Buddhist socialism

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][3] B. R. Ambedkar,[4] Han Yong-un,[5] Seno’o Girō,[6] U Nu and Norodom Sihanouk.[7][8]

Buddhadasa Bhikku coined the phrase "Dhammic socialism".[3] He believed that Socialism is a natural state meaning all things exist together in one system.[9]

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.[9]

Han Yong-un felt that equality was one of the main principles of Buddhism.[5] 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.[5]

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

Of all the modern economic theories, the economic system of Marxism is founded on moral principles, while capitalism is concerned only with gain and profitability. (...) The failure of the regime in the former Soviet Union was, for me, not the failure of Marxism but the failure of totalitarianism. For this reason I still think of myself as half-Marxist, half-Buddhist.[10]

See also


  1. ^ Shields, James Mark; Liberation as Revolutionary Praxis: Rethinking Buddhist Materialism; Journal of Buddhist Ethics. Volume 20, 2013.
  2. ^ Puntarigvivat, Tavivat (2003). Buddhadasa Bhikkhu and Dhammic Socialism, The Chulalongkorn Journal of Buddhist Studies 2 (2), 189-207
  3. ^ a b What is Dhammic Socialism? Archived January 26, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Badal Sarkar, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar’s theory of State Socialism, International Research Journal of Social Sciences 2 (8), 38-41 (2013) PDF
  5. ^ a b c Tikhonov, Vladimir, Han Yongun's Buddhist Socialism in the 1920s-1930s, International Journal of Buddhist Thought and Culture 6, 207-228 (2006). PDF Archived July 27, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ 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
  7. ^ Cambodia Under the Khmer Rouge
  8. ^ Monarchy in South-East Asia: the faces of tradition in transition
  9. ^ a b Preecha Changkhwanyuen, Dhammic Socialism Political Thought of Buddhadasa Bhikku, Chulalangkorn Journal of Buddhist Studies 2 (1), page 118 (2003)
  10. ^ Tibet and China, Marxism, Nonviolence

Further reading

  • Jones, Charles (2000). "Buddhism and Marxism in Taiwan: Lin Qiuwu's Religious Socialism and its Legacy in Modern Times". Journal of Global Buddhism 1, 82–111.
  • Swanson Paul L (2014). Takagi Kenmyō and Buddhist Socialism. In Hayasi Makoto (ed.), Modern Buddhism in Japan, Nanzan Institute for Religion and Culture, p. 144-162

External links

14th Dalai Lama

The 14th Dalai Lama, religious name: Tenzin Gyatso, shortened from Jetsun Jamphel Ngawang Lobsang Yeshe Tenzin Gyatso; born Lhamo Thondup, (6 July 1935) is the current Dalai Lama. Dalai Lamas are important monks of the Gelug school, the newest school of Tibetan Buddhism, which was formally headed by the Ganden Tripas. From the time of the 5th Dalai Lama to 1959, the central government of Tibet, the Ganden Phodrang, invested the position of Dalai Lama with temporal duties.The 14th Dalai Lama was born in Taktser, Amdo, Tibet, and was selected as the tulku of the 13th Dalai Lama in 1937 and formally recognized as the 14th Dalai Lama at a public declaration near the town of Bumchen in 1939. His enthronement ceremony as the Dalai Lama was held in Lhasa on 22 February 1940, and he eventually assumed full temporal (political) duties on 17 November 1950, at the age of 15, after the People's Republic of China's incorporation of Tibet. The Gelug school's government administered an area roughly corresponding to the Tibet Autonomous Region just as the nascent PRC wished to assert control over it.

During the 1959 Tibetan uprising, the Dalai Lama fled to India, where he currently lives as a refugee. He has traveled the world and has spoken about the welfare of Tibetans, environment, economics, women's rights, non-violence, interfaith dialogue, physics, astronomy, Buddhism and science, cognitive neuroscience, reproductive health, and sexuality, along with various topics of Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhist teachings. A recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989, Time magazine named him one of the "Children of Mahatma Gandhi" and his spiritual heir to nonviolence.


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Anti-Fascist People's Freedom League

The Anti-Fascist People's Freedom League (Burmese: ဖက်ဆစ်ဆန့်ကျင်ရေး ပြည်သူ့လွတ်လပ်ရေး အဖွဲ့ချုပ်, pronounced [pʰɛʔsʰɪʔ sʰa̰ɴtɕɪ̀ɴjé pjìðṵ lʊʔlaʔjé əpʰwɛ̰dʑoʊʔ]; abbreviated AFPFL), or hpa hsa pa la (ဖဆပလ) by its Burmese acronym, was the main political alliance in Burma from 1945 until 1958. It was founded by the Communist Party of Burma (CPB) led by Thakin Soe, the Burma National Army (BNA) led by Aung San, and the People's Revolutionary Party (PRP) (which later evolved into the Socialist Party) at a meeting held between 1–3 March 1945 as a reorganised version of the Anti-Fascist Organisation (AFO), formed to resist the Japanese occupation. The new organisation aimed to resist the Japanese occupation and achieve independence.Following internal disputes, the party split into two factions in June 1958, the Clean AFPFL and the Stable AFPFL.


Christofascism is a combination of Christian and fascism coined by Dorothee Sölle in 1970. Sölle, a liberation theology proponent, used the term to describe the Christian church which she characterized as totalitarian and imperialistic.


Clericalism is the application of the formal, church-based, leadership or opinion of ordained clergy in matters of either the church or broader political and sociocultural import.

Engaged Buddhism

Engaged Buddhism refers to Buddhists who are seeking ways to apply the insights from meditation practice and dharma teachings to situations of social, political, environmental and economic suffering and injustice. Finding its roots in Vietnam through the Zen Buddhist teacher Thích Nhất Hạnh, Engaged Buddhism has grown in popularity in the West.

Girō Seno’o

Girō Seno’o (妹尾 義郎, Senoo Girō, 1890–1961) was a Japanese Nichiren Buddhist and Marxist. He founded the short lived Shinkō Bukkyō Seinen Dōmei (Youth League for Revitalizing Buddhism, 1931–1936).

In 1933 he wrote:

"I was born into a Shinshu family and brought up in pious nenbutsu surroundings. At twenty-one, though, a grave illness struck and I was forced to leave school. From then till I was thirty, I was literally at the brink of death. Perhaps it is fate that I should be brought back to life by the different outlook of Nichiren. That philosophy has since been for me the sole truth. For twenty and more years I devoted myself to studying and spreading it, so diligently as to forget sleep itself. Though physically still weak, I would push forward to fulfilling the Buddhist calling. However, the result was that I came to question the whole religious establishment itself. I found myself with no other possibility than to oppose it".

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Islamic monarchy

Islamic monarchies are a type of Islamic state which are monarchies. Historically known by various names, such as Mamlakah ("Kingdom"), Caliphate, Sultanate, or Emirate, contemporary Islamic monarchies include:

Nation of Brunei, Abode of Peace

Monarchies of Malaysia

Kingdom of Morocco

Sultanate of Oman

State of Qatar

Kingdom of Bahrain

Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

United Arab Emirates

Emirates of the United Arab Emirates

State of Kuwait

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Religious socialism is any form of socialism based on religious values. Members of several major religions have found that their beliefs about human society fit with socialist principles and ideas. As a result, religious socialist movements have developed within these religions. Such movements include:

Buddhist socialism

Christian socialism

Hindu socialism

Islamic socialism

Jewish socialism


The Sangkum Reastr Niyum (Khmer: សង្គមរាស្ត្រនិយម [saŋkum riəh niʔjum]), literally the "community of the common people" (French: Communauté socialiste populaire, usually translated as People's Socialist Community and commonly known simply as the Sangkum (Khmer: សង្គម, lit. "society" or "community")), was a political organisation set up in 1955 by Prince Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia. Though it described itself as a 'movement' rather than a political party (members had to abjure membership of any political group), the Sangkum retained control of the government of Cambodia throughout the first administration of Sihanouk, from 1955 to 1970.

Sinhalese Buddhist nationalism

Sinhalese Buddhist nationalism is a political ideology which combines a focus upon Sinhalese culture and ethnicity with an emphasis upon Theravada Buddhism, which is the majority belief system of most of the Sinhalese in Sri Lanka. It mostly originated in reaction to the colonisation of Sri Lanka by the British Empire and became increasingly assertive in the years following the independence of the country.

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Spiritual left refers to a spiritually or religiously based position that shares the social transformative vision of the left and its commitment to social justice, peace, economic equality, and (in recent years) ecological consciousness, but who base their commitment on spiritual or religious traditions.

Two present-day examples of spiritual leftism are Jim Wallis, editor of Sojourners magazine, who finds a call for peace and for the elimination of poverty in the Christian Gospel and Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor of Tikkun magazine, calling for a "New Bottom Line" where productivity, efficiency and rationality would be judged not only in material terms, but also in terms of love, generosity, peace, social justice, ecological sanity and awe and wonder at the grandeur of the universe.

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World Agudath Israel

World Agudath Israel (Hebrew: אגודת ישראל), usually known as the Aguda, was established in the early twentieth century as the political arm of Ashkenazi Torah Judaism. It succeeded Agudas Shlumei Emunei Yisroel (Union of Faithful Jewry) in 1912. Its base of support was located in Eastern Europe before the Second World War but, due to the revival of the Hasidic movement, it included Orthodox Jews throughout Europe.

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