Is a buddhist's goal to transcend a culture's social roles? How do enlightened beings see social roles?

As buddhists try to not make distinctions between people, I would imagine that they are not particularly concerned with social roles. Is that true?


In India, the word "jati" ("birth") refers to "social role". In the Buddhist suttas, "jati/social role" is called "sattanikāye" ("category/group/class of beings"). For example, in the Angulimala Sutta, the life of a monk is called "Noble Jati/Birth" ("ariyāya jātiyā").

In moral teachings, the Buddha strongly emphasized social roles. However, in enlightenment teachings, the Buddha pointed out social role brings suffering. For example, if your social role is a mother or father, you often suffer about your children. This is why enlightenment is described as the ending of identification with social role ("khīṇā jāti").

For example, upon his enlightenment, the Buddha declared: "This is my last jati/birth (social role)". The Buddha fully accepted his social responsibility as The Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, the leader of the Sangha and the liberator of the wise.

However, for the Buddha's Fully Enlightened Disciples, they declared: "Jati/birth is exhausted" because they had no special social status, apart from being strictly conforming disciples of the Buddha (unlike monks today, who each try to create their own sect & own teachings).

For laypeople, the Sigalovada Sutta is the most detailed of many suttas that strictly define the social roles of laypeople.

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