Buddhism is truly about Social Justice. The Buddha rejected the Caste System and was one of the first religious people to preach tolerance. There is a Sutra that tells tales of the Buddha’s Universal love for even the lowest, only seeing everyone’s Buddha Nature.
From Buddhanet: Brahmanism, the predominant religion in India during the Buddha’s time, divided all humans into four castes (attu vanna), priests, warriors, traders and laborers. Social contact between each caste was minimal and the lower one’s position in the system the less opportunities, the less freedom and the less rights one had. Outside the caste system were the outcasts (sudra) people considered so impure that they hardly counted as humans. The caste system was later absorbed into Hinduism, given religious sanction and legitimacy and has continued to function right up till the present. The Buddha, himself born into the warrior caste, was a severe critic of the caste system. He ridiculed the priests claims to be superior, he criticized the theological basis of the system and he welcomed into the Sangha people of all castes, including outcasts. His most famous saying on the subject is : ” Birth does not make one a priest or an out-caste. Behavior makes one either a priest or an out-caste”. Even during the time when Buddhism was decaying in India and Tantrayana had adopted many aspects of Hinduism, it continued to welcome all castes and some of the greatest Tantric adepts were low castes or out-castes.
In a Zen book called Ikkyu The Wise, a criminal approached Sensei Ikkyu and asked for his treasures, and Ikkyu said, “Come with me I will show you the treasures.”
He the the criminal went to Ikkyu’s temple. He opened the Shoji screen and said, “Do you see the Stars in the Sky? They are all my treasures.” The criminal was a bit confused. Ikkyu said, “These treasures are free for everyone, and we can enjoy them together.” The Criminal gave up his profession and became a Zen Monk.
The overall theme of ‘Buddhism and Social Justice’ is nothing other than the question of freedom and justice, and the relationship between them, which rests in local economic and social contexts. We therefore aim to challenge commonly held notions of Buddhism as largely defined by and virtually embodying a path to liberation. Simultaneously, we aim to ascertain the inner dynamics of Buddhist traditions as they mold, and are molded by, their social environments. ‘Buddhism and Social Justice’ therefore both highlights the tension between historical reality and scriptural expressed ideology and reaches beyond, drawing a picture of a Buddhism simultaneously part of, structured by and challenging its social environments.
Buddhism rejects hate, greed, and Anger. Buddha taught tolerance of all people because his Enlightenment awakened him to humanity. Many times the Buddha spoke to The well to do about treating their servants well. To Kings and Queens, compassion and wisdom for citizens.
Shinran Shonin, in Kyoto, along with Honen, accepted Women into their instructions. Some women where even lower class and prostitutes. To Shinran, no women was too low.
Many Buddhist feel that we are all one of different backgrounds. Unfortunately there have been draw backs. Buddhists in Myanmar have attacked and Killed Muslims claiming criminal behavior against them.
The militant side of Thai Buddhism became prominent again in 2004 when a Malay Muslim insurgency renewed in Thailand’s deep south. At first Buddhist monks ignored the conflict as they viewed it as political and not religious but eventually they adopted an “identity-formation”, as practical realities require deviations from religious ideals
Maung Zarni, a Burmese democracy advocate, human rights campaigner, and a research fellow at the London School of Economics who has written on the violence in Myanmar and Sri Lanka, states that there is no room for fundamentalism in Buddhism. “No Buddhist can be nationalistic,” said Zarni, “There is no country for Buddhists. I mean, no such thing as ‘me,’ ‘my’ community, ‘my’ country, ‘my’ race or even ‘my’ faith.
When it come to progressiveness, Buddhism has always opened the door for Women to progress. There are no Anti Gay scriptures. Buddhist feel a connection of race. If they had children in different countries and different races, they would be my children and I would love them all.
The Buddhist in many places may have not always been innocent or spotless in action, but Buddhists are quick to change, more so than most other Religions.