The topic is really the question. In Buddhism, which is regarded as more important, the right of an individual or the greater good? Perhaps there is no distinction made, I don't know.

Or does it depend on the circumstances?

  • 1
    Don't all religions teach more about "responsibilities" than about "rights"? I think that "rights" is maybe more of a political or legal concept.
    – ChrisW
    Sep 21, 2022 at 6:42
  • that's a good comment @ChrisW thanks
    – user19950
    Sep 24, 2022 at 22:08

4 Answers 4


Neither. All are equal. Mahākarunā.


If there is no self, how can there be separate individuals? If there are no separate individuals, how can there be a collectivity of such?

The concept of individual rights has always been a grievance more than an ideal (all the way back to the 16th century, that). It's an assertion to the effect that 'This stuff is mine'; a complaint that other people want to take it from me; a rationale for the idea that others shouldn't do that. The idea of collectivity has always been an expression of fear (all the way back before the beginnings of history). It asserts that 'These are my people (people like me), and those people are not'.

When we give up clinging to possession — that this is mine and we are ours — then we start to lose the distinctions between the individual and the collective. We obviate the question of whose rights and interests are more important, and gravitate to a sort of compassionate realism in which we want to satisfy needs rather than capitalize on them. Before we achieve that we are faced with a constant struggle to balance the needs and rights of one against the needs and rights of another. There's no answer to this question; there's only the ongoing struggle with the issue or the ultimate realization that the issue is so much smoke and mirrors.

  • May be he asked this question just because of he did not know about the Ultimate Realities and the difference between illusion world and the ultimate reality world. please go through this link and try to understand each concept through your wisdom. Those are untouchable need to feel by thinking and meditating. Reading may help you to take the guide and have the fair knowledge about ultimate reality world. Here is the Link: accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/mendis/wheel322.html#intro
    – Sanath
    Sep 21, 2022 at 3:12
  • I think the question was asked in a "conventional" sense. Ultimately reality doesn't admit to concepts such as a person, a being etc.
    – user24100
    Sep 21, 2022 at 17:45

In some circumstances Buddhism recommends "a middle way" which means, "avoiding (the two) extremes".

Maybe in this context, "my rights or the greater good" is a false dichotomy.

There's doctrine which says that the best is practice which benefits "both self and others" -- better than one or the other, or neither.

There are some ethical precepts -- no killing, no stealing, no lying -- which (it says) benefit everyone.


Let us try to understand this through simple example:

Hypothetically, Take a Table. Why we called it table? In general we have a state of mind or confirmation in the society if one item has four or few legs and it has a top which we can keep things without fallen on that top it is called table. Isn't it?

Now take that table and break into parts. Legs, support bars, glass top, underneath wooden top, nails, joints etc. After keeping all these one by one aside can we call it table any more? No we can't. Because that convention of the table was not there anymore and it has already broken into parts. Now we have given each part separate name. Those words also conventions given by the society. Right?

Now we take a leg and break into parts. A small pieces of wooden. So that we cannot call them as a table leg any more........ Right?

Similarly, we keep on breaking them into parts until we find the part that cannot break into parts any more. Science is not that much advanced to find that particle but Lord Buddha found it 2560 years before and it is called Pur Octad[Shuddashtaka]. Learn further: Pure Octad

Likewise Lord Buddha found 81 Ultimate realities in this universe. Those are called

  1. Consciousness[Chitta] - 01 but it's actions it is named as 81 or 121
  2. Mental Factors[Chethasika] - 52
  3. Material Factors[Rupa] - 28
  4. Nibbana - Which is Ultimate Freedom of the life. Learn further:Ultimate Realities` First three items gives you 81 factors which are actually prevails in this world.

Similarly, When we break our body and mind into parts or any other tree or vehicle or house or Mother, Father or anything we can find only these factors but nothing else. Actually, there is no I, Mine, Me, My Mother, My Son, My Vehicle .......etc.

Once you realize this theory and put them into practise without knowing you, your longing to this world your desires, your future targets to achieve will be vanishing. Because now you know those are manmade illusions which are not prevails actually. Not only that this illusions brings you suffering all the time by changing them decaying them will not prevails them with their stability as it is.

You will find the difference between right and the great good.

May Triple Gem Bless You !!!

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