Why Buddhist monks become political?

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SarathW
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Why Buddhist monks become political?

Post by SarathW » Wed May 08, 2019 9:45 pm

Why Buddhist monks become political?

It is disturbing for me to see that many famous Buddhist monks become political.
They start their carrier as a good Dhamma teacher.
But when they become popular they start to become more interested in their political views.

Related post.
viewtopic.php?f=37&t=34289
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retrofuturist
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Re: Why Buddhist monks become political?

Post by retrofuturist » Wed May 08, 2019 9:55 pm

Greetings Sarath,

I suspect the reason is that they have not penetrated the noble truth of dukkha, and therefore regard its origins as being other than as the Buddha described.

Bringing the matter back to the mind and its cravings, which are the true source of dukkha, the following sutta is worth consideration for criteria as to what would be most beneficial for a bhikkhu to pursue...
AN 8.53 wrote:I have heard that at on one occasion the Blessed One was staying at Vesali, in the Peaked Roof Hall in the Great Forest.

Then Mahapajapati Gotami went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, having bowed down to him, stood to one side. As she was standing there she said to him: "It would be good, lord, if the Blessed One would teach me the Dhamma in brief such that, having heard the Dhamma from the Blessed One, I might dwell alone, secluded, heedful, ardent, & resolute."

"Gotami, the qualities of which you may know, 'These qualities lead:

to passion, not to dispassion;
to being fettered, not to being unfettered;
to accumulating, not to shedding;
to self-aggrandizement, not to modesty;
to discontent, not to contentment;
to entanglement, not to seclusion;
to laziness, not to aroused persistence;
to being burdensome, not to being unburdensome':

You may categorically hold, 'This is not the Dhamma, this is not the Vinaya, this is not the Teacher's instruction.'

"As for the qualities of which you may know, 'These qualities lead:

to dispassion, not to passion;
to being unfettered, not to being fettered;
to shedding, not to accumulating;
to modesty, not to self-aggrandizement;
to contentment, not to discontent;
to seclusion, not to entanglement;
to aroused persistence, not to laziness;
to being unburdensome, not to being burdensome':

You may categorically hold, 'This is the Dhamma, this is the Vinaya, this is the Teacher's instruction.'"

That is what the Blessed One said. Gratified, Mahapajapati Gotami delighted at his words.
Does monastic engagement in the political realm lead to:

- passion or dispassion?
- being fettered or unfettered?
- accumulating or shedding?
- self-aggrandizement or modesty?
- discontent or contentment?
- entanglement or seclusion?
- laziness or aroused persistence?
- being burdensome or not being burdensome?

Is monastic engagement in the political realm to be understood as Dhamma, Vinaya or the Teacher's instruction?

If you're in doubt, refer to Recognizing the Dhamma, a compendium of sutta extracts aligned to each of these eight dichotomies.

Do monastics such as those you allude to delight in the Blessed One's words as Mahapajapati Gotami did, or do they rationalize that which the Buddha categorically designated as '...not the Dhamma, ... not the Vinaya, ...not the Teacher's instruction.'?

:buddha1:

Metta,
Paul. :)
"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"It is natural that one who knows and sees things as they really are is disenchanted and dispassionate." (AN 10.2)

“Truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.” (Flannery O'Connor)

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Re: Why Buddhist monks become political?

Post by budo » Wed May 08, 2019 10:12 pm

Because they're not Ariyas, and they're not Ariyas because they don't have Right View, and they don't have Right View because they don't read the suttas and don't follow the meditation instructions within the suttas.
“I say, bhikkhus, that craving for existence has a nutriment; it is not without nutriment. And what is the nutriment for craving for existence? It should be said: ignorance. Ignorance, too, I say, has a nutriment; it is not without nutriment. And what is the nutriment for ignorance? It should be said: the five hindrances. The five hindrances, too, I say, have a nutriment; they are not without nutriment. And what is the nutriment for the five hindrances? It should be said: the three kinds of misconduct. The three kinds of misconduct, too, I say, have a nutriment; they are not without nutriment. And what is the nutriment for the three kinds of misconduct? It should be said: non-restraint of the sense faculties. Non-restraint of the sense faculties, too, I say, has a nutriment; it is not without nutriment. And what is the nutriment for non-restraint of the sense faculties? It should be said: lack of mindfulness and clear comprehension. Lack of mindfulness and clear comprehension, too, I say, has a nutriment; it is not without nutriment. And what is the nutriment for lack of mindfulness and clear comprehension? It should be said: careless attention. Careless attention, too, I say, has a nutriment; it is not without nutriment. And what is the nutriment for careless attention? It should be said: lack of faith. Lack of faith, too, I say, has a nutriment; it is not without nutriment. And what is the nutriment for lack of faith? It should be said: not hearing the good Dhamma. Not hearing the good Dhamma, too, I say, has a nutriment; it is not without nutriment. And what is the nutriment for not hearing the good Dhamma? It should be said: not associating with good persons.

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Re: Why Buddhist monks become political?

Post by mikenz66 » Wed May 08, 2019 10:49 pm

The Buddha often began his instructions to lay people by praising the development of generosity. For Monks to encourage lay people to be generous by helping others seems to me to be generally a good thing, and more useful than having them donate money to, for example, build larger and more elaborate monasteries, in my opinion.

Some may decide that the most effective help they can give is in the form of political action, or running aid organisations, and so on. What an individual does, of course, is a decision that they would make depending on their inclinations, skills, and circumstances.

Here's part of an essay from Thanissaro Bhikkhu that addresses some of the issues:
Thanissaro wrote:THIS DOESN’T MEAN, though, that there’s no room in the Buddha’s teachings for efforts to address issues of social injustice. After all, the Buddha himself would, on occasion, describe the conditions for social peace and harmony, along with the rewards that come from helping the disadvantaged. However, he always subsumed his social teachings under the larger framework of his teachings on the wise pursuit of happiness. When noting that a wise king shares his wealth to ensure that his people all have enough to make a living, he presented it not as an issue of justice, but as a wise form of generosity that promotes a stable society.

So if you want to promote a program of social change that would be true to Buddhist principles, it would be wise to heed the Buddha’s framework for understanding social well-being, beginning with his teachings on merit. In other words, the pursuit of justice, to be in line with the Dhamma, has to be regarded as part of a practice of generosity, virtue, and the development of universal goodwill.
https://www.dhammatalks.org/books/uncol ... stice.html
See also the talk "Wisdom over Justice" here: https://www.dhammatalks.org/mp3_long.php


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Re: Why Buddhist monks become political?

Post by SarathW » Wed May 08, 2019 11:56 pm

My main concern is when monks make specific opinions than general.
Is it OK for a monk to directly address political views about a particular group or a person.
For instance, Is it ok for a monk to talk specifically about Obama, Trump , Muslims , Tamil terrorist or socialism etc?
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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Re: Why Buddhist monks become political?

Post by markandeya » Thu May 09, 2019 12:23 am

SarathW wrote:
Wed May 08, 2019 9:45 pm
Why Buddhist monks become political?

It is disturbing for me to see that many famous Buddhist monks become political.
They start their carrier as a good Dhamma teacher.
But when they become popular they start to become more interested in their political views.

Related post.
viewtopic.php?f=37&t=34289
I dont always think it is by choice, sometimes by circumstance and often by them being convinced that political means is a better way to reach out to the people and involve them in current affairs. They may start off with good intention thinking that they can help the people, and get corrupted by other politicians dealing with to many mundane issues. And also as a way to pass legislation's, push propaganda and get votes because the majority of the people will look up to and trust a Thera and Bikkhu as a symbol of purity, when they lose trust in politicians.

Personally i see it as another way to weaken the sangha, and keep them preoccupied in worldly affairs where they simple need to stick with the dhamma and hold the sangha together for Buddha.

The Bikkhus are simple being exploited and tricked and worked into their systems, or their sanghas maybe infiltrated by political minded people disguised as monks, its all going on, money and power are great temptations, its hard to know who is good and who has motives these days

Its the same in India now, they are infecting the sadhu communities and trying to get leading mahants and sadhus into politics. Where former times the sadhus would recite texts in one form or another in devotion early morning and do sadhana according to their tradition, but now they do quick pujas, read the newspapers and see whats happening on the news, which are filled with hate, division propaganda, and discus current affairs all day instead of dharma.

Sad

:anjali:

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Re: Why Buddhist monks become political?

Post by DooDoot » Thu May 09, 2019 2:02 am

SarathW wrote:
Wed May 08, 2019 9:45 pm
Why Buddhist monks become political?
Do you think genuine Buddhism in the future will be maintained & sustained by immoral people? So if the world falls into inherent immorality, as is occurring today, with overt (not covert) sociopathic governments and a psychopathic (narcissistic, apathetic) public; will Buddhism survive? What type of Buddhism will exist? How far can the Bhikkhus continue to court the worldly of the world until Buddhism itself comes immoral, similar to Protestant Christianity, where all action is forgiven. If there is not a lay community that at least follows the 5 precepts, how can there be a Noble Sangha? If good people are politically oppressed or disadvantaged, who will support Buddhism? The criminals, seeking Protestant-style sanctification by giving donations, brides for rebirth or by merely being a friend with a monk? :shrug:

It seems every monk, that can maintain equanimity & non-attachment when speaking, has a duty to be conversant in politically relevant Dhamma, per DN 31, which says the monk serves laypeople by teaching goodness, discouraging evil and pointing the path to worldly happiness.

There is always an official executioner. If you try to take his place, It is like trying to be a master carpenter and cutting wood. If you try to cut wood like a master carpenter, you will only hurt your hand.

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Re: Why Buddhist monks become political?

Post by budo » Thu May 09, 2019 8:30 am

I think Ven. Thanissaro is making a false equivalence. Just because the Buddha was in a position to advise kings, doesn't mean the Buddha's followers are in that position as well.

Monks are supposed to attain freedom, not advise kings. When Moggallana teleported himself to Sakka deva king in heaven, it was only to confirm if he knew the dhamma well enough.

Yes, one should reflect on the Buddha's qualities, but it doesn't mean you are in the position to advise kings, and when you do have enough karma to be invited to a President's house, you can look to the Buddha as a guide. Until then, better to avoid politics.

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Re: Why Buddhist monks become political?

Post by mikenz66 » Thu May 09, 2019 9:16 am

Who's talking about advising kings?

Dana is part of the practice. For some dana involves money or goods, for others it involves teaching or other service of various sorts, which might involve some sort of political activity.

Clearly, each individual needs to decide which activities are within their capacity, whether they are overstretched, and whether they should move on to a more renunciate lifestyle. There is not one correct approach for every person or every stage of development. It depends on the individual.

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Re: Why Buddhist monks become political?

Post by binocular » Thu May 09, 2019 9:50 am

mikenz66 wrote:
Thu May 09, 2019 9:16 am
There is not one correct approach for every person or every stage of development. It depends on the individual.
This just doesn't work in the real world.
People are generally not that tolerant, not so full of understanding to allow for that kind of individualism. People generally want uniformity, conformity, and they exert pressure toward those goals.
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

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Re: Why Buddhist monks become political?

Post by Pseudobabble » Thu May 09, 2019 12:34 pm

mikenz66 wrote:
Thu May 09, 2019 9:16 am
Who's talking about advising kings?

Dana is part of the practice. For some dana involves money or goods, for others it involves teaching or other service of various sorts, which might involve some sort of political activity.

Clearly, each individual needs to decide which activities are within their capacity, whether they are overstretched, and whether they should move on to a more renunciate lifestyle. There is not one correct approach for every person or every stage of development. It depends on the individual.

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Mike
I am not convinced political activities can be classified as generosity.
"Does Master Gotama have any position at all?"

"A 'position,' Vaccha, is something that a Tathagata has done away with. What a Tathagata sees is this: 'Such is form, such its origination, such its disappearance; such is feeling, such its origination, such its disappearance; such is perception...such are fabrications...such is consciousness, such its origination, such its disappearance.'" - Aggi-Vacchagotta Sutta


'Dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return.' - Genesis 3:19

'Some fart freely, some try to hide and silence it. Which one is correct?' - Saegnapha

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Re: Why Buddhist monks become political?

Post by binocular » Thu May 09, 2019 6:52 pm

Pseudobabble wrote:
Thu May 09, 2019 12:34 pm
I am not convinced political activities can be classified as generosity.
Well, it's still better than actually throwing rocks at people ...
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

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Re: Why Buddhist monks become political?

Post by mikenz66 » Thu May 09, 2019 7:12 pm

Pseudobabble wrote:
Thu May 09, 2019 12:34 pm
I am not convinced political activities can be classified as generosity.
Well, clearly it's not the case for all political activity. Thanissaro Bhikkhu's point is that if one did feel motivated to give time in some sort of political activity, then it should be carried out in that way. Just as helping in a soup kitchen, teaching, or giving money could be generosity, or not, depending on the motivation.

So, for example, if I had an opportunity to influence the political outcome on some issue that helped some group of people in my city, to me that would be exactly the same principle of generosity as giving them money or food. And potentially much more effective.


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Re: Why Buddhist monks become political?

Post by mikenz66 » Thu May 09, 2019 8:08 pm

binocular wrote:
Thu May 09, 2019 9:50 am
mikenz66 wrote:
Thu May 09, 2019 9:16 am
There is not one correct approach for every person or every stage of development. It depends on the individual.
This just doesn't work in the real world.
People are generally not that tolerant, not so full of understanding to allow for that kind of individualism. People generally want uniformity, conformity, and they exert pressure toward those goals.
Depends on which real world you live in... :thinking:

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Re: Why Buddhist monks become political?

Post by DooDoot » Fri May 10, 2019 2:14 am

budo wrote:
Thu May 09, 2019 8:30 am
I think Ven. Thanissaro is making a false equivalence.
Was Ven. Thanissaro mentioned on this thread?
budo wrote:
Thu May 09, 2019 8:30 am
Just because the Buddha was in a position to advise kings, doesn't mean the Buddha's followers are in that position as well.
The Buddha clearly explained the Dhamma for future generations. As I posted, monks actually appear to have a duty to advise laypeople (in an impartial non-partisan manner; such as instructed in MN 139 about the method of non-conflict).
budo wrote:
Thu May 09, 2019 8:30 am
Monks are supposed to attain freedom, not advise kings.
It appears monks are supposed to do both of the above, if & when possible.
budo wrote:
Thu May 09, 2019 8:30 am
When Moggallana teleported himself to Sakka deva king in heaven, it was only to confirm if he knew the dhamma well enough.
Moggallana teleported himself to Sakka deva king in heaven (not to the White House in Washington) to confirm if Sakka had listened to the answer the Buddha provided to Sakka's own question when Sakka visited the Buddha. In other words, Sakka asked the Buddha about liberation from craving and not about politics or governing. I think your example of Sakka from MN 37 is 100% irrelevant.
budo wrote:
Thu May 09, 2019 8:30 am
Yes, one should reflect on the Buddha's qualities, but it doesn't mean you are in the position to advise kings, and when you do have enough karma to be invited to a President's house, you can look to the Buddha as a guide. Until then, better to avoid politics.
Lol. Many Presidents are corrupt psychopaths thus being invited to a President's House (such as the Dalai Lama) gives the impression of being a dupe or media stooge. Why would being invited by LBJ, Nixon, Carter, Reagan, Bush Snr, Clinton, Bush Jr, Obama or Trump be "good karma"? :roll:

Talking about "karma", a Prime Minister of Thailand spontaneously bowed ("wai") to me on two occasions when he visited Ajahn Buddhadasa's Monastery on two separate occasions. And I was not even a monk. In fact, I was wearing a blue Thai farmer's shirt or "mohom" ม่อฮ่อม). He might possibly have been deluded, imagining I had attained "jhana" due to my possible concentrated appearance; like many are mistaken about "jhana". Regardless, since he had never met me before and since I happened, twice, to somehow be in a place when he arrived at the deceased Buddhadasa's monastery, it appears, according to your rationale, the deceased Buddhadasa (whom I recall you revile), my good self & the then Abbot of the monastery (whom the PM came to visit for consultation rather than worship) had accrued enough "karma" to gain the respect of the Thai Prime Minister, who, btw, like in the suttas, visited us. It appears the Kings visit the Buddha rather than the Buddha visits the Kings. Possibly, you might be confusing Kings & the Buddha with the relationship of Trump & Bibi Netanyahu. Or, otherwise, as already said, merely misread MN 37 about Sakka & Mogallana.

But, sure. I imagine you might reply the Buddhadasa gang were corrupt monks for talking to the PM; even though you also appear to say a monk has good karma if invited by a King. In other words, it seems there might be a contradiction in your ideas.
There is always an official executioner. If you try to take his place, It is like trying to be a master carpenter and cutting wood. If you try to cut wood like a master carpenter, you will only hurt your hand.

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