How successfully might Buddhist doctrines be applied to contemporary issues such as human rights and democracy, and what

are the considerations that need to be borne in mind when attempting to do so? Due to restrictions of length, this essay focuses only on the issue of human rights within the Buddhist context although the same arguments can be articulated with respect to democracy since both are manifestations of modern universalism, individualism and humanism. Keown points out that “what are today called human rights were originally spoken of as ‘natural’ rights, in other words, rights which flow from human nature.” Human rights began to be documented from the 17th century onwards in constitutions, charters, declarations, manifestos, etc., the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights being the prime example of our own time. What this history suggests is that human rights evolved through a process of consensual agreement between humans, and this can be viewed as a secularisation of the religious practice of establishing covenants between God and humans found in the Abrahamic traditions. It is not difficult to reconcile human rights with Buddhist teachings and it would be easy to get Buddhist teachers to propagate these principles among the laity – but the question is whether human rights can become integral to Buddhism? The moral values on which human rights are based such as compassion, mutual respect, non-violence, etc. already forms the repertoire of Buddhist teachings but that is not the same thing as treating the upholding and endorsing human rights as a paramita. The success of Buddhism as a pan-Asian and now a fast-growing world religion lies in its capacity to easily adapt to prevalent socio-political models. This capacity is engendered by such features as the theory of two truths, skillful means of teaching, etc. Indic religions in general and Buddhism in particular can easily accommodate a variety of socio-political realities as a vyavaharika truth. The real challenge for Buddhism lies in adopting human rights as a paramarthika truth in a manner similar to how they are being regarded in the West. This appears difficult, if possible at all, as such an appropriation would bring it in collision with the core religious and philosophical narratives of the West. Human right declarations seek their legitimacy in an inherent and inalienable human dignity but such a notion does not exist in any of the Indic religions as explicitly as it does in the Abrahamic ones which privilege the human as a being created in the image and likeness of God, the philosophical counterpart of which is the notion of the human mind as a tabula rasa at birth. Each human birth in the Western view is a fresh production of a mind-body-soul complex and this equal beginning forms the basis of entitlement to equal dignity. The significance of the entitlement becomes even more heightened when we consider that the present journey of any human is unique and purposeful of a higher cause. Such ideas are alien to Indic traditions in general. Any human birth is merely one of countless manifestations that happened before and will happen again, the current trajectory of a human life is governed by the karmas of previous existences, and humans derive meaning and purpose by acting in accordance with their own dharmas. In Hinduism, humans may claim at the most spiritual equality while in a worldly sense they are required to take their position in the caste hieararchy. In Buddhism, the lack of a real and substantial self precludes even the possibility of a spiritual egalitarianism and the human is only a blob of dharmas lacking any inherent being of their own. Of course, values such as compassion, kindness, non-violence, etc. are encouraged and cultivated but that is for one’s own spiritual development not because the other is deserving of such treatment. The fundamental idea here is that humans are responsible for their own suffering and

for example. “Are there Human Rights in Buddhism?” . which are their authentic self-determined means and ends. Reference Damien Keown. Keown suggests a way of recognizing human rights in an absolute sense within Buddhism by viewing them as pre-requisite for the performance of moral duties.likewise responsible for remedying their own predicament. While such ideas provide a method to conduct a discourse on human rights in the context of Indic religions.” Thus. This appears similar to the notion of sadharana dharma in the Hindu context. the fact remains that in these traditions renunciation and eternal release from the human condition. the right to life which human is entitled to. There is very little in this regard that another can do for anything that others do adds to their own merit. Since Buddhism expects humans to undertake certain moral duties for the attainment of Buddhahood. Keown is effectively advising a translation of “universal and exceptionless rights” to corresponding “universal and exceptionless duties. they can be regarded as being entitled to those rights that support the conditions necessary for their discharge. will remain more privileged than the Western forms of ideal worldly engagement such as human rights. could be translated as the duty not to take a life unjustly that all humans are obliged to fulfill. So it is in quite a limited sense that these traditions can engage in the rhetoric of what rights one is entitled to from others.