Buddhist Sociological Theory of Basic Human Needs for Developing New Models of Social Work Practice

W. M. Dhanapala


This analysis of Buddhist Five Precepts shows the potentiality of developing aBuddhist psychological theory of personality, a sociological theory of social relationsand an Anthropological theory of culture and adaptation to environment. The centralresearch problem is that the social values on which the five precepts are based, havebeen agreed upon to solve lethal struggle over meeting basic human needs and thisvalue consensus has been conducive to the origin and development of threeinterdependent components of personality, society and culture. Documentary sourcesrelevant to this research problem were referred to and analyzed. As the explorationreveals, the five precepts; abstinence from (1) Killing (2), stealing (3) sexualmisconduct (4) lying and (5) use of intoxicants, have been based on five great socialvalues such as the acceptance of, and respect for the (1) survival of others (2) possessionof material resources required for the survival (3) peaceful means of involving in thereproductive process for the survival of one species (4) trustworthiness required tosurvive as social beings and (5) the behavior of being a healthy, conscious and vigilantperson respectively. These five social values address five basic human needs such as(1) safety of life, (2) material needs of life (3) survival of one species (4) survival as asocial being and the (5) equilibrium of the functioning of body and mind. Further, it isconcluded that the structured order of the five precepts reflects the scientificunderstanding of basic human needs in Buddhism. It is contended that a profoundunderstanding of those needs and social values provides the theoretical base fordeveloping new models of social work and welfare to deal with problems of modernsociety.

Key words: Five Precepts, human needs, Buddhhist psychology, social work

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