LAW AND BUDDHIST PHILOSOPHY.
Ms. Crishanthi Amarathunge Dodangoda
Additional District Judge, Kandy, Sri Lanka.
Fundamental teachings of Buddhism is based on nature. It is so because Buddhism is not a creative doctrine. Only display of Principles inherent in nature is what contains in Buddhism. Hence it is correct to say that Buddhist philosophy is entirely based on nature.
If actions under the control of thought could be organized in line with nature, the good result derived from thought that go against nature are well manifested in Buddhism. Social recognition is created on nature .that is way all Fundamental theories of law are based on natural justice . Hence the relationship that exists between law and Buddhist Philosophy is one based on nature.
Meritorious deeds indicated in Buddhism are in harmony with nature while matters shown in Buddhism as evil deeds are inconsistent with nature,. The right of all beings to life is accepted both in Buddhist Philosophy and nature . The evil act of taking ones life and its evil effect as thought in Buddhism confirms this right to life.
As expressed in Dhamma pada ,
“Sabbe Tassanthi dandassa
Sabbesan Jeevithan Piyan
All fear receiving punishment and life is precious to all. Therefore taking oneself as the example, one should refrain from taking another s life . Others life should also be treted by one and all as one own life is the teaching is Buddhism . in law this is accepted as a Fundamental right. The right for ones life commences from the moment of conception in the mothers womb. It is for this reason that abortion is declared illegal. All crimes committed against human life from abortion to manslaughter are introduced in to the criminal Law.
Concerning these offences, just as evil effects are shown in Buddhist doctrine, punishment is prescribed in criminal Law.in the second stanza of the five precepts (Panccha seela) Buddhist doctrine teachers that talking others property or belongings to which one has no right is an evil deed , namely stealing . The evil effects that revert from stealing is well described in Buddhism.
In Law , talking possession of some one else s property or belongings without his knowledge is interpreted as theft .for those who commit the offence of talking possession by force , wrongful holding and criminal breach of trust are concerned , they are also further laid down as criminal offences in criminal law.
While interpreting the relationship between law and Buddhism in the simplest manner, we may go on to consider the offence of misbehavior in sensesdesires. Evil effect of misbehavior in senses desires are clearly shown in Buddhist doctrine and althought in law it is plainly interpreted as the offence oif bigamy taking in it a more wide scope to interpret same more fully, law expands the relevant field comprehensively.
Accordingly while sexual abuse committed by deed , physically or orally , by words had been construed as an offence , it is evident that the law has viewed this matter wide focus in an attempt to safeguard minor girls from sexual abuse to introduce laws to the extend that all sexual acts committed on women under the age of 16 years with or without their consent to be treted as punishable offences under statutory rape. Accordingly the facts that law has given extensive emphasize to the misbehavior in senses – desires as outline as outlined in the teaching of Buddhism is clear.
Presenting truth as it is and hanouring same is one main aspect of what is expected in law. A person who gives evidence before a court of law by taking oath or making a declaration fulfils the need for truthfulness of the evidence given by him .if the person who so behaves is proved before court that a falsehood had been uttered by him, Provision is laid down in law to punish him with regard to his offence. As such What is evident is that the law also had utilized abstinence from falsehood and being truthful by refraining from lies as part and parcel of behavior necessary in human lives as dose Buddhist philosophy.
Both in Buddhist doctrine and in law, intoxicating liquor is equally interpreted as something that should be avoided . By emphasizing on the evil deeds prevalent in society one by one due to intoxication and being influenced by liquor. the down fall of society , man s ruination and his prejudice is clearly illustrated Samma sathi (right meaningfulness) is an essential part for survival of man. Whatever task a person is performing he should have a fine grasp and knowledge about the application he is engaged in . Good and beneficial results from his activity could be achieved only if he performs property . yet for one who does not perform with right meaningfulness, bad result would accrue. Intoxication impairs control of mind or correct mindfulness . the person who is Intoxicated is without right meaningfulness .if a driver of a vehicle is taken as an example ,his job if performed devoid of right meaningfulness. He would inflict harm on others ,on things
Both animate and inanimate as well as him self . therefore alcohol had been brought under the prevention of law in order to forestall harmful effects to society and to maintain law and order. If the same example is cited ,diving under the influence of liquor is a punishable offence.
Evil effects that drive from the five evil deeds outlined in Buddhism as well as from other evil deeds depend on intention. For the evil effect to take place, intention as well as the committing of the evil deed should be exercised .lord Buddha s words , “ CETANAHAN BIKKAWE KAMMAN VADAMI “ summarizes this.
For criminal law to be applied in the case of an offence , the act of wrong doing as well as the intention to commit same should be established is the accepted principle in criminal law. That s the way as an effect punishment is not applicable in situation with no intent and with the right of self defiance.
A few fundamental modes of right living that should be followed as outlined In Buddhist doctrine taken as examples can be compared with law. In maha mangala sutta the support of father and mother , the cherishing of wife and children is constituted as the highest blessing thus.
“ Mata Pitu Upattanan Putta Dharassa Sanghahho”
This obligation is decreed as a responsibility in law in the case of a husband who does not maintain his wife and children legal provision has been enacted through maintenance law to appoint him this responsibility. further , for children who fail to honour obligations to words their parents ,laws assigning the responsibility of fulfilling such obligations have been presently added to our legal system.
Between Buddhist doctrine which explains nature in the fashion and environment there exists a good relationship . Buddhism appreciates protecting the life of trees and vegetation as it dose the right to live for animals. framing laws to protect the environment from human activity also had taken place in the current society. Laws have been framed in our legal system for the protection of ocean ,revers , rivulet streams and vegetation.
As a result of omissions and activity made known in Buddhist doctrine as misdeeds effects is shown as the resultant evil that befalls .Abstaining from wrong doing depends on two thing namely aversion to commit the offence and fear of resultant evil effect. The out come from Braking the law is two get convicted for the offence and suffer punishment . as mentioned above it depends on two things to abide by the law namely aversion to break the law and the fear of punishment. within a social fabric well disciplined by teaching if Buddhist doctrine, Wrong doings cannot happen . The result from being law abiding is also similar . Accordingly if a society appreciate the Buddhist doctrine and follows same well such a society would by so being become a law abiding society brimming with virtue and righeousness.
Samadhi Bouddha Statue - Anuradhapura - Sri Lanka IV-Ve Siècle