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Thread: Trump - Buddhism and politics

  1. #1

    Trump - Buddhism and politics

    A recent article points to increased political resistance by the US Buddhist community. What are our thoughts on this in the Dhammaloka community?

    Here are two references:

    April 3, 2017. “Stand Against Suffering: An Unprecedented Call to Action by Buddhist Teachers” https://www.lionsroar.com/stand-against-suffering/

    Venerable K. Sri Dhammananda Maha Thera
    Buddhism and politics
    http://www.budsas.org/ebud/whatbudbeliev/229.htm
    “Here are roots of trees, here are empty huts – practice jhana! Do not be negligent! Do not regret it later!” - Buddha

  2. #2
    Administrator/ 5 Precept Keeper Senior Member Jerrod Lopes's Avatar
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    Ed,

    I admit I skimmed the first article after I realized it had a decidedly strong slant to the left of the political spectrum. I tend to land right in the middle. Go figure. My view is that those who wish to live in peace should stay away from politics as much as possible. I don't agree that in order to be a good Buddhist one has to be engaged. For a follower of the Buddha to long for utopia, that follower, I say, has not gotten the meanings of the Buddha. Frankly I am surprised to see so many monks involved in this. I will hope that as many people as possible see the folly in all of it and learn the lessons it has taken me oh so long to learn, and continue to learn.

  3. #3
    Thanks Jerrod for your input. I thought Dhammananda's article was pretty genuine regarding the Buddha and his take on politics with Dhammananda's references to the various suttas.
    “Here are roots of trees, here are empty huts – practice jhana! Do not be negligent! Do not regret it later!” - Buddha

  4. #4
    Administrator/ 5 Precept Keeper Senior Member Jerrod Lopes's Avatar
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    I read that right after. I agree.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Mara Pacers's Avatar
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    This is such an interesting topic.
    The short answer to your question Ed, is that I agree with you and Jerrod, though I am surprised to see the signatures on the first article. It makes me wonder if my views below, are flawed. It is a great topic to tease out a whole stack of issues :-)

    Before my illness, NDE, and subsequent renunciation, I worked in the public and NFP sector for 25 years. From child protection to mental health, big picture policy development as well as on a 1:1 basis. So I have detailed experience of devoting oneself completely to helping others. I view the pure version of this as altruism, very much linked to Christian values and equate the drive to be Bodhisatva somewhat similarly to being a Saint.

    Both of these work within Samsara to alleviate the inherent suffering in our existence. Essentially this is about trying to control the conditions in this mind made world. To me this doesn't accurately reflect the Buddhas teaching. One becomes enmeshed in the hampster wheel, Samsara. It is like trying to clean away effluent whilst living in a sewer. You just do it endlessly, round and round, the process of living.

    My main exsposure to Buddhism was through the Mahayana tradition, until I just couldn't reconcile the whole Bodhisatva issue. It is similar to the way goals of Buddhism have been framed in the modern world. As if one can choose to either embark on the path to reduce suffering, and/or to gain enlightenment as seperate things. In my view it is pretty nonsensical to make distinctions like this - it is about seeing things as they truly are, thereby freeing oneself from the suffering in our existence.

    The suffering itself is neither good nor bad, it just is. It gives people the opportunity to choose how to react; skillfully with right effort or not. The first article seems to have lost its way with regard to right effort. It is fueled by compassion, but I have found that this type of systemic, controlling compassion, only makes situations worse. Like we can see, individuals in highly controlling governments, become dependent, which in turn makes it harder and harder to see things the way they truly are. It is equally damaging for those endlessly cleaning effluent.

    The situation does seem like the world is currently in an unwholesome state and rapidly getting worse. I have no doubt that things will get much worse, but that too will pass, be it in one, two or more generations.

    I have changed my views on this 180 degrees over my life so far - this is what I am thinking at the moment.

    I look forward to hearing other views on this subject

    With Metta for all beings

    M

  6. #6
    Yes Mara, in our situation with one foot on earth and one foot in heaven (so to speak) the topic is interesting. Thanks for your input.
    “Here are roots of trees, here are empty huts – practice jhana! Do not be negligent! Do not regret it later!” - Buddha

  7. #7
    Political decision-making is unavoidable in deploying the insights garnered from meditation into Right Action. Monastics, due to their highly cultivated stillness, clarity and compassion of mind, are valuable sources of suggestions for social policy.

  8. #8
    I have to be honest, as a Buddhist, I see suffering on both sides of the aisle. The whole political system to me at times seems disingenuous and more about rooting for your own "team" more than actual policy. I have to study the Maha-Parrinibbana Sutta more when thinking of politics.

  9. #9
    Administrator/ 5 Precept Keeper Senior Member Jerrod Lopes's Avatar
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    I have a view that this is the case wherever you get too many humans together in one place. It's not natural. Politics, and bad politics, are just symptomatic of overpopulation. Just my view though.

  10. #10
    I finally decided to give a closer look to this thread and I skimmed the articles as well.

    Mara stated:

    The suffering itself is neither good nor bad, it just is. It gives people the opportunity to choose how to react; skillfully with right effort or not. The first article seems to have lost its way with regard to right effort. It is fueled by compassion, but I have found that this type of systemic, controlling compassion, only makes situations worse. Like we can see, individuals in highly controlling governments, become dependent, which in turn makes it harder and harder to see things the way they truly are. It is equally damaging for those endlessly cleaning effluent.


    Mara, I like your insight into "systematic, controlling compassion". It does have a tendency to make broad situations worse, and even in limited personal interactions where I find myself meddling and think I can fix, give advice or improve something, I increasingly see that my contribution usually complicates things more. At that point, I then step back and see that I only need to "see things as they are" and let it go on without injecting myself where I didn't have a pertinent role anyway. "Seeing things the way they truly are," seems to get buried, with people in political, influential positions getting entangled way beyond any compassion which may have motivated them at the start (and they usually get side-tracked by their own selfish interest).

    One thing missing in the articles that Ed referenced, is the truth that so-called good social and cultural conditions also fall into the realm of SUFFERING. All formations are a cause of SUFFERING so fixing some of it, in my opinion, really doesn't solve much in the long run. As lay people, we can get involved to some degree, but as I've grown older and wiser, I've decided that getting into social matters agitates my heart and mind, filling empty spaces I worked hard to clear out, with bothersome mental patterns that obstruct clarity.

    I've been trying to figure out what Ed meant by having ""one foot on earth and one foot in heaven". (I welcome responses!)
    For myself, I just know that going inward is more important than focusing on external cultural conditions. I don't have a calling to do that, but it certainly may be that others are destined or compelled to act culturally.

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