Fusion of “Equality” under the Dharma and National Laws: from Master Sheng-Yen’s Interpretation of Buddhism
Master Sheng-Yen emphasises daily practice of Buddhist values while National Laws and Legal Theory should also be applied on a daily basis. Therefore, there seems to be the possibility for a fusion of these two areas. Interpretation of Buddhism emphasizes daily practice. State Laws or Legal Theory as a social science also focus on the study of practice. There seems a possibility for fusion of the above fields. Master Sheng-Yen regarded “Construction of the Pure Land on Earth” as the guideline for Dharma practices. The spirit of Dharma Equality which “seeks common ground while reserving differences” has several comparisons with Equality under the Law (Legal Theory). In this paper, the viewpoint of Equality under the Dharma will be based on Master Sheng-Yen’s interpretation of Buddhism. The comparisons will be made regarding Dharma Equality and the Right to Equality, and the Principle of Equality in contemporary democratic liberal politics. I wish to make confluence between “Equality” under the Dharma and the Legal Theory or, at the very least to establish that the two are not contradictory by means of legal interpretation according to the value of “unconditional compassion.”
Researching the capacity of fusion between Buddhism and Laws (Legal Theory) is as important as the relevance between Buddhism and the other social sciences. At the beginning of this paper, I will describe the main disadvantage of Legal Theory as having “too many criteria.” Which is because the purpose of traditional legal theory is to classify the interest-holders, and to distribute the interests and non-interests. The criteria all come from a secular and majority point of view, in order to achieve the so called ＂substantive equality.＂ However, Master Sheng-Yen emphasized “integrate as many different interests into Buddhist practices to become the common interests of global citizens and of all human beings.” Compared with Legal Theory, this is a method almost completely opposite: to reach the same goal by different means from different interests.
To settle all kinds of interests on earth, Legal Theory aims to separate and distribute. On the other hand, Buddhist Dharma focuses on Inter-being and Equality based on Compassion. The above seem contradictory. Therefore, this paper will attempt to solve the following three issues: Firstly, it will discuss the possibility of fusion between Buddhism and Legal Theory. Secondly, because social justice and peace are relevant to the interests of all the human beings, relying on National Laws (Legal Theory) alone is not enough as their effect is limited. Although State Laws are what the modern world uses a more important question is: what kind of Dharma Laws and Truths should global citizens nowadays take refuge in? The last but not the least issue is concerned with secular regulations – including Equality under the Law- which may be aimed at justice and peace, but which is not exactly Ultimate Truth or Equality under the Dharma. In this world full of conventional language, Laws sometimes do not comply with the Dharma. Through the use of which skills and means can we integrate Buddhism and Legal Theory together?