The Buddhist concept of equality

The Buddhist concept of equality

In 2013, Taiwan’s fat monk master Xing Yun was invited to give a lecture on equality of men and women.  He explained that inequality is “external” and equality is “internal”, that “equality is a universal truth” while “inequality is mundane”.

He was also asked:  “Where does all the knowledge and wisdom one acquires go?”  Fat monk master Xin Yun answered without hesitation:  “Into the stomach!”

[Master Chen says]
Yeah!  This is a good metaphor.

In our mundane life, i.e., in our external materialistic world, there is inequality.  Political systems of the ruling class oppressing the peasant class, and commercial colonialism have all been based on inequality.  Marxism tried to solve this by class struggle, calling upon the proletariat and the world’s workers to unite and struggle against the exploitive industrial ruling class and the bourgeoisie.  And according to fat monk master Xin Yun, equality can only be achieved spiritually and conceptually, i.e., internally, before it can be practiced in the mundane world.

He also said that only wise men view everything as being equal.  Mundane folks view everything as differentiated.

[Master Chen says]
This view manifests itself as segregation, discrimination, racial hatred, religious differences, the religiously faithful versus the heathens, and the rich versus the poor.
In today’s terminology, this view includes that of fanatical and radical Islamists versus the un-Islamic dancing Arabs.

Fat monk master Xin Yun also talked about “equal rights of men and women”.  He seemed to suggest that equal rights and equal opportunity are the only “equalities” that can be achieved between men and women in the physical and mundane world.  True equality exists as a universal truth only if men and women are spiritual beings.  In this mundane physical world, men and women are biologically and physically different.  This is inherent inequality.  Only as spiritual beings can equality exist.

This concept is illustrated by the equal male and female aspects of Guan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy, referred to as “he” or male as Avalokitesvara and as “she” or female as Guan Yin.