Leadership, Authority, and Religious Roles

Do Buddhists have a system of religious law?

A great deal of the Hindu tradition of religious law that affected the young Siddhartha’s life concerned ritual stipulations and social restrictions. By fundamentally rejecting Vedic ritual practice as ineffectual and the caste system as discriminatory, the Buddha virtually wiped out at a stroke any need for much of the kind of legislation that is so central to religious systems such as Hinduism, Judaism, and Islam. Buddhist tradition does, however, have its own distinctive regulatory concerns. They have to do mostly with individual conduct. The eight-spoked Wheel of the Law symbolizes Buddhist ethical teaching in general.


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