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Buddhist Law

Buddhist law is a multifaceted term that may be used in reference to a number of areas, including (a) the Buddha's doctrine (Dharma), (b) monastic codes of behavior and discipline (vinaya), and (c) legalistic characteristics in societies that have been influenced by Buddhist concepts of jurisprudence. Therefore, when discussing Buddhist law, a distinction can be made between purely legalistic forms and nonlegalistic forms. Although convenient, the dichotomy between legalistic and non-legalistic understandings of law in Buddhism is highly artificial. Such a distinction presupposes an understanding of law and a legal culture predominantly of Western orientation, where legalistic matters are rigidly defined and are distinct from nonlegalistic matters.

The Sanskrit term dharma, for example, is often translated as “law.” However, such a connotation does not necessarily ...

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