What does Buddhism say about prejudice and discrimination?

The Buddha was born into a society that knew the caste system. For Buddhists, the caste system is an example of discrimination and is something that they do not support. Buddhists teach that prejudice is an example of ignorance. Furthermore, believing that we are in some way superior to those around us is an example of craving or of fear.

When people discriminate, their behaviour reflects an ignorant attitude towards other people. Buddhists believe that ignorance and craving cause people to suffer – known as dukkha.

Buddhists believe in equanimity, upekkha. This means an equal attitude towards everyone. Buddhists try to ensure that everyone is treated as such in society.

Buddhists believe that there is no fundamental difference between any human. Every individual is valued and should be treated fairly and therefore with justice.

Mahayana Buddhists believe that everyone should be treated equally because we all have 'Buddha Nature', ie the ability to become enlightened. It does not matter about our culture, race or background. Once enlightenment has been reached, there are no divisions at all.