The Just King
Leadership. Power. Responsibility. From Sun Tzu to Plato to Machiavelli, sages east and west have advised kings and rulers on how to lead. Their motivations and techniques have varied, but one thing they have in common is that the relevance of their advice has reached far beyond the few individuals to whom they were originally addressing. Over the centuries, millions have read their works and continue to be inspired by their teachings.
The nineteenth-century Buddhist monk and luminary Jamgön Mipham’s letter to the king of Dergé, whose small kingdom straddled China and Tibet during a particularly turbulent period, is similar in the universality of its message. This work, however, is unique in that it stresses compassion, impartiality, self-control, and virtue as essential for long-lasting success—whether as a leader or an individual trying to live a meaningful life. Mipham’s historic contribution to ethics and governance, until now little studied outside of Buddhist circles, teaches us the importance of protecting life, implementing fair taxation, supporting environmental sustainability, aiding the poor, and safeguarding freedom of religion. Both present-day leaders and those they lead will find this classic work, finally available in English, profoundly illuminating on political, societal, and personal levels.
"Written more than a century ago for a prince in eastern Tibet, Mipham's great didactic poem on the principles of royal ethics, The Just King, is stunningly relevant to our own era. José Cabezón's typically lucid and learned translation is a pleasure to read and brings Mipham's insights alive for the modern reader. If every president, CEO, or indeed anyone in a position of authority, took seriously the sage counsel of The Just King, the world would be a far better place for it: more just, more peaceful, more harmonious." —Roger Jackson, Professor Emeritus of Asian Studies and Religion, Carleton College
"Ju Mipham Rinpoche’s treatise of The Just King remains a profound inspiration for our world today. The book highlights the mutual bonds of affectionate respect that must exist between people in positions of power and the general population in order for the word ‘civilization’ to have any deeper meaning. In what was to be our final conversation, Khenpo Dazer Rinpoche, whom I am fortunate to count among my kind philosophy teachers, impressed upon me his wish to see Mipham Rinpoche’s treatise translated into English. I am grateful and delighted to know that Professor Cabezón has devoted his scholarly erudition to this project and has translated this work so masterfully. Tossing flowers of praise, I rejoice and offer prayers for a wise and compassionate world." —Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche
"This is a wonderful book that draws out a common ground of ethics for Buddhists, politicians, and Dharma kings. Professor Cabezón delivers a readable and accurate translation of this unique treatise in Jamgön Mipham’s vast corpus. His introduction draws the reader into this remarkable text by situating the work within the distinctive social and historical contexts of this genre in Tibet and India, while highlighting the complex and tenacious relationships between politics and religion, as well as spiritual and secular power." —Douglas Duckworth, author of Jamgön Mipam: His Life and Teachings