keep liberalism out of buddhism

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Upeksha
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Re: keep liberalism out of buddhism

Post by Upeksha » Sat Mar 17, 2018 8:16 am

dylanj wrote:
Sat Mar 17, 2018 6:46 am
Upeksha wrote:
Sat Mar 17, 2018 2:14 am
Just out of interest, when people here say 'keep liberalism out Buddhism,' what do they mean by 'liberalism?'

i.e. in America this term signifies a kind of progressive politics. But in political philosophy it signifies a tradition of thinking which has its roots in figures such as John Locke, Immanuel Kant and JS Mill + contemporary thinkers such as John Rawls and Isaiah Berlin.

There are many different strands of political liberalism, some of which are contradictory, but all tend to privilege two key principles: 1. private property rights. 2. maximum freedom for the individual from the state.

Is this what people here want 'out' of Buddhism? Or are they using the term loosely to signify something like 'progressive views I don't like.'
i mean identity politics & social justice - modern american liberalism. not classical economic liberalism altho i can complain about that too if u'd like :)
I am sympathetic to the view that identity politics and Buddhadhamma are contradictory. But this cuts both ways - i.e. left and right. Often people on the right wager deep critiques of identity politics whilst failing to realise that they are deeply invested in particular forms of identity politics.

As for social justice - well, this is a more vexing question. I think it depends upon which specific issue, and what kinds of moral-poitical arguments are made in support of them. Which ones are you rallying against? And why? And how much of your reasoning is shaped by Buddhism?

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mikenz66
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Re: keep liberalism out of buddhism

Post by mikenz66 » Sat Mar 17, 2018 8:31 am

dylanj wrote:
Sat Mar 17, 2018 6:45 am
..
self-defense & admonishment are different & these are valid forms of acting against misogyngy & racism etc. on an interpersonal 1-on-1 level, when the opportunity arises & one has the chance to actually do something.

trying to solve these problems systemically on the other hand is foolish & a waste of one's efforts. it's like trying to remove all the suffering in the world without removing one's own.
Thank you for presenting some thoughtful opinions.

One question I would ask is where you think "interpersonal" stops and "systematic" begins. I have a responsibility to deal with such issues at an organisational level, and I see that as part of my "right speech, action, livelihood". And I have seen some gratifying changes over the past few decades, in my country, and my organisation.

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Re: keep liberalism out of buddhism

Post by binocular » Sat Mar 17, 2018 12:00 pm

dylanj wrote:
Fri Mar 16, 2018 9:57 pm
binocular wrote:
Fri Mar 16, 2018 9:50 pm
dylanj wrote:
Fri Mar 16, 2018 9:46 pm
my view here is: dhamma practice is the best way to deal with the suffering of oppression, & it's impossibly to fully remove oppression in all forms from the world

that's it.
Since nobody [edit: in this discussion] disagrees with this stance of yours, it's not clear what the problem is.
yes it's not clear to me either. i think my wording pissed people off & triggered their social justice defense-mechanisms so they freaked out & assumed things I didn't say
You did not state your stance (underlined) this way in the beginning.
In your OP, you said:
dylanj wrote:
Wed Mar 14, 2018 11:00 am
the suffering of women would be more alleviated by them accepting that society forces them into a submissive role by & large as opposed to trying to change the whole darn world
Which I questioned, and asked you
binocular wrote:
Fri Mar 16, 2018 11:59 am
It's not clear how my suffering as a woman would be alleviated if I would "accept that society forces me into a submissive role".
Can you explain?
Which you didn't explain, but just stated
dylanj wrote:
Fri Mar 16, 2018 7:06 pm
well given that you don't already accept it, of course; in such a case accepting it would relieve you of the pain of feeling oppressed
Since you're not an oracle, and I don't believe in divination, I expect some explanations, with canonical support.

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Re: keep liberalism out of buddhism

Post by binocular » Sat Mar 17, 2018 1:51 pm

mikenz66 wrote:
Sat Mar 17, 2018 8:31 am
One question I would ask is where you think "interpersonal" stops and "systematic" begins.
I think people tend to refer to notions of "society" (or "system") when they have some use for doing so. This use can be of two kinds: 1. to abolish or deny personal responsibility ("It's society's / the system's fault /responsibility, not mine"), and 2. to get personal gain ("Society / the system says that this is so, therefore, you should obey what I say and be like I want you to be, because it's not really I who wants that from you, but society / the system").

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Re: keep liberalism out of buddhism

Post by DNS » Sat Mar 17, 2018 3:56 pm

Fighting oppression or what the alt-right would call the SJWs can be found somewhat in Buddhism; known as engaged Buddhism. Some of the points they make to justify their actions include the Buddha's teachings on generosity and compassion. There is a jataka tale or Commentary passage of the Buddha going to the battlefield to stop a war. So there can be some doctrinal support for their position.

The other side, opposing actions to change the system point out the passive teachings of the Buddha and the generally non-political teachings of the Buddha where focus is supposed to be on your own mind and your own path.

I take a middle-way position. :tongue: One should certainly focus on one's own path, but there is nothing wrong with trying to improve conditions for yourself and others and there is a Sutta where the Buddha states the best practice is focusing on your own welfare and those of others. There may not be any requirement to do so, but I believe if a person wants to, he/she can try to change the system all the while still focusing on the internal Buddhist practice too.

And if practicing the Buddhist path is one's goal there may be some obstacles preventing that which require some changes in external conditions, for example, one who is denied basic health care, schooling, access to Dhamma books and instruction, or even basic necessities due to living in a war-torn zone, discrimination, etc.

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Wizard in the Forest
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Re: keep liberalism out of buddhism

Post by Wizard in the Forest » Sun Mar 18, 2018 12:55 am

Egad, I never thought I'd feel almost compelled to step in on what appears to be a discussion I'm not meant to be a part of, but as a person who actually is Hispanic, American, and a woman; let me drop my two cents here.

I am aware of how the world is.

That doesn't mean I should simply surrender my well-being to the vicissitudes of life. The Bhikkhunis often spoke of in utterances and verse of how their gender did not matter when it came to enlightenment, which is what Mara attempted to instill. Mara being a master of delusion.

Gender does not matter in practice.

Now to the real issue here.

It is loathsome to suggest that anyone should just endure the status quo of any existing system simply for being hard to change, and having the notion that any person is "too rooted in suffering" to act for the betterment of their social situation.

It is an enemy of practice to suspend compassion for anyone or to subject another to a demeaning system. Any attempt to justify this and invoke the support of these systems in favor of inaction is often motivated by laziness and apathy rather than patience, because the fact is these systems don't apply to you. You're not advocating patience or forbearance.

You're advocating for the problem.

Your support of these systems and advocacy for them is an active attempt to enforce it on others.

Ideally everyone should be engaged in their own happiness and transcend that of what is in their own mind, because as was stated before, the best kind of engagement is to alleviate one's own suffering along with others. That would mean actually engaging in the community and attempt to eliminate the suffering of everyone by taking a wider all-encompassing view.

The Buddha's ideals were for his time revolutionary, and he spat in the face of the identity politics of the day, but it's because he erased all attempts to enforce identity on others. Men and women became Arahants in his dispensation. There was no concern for caste or race.

And let's face it: it seems to me that you're more concerned with enforcing identity than the 'liberals' because what you want is for women and others to accept their lot when you have no stake in it. Observe your behavior, thoughts, and emotions and weigh in your mind if the reason you are trying to tell others how to be has more to do with your attempt to control others or if it is motivated by good will.
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mikenz66
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Re: keep liberalism out of buddhism

Post by mikenz66 » Sun Mar 18, 2018 1:07 am

Hi Wizard in the Forest,
Wizard in the Forest wrote:
Sun Mar 18, 2018 12:55 am
Egad, I never thought I'd feel almost compelled to step in on what appears to be a discussion I'm not meant to be a part of, but as a person who actually is Hispanic, American, and a woman; let me drop my two cents here.
...
I'm pleased you dropped in your two cents. Thank you!

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Re: keep liberalism out of buddhism

Post by binocular » Sun Mar 18, 2018 11:38 am

Wizard in the Forest wrote:
Sun Mar 18, 2018 12:55 am
/.../
You're advocating for the problem.

Your support of these systems and advocacy for them is an active attempt to enforce it on others.
/.../
And let's face it: it seems to me that you're more concerned with enforcing identity than the 'liberals' because what you want is for women and others to accept their lot when you have no stake in it. Observe your behavior, thoughts, and emotions and weigh in your mind if the reason you are trying to tell others how to be has more to do with your attempt to control others or if it is motivated by good will.
He said earlier in this thread:
dylanj wrote:
Fri Mar 16, 2018 7:50 pm
how in the world is it misogynist or racist to suggest that people accept their misfortunes? i'm not saying the unfortunate circumstances faced by women or racial minorities are in any way good, they are not, it sucks & I am sympathetic to them...I'm saying that the solution is not a movement of social resistance that aims to change the whole world but instead an internal realignment of perspective.

If we want to play the social justice game we can - I am homosexual, I think the same thing applies to homophobia. Am I homophobic?
So this seems to imply a stance like, "If I, a homosexual, can accept my (unfortunate) lot in life, so can and should others, in this case women and minorities." Or, more generally, "If I can accept my (unfortunate) lot in life, so can and should others."

I think this is a stance that can often enough be found in people. It also seems a stance that someone who reads a lot of suttas would develop or in whom such a stance would strengthen from reading the suttas.

E.g.
Thoroughly understanding the Dhamma
and freed from longing through insight,
the wise one rid of all desire
is calm as a pool unstirred by wind.

Itivuttaka 3.92
Translated into crude worldy terms: 'Be okay with your lot in life.'

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Re: keep liberalism out of buddhism

Post by Wizard in the Forest » Sun Mar 18, 2018 12:43 pm

And I'm saying that 'Equanimity is not Apathy'. They're enemies of each other. Another view that is well known by someone who is deep in suttas. If you forget the altruistic mindset of kindness and compassion then this is apathy.
Equanimity involves non-interference with the natural flow of subjective sensation. Apathy implies indifference to the controllable outcome of objective events. Thus, although seemingly similar, equanimity and apathy are actually opposites. Equanimity frees up internal energy for responding to external situations. By definition, equanimity involves radical permission to feel and as such is the opposite of suppression. As far as external expression of feeling is concerned, internal equanimity gives one the freedom to externally express or not, depending on what is appropriate to the situation.


--Shinzen Young, from "What is Equanimity"

to make that clearer.
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Re: keep liberalism out of buddhism

Post by DNS » Sun Mar 18, 2018 3:58 pm

binocular wrote:
Sun Mar 18, 2018 11:38 am
I think this is a stance that can often enough be found in people. It also seems a stance that someone who reads a lot of suttas would develop or in whom such a stance would strengthen from reading the suttas.

E.g.
Thoroughly understanding the Dhamma
and freed from longing through insight,
the wise one rid of all desire
is calm as a pool unstirred by wind.

Itivuttaka 3.92
Translated into crude worldy terms: 'Be okay with your lot in life.'
To me that seems to say through insight one rids oneself of desires . . . . "as a pool unstirred by wind."

It doesn't seem to address the SJW fighting oppression issue. As I said, I think it depends on which passage you look for. A better passage perhaps is this one for accepting your lot in life:
3. "He abused me, he struck me, he overpowered me, he robbed me." Those who harbor such thoughts do not still their hatred.
Dhammapada 3
And then for the compassion side, taking some action:
Now at that time a certain monk was suffering from dysentery and lay where he had fallen in his own excrement. The Buddha and Ananda were visiting the lodgings and they came to where the sick monk lay and the Buddha asked him, ‘Monk, what is wrong with you.’ ‘I have dysentery, Blessed One.’ ‘Is there no one to look after you?’
‘No, Blessed One.’
‘Then why is it that the other monks do not look after you?’
‘It is because I am of no use to them, Blessed One.’
Then the Buddha said to Ananda, ‘Go and fetch water so we can wash this monk.’ So Ananda brought water and the Buddha poured it out while Ananda washed the monk all over. Then taking the monk by the head and feet the Buddha and Ananda together carried him and laid him on a bed. Later, the Buddha called the monks together and asked them, ‘Why monks, did you not look after that sick monk?’
‘Because he was of no use to us, Blessed One’
‘Monks, you have no mother or father to look after you. If you do not look after each other who will? He who would nurse me, let him nurse the sick’ (Yo bhikkhave mam upatthaheyya so gilamam upatthaheyya, Vin. I. 301).

Mahavagga 8.26.1-8

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Re: keep liberalism out of buddhism

Post by binocular » Sun Mar 18, 2018 5:58 pm

Wizard in the Forest wrote:
Sun Mar 18, 2018 12:43 pm
And I'm saying that 'Equanimity is not Apathy'. They're enemies of each other. Another view that is well known by someone who is deep in suttas. If you forget the altruistic mindset of kindness and compassion then this is apathy.
Equanimity involves non-interference with the natural flow of subjective sensation. Apathy implies indifference to the controllable outcome of objective events. Thus, although seemingly similar, equanimity and apathy are actually opposites. Equanimity frees up internal energy for responding to external situations. By definition, equanimity involves radical permission to feel and as such is the opposite of suppression. As far as external expression of feeling is concerned, internal equanimity gives one the freedom to externally express or not, depending on what is appropriate to the situation.


--Shinzen Young, from "What is Equanimity"

to make that clearer.
This is not a Theravadan understanding of equanimity; and we're at a Theravadan forum.

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Re: keep liberalism out of buddhism

Post by Wizard in the Forest » Sun Mar 18, 2018 6:01 pm

The Theravadin idea of equanimity is still in play here, actually. I remember the near enemy of equanimity is still apathy.
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Re: keep liberalism out of buddhism

Post by DNS » Sun Mar 18, 2018 6:09 pm

Wizard in the Forest wrote:
Sun Mar 18, 2018 6:01 pm
The Theravadin idea of equanimity is still in play here, actually. I remember the near enemy of equanimity is still apathy.
Correct, apathy or indifference.

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Re: keep liberalism out of buddhism

Post by binocular » Sun Mar 18, 2018 6:12 pm

Wizard in the Forest wrote:
Sun Mar 18, 2018 6:01 pm
The Theravadin idea of equanimity is still in play here, actually. I remember the near enemy of equanimity is still apathy.
My point is that equanimity is seen in Theravada (at least by some Theravadan teachers (such as Thanissaro Bhikkhu, to whom I'm referring to here) and suttas) as a part of the system of the four brahmaviharas: goodwill, compassion, sympathetic joy, and equanimity. They are to be practiced in succession, starting with goodwill. The idea is that one should first have goodwill; and then, when one cannot have goodwill anymore, one should have compassion; when one cannot have compassion anymore, one should have sympathetic joy; and it's only after one has exhausted one's ability for those three, that one should resort to equanimity, central to which is a reflection on kamma.

As far as I understood, the enemy of equanimity is apathy not because apathy lacks compassion or goodwill, but because apathy lacks the reflection on kamma.

It could be argued that some people resort to equanimity too quickly. But if they resort to equanmity after having first tried out with whatever capacity for the first three brahmaviharas they have, then those people cannot be found fault with.

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Re: keep liberalism out of buddhism

Post by Wizard in the Forest » Sun Mar 18, 2018 6:15 pm

I don't remember there being a 'succession' at all. The Brahmaviharas are the four illimitables.
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