Sangha is an old word for democracy. Of course it has many other implications as well. During Shakyamuni's lifetime his society was a tribal republic governed by a council of elders. This council by the way, met outside under a large roof or ramada. This way the whole community could observe the government in action. It as a local, town-hall democracy with decisions made by vote, silence being assumed to be a signal of assent.
Out of this tradition grew prescriptions for good Buddhist citizenship:
1. Self respect. This includes self-control. Being consistent with one's convinced opinions rank and reputation. Giving up evil attitudes and actions out of consideration for your own welfare.
2. Being sensitive to group opinion and values. Listen closely to praise or criticism. Giving up bad actions and opinions for the sake of the community.
3. Rule of law and faith. Respecting the laws of the community and the supportive moral values and ethical values of considered religious traditions, particularly where they contribute to community benefits and stability. Promoting dharma as the foundation for a sane and healthy community.
With the above in mind, Buddhist democracy proceeds with the following guidelines:
1. Meet regularly and openly conferring on community projects and concerns, shoulder responsibilities according to ability and experience.
2. Meet together and disperse together in peace and harmony. No secret agendas or subversive destructive strategies.
3. Do not erase old laws or initiate new laws simply out of convenience or personal advantage. Follow the laws made in due democratic process.
4. Honour and respect elders, and experienced states-persons. Heed their wisdom.
5. Honour womenfolk and protect them form abuse.
6. Do not neglect holy places and shrines that support the welfare of the community. Do not neglect your religious duties.
7. Protect and give sanctuary to religious leaders who provide a strong moral and ethical faith foundation to the community. More practical guidelines will be presented soon. What is a good king or ruler?
February 6, 2000
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