In a reading of Nāgārjuna’s Jewel Rosary (Ratnāvalī), Professor Thurman discusses the skillful paths of evolutionary action performed by body, speech, and mind, presenting that these paths of evolutionary actions shape an individual’s personal evolution or devolution in an evolutionary matrix similar to that of Darwin but, adding to it voluntary individual evolution through infinite multiple lives.
This is an extract from Professor Thurman’s Spring 2013 lecture series at Tibet House US – titled : A Banquet of Sutras and Shastras.
The Asokan principles of statecraft that evolved in the 3rd century BCE may well have influenced the thinking of the Buddhist philosopher Nagarjuna in outlining a ‘compassionate socialism’ of welfare policies. In the classic treatise, Jewel Garland of Royal Counsel, Nagarjuna enumerates Guidelines for Social Action given to his friend and disciple, the king of Satavahana in Central India
These guidelines specify principles of tolerance, justice, and generosity as the essential elements of a Buddhist social order, inspired by the moral injunction that the king must put the collective interests or the ‘common weal’ ahead of himself, that is the ‘people first’
The primary Buddhist position on social action is one of total activism, an unswerving commitment to complete self-transformation and complete world transformation. This activism becomes fully explicit in the Universal Vehicle (Mahayana) . . . But it is also compellingly implicit in the Individual Vehicle (Hinayana) in both the Buddha’s actions and his teachings . . .Thus, it is squarely in the center of all Buddhist traditions to bring basic principles to bear on actual contemporary problems to develop ethical, even political guidelines for action.
Robert A.F. Thurman
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