Buddhist socialism is a political ideology which advocates socialism based on the principles of Buddhism. Both Buddhism and socialism seek to provide an end to suffering by analyzing its conditions and removing its main causes through praxis. Both also seek to provide a transformation of personal consciousness (respectively, spiritual and political) to bring an end to human alienation and selfishness.[1]

People who have been described as Buddhist socialists include Buddhadasa Bhikkhu,[2] B. R. Ambedkar,[3] S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike[citation needed], Han Yong-un,[4] Girō Senoo,[5] U Nu[citation needed], Uchiyama Gudō,[6] Inoue Shūten, Norodom Sihanouk,[7][8] Takagi Kenmyo[9] and Peljidiin Genden.[10]

Buddhadāsa Bhikkhu

Buddhadāsa Bhikkhu coined the phrase Dhammic socialism.[2] He believed that socialism is a natural state[11] meaning all things exist together in one system:[11]

Look at the birds: we will see that they eat only as much food as their stomachs can hold. They cannot take more than that; they don't have granaries. Look down at the ants and insects: that is all they can do. Look at the trees: trees imbibe only as much nourishment and water as the trunk can hold, and cannot take in any more than that. Therefore a system in which people cannot encroach on each other's rights or plunder their possessions is in accordance with nature and occurs naturally, and that is how it has become a society continued to be one, until trees became abundant, animals became abundant, and eventually human beings became abundant in the world. The freedom to hoard was tightly controlled by nature in the form of natural socialism.

Han Yong-un

Korean Buddhist reformer Han Yong-un felt that equality was one of the main principles of Buddhism.[4] In an interview published in 1931, Yong-un spoke of his desire to explore Buddhist Socialism:[4]

I am recently planning to write about Buddhist socialism. Just like there is Christian socialism as a system of ideas in Christianity, there must be also Buddhist socialism in Buddhism.

14th Dalai Lama

Tenzin Gyatso, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama of Tibet has said that:

Of all the modern economic theories, the economic system of Marxism is founded on moral principles, while capitalism is concerned only with gain and profitability. ... The failure of the regime in the former Soviet Union was, for me, not the failure of Marxism but the failure of totalitarianism. For this reason I still think of myself as half-Marxist, half-Buddhist.[12]

See also


  1. ^ Shields, James Mark; Liberation as Revolutionary Praxis: Rethinking Buddhist Materialism; Journal of Buddhist Ethics. Volume 20, 2013.
  2. ^ a b "What is Dhammic Socialism?". Archived from the original on 26 January 2010. Retrieved 17 October 2010.
  3. ^ Bhārtī, K. (19 August 2017). Marx in Ambedkar's thinking Archived 15 April 2021 at the Wayback Machine. Forward Press.
  4. ^ a b c Tikhonov, Vladimir, Han Yongun's Buddhist Socialism in the 1920s–1930s Archived 27 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine, International Journal of Buddhist Thought and Culture 6, 207–228 (2006).
  5. ^ Shields, James Mark; Blueprint for Buddhist Revolution The Radical Buddhism of Seno'o Girō (1889–1961) and the Youth League for Revitalizing Buddhism, Japanese Journal of religious Studies 39 (2), 331–351 (2012) PDF
  6. ^ Rambelli, Fabio (2013). Zen Anarchism: The Egalitarian Dharma of Uchiyama Gudō. Institute of Buddhist Studies and BDK America, Inc.
  7. ^ "Cambodia Under the Khmer Rouge". Archived from the original on 16 October 2010. Retrieved 17 October 2010.
  8. ^ Kershaw, Roger (4 January 2002). Monarchy in South East Asia: The Faces of Tradition in Transition. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 9780203187845. Archived from the original on 30 April 2016. Retrieved 14 August 2015 – via Google Books.
  9. ^ Takagi, Kenmyo (1904), My Socialism Archived 4 October 2021 at the Wayback Machine.
  10. ^ Baabar, B., History of Mongolia, 1999, ISBN 978-99929-0-038-3, OCLC 515691746. p. 322
  11. ^ a b Dhammic Socialism Political Thought of Buddhadasa Bhikku Archived 13 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine, Chulalangkorn Journal of Buddhist Studies 2 (1), page 118 (2003)
  12. ^ "Dalai Lama Answers Questions on Various Topics". hhdl.dharmakara.net. Archived from the original on 20 November 2018. Retrieved 14 June 2022.