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At the time when the Buddha was alive, there was like today rulers who governed their countries unjustly. They raised taxes and infigeaient cruel punishment. The people were oppressed and exploited, tortured and persecuted. The Buddha was deeply moved by these inhumane treatment. He then turned his attention to the problem of good government.
His ideas must be placed in the social, economic and political of his time. He showed how a whole country could become corrupt, degenerate and unhappy when the heads of government, that is to say, king, ministers and officials themselves become corrupt and unjust. For a country to be happy it must have a just government. The principles of this government are just of the Buddha in his teaching on the ten duties of the king.
Of course the word "king" (Raja) of old should be replaced today by "government." Therefore the ten duties of the king now apply to all those involved in government, head of state, ministers, political leaders, members of the legislature and administration officials. Ten duties are:
- 1. The liberality, generosity, charity. The sovereign must not have greed or attachment to wealth and property, but must have for the well being of the people.
- 2. A high moral character. It should never destroy life, cheat, steal or exploit others, commit adultery, saying the wrong things or take intoxicating drinks. That is to say, it must at least observe the five precepts of a lay person.
-3. The sacrifice for the good of the people. He must be willing to sacrifice comfort, name and fame, and even his life for the benefit of the people.
-4. Honesty and integrity. It must be free from fear or favor in the discharge of its functions; it must be sincere in his intentions and do not mislead the public.
-5. The friendliness and affability. It should have a gentle temperament.
-6. Austerity in habits. He must lead a simple life and should not indulge in luxury. It must be in possession of oneself.
-7. The absence of hatred, ill-will, enmity. It should not bear a grudge against anyone.
-8. Nonviolence. It must not only do no harm to anyone, but he must try to make peace by avoiding and preventing war and all things that involve violence and destruction of life.
-9. Patience, forgiveness, tolerance, understanding. He must be able to endure hardship, difficulties and insults without losing his temper.
-10. The non-opposition, non-obstruction. that is to say, it does not oppose the popular will, not thwart any measure favorable to the welfare of the people. In other words, he must stand in harmony with the people.
How happy would a country ruled by men with these qualities. It is however not a utopia because there was in the past kings as Asoka in India who ruled their kingdom on the basis of these ideas.
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