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“Healing justice: A Buddhist perspective.”

Loy, David R.
June 4, 2015

Source: (2001) In The spiritual roots of restorative justice, ed. Michael L. Hadley, 81-97. With an introduction by Michael L. Hadley. SUNY series in religious studies, ed. Harold Coward. Albany, New York, USA: State University of New York Press.

Loy asserts that justice is an ultimate issue that bridges the sacred and the secular, so that criminal justice necessarily involves fundamental, even religious, understandings of human nature, individual and collective. With this in mind, Loy contends that a Buddhist worldview involves views of the self, human behavior, and response to wrongdoing that support restorative ideas and practices for criminal justice. For eample, all people (offender and victim alike) have the same Buddha nature; this nature is not the same as our usual sense of self, with its complex of wholesome and unwholesome mental tendencies; while we are often dominated by greed, ill-will, and delusion, it is possible to change and grow out of these tendencies; therefore the proper purpose in punishment is education for reformation of the person. The author presents Tibet as an example of a society formed by a Buddhist worldview; correspondingly, the understanding of crime and punishment in Tibetan society is shaped by this worldview. The criminal justice system in Tibet is therefore very different from modern Western criminal justice systems. While the Tibetan conjunction of religious worldview and political society may seem undesirable in modern Western societies, Loy argues that in fact Western societies do not have truly secular states with separation of religion and politics. Tracing historical and religious (Christian) developments since the medieval period, he concludes that the state in modern Western societies occupies a quasi-religious status and functions with a quasi-religious authority, determining worldview with corresponding ideas and practices. In criminal justice, this worldview places the state and its laws at the center, not the people directly involved (victim, offender, and local community) and their conflict. Loy claims this constitutes a sharp conflict between “biblical/Buddhist justice and state justice.â€?


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