rights

By Damien V. Keown; Charles S. Prebish et al. | Go to book overview

EPILOGUE
The Online Conference on "Buddhism and Human Rights" sponsored by the Journal of Buddhist Ethics has now concluded. The editorial staff of the journal would like to thank everyone who graciously supported the conference and contributed to its success by freely sharing their views, opinions, and comments.As noted in the "Introduction," because of the grave importance of this year's topic, it has seemed appropriate to produce a "Declaration on Buddhism and Human Rights," developed from the formal papers, panelists' position statements, and subscribers' comments.
DECLARATION OF INTERDEPENDENCE

Preamble
Those who have the good fortune to have a "rare and precious human rebirth," with all its potential for awareness, sensitivity, and freedom, have a duty to not abuse the rights of others to partake of the possibilities of moral and spiritual flourishing offered by human existence. Such flourishing is only possible when certain conditions relating to physical existence and social freedom are maintained. Human beings, furthermore, have an obligation to treat other forms of life with the respect commensurate to their natures.To repress our basic sympathy by abusing other sentient beings, human or otherwise, cripples our own potential, and increases the amount of suffering in the world for both others and ourselves. The doctrine of Conditioned Arising shows that our lives are intertwined, and abusing others can only be done when we are blind to this fact. As vulnerable beings in a conditioned world, our mutual dependency indicates that whatever can be done to reduce suffering in the world should be done.The Buddhist teaching that we lack an inherently existing Self (anatman) shows that suffering does not really "belong" to anyone. It arises, in the life-stream of various sentient beings. To try and reduce it in "my" stream at the expense of increasing it in another life-stream is folly, both because this will in fact bring more suffering back to me (karma), and because it depends on the deluded notion that "I" am an inviolable entity that is not dependent and can treat others as if only they are limited and conditioned.
Whereas in its teachings Buddhism recognizes:
1. The interdependency of all forms of life and the reciprocal obligations which arise from it, such as the duty to repay the kindness of those who in previous lives may have been our parents, relatives and friends;

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