What did the the Buddha Think of the Welfare State? Part 1

I’m not going to provide a translation of the whole sutta, but here is a chunk of the Digha Nikaya, Sutta #5 A Bloodless Sacrifice (vs. 10-12). This isn’t a political blog, so I’ll let you draw your own conclusions as to whether this could apply to today…

Once there was a very rich king named Mahavijita. He decided that he should perform a great sacrifice, so he summoned his head priest. He asked the priest, “How can I perform a sacrifice that will be of great benefit for a long time?”

The priest replied, “Your Majesty, the countryside is full of bandits and criminals. The villages are being destroyed. To tax these villages further for the sacrifice would be the wrong thing to do. Now, you could go in with threats, punishments, and executions, but that wouldn’t solve the problem. The criminals that survived would come back just as strong.

“There is a way, though, to completely solve the problem. From the royal treasury give the farmers and ranchers grain. Give the merchants capital. Pay government workers a living wage. People with an adequate livelihood won’t resort to crime. Taxes will be bountiful, there will be peace, and there will be fewer thieves. With hearts full of joy, the people will play with their children and be generous to each other.”

The king agreed with the priest, and all that he had said came to pass. But again the king asked the priest, “How can I perform a sacrifice that will be of great benefit for a long time?”

The priest replied, “Send for your richest citizens and tell them, ‘I want to make a sacrifice. Please help me with this that it may be of great benefit for a long time.’” The king agreed.

Check out Part 2 here.

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