New Buddhist Path - Challenge, Good v Evil, Ignorance v Awakening - PP 105 - 117

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  • AlanLa
    • Mar 2008
    • 1405

    This troubles me and i sit with it daily lately.

    “Unless social reconstruction is accompanied by personal reconstruction, democracy merely empowers the ego-self. Insofar as I am still motivated by greed, ill will, and delusion, my freedom is likely to make things worse. So long as the illusion of a discrete self, separate from others, prevails, democracy simply provides different types of opportunities for individuals to take advantage of other individuals.”
    That section just jumped off the page for me, as well as the section where he talks about how one gang of thugs just replaces another gang of thugs, that is unless the overthrowers have worked on transforming their own greed, aggression, and delusion. And then there is that famous line from Kissinger, I think, that says power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. I see this all the time, and not just in politics. I see it to some degree in the people I work with, too. And it seems to be getting much worse lately, not better, so it's very discouraging. I try to keep my head above water by following the precepts and hope it rubs off on people, as I am not much of a revolutionary.

    This section made me think of this song.
    Last edited by AlanLa; 05-01-2017, 12:36 AM.
    AL (Jigen) in:

    I sat today


    • Tai Shi
      • Oct 2014
      • 3307

      Tai Shi here, hi all

      I do not know how to provide links from reading, You Tub, great literature and music, mundane literature and music, Zen thought and dignity, personal preferences of philosophy, literature, art, music, and photography. Sometime ago one of the Usuri (is that how it's spelled?) tried to teach me how to upload photographs, and darned if I could get the hang of it. Well, I do remember passwords, so I can get around the "net," and I know enough to use Treeleaf, Facebook, much of Google except what I don't understand. Loud music out of my past, by The Who, and which I was listening to in 1969 through 2005, the year I received my first titanium knee, and slowly from about 1964 to the present, my love of music has been Bach's great concertos, Bach's St Mather's Passion, The Great St John's Passion, Mozart's Operas all of Mozart, Midsummer's Night's Dream incidental music, Mozart's magnificent, and tragic Requiem Mass, All Beethoven Symphonies and the Four Quartets, John Cage among other contemporary classics, back to all Brahms symphonies (4), in fact all of Bach that we know, all of Mozart, Rachmaninoff all piano concertos, well you get my drift, and back to cut to the chase, I did purchase one of Mr. Loy's books, and I'm reading it, I cannot presume to keep up with all or any part of Jundo's daunting knowledge of Buddhism. What I will say, it is with a sense of what I DON'T know, I follow the precepts, and my vows I take with personal responsibility, and, now, when I went through Jukai, my only ceremony in my Zen life, I pledged to follow to the best of my ability, those things in Buddhism that could make me a better person, and I am trying to become a better person. I don't think I'll be struck be acid flash, marijuana haze, alcohol fumes, for I tried all that, and take it from me, I do wish I had taken the Precepts at an earlier age. That being said, I sit, for the last year about 1/2 hour or more a day. I have great loads of time, and for those who manage it 15 minutes a day, or every other as I did three years ago, then found time for more as I found more in Treeleaf. Now, all I can say is I love being part of Treeleaf Sangha.

      Tai Shi
      Charles Taylor
      Peaceful, Tai Shi. Ubasoku; calm, supportive, for positive poetry 優婆塞 台 婆


      • Kokuu
        Treeleaf Priest
        • Nov 2012
        • 6751

        Hi all

        I think that Loy makes an important point about western religion emphasising social justice. The problem is that however fair a system we try to create, people can find ways to get around it for their own self gain should they so wish. In the west, sadly, freedom for self tends to be valued above freedom of self.

        I have often said that no top down system of economics or society will ever create an equal society while people intend to work as much as they can for themselves. Conversely, there are few systems that will not work if individuals are motivated to help each other and give what they have left over to those who have less.

        Since there is no society in which everyone is concerned with the wellbeing of everyone else, it is important to try and make things as fair as we can while also trying to change people and emphasising the development of compassion and wisdom as the way to find contentment rather than material acquisition (at least over and above what we need, those in poverty have every right to want to get what they need). The Scandinavian countries routinely come near the top of internetional indices of wellbeing and it is unlikely to be coincidental that those nations have high tax burdens but look after their citizens very well from cradle to grave. In most places in the world, asking people to pay more tax to support their neighbours is the best strategy to lose an election which is sad.

        So, what to do? I do not agree that politics is not part of dharma as small changes in policy can reduce suffering to a great degree such as greater access to healthcare and rights for disabled people and minorities. So I agree with David Loy that combining the social justice of the west with eastern dharma is not a bad thing. However, we should also understand that no political or economic system can free us from samsara.

        My Christian neighbours live in a community in which no one owns anything and no one gets paid for the jobs they do regardless of whether they are working in the nursery, cleaners, doctors or running the community business. Everyone is equal and gets food and shelter in return for the work they do. Extra goes back into the community coffers or to fund social projects and enterprises. This seems to be a beautiful way of living but, as my friends who live there tell me, it does involve letting go of self-interest in favour of being part of something larger which is not without its struggles!

        Whereas Buddhism has been good at living in communities of ordained practitioners, we have yet to explore this kind of living as lay families and I would really like to see if it could be done. I imagine that it could be a way of living that might appeal to many of us who are not able or willing to be a monastic but would like to live in a supportive environment with the aim to practice and do good in the world.

        Anyway, Sunday thoughts!



        • Risho
          • May 2010
          • 3179

          There is a lot here. just some thoughts. First, there is evil in the world. There are people who think they are doing good by killing, or raping women and children, bombing innocents to get their virgins in paradise. This is evil, absolutely and unequivocally. These types of people must be stopped by force if necessary, and it usually is unfortunately because some people who ideologically think you are the devil do not want to sit down and hash things out over afternoon tea. I would highly recommend "Islam and the Future of Intolerance" by Sam Harris and Maajid Hawaz. Very eye opening and not one-sided

          Plato was against democracy because he saw how one day you could be some guy in town and the next day you are the General of the Athenian army, or the host of a reality tv show and then president lol

          I dont think of the precepts as training wheels; I think of them as a compass on the path.

          I sort of take an approach of changing ourselves and being an example in order to bring about positive change. Everyone has different ideals, so its an impossible feat to erect a utopia. But fairness and equality are of course things we should strive for. Again what those things mean to each of us is different.

          For example on one hand there is greed but on the other there is a fair wage. Do I think that I should be paid the same amount as someone in a less intellectually demanding job? no i dont. I dont think that a minimum wage position at mcdonalds should be a career path. But I think people have the right to fair wages. There is a deep inequality of wealth. At the same time, Should everyone get paid the same? hmm I dont think so but this is one mans opinion.




          • Risho
            • May 2010
            • 3179

            I'm sorry but I need to qualify what I said above because it doesn't sit well with me.

            1. War -- First off, I just want to really clarify that I think violence or force should be the last option. I think that as humans, war is sort of inevitable unfortunately, but I think we are slow learners culturally and ideologically and it is my hope that we all do learn to live in peace with each other. I do agree that to really do so does require an examination of ourselves ala zen practice. And that may not work for everyone. I love this practice, but again different strokes for different folks.

            So I think we need a society that welcomes religious freedoms, etc. We need a society that protects the rights of people. We need to denounce unfair practices. Ok these are all high level platitudes, and these are difficult issues that really take time; to really address them we have to come together and believe in them as a society. I think practice is really really good in this respect because if we haven't really faced our ego-ism, greed, etc, it's really difficult to get to a place of compassion (not drippy bs compassion) for our fellow human beings.

            2. Kokuu's point still haunts me - this is something I face. From one perspective, I want to get paid more than someone working at McDonalds', but from another admittedly idealistic perspective, but I have never claimed to be anything other than that; I've been an optimistic idealist since I was born it would be absolutely incredible if we didn't work for money. I hope one day that we get to that point. It's that really awesome Star Trek vision where we do work that is ultimately meaningful to us; our work is to become the best that we can, bla.

            At the same time, I like to try and bring that vision into my life now despite the fact that there is inequality. I don't think anyone should be poor, especially in the US> I'm not saying this from a nationalistic perspective. I'm literally saying that in the United States of America we have such an abundance of things that no one should be poor here. Everyone should be able to read, should have access to quality education, have access to healthcare.

            I know there are costs involved, but I absolutely believe that if we approached these issues with all of our fervor we would find solutions. I know we could. I just know it.

            So I think right now we have a lot of evolving to do as a society as a whole. I think we are just starting to realize that in reality we live in a global culture now, but tribalism is a hard habit to break. But I think we are facing another wave of growing pains in terms of what it is to be human.

            So despite the fact that we have these limitations, or may not even be ready as a species to accept and live together, we can make changes in our own lives that contribute to that effort. Or as Kyonin would say, sometimes you just have to be a mutant Seriously, we have to do what's right and live a gentle way in spite of what we see happening.

            Anyway, I wanted to say something more about this because I do have a very hopeful outlook at life. Zen has absolutely ingrained this in me. There is something that when I live with the precepts as a guide, that makes me feel good about living, excited about living. If I can bring that attitude to the world despite the current real (or perceived) attitude of desperation, and more than that, if we can bring that optimism, I think things will be all right. I really do. I think that if we are genuine and act with care, I think that is contagious. I think that goes a long way in saving all sentient beings - a sort of ninja/stealth way.

            So I'm going to posit that in addition to being mutants, we also need to be ninja bodhisattvas. hahahaha




            • Byrne
              • Dec 2014
              • 371

              On the subject of Buddhism and politics here's how King Ashoka allegedly saw it.



              Sat Today


              • Jundo
                Treeleaf Founder and Priest
                • Apr 2006
                • 39237

                Dear All,

                I just posting the seating for the David Loy Zazenkai Hangout ...

                The people for the main Hangout group are (as of now):

                1- Taiyo
                2- Onkai
                3- Enjaku
                4- Jakuden
                5- Shugen
                6- Daizan
                7- Kyonin
                8- Shingen
                9- David Loy
                10- Jundo
                We have a couple of folks a bit unsure of availability, so still room on "waiting list" if you think you would like to join.

                Gassho, Jundo
                ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE