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Rights


I was ruminating the other day on rights.....and then reading today in The Art of Happiness that the Dalai Lama believes that all humans have a right to happiness, and a right to survive. Even the Dalai Lama thinks we have rights. I'm mulling on this one still. I don't think we have any right to happiness. Certainly doesn't happen for everyone all the time, so who can assure such a right? Who can give it? Without god I don't see a way to justify the concept of rights. I wonder how the Dalai Lama does it.

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owl_clan
May. 31st, 2007 04:43 am (UTC)

Just because things don't "happen for everyone all the time" doesn't mean that we don't have rights. It just means that rights are an ideal, and ideals aren't always realized because of less-than-ideal circumstances. The Dalai Lama believes that all beings are innately and perfectly pure and free in their Buddha-nature, and so no amount of suffering or impurity can change the fact of their innate dignity and "rightness" for existing. They've always existed in some form, and always will, and wherever they go, whatever they do, they are Buddhas, sacred beings of luminous clarity and expansive existence.

Buddhism teaches that there is a very right way to live, and a clear wrong way to live- and its "measuring rod" for what is right and what is wrong is suffering. If a word/thought/deed makes you or others suffer, it is wrong. If it helps you or others to be free of suffering, or to come to insight, then it is right. It really all boils down to this- suffering is the cosmic way of knowing when you are on the right or wrong path.

Dharma is a meta-law that rules the cosmos. When you do bad things, things that cause suffering, more suffering follows, mostly for you. The same is true for doing virtuous things. People who are being hurt deserve to be left alone because the people who are hurting them are living wrong from the perspective of the Great Law of Dharma. The innate purity of the natures of people who are being hurt tells us that they should not be harmed because harming them is wrong; doing harm is wrong.

The right to happiness and survival isn't assured, and it isn't given by anyone except us. But it is right that we should assure it and give it when we can.
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