Abbot’s Journal Vol 60, June 1, 2007

by Norman Fischer | June 01, 2007 at 3:14 PM

Muir Beach

“If, on the contrary, man’s personality (or, I guess this means personhood) is not acknowledged to be something wholly and entirely real, then right and justice cannot possibly be established.”
- Josef Pieper “On Justice” p 20.

In contrast to Buddhist thought, which states precisely that “man’s” personality is not real. So there are no rights? It does seem that the concept of rights, “inalienable” rights, stems from the sacredness of the human soul, which gets its sacredness by being a special creation of God, “from whom all blessings flow.” In fact I think concepts of human rights are not part of indigenous religions, nor of Buddhism. In the former power is all; in the latter there’s an injunction toward love and compassion as practices for one’s own salvation – but not as absolute virtues. As Levinas and others show, real compassion for “the other” (in Buddhism there isn’t an “other”) is problematic and painful, though obligatory.


Norman Fischer