Buddhist Defense on Freedom of Expression
By Master Maitreya Samyaksambuddha
In light of the Legal Code (Vinaya) of Buddhist Law or Dharmic Law, the spiritual master analyzes that only the laws of righteous and appropriate word can regulate human being’s Freedom of Expression, because freedom of thought and speech are the very basis of full freedom of action that every Free and Enlightened Being (Arhat-Bodhisattva) manifests. This means that while the individual’s expression is guided by righteousness and never by violence and lying against other beings, the State has the duty not to hamper and doing-nothing (wu-wei) faced with these free expressions. In the field of Maitriyana, Freedom of Expression is the main force against greed, hatred and delusion that are encouraged by governments and corporations around the world, by denouncing the illusions and falsehoods that threaten Peace and Truth. Following Gautama, the spiritual master notes that the criteria to consider in determining the possible restriction on expression must be those which have been developed in the Buddhist Law with regard to violence and lie, manifesting confidence in the prudence of the Ethics Committees and Tribal Courts of the Spiritual Commune (Sangha). Therefore, the Maitriyana considers as correct the statements, conventions and covenants on human rights and civil rights, in the sense of establishing that the legislative and administrative powers of State cannot restrict Freedom of Expression while wishing to maintain a democratic political Order. In this regard, Freedom of Expression must be regulated by the spiritual values of Justice, Ethics and Righteousness.
The Free and Enlightened Being (Arhat-Bodhisattva) clarifies that freedom of expression and thought constitute the same spiritual nature of humanity, and one of the main virtues of conscious life. Thus, the tradition of Buddhist Law does not ignore that the fundamental structure of human existence is Liberty, while accepting the righteous word and appropriate behavior as disciplinary guidelines of that liberty, because without this sublimating application the apprentice would fall in the field of debauchery and perversion. When an individual opens his eyes to Peak Knowledge (Satori) then the Awakening (Bodhi) of Truth happens as a new correct way of looking at life. Thus, the legal corpus of Maitriyana recognizes the fundamental difference between Liberty and libertinage, considering that the contents of Freedom of Expression and Thought must be regulated by the values of Truth and Ethics, which explicitly means that the State must not impose standards for their regulation or legal restriction, because they could be considered libelous, subversive and illegal behaviors to all criticism toward the Power of the status quo and even also to the very perception of the Real. Indeed, Truth and Ethics comprise the Path of Righteousness of Spirituality, so that the Buddhist Law is that which has the Purpose (Dharma) to point out how the contemplative practice regulates two types of restrictions on Freedom of Expression: violence and lies. While the apprentice expresses himself being faithful to the Truth, which means always speak with evidences and never with prejudices, at the same time he is faithful to Righteousness, which means always behave peacefully and never do harm to other beings, then his conduct will be legal from the Maitriyana’s perspective.
However, the Buddhist Law – in the same way as human rights – can be considered a subversive and defamatory activity from the point of view of a State devoid of democracy and legal pluralism, even though clearly the Dharmic Law that Maitriyana practices lacks both malicious intent and a clear and present danger to others. In this way, the practice and doctrine of Buddhist Law is a matter of ethical and spiritual principles and not a matter established by the government. In this sense, the core of ethics committees and tribunals of consciousness defended by the Maitriyana aims to reveal and teach the Truth rather than simply make moral, criminal and monetary penalties, reason why it is a Counterpower remarkably different from administrative and legislative powers of the state system that attempt to control or suppress the fundamental freedoms of thought and expression.
One of the characteristic features of the Buddhist Law is that it does not shy away from what should be the main inquiry of the State that is to ask itself what is the Purpose (Dharma) of society. In this regard, the Maitriyana response is coherent and largely explains where humanity is headed, because it goes back to the very foundations of life, stating that the Purpose (Dharma) of the human being is Liberation. In fact, this is the Cure (Nirvana) of the ills that repress the Adequate Freedom of Thought and Expression, by preserving the freedoms intrinsic of human nature. Thus, the Buddhist Law complies with what should be the goal and desire of all government: the defense of human rights of all people. A governmental regime that ignores these rights and freedoms intrinsic does nothing but ruling by the sword, oppressing and shedding innocent blood to maintain its authoritarian Power. Faced with global history characterized by repression of Freedom of Expression and Thought, the Maitriyana teaches the way to a new stage of freedom of mind and speech. Therefore, the spiritual masters follow a Legal Code (Vinaya) that does not attempt to imitate the worst legal systems of the past, but rather initiates a utopian historical experience. Buddhist Law is about a radical metapolitical vision trying to mold a new concept of civilization into a Pure Earth. This spiritual and meta-intellectual tradition is not only based on Free and Enlightened Beings (Arhats-Bodhisattvas) such as Gautama and Jesus, because it is also consistent with philosophical developments of Hobbes, Locke and Hume. Therefore, the basic concept of Liberty that emerges from the Maitriyana tradition refers to the Full Freedom of Thought, Expression and Action, except when it involves the use of violence and lies against other beings. This vision of Liberty alludes to the individual’s ethics and does not contain regulatory element by the State, which only has to sanction aggression and deceit. Thus, there is a relationship between the Buddhist Law and Customary Law on grievances.
The Maitriyana makes no difference between Freedom of thought, Freedom of expression and Freedom of action, in the same way there is no essential difference between the aggravating behavior of word with the aggravating behavior of act, as evidenced by the conduct of which a threat emanates. Basically, the idea of Buddhist Law states that human beings are by nature free to think, say and do whatever they wish, provided they do not use violence and lies against others. This slight libertarian restriction on conduct and expression establishes that the use of force and deception are totally illegal, while ethical criticism and defense of the Truth are absolutely legal expressions which should not be repressed both by the State and by groups and individuals. In this way, expressions of Maitriyana are entirely protected by the Buddhist Law, Customary Law and International Law, because their Freedom of Expression does not involve malicious slander and threats of a use of force, even less deceptive and violent behaviors. Maitriyana clearly elucidates that the Freedom to critically express is notably different from slander and defamation, since it is a necessary and worthy metapolitical resource for democracy and development. By clearly identifying the kind of manifestations that violate the duties of Freedom of Expression, which are non-violence and truthfulness, the rights of Freedom of Expression can then be respected. Therefore, the Buddhist Law discourages at all times the use of physical and verbal harm, by dissipating this malpractice of Liberty. This remedy provided by the Maitriyana is the constructive critique, the spiritual teaching and the ethical guidance as centerpieces of an appropriate practice of Freedom of Expression, Thought and Action when it is exercised both in the public and private spheres, especially when those powerful who take advantage of impunity and inefficiency of the ordinary legal system are criticized or denounced. Indeed, the Buddhist Law has 2600 years of customary jurisprudence in peaceful resolution of controversies and conflicts, although its legal system can come to be a subversive activity against the governmental status quo. In the behaviors and sayings of the spiritual masters, there is no probability, severity and immediacy of the damage, so they only represent a threat to those trying to hide the Truth.
The future of Justice in the world seems uncertain in the ordinary eyes of the people, while the poor and oppressed suffer from obsolete and corrupt juridical systems. However, the Maitriyana never despairs or discourages, since the Spirituality opens the Way to a genuine juridical form that is both the future and the past of the human being. In fact, one of the great achievements of the human rights courts during the twentieth century has been to decide that the fundamental freedoms are inherent to the human being, which means they are his dharmic nature, demonstrating that the libertarian vision of Gautama was correct. Even though the Buddhist Law operates on the margins of contemporary civilization, it is certainly a way to protect people, the spiritual values and the very Truth in the face of chaos and confusion prevailing in criminal and civil juridical systems, where those who suffer are not usually protected or defended nor those who are wrong are taught or re-educated.
The practice and juridical theory of the Maitriyana is a balance or Middle Way between the ends of over-application and sub-application of Law, being the appropriate application of Justice and Righteousness, helping the victims and simultaneously teaching the aggressors. This libertarian maxim of Buddhist Law in the field of Freedom of Expression means that the right to Freedom of Expression does not imply protection from violence and lies, which are condemnable actions for all individual, group or State. Therefore, the Maitriyana considers that there must be Freedom of Expression to perform criticisms and public denounces provided that there is evidence or proof that it is Truth what is claimed, because otherwise it will not be more than an aggression, defamation or lies. This duty toward Truth is intertwined with the right to Freedom of Expression, which not only protects human rights activists who adequately criticize illegal actions but it also simultaneously restricts those who incur the mere slander and prejudice against others. This legal framework of Buddhist Law vanishes the mistakes of overapplication and subapplication of laws, which means minimizing the ends of repression and debauchery. In this sense, one of the capabilities of ethical tribunal of Maitriyana is to identify the Middle Way of Justice as appropriate or righteous compliance with Law, creating the correct institutional framework to defend the fulfillment of the right to Freedom of Expression while it criticizes the violation of the duty of Righteous Word. Indeed, the Buddhist Law establishes that, without the right to Freedom of Expression, minorities will disappear from society, violently or silently, because Power is always in favor of assimilation and normalization, trying to suppress differences and criticisms which are essential to the democratic life of the peoples. This demonstrates the reason why Freedom of Expression generates a limit to the excesses of political Power, by not implying a mere intellectual practice but rather a libertarian action. The Maitriyana transcends mere political discussions of the moment in order to go to the rediscovery of the original intention or Purpose (Dharma) of Justice, which is never sustaining the veils of status quo but rather using resources to identify and transmit the Truth. Definitively, the Buddhist Law shows that True Justice is not sanction and condemnation, but rather learning and reconciliation (Maitri), going along the Way of the wise utopia and compassionate hope leading to the Great Awakening (Maha Bodhi) of humanity. Thus, the Free and Enlightened Being (Arhat-Bodhisattva) considers that every conflict is always an opportunity to return to highlight the importance of the remedy or Cure (Nirvana) to the suffering of the peoples. Given that the bases of conventional law are structurally stereotyped, bureaucrat and insensitive to help the people through intelligent legal action, the theory and legal practice of Maitriyana is profoundly important, allowing that Justice resolves the dilemmas that divide humanity, many of which are created by governments. Buddhist Law demonstrates how is it possible to be the embodiment of Goodness, Law and Righteousness, so that inserts a dosage of judicial activism in peoples throughout the world in order they reach Liberty, Equality and Fraternity.
In the Maitriyana it is proposed a consideration of Freedom of Expression as an essential part of human social nature and its ethical values, rather than considering it as a practice regulated by artificially created laws. Freedom of Expression is a fundamental human right by being indispensable for the development of both psychism and society, since it affects the verbal, artistic, scientific, journalistic, juridical, political, educational and philosophical expressions, among others. Thus, the State has the duty to guarantee the apprentice’s Freedom of Expression in all spheres of life, both facing governmental institutions and in relation to private institutions. The individual must exercise this right to have his or her own opinions, to research information, to enjoy university autonomy, to seek the Truth and to freely disseminate ideas. Therefore, the main human rights are impossible to comply without guaranteeing the right to Freedom of Expression. The recognition of these social freedoms is guaranteed by the Buddhist Law, which is an ancient system originated in the convictions and customs of the spiritual Commune (Sangha). Freedom of Expression emanates from the inside of buddhic nation, since it is the result of its libertarian meditation and cultural identity. Hence, the law that sets out the rights and duties of Freedom of Expression emerges from Maitriyana, which means that the spiritual master teaches the pathways and limits for the appropriate expression of Liberation.
Buddhist Law has established an ancient path governed by the principle of progressiveness of human rights, which is one of the pillars of international justice, recognizing and guaranteeing the fundamental freedoms within the spiritual Commune (Sangha) in order to then improve and extend these values to the whole society. Thus, the foundation of Freedom of Expression is the legacy of the past, thanks to the movement created by Gautama, but it is also a product of the contemporary paradigm shift initiated by the Maitriyana, which considers the Awakening (Bodhi) as the point of origin for the evolved humanity and the libertarian civilization, which are an intrinsic limitation to the mundane Power. Indeed, the great force of the Buddhist Law lies not in its material applicability but in its ethical example and spiritual guidance for the peoples, by denouncing the abuses of State in order to create a better world. Therefore, in the juridical current of Maitriyana, it is clearly identified that the Free and Enlightened Being (Arhat-Bodhisattva) is someone who does not cede his or her faculty of normative self-determination to the State. This means that the spiritual master is not subject to the social pact of the State, because he or she has already given his/her spirit and commitment of life to the Commune (Sangha), whose characteristics are superior to those of the State: has an intuitive rationality and prioritizes the Freedom of the apprentice. Although the subject must not exert violence or using force, the Free and Enlightened Being (Arhat-Bodhisattva) does not recognize that the State has the exclusive monopoly of Law, which is an attitude that evanesce the social contract by showing it as an illusion.
Consequently, the Buddhist law establishes that human beings have Freedom of Expression, Thought and Action up to the limits established by the ethics of the Middle Way and not the state laws which often violate the fundamental rights and freedoms. What is revolutionary of this thesis of Maitriyana is that it understands the spiritual master as someone who is above the social pact, since he or she can certainly evade or be detached from this state model created by the Power and State Empire, whose artificial and contingent laws usually suppress the possibility so that the entire society reaches the Cure (Nirvana) from suffering. According to the Buddhist Law, State is an extremely powerful force but ethically inappropriate, being a system repressing the rights and freedoms of humanity. Instead, the Maitriyana is the ultimate representation of world culture, so it tends naturally to its protection, by responding to communitarian and supreme interests that result in a historical Path and legitimated by the ability to enforce the rights and duties needed to Salvation and Evolution of life. Certainly the Buddhist Law is a contemporary expression, although its most essential ideas have been gestated in 2600 years ago in ancient India, when the Analytical-Existential-Libertarian Discourse (Buddha-Dharma-Sangha) of Spirituality developed a radical juridical current, synthesizing the best political, economic, cultural and environmental knowledges in order to affirm that in Spirituality there are supra-legal appreciations that go beyond the will of the state and its criminal or civil Law. Thus, the Maitriyana is positioned as a way of Superior Justice, by expanding and transforming the juridical field to go beyond governmental laws, in order to approach the apprentice to the ethical and solemn teachings of the great Free and Enlightened Beings (Arhats-Bodhisattvas) of history. This perennial knowledge or compassionate wisdom (karuna-prajna) of Buddhist law develops a healthy, righteous and proper legal system, highlighting at any time and place the rights and fundamental freedoms, which are not to be respected only insofar as they are determined in state Law, because there are a lot of rights existing and undoubtedly are not recognized by the ordinary legal system.
The special juridical system that is taught by the Maitriyana is a set of principles that are consistent with the dharmic nature of the human being, which is immutable and timeless, reason why the Buddhist Law has universal validity. However, it is also about a living system, so it learns and evolves as events pass, but always navigating on the Way of the Ethics and Righteousness. Therefore, the principles of Dharmic Law are superior to state positive Law, being both its limits and its Empty Dynamic Ground. Thus, the Maitriyana recognizes as valid to any legal system that derives from this spiritual or dharmic nature that is present in the heart and mind of humanity, while unfailingly any legal system that represses ethics, human rights and fundamental freedoms will be invalid. These values transcend Buddhist law norms of society and the State, being grounded in the dharmic nature of the human being that is historically and ontologically prior to any legal system. For this reason no legal and state norm should go against Spirituality, from which the spiritual rights are deduced as prerogatives which are superior to the government and state, so that no political, economic and cultural Power has legitimacy to override the Natural Law of Maitriyana. Thus, the Buddhist Law establishes that the State cannot go against Freedom of Expression, Thought and Action, whose reason is perennial while that of the State is transitory. The spiritual master, when presuming to defend the natural and spiritual rights has the legitimacy to criticize the state juridical system that violates human rights and fundamental freedoms. When the state Law ignores these values and principles -which are defended by the Maitriyana-, it is actually denying its own foundational essence. The history and development of Buddhist Law constitutes an eternal rediscovery of human nature as free, enlightened and solidary, by being the source of perfection and evolution of human rights and spiritual rights. In this sense, the juridical metapolitics of Maitriyana is constantly studying the Natural Law that underlies and is beyond the State Law. Even though there may be multiple versions of what is that human nature, it is certainly undeniable its existence as a source of Purpose (Dharma), reason, ethics and Awakening (Bodhi). Therefore, from the peak knowledge (satori) of this rational and socialist nature of human being is that the subject can understand that Freedom of Expression constitutes the most sacred and natural aspect of human life, with which the state Law should be sure to protect and not to contradict these natural and tribal values of Buddhist Law, by developing and unfolding the Human rights and Spiritual rights.
Furthermore, although freedom of expression is a supreme human right, entirely based on the rational and spiritual human nature, this does not mean that it is unlimited, because rights also entail duties. This implies that the Maitriyana does not abuse the importance of its defense of Freedom of Expression, by setting that the corrective limit to any expression, thought and action must be respect to the free and enlightened nature of humanity. Thus, it is not an abstract concept, but rather that Freedom of Expression must be manifested respectfully, by not defending violence nor incurring insults attacking the intrinsic dignity and honor of others. However, the truthful criticism along with the sense of humor does not necessarily imply incurring disrespecting or ignoring the value of fellow beings, as these resources are essentially an expression of the dharmic nature, being essential for art, reason and critical analysis of reality. Buddhist Law states that the right to Freedom of Expression must always be in tune with the right to information and Truth, so it is imperative that expressions do not encourage deceit, lies and fraud, being rather backed by the reality. This fully respects the right of others to receive reliable information without necessarily restricting the right to opinion, since it is simply required that they do not damage the integrity of others, by having a minimum grounding on Truth. In addition, the Free and Enlightened Being (Arhat-Bodhisattva) teaches that Freedom of Expression must respect the right to privacy, the right to equality and non-discrimination, the right to social security and the right to fraternity, among others.
The legal order of Maitriyana is the maximum protection to ethical, aesthetical and spiritual values of humanity, so that it roundly prohibits expressions that are contrary to values, such as apology of crime and war, drug trafficking, prostitution, violence, corruption, hatred and racism. In this sense, the Buddhist Law warns about the serious situation faced by contemporary civilization, because most of governments, religions and mass media are deeply tainted with deceptive and violent ideas that erode human rights, making a bad use of Freedom of Expression to undermine the sacred foundations of human being which they are supposed to respect and defend. In addition, governments and communicational companies often form alliances to control the monopoly of the word, by repressing those who challenge the status quo. The Maitriyana considers that Freedom of Expression must be ruled by self-control and Sublimation (Nirodh), instead of ceding the authority to control fundamental freedoms to the State or the private sector. Even though this fact may be juridically legitimized by the State, it is certainly something ethically unjustified in light of the Buddhist Law. However, when the spiritual master teaches the art of self-control as a mechanism to channel Freedom of Expression he is not referring to self-censorship based on fear, but rather refers to the attitude of ethical responsibility to choose what form is more appropriate and correct to express. While self-censorship represses Freedom of Expression, Thought and Action, instead, self-control develops self-realization of the being-in-the-human, being a mechanism that comes from the dharmic nature as the origin point of the human rights and duties.
The right to Freedom of Expression evolves with the development of the counterculture of Maitriyana, which is a movement that synthesizes the thought of East and West. During 2600 years the Buddhist Law has been the only discipline that has formulated a theory and practice of human rights on the basis of recognition of the dharmic nature as an intrinsic dignity and freedom. However, governments and religions of history have allowed flagrant violations against these fundamental rights, by participating or being complicit in terrible crimes against humanity. In accordance with Gautama, the metapolitics of Maitriyana promotes and defends Freedom of Expression, Thought and Action, exalting the ideas and practices of Truth and Justice to make humanity to be more righteous and noble. During 2600 years, in the Buddhist Law, there has been progress in the struggle for fundamental freedoms, because even in times of war, persecution and oppression the Free and Enlightened Beings (Arhats-Bodhisattvas) have continued conveying the need for these libertarian values, by defending them with all their strength to the point of being willing to sacrifice their own lives for the protection of fundamental freedoms. Indeed, the Maitriyana is a liberating movement that continues this legacy of defense of the dignity and Cure (Nirvana) of the human being, by teaching an ancient pathway toward tolerance and interexistence of all the peoples. Therefore, it is in the Buddhist Law where the spiritual right to Adequate Expression is originally consecrated in a direct and juridical form, by establishing that criticism and transmission of information should never be restricted by government and the State. Consequently, the Universal Declaration of Spiritual Rights written by the Maitriyana presents Freedom of Expression as an evident and essential right, as important as the right to a healthy life and the search for the Cure (Nirvana). According to the Buddhist Law, to provide the apprentice with Freedom of Expression and Transmission of ideas and psychological, philosophical, scientific, political and theological thoughts is the very basis for social freedom, which is a Path that is usually repressed and censored by despotic governments. Instead, the Maitriyana magnificently recognizes that the aim of society must be the perennial protection of natural and spiritual rights of humanity, by defending human rights to Liberty, to Peace, to the full expression without censorship and to civil resistance to oppression. The important aspect of Buddhist Law is that it considers that Freedom of Expression should not be limited by the government and State, because the latter should only criticize abuses and violations of this sacred right. The responsibility to make a correct and adequate exercise of the right and duty to Freedom of Expression is mainly an individual and spiritual matter, but never a matter of State sanction.
When proclaiming a political-juridical defense of Freedom of Expression, the Maitriyana faces crises and confrontations both with the authoritarian governmental Power as the capitalist corporate Power, since the despotic status quo is always stubborn in hiding the reality, even though the technological development makes very difficult to repress the right to Freedom of Expression. The history of the spiritual Commune (Sangha) and the evolution of Buddhist Law have been guidance to the individual who peacefully faces tyrannical and totalitarian regimes, by teaching Freedom of Expression and human rights as incarnations of the dharmic nature of human beings. Faced with appalling and shocking events that the governments and religions have done, the Maitriyana seeks the awareness raising and Awakening (Bodhi) of the peoples in order to avoid repetition (karma) of war crimes, genocides, ethnic cleansings, crimes against humanity, and ecocides that have taken place in the past.
Buddhist Law does not create natural rights, human rights and spiritual rights, but rather is an act of recognition of them, developing an international legal instrument of considerable importance: the Ethics Committees and Courts of Consciousness. This tribal juridical order that is implemented by the Maitriyana is decisive to make the right of the apprentice to Freedom of Expression and Thought is complied, by allowing the individual that his/her investigative actions, of receiving and dissemination of information are not interrupted or interfered. In the exercise and enjoyment of this right to Freedom of Expression, every apprentice shall follow the limits of non-violence and non-lie in order to ensure the full respect for the rights and freedoms of others, by meeting the just exigencies of ethics, the social order and democratic welfare of civilization. In this sense, just like the International Law, the Buddhist Law states that the State has no legitimacy whatsoever to suppress Freedom of Expression globally proclaimed.
Although the sutras of Gautama and Jesus, along with international human rights instruments, are the most valuable texts of humanity, it is necessary to make constant improvements and extensions to propitiate social transformations throughout the world. For this reason, the Maitriyana widely establishes revolutionary juridical system of ethical defense of Freedom of Expression, Thought and Action for every individual, as long as there is respect and non-violence through engagement with the Truth, Good, Peace and Democracy. Evidently the Buddhist Law exceeds the field of politics and religion, by constituting itself as a paradigm of metajudicial activism. Although it is true that this juridical system of Maitriyana is susceptible to generate resentments and being accused of illegitimate by the conventional powers of State, certainly the origin of the Buddhist Law is both Natural Law as well as the Tribal Law widely recognized by international human rights instruments, by achieving effectiveness and ethical purity that is not present in the State Law. In addition, the Maitriyana makes explicit its engagement with the Truth and Learning, instead of seeking prison sentences or monetary penalties, by making that the compassionate wisdom (prajna-karuna) prevails over criminal and civil regulations. In this regard, in case that the Buddhist Law receives censorship and violation on the right to freely express its thoughts, ideas and opinions by any media and broadcast, then this can be considered a discriminatory act and an international crime that promotes intolerance towards a millenary Spirituality movement. While there is truthful information, responsibility and commitment to the Truth, every apprentice should be able to freely express their ethical vision without suffering attacks from state or private sectors, enjoying his or her human right to receive and transmit opportune, credible and impartial informations without any hassle or censorship. Although the main Declarations, Covenants and Conventions at an international level prohibit attacks on Freedom of Expression, however, these unfortunate events occur repeatedly, showing that the vast juridical instruments that are supposed to protect human rights and Freedom of Expression do not work properly, since States, corporations and religions become all international legal documents into dead letters. Faced with this global culture of impunity, the Maitriyana emerges as a system that respects the dharmic nature of the human being, by struggling peacefully against the regimes of the mundane power that violate human rights of all the peoples.