Buddhism holds up a Way of Life that both recognizes and works to realize the unity of all humanity. True human happiness is found through developing one's personality fully in a context of security, justice, basic comfort and liberty of thought and action restricted only by respect for all others. Human misery results from ignorance which sends people to search for happiness in the wrong places. And poverty is one of the causes of crime and immorality.
Religion and politics are seen as interdependent and mutually reinforcing. Their common goal is the empowerment and perfection of ideal citizens living in harmony with all others. Religion focuses on the inspiration, conversion, enrichment and ennoblement of human persons. The role of government is to create, secure and preserve the social conditions necessary for that human development and spiritual growth. The Buddha identified a number of elements important for the development of individuals and the well-being of society. They include generosity, kindness in speech, service, equality, hard work and skill in one's occupation, careful stewardship of one's righteously earned income, association with good, faithful, learned, virtuous friends, living within one's means, and leading a faultless life without resort to trickery or cunning.
The qualities of good leadership, the Ten Royal Virtues, include:
- Generosity: wealth should be distributed for the welfare of the people High Moral Character Munificence: the willingness to sacrifice for the good of the people Honesty and Integrity: neither fear nor special favor should play a role Impartiality: a genial temperament Simple Lifestyle of self-control Freedom from Hatred or Grudges Non-Violence Patience: the ability to bear criticism and hardship Friendliness: governing in harmony with the will of the people
The underlying principles of the Buddhist social ethic are loving kindness to all [metta] and compassion [karuna]. Buddhists are to treat others not as "other" or "apart" but as "one with" and "a part" of oneself.