Is the Buddha's teaching a form of conservatism?

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Coëmgenu
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Re: Is the Buddha's teaching a form of conservatism?

Post by Coëmgenu » Wed Sep 13, 2017 2:07 am

davidbrainerd wrote:the Republican party is a do-nothing party
Reminds me of Lewis Black, who said something along the lines of "we have the democrats: a party of no ideas, and the republicans: a party of bad ideas". Obviously rep and dem can be switched in this example, it seems, depending on one's own temperament.
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世尊隨其所應,而示現入禪定正受,陵虛至東方,作四威儀,
行、住、坐、臥,入火三昧,出種種火光,青、黃、赤、白、
紅、頗梨色,水火俱現, 或身下出火,身上出水,身上出火,
身下出水,周圓四方亦復如是。

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Re: Is the Buddha's teaching a form of conservatism?

Post by retrofuturist » Wed Sep 13, 2017 2:20 am

Greetings,

Given the above, it's unsurprising that the establishment parties are sometimes referred to as the UniParty. Stepping it up a level, I wonder whether there's anything in the Buddha's teachings that would give an indication of whether he would endorse this kind of plutocracy? I expect that in the Buddha's time there wasn't the level of democratic rigour we desire (but often fail to get) in terms of how our political representatives are chosen... so perhaps there might not be much resistance to it in his teachings.

Nonetheless, P.A.Payutto's text "A Constitituion For Living" contains certain extracts that pertain to the roles of governance... here's some that may be of interest.
Participating in government by practicing in accordance with the principles for collective responsibility which help prevent decline and lead only to prosperity, known as the seven aparihaniya-dhamma:

1. Meeting often and regularly; regularly conferring on community affairs and projects (which are to be shouldered by each person according to his level).
2. Meeting together, dispersing together and doing together what needs to be done together.
3. Neither instituting laws and regulations not communally agreed upon simply out of convenience or personal preference, nor denigrating or abolishing things already instituted; upholding the main provisions established as the constitution.
4. Honoring and respecting the elders long in experience, giving weight to their words.
5. Honoring and respecting the womenfolk, protecting them from abuse and ill-treatment.
6. Honoring and revering the shrines, holy places and national monuments, which are memorials arousing virtue and centers of community spirit; not neglecting to honor the ceremonies required for those places as dictated by tradition.
7. Organizing rightful protection, support and sanctuary to monks and priests who maintain pure moral conduct and who serve as spiritual refuges and moral examples for the people; gladly receiving them and wishing for their comfort.
(D. II. 73)

For the lord of the land, the state leader or ruler-be he an emperor, king or administrator in general-there are the following qualities and principles of conduct:

A. Being endowed with the ten regal qualities: to have the ten qualities of a righteous ruler or king (raja-dhamma):

1. Dana: sharing with the populace; he is a benefactor in that he rules or works to give, not to take; he devotes himself to administering services and providing welfare and aid for the people to ensure their well-being, convenience and safety; he renders assistance to those in distress and difficulty and supports those who have done well.
2. Sila: maintaining good conduct; he is impeccable in conduct and restrained in actions and speech; he does only good actions and upholds his honor; he sets an example for the people, commands their respect and is free from any cause for contempt.
3. Pariccaga: working selflessly; he is capable of sacrificing personal comfort, even his own life, for the benefit of the people and the peace and stability of the country.
4. Ajjava: working honestly; he is honest and upholds the truth; he is free of deceit and upright in his dealings; he is sincere and does not deceive the people.
5. Maddava: deporting himself with gentleness and congeniality; his bearing is not arrogant, rude, harsh or conceited; he has nobility and dignity that are based on a polite and gentle manner, inspiring devotion and loyalty but not without awe.
6. Tapa: rejecting indulgence through austerity; he destroys defilements and cravings and does not allow them to control his mind; he can restrain his mind and does not allow it to become lost in sensual pleasure and debauchery; he is simple and regular in life-style, and dedicated to the fulfillment of duty.
7. Akkodha: adhering to reason, not anger; he is not given to fiery outbursts and does not make judgments or act out of anger, but has a heart of goodwill, suppressing anger; he judges and acts righteously with a mind that is subtle and calm.
8. Avihimsa: bringing tranquillity through nonviolence; he does not let his power go to his head or use it to repress his subjects; he is kind; he does not find a pretext for punishing a subject out of vindictiveness and hatred.
9. Khanti: overcoming difficulties with patience; he endures a heavy work load and perseveres in the face of tiredness; no matter how difficult or depressing the work may be, he does not give in; no matter how much he is provoked or ridiculed, or with whatever harsh and abrasive words, he does not despair; he refuses to abandon a task that is rightfully done.
10. Avirodhana: not doing that which strays from righteousness; he does not transgress the principles of public administration that are based on the welfare, happiness and righteousness of the people and the country; he does not oppose what the people rightfully desire; he does not stand in the way of those activities which are for the common good; he establishes himself firmly in righteousness, steadfast and unwavering in the face of pleasant and unpleasant words, gain and loss, desirable and undesirable conditions; he is firmly established in righteous principles and does not deviate from or subvert them-both in judicial terms, namely [the administration of] justice, and in regulatory terms, namely [the observation of] regulations, formalities and administrative principles, including good customs and traditions.
(J.V.378)

B. Performing the duties of a universal emperor: he performs the five duties of a supreme ruler, called the cakkavatti-vatta:

1. Dhammadhipateyya: holding the Dhamma supreme; he adheres to truth, righteousness, goodness, reason, principle and rightful rules and regulations as standards; he respects, upholds, favors and establishes himself in righteousness and practices accordingly.
2. Dhammikarakkha: providing righteous protection; he provides fair protection to all groups of people in the land, i.e., the royal household, the military, administrative officials, civil servants, academics and people of various occupations such as merchants and farmers, country people and inhabitants of the border provinces, monks and priests who uphold moral conduct, and even beasts and birds requiring conservation.
3. Ma adhammakara: prohibiting unrighteous actions; he arranges preventive and remedial measures, not allowing unrighteous actions, exploitation, oppression, corruption, or unrest to arise in the country; he encourages the people to establish themselves firmly in honesty and virtue and also establishes a system that excludes bad people and promotes good ones.
4. Dhananuppadana: distributing resources to the poor; he ensures that there are no poverty-stricken people in the land by, for example, arranging that all people have a chance to make an honest living.
5. Paripuccha: not failing to seek counsel; he seeks advancement in wisdom and virtue by having advisors who are learned and virtuous, who are morally upright and not heedless or self-indulgent, and who can help him to cultivate his wisdom and wholesome qualities; he approaches monks and wise men and queries them to seek knowledge, goodness and truth; he discusses various problems with them at regular and appropriate times so that he may examine and improve himself and carry out his duties rightfully, properly and so as to bring about true welfare and happiness.
(D.III. 61)

C. Effecting the royal benefactions: he supports the people, allowing them to live in unity and harmony, with the four raja-sangaha-vatthu (principles by which a king supports his people):

1. Sassamedha: shrewdness in promoting agriculture; he is skilled in agronomic policies and promotes agricultural activity which brings about bountiful crop yields.
2. Purisamedha: shrewdness in promoting government officials; he is clever at making policies for supporting government officials by, for example, encouraging honest and capable officials and providing them with adequate social benefits.
3. Sammapasa: bonding the people together; he assists the people with policies that support their livelihood by, for example, providing funds from which the poor may borrow to set themselves up in commerce or start business operations, thereby eliminating an economic disparity that is so wide as to cause rifts among the people.
4. Vajapeyya: impressive speech; he knows how to speak, clarify and advise; he takes an interest in greeting people of all levels and inquiring about their welfare; his speech is pleasant to the ear, worth listening to, reasoned, well-founded and useful; it leads the way to constructive action, to solution of problems, to increased harmony, and to mutual understanding, trust and respect.
(S.I.76)

D. Avoiding the biases: when an administrator is carrying out his functions, he should not allow the four biases, or deviations from righteousness, to interfere:

1. Chandagati: biased conduct on account of like
2. Dosagati: biased conduct on account of dislike
3. Mohagati: biased conduct on account of delusion or foolishness
4. Bhayagati: biased conduct on account of timidity and fear
(D.III.182, 288)
I'd be interested in how people see these principles, upon liberal and conservative lines...

Metta,
Paul. :)
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Garrib
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Re: Is the Buddha's teaching a form of conservatism?

Post by Garrib » Wed Sep 13, 2017 2:24 am

I guess my point was that while I dont seem to fit the caricature of the lefty being complained about, I would probably tend to be classified as a liberal in terms of American politics.

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Re: Is the Buddha's teaching a form of conservatism?

Post by Garrib » Wed Sep 13, 2017 2:29 am

Any American politicians that embody the righteous qualities listed above? Bernie would be the closest as far as I'm concerned. And he's a real lefty, according to most people - hmm strange.

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Re: Is the Buddha's teaching a form of conservatism?

Post by Buddha Vacana » Wed Sep 13, 2017 7:50 am

retrofuturist wrote: P.A.Payutto's text "A Constitituion For Living" contains certain extracts that pertain to the roles of governance... here's some that may be of interest.
This scholar is an excellent reference for Dhamma-friendly takes on societal issues. Thank you for the digging.
I'd be interested in how people see these principles, upon liberal and conservative lines...
I'll give it a try when I find time.
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Re: Is the Buddha's teaching a form of conservatism?

Post by DNS » Wed Sep 13, 2017 3:59 pm

retrofuturist wrote: Nonetheless, P.A.Payutto's text "A Constitution For Living" contains certain extracts that pertain to the roles of governance... here's some that may be of interest.
1. Dana: sharing with the populace; he is a benefactor in that he rules or works to give, not to take; he devotes himself to administering services and providing welfare and aid for the people to ensure their well-being, convenience and safety; he renders assistance to those in distress and difficulty and supports those who have done well.

4. Dhananuppadana: distributing resources to the poor; he ensures that there are no poverty-stricken people in the land by, for example, arranging that all people have a chance to make an honest living.

3. Sammapasa: bonding the people together; he assists the people with policies that support their livelihood by, for example, providing funds from which the poor may borrow to set themselves up in commerce or start business operations, thereby eliminating an economic disparity that is so wide as to cause rifts among the people.
The items in that list are general principles of doing moral, good things and I'm sure both liberals and conservatives would claim them. Number 1 and 4 quoted above provide welfare and safety nets, so would lean toward the left. Item 3 quoted above refers to business operations so would lean to the right. There were plenty of capitalist donors during the lifetime of the Buddha including Citta and Anathapindika and the Buddha praised their spiritual advancement and generosity. So it appears the Buddha is most compatible to a capitalist system with safety nets, so in today's terms, about the center or center-right.

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Re: Is the Buddha's teaching a form of conservatism?

Post by clw_uk » Wed Sep 13, 2017 4:16 pm

David N. Snyder
3. Sammapasa: bonding the people together; he assists the people with policies that support their livelihood by, for example, providing funds from which the poor may borrow to set themselves up in commerce or start business operations, thereby eliminating an economic disparity that is so wide as to cause rifts among the people.
That doesn't sound like welfare. That sounds like giving loans to set up their own businesses. That can be done without taking wealth from one person and giving it to another.
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Re: Is the Buddha's teaching a form of conservatism?

Post by DNS » Wed Sep 13, 2017 4:18 pm

clw_uk wrote:
3. Sammapasa: bonding the people together; he assists the people with policies that support their livelihood by, for example, providing funds from which the poor may borrow to set themselves up in commerce or start business operations, thereby eliminating an economic disparity that is so wide as to cause rifts among the people.
That doesn't sound like welfare. That sounds like giving loans to set up their own businesses. That can be done without taking wealth from one person and giving it to another.
Correct, that is what I wrote in my post where I said that leans to the right.

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Re: Is the Buddha's teaching a form of conservatism?

Post by clw_uk » Wed Sep 13, 2017 4:20 pm

David N. Snyder

Sorry, I misread your post.
Dhananuppadana: distributing resources to the poor; he ensures that there are no poverty-stricken people in the land by, for example, arranging that all people have a chance to make an honest living.
Yes, this sounds more like welfare. I'm not sure if that is in-keeping with sila though.
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Re: Is the Buddha's teaching a form of conservatism?

Post by dharmacorps » Wed Sep 13, 2017 5:21 pm

It might be worth defining what conservatism is. According to a basic definition on wikipedia, its the concept that some form of power and financial inequality in human society is normal, natural, or good. Socialism on the other hand would assert that inequity of power and money is wrong, unnatural, and bad and attempts to engineer society so those inequalities don't exist. I could see the argument that the Buddha acknowledged inequality as natural (due to law of kamma), but not in the social darwinistic manner that some conservatives might argue. On the other hand, he did praise efforts to make society more fair and compassionate and help those in need. So as usual with most things that lands the Buddha in the middle :)

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Re: Is the Buddha's teaching a form of conservatism?

Post by Garrib » Wed Sep 13, 2017 5:54 pm

dharmacorps wrote:It might be worth defining what conservatism is. According to a basic definition on wikipedia, its the concept that some form of power and financial inequality in human society is normal, natural, or good. Socialism on the other hand would assert that inequity of power and money is wrong, unnatural, and bad and attempts to engineer society so those inequalities don't exist. I could see the argument that the Buddha acknowledged inequality as natural (due to law of kamma), but not in the social darwinistic manner that some conservatives might argue. On the other hand, he did praise efforts to make society more fair and compassionate and help those in need. So as usual with most things that lands the Buddha in the middle :)
Well said...The Buddha taught about kamma, and how this diversity and inequality comes to be. However, the precise workings of kamma can only be understood by a Buddha. While one person may enjoy tremendous benefits and advantage in this life relative to another, this doesn't necessarily mean that the former is morally superior (now, or even on average in the past) - what it means is that such and such particular kamma is bearings its results in the present, though we can't know what will come in the future. Furthermore, the Buddha viewed all conditions brought about through kamma as being unsatisfactory, as something alien and terrifying - the point was to become liberated from all this crap, not to set up whole societal systems that seek to selfishly validate and maintain whatever relative advantage you might have over others. The result of that is cruelty, intolerance, and I think, more delusion and clinging to self. I've said it before and I'll probably say it again - the Buddha was not a right winger, nor a lefty, he was fully enlightened. We worldlings on the other hand, hold partial and distorted views about what we are, how the world is, and how it should be - and then we quarrel with each other, endlessly. It is what it is - I personally think it would be better if we just focused on understanding and practicing the Dhamma, rather than trying to co-opt the Buddha to support our naive, pre-conceived notions - especially ones that border on bigotry and hatred.

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Re: Is the Buddha's teaching a form of conservatism?

Post by clw_uk » Wed Sep 13, 2017 5:59 pm

Garrib
Well said...The Buddha taught about kamma, and how this diversity and inequality comes to be. However, the precise workings of kamma can only be understood by a Buddha. While one person may enjoy tremendous benefits and advantage in this life relative to another, this doesn't necessarily mean that the former is morally superior (now, or even on average in the past) - what it means is that such and such particular kamma is bearings its results in the present, though we can't know what will come in the future. Furthermore, the Buddha viewed all conditions brought about through kamma as being unsatisfactory, as something alien and terrifying - the point was to become liberated from all this crap, not to set up whole societal systems that seek to selfishly validate and maintain whatever relative advantage you might have over others. The result of that is cruelty, intolerance, and I think, more delusion and clinging to self. I've said it before and I'll probably say it again - the Buddha was not a right winger, nor a lefty, he was fully enlightened. We worldlings on the other hand, hold partial and distorted views about what we are, how the world is, and how it should be - and then we quarrel with each other, endlessly. It is what it is - I personally think it would be better if we just focused on understanding and practicing the Dhamma, rather than trying to co-opt the Buddha to support our naive, pre-conceived notions - especially ones that border on bigotry and hatred.

The Dhamma isn't a political philosophy, but some political ideologies are more compatible with it than others. For example, Nazism isn't.
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Re: Is the Buddha's teaching a form of conservatism?

Post by Garrib » Wed Sep 13, 2017 6:25 pm

We're definitely in agreement there - nazism and Buddhism are not compatible.

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Re: Is the Buddha's teaching a form of conservatism?

Post by clw_uk » Wed Sep 13, 2017 6:26 pm

Garrib wrote:We're definitely in agreement there - nazism and Buddhism are not compatible.
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