Robert Thurman, in his book Inner Revolution, says that according to Tibetan Buddhism, “the purpose of human life is the evolutionary development of each human individual. Therefore the purpose of society is the education and empowerment of its individuals.”1
It’s interesting and surprising to me that Ralph Waldo Emerson said something similar, although I doubt he was acquainted with Buddhism:
“Former generations acted under the belief that a shining social prosperity was the aim of men: and sacrificed uniformly individuals to the nation. The modern mind teaches that the nation exists for the Individual; – for the guardianship and education of every man.”2
Today’s Chinese governing elites have exactly the opposite view. For them, the people are a mass whose duty is to work in industrial and other activities in accordance with the plans of the government leaders. It’s no surprise that the Chinese government is actively trying to destroy Tibetan culture in occupied Tibet; the culture’s Buddhist philosophy is dangerous to their goals.
Fortunately, the Dalai Lama and thousands of Tibetans along with many others are carrying on their Buddhist tradition in Dharamsala, India and around the world.
1Robert Thurman, Inner Revolution: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness, Riverhead Books, 1998, page 274.
2Robert Gross, The Transcendentalists And Their World, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2021, Preface, page xv.