Filed in Politics

The Politics of Enlightenment

Robert A. F. Thurman

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The point of discussing a Buddhist platform is not to generate something altogether new and exotic, but to reinforce enlightenment-oriented tendencies and to mobilize active Buddhist participation in American politics.

It is a misunderstanding to think that enlightenment is some sort of final escape from life and that the doctrine of the unsatisfactory nature of samsara obviates any need for involvement with other beings or social responsibility. Because nirvana is selfless, there is no self that enjoys a state of being beyond the world. Selfish habits that dominate unenlightened living may be dissolved, but that leaves the aggregates of body and mind just as present in the world as they ever were. Buddha himself remained deeply engaged throughout his life after his enlightenment. Wisdom and compassion are ultimately inseparable, wisdom being the complete knowledge of ultimate selflessness and compassion being the selfless commitment to the happiness of others.

The Buddha was trained to be a prince in his early life, he was trained in the arts of management in times of peace and war, and was attuned to the responsibilities of a king for his subjects. He renounced being an unenlightened king. But once he attained his own enlightenment, he emerged in world history as a kingly leader with far more impact than any ordinary king. The Buddha did not teach escape from responsibility or society. He taught escape from ignorance and evil thoughts and actions. He founded not merely a religion or a therapy, he founded a quiet revolution, a total reorientation of the habits of individuals and societies that has continued to this day.

The main engine of Buddha's revolution was the society-within-society he founded, the sangha or community, with its fourfold membership of nuns, monks, laywomen, and laymen. Within his alternative society, he was able to implement his enlightened principles of individualism, nonviolence, personal evolutionism, altruism, and pragmatism.

The Buddhist community was centered on the sacredness of the individual's liberty, on nonviolence, on equal access to enlightenment, on simplicity and sharing of property, and on pragmatic, reasonable, consensual flexibility in all things. This community exercised a powerful and sustained influence on the larger societies within which it existed. And it spread throughout the world without any violent invasions. In America, due to our democratic ideals, Buddhism has one of its first opportunities to fully participate in society and to implement its principles for the benefit of everyone.

Thus there is a politics of enlightenment, a set of strategies based on enlightened principles that maximize beings' progress toward enlightenment. From its principles emerge sets of policies and practices that are an indispensable part of our progress toward enlightenment. "Practice" is not merely some form of meditation, some recitation of mantra, some belief system, or set of rituals. Practice includes the committed engagement in the politics of enlightenment, social actions aimed at perfecting and beautifying the "Buddhaverse," which must be integrated with the internal actions of meditational transmutation. The noble Eightfold Path includes authentic speech, action, and livelihood along with the five other branches of intellectual and meditational development. People should be persuaded that things are workable, and enlightened leadership can make a difference. Peoples' optimism and determination must be mobilized by a clear and holistic assessment of the situation. Defeatism, apathy, cynicism, despair—these are invoked by the few who do better when the world is managed badly to prevent the many from demanding and implementing enlightened management. In this historical moment when American democratic ideals of freedom, civility, pluralism, altruism, and individualism make America the most comfortable home on earth for the individual pursuit of enlightenment, it is an essential form of Buddhist practice to participate in politics, to vote, to speak out, to encourage those who agree, to reason with those who disagree. It is wisdom. It is meditation. It is compassion. It is ethics.

Adapted from The Politics of Enlightenment, a work in progress, to be published by Henry Holt and Company.

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joegeoff's picture

I like his idea of educating at a young age and promoting nonviolence and compassion. This take was really nice: "The purpose of education is to bring to flower all the abilities of a living individual." The bits about making retribution to Native and African-Americans and turning BIA into a fully autonomous agency were nice too. But he's a little nuts and in spite of his scholarly nature often confuses or exaggerates Tibetan Buddhism into "Buddhism". Really pushes HHDL's agenda and perspective as "the" Buddhist perspective. For instance, having a chief executive who is recognized as at least a tenth rebirth of a bodhisattva. Really? So we can have a feudal theocratic aristocracy as in Tibet? Where many (most?) significant reincarnations are relatives of current ones? None of the other schools of Buddhism I know of use such a system of identifying rebirths. Or of appointing them as political leaders. I also don't know anything about "centralized decentralism" in the Buddha's teachings.

Then of course to compare Ashoka with Gandhi as truth warriors .... um, Ashoka conquered and killed thousands of people if not hundreds of thousands. The fact that he left a few monuments around with Buddha-like phrases during the wars doesn't change that. Towards the end of his life, maybe a few years of just sayings, not killings, but still ... not at all an apt comparison except in a mind that still lives a bit in fantasy land.

Jeez, then there's this: "Theocracy is the wrong term for the Tibetan form of government because it assumes an authoritarian structure which Buddhism doesn't have. It has all sorts of female beings and angels and buddhas and they're in every atom everywhere."

Confusing authoritarian with patriarchy if the presence of female beings is thought to be inherently anti-authoritarian. Theocracy, or aristocratheocracy, is a proper term. Plus there's the history of violent feuding, in particular between the Kagyu and Gelugpa sects, a history which has manifest again in recent times when HHDL took it upon himself to get involved in the recognition of a Karmapa.

Of course, this is an old piece, he may have changed some. Though when I heard him speak the tendency to speak of Tibetan Buddhism as "BUDDHISM" was still present, as was a deference to HHDL that seemed to me out of character for an otherwise penetrating intellect.

sadhvi's picture

>>It is a marvel that people believe that Bernie would somehow get more of what we would like to see to improve the nation and the world done, after watching the dark side so assiduously keep Barack in "check" over the last 6 years. >"

I don't think most people are so naïve as to believe this. I think that most people are aware that Bernie S. stands no chance of being elected as the democratic presidential candidate. What he can do, however, is what he is doing: raise actual issues that are facing people trying to survive here: the economy, loss of jobs, the increasing wealth gap, etc. etc. This is pretty obvious and has already had some effect on what is being talked about "on the stump". If nobody ever raises the issues that are creating so much suffering here, then all we will have is the usual scare tactics and distractions. I admire him for having the courage to do this at a time when stepping out almost guarantees becoming a target .

but I'm curious, Julie. what do you think could actually effect a change? I'm curious what everyone thinks about this. As you pointed out, the one making the laws are "not impressed". What to do????

sanghadass's picture

"Ananda: "Have you heard that the Vajjians hold regular and frequent assemblies, that they meet in harmony, conduct business in harmony, and adjure in harmony, that they abide by the decisions they have made in accordance with tradition, that they honour, respect, revere and salute their elders and listen to their advice, that they do not abduct others' wives or daughters and compel them to live with them, that they honour, respect, revere, and salute the Vajjian shrines at home and abroad, and do not withdraw the support given to them and that proper provisions and protection are given to holy men so that they can dwell there in comfort and more will come in the future?" Ananda replied that the Vajjians did do all these things and the Buddha said: "For as long as they do these things, the Vajjians may be expected to prosper and not decline." - Mahaparinibbana Sutta

keefyboy31@gmail.com's picture

I cannot believe how nieve the author thinks people are. Buddhism is about compassion, non violence, respect for others etc. Exactly the opposite of what the us government does. To get involved in the political system that advocates violence, that denies people their human rights, that allows companies such as monsanto to ride rough shod over the people, that allows people to obtain weapons, that denies people the right to live off grid, that murders people and involves itself in destabilising other countries is completely contrary to buddhist belief. To get involved in poitics means one will have to compromise? Would you be happy doing that knowing that those actions could lead to poverty and death.
I beleive that we as Buddhists should not be aligning ourself with any policitical party but should be showing through our actions that there is another way.
I live in the uk and its a very similar situation here. I cannot get involved in politics because it will have an effect on the poor and vulnerable. It will involve armies, weapons and death.

sallyotter's picture

Wow, this really struck a nerve. Here's opinion #110. I don't practice Buddhism an hour a week in some gathering. Buddhism is what I am, what I live. Intention AND action. So I march about climate change, I work for the candidate that I believe best exemplifies compassion. I am responsible when i have so much to give, not only money, which I have little, but time and effort. Remember Indra's Net, we are all connected. John Donne, "Ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee." I do not find political activity to be incompatible with Buddhism. Just keep the ego out of the way.

Cook for Good's picture

Yes to opinion #110 and this inspiring essay. Those who feel discouraged at the national level can respond to the bell that tolls locally. We can serve on boards and committees. Host a tea to encourage your neighbors to get involved. Stuff envelopes for mailings or bring food to folks working the phone banks if you don't want to make calls yourself. Some elections are decided by only a few votes. Write or call elected officials to support them when they take courageous stands. I am a former political staffer and know what a difference small actions can make. Doing this while, as Sallyotter says, keeping the ego out of the way will help shift the process from the competitiveness of elections to the cooperation needed to govern. Maybe you will love it and decide to run for city council.

johnmarder's picture

'It is a misunderstanding to thing that enlightenemnt is some sort of final escape from life........ Because Nirvana is selfless, there is no self that enjoys a state of being beyond the world'

Such a wonderful antidote to yesterday's Daily Dharma. Thank you Tricycle for balancing things out.

sadhvi's picture

" However, when it comes to voting for Bernie Sanders, there can be no doubt! Give 'em hell, Bernie, or at least an extra big dose of samsara!"

lol! I'm from VT...go Bernie! ( with a respectful "gassho" to dissenting political opinions...smile).

Julie Miller's picture

It is a marvel that people believe that Bernie would somehow get more of what we would like to see to improve the nation and the world done, after watching the dark side so assiduously keep Barack in "check" over the last 6 years.

Since Bernie's talking "revolution," perhaps he'll disband Congress and just start issuing orders.

heartjewel's picture

It won't be up to Bernie ~ he will never win without a groundswell of support that would make the two Obama campaigns look tepid by compassion. Bernie will be the effect not the cause.

His radical idea is not a socialist revolution. His radical idea is telling the truth.

Julie Miller's picture

Bernie has been "telling the truth" to his colleagues in the Congress since 1990, in the Senate since 2006. The people who pass the laws seem unimpressed, and they make the laws.

bhb21's picture

this is why I am not renewing my subscription. there are more and more article of self pontificating drivel - politics and religion don't mix - I am one of those libertarians that apparently don't fit in your type of Buddhist world. the constitution should prevail in our government. we grow as Buddhists by working with and helping individuals - not trying to impose erroneous collective thinking on everyone.

claudiocbasso@yahoo.com's picture

Namaste,
Let me start by bowing to your opinion to which you are entitled. I hope that future sittings will offer you enough space to revisit your view. Whenever you have a community, and a Shanga is one of excellence, you need a leader capable of setting the rules. Buddha did more than that by negotiating conflict and many other issues that I am sure arisen on a daily bases. He also offered us many instructions on how to manage conflicts, starting from the one with our self.

Please consider two simple issues facing us today. Yes the climate warming and also that it has been calculated that 10% of the world military budget would feed every human being on the planet.

Personally I consider these like the gong calling us to meditation. It is indeed time to reflect and make wise choices.

I consider the points expressed by Dr. Thurman very actual, logic and inspiring and I wish to thank him for sharing, one more time, his precious bell of wisdom with us. Looking forward to seeing more from him.

With Metta,
Claudio

Sunjewel's picture

You don't have to throw the baby out with the bathwater. This is a kind of forum for opinions. You have your view, your vote. Tricycle offers us diverse views of myriad teachings, and commentary from all kinds of people. Vote your conscience, and I hope you'll stay connected.

Sunjewel's picture

I've enjoyed the cacophony of expression in all the comments to Dr. Thurman's piece, and I'll add a cymbal, just for fun. If it's true that what manifests to each of us, individually or collectively, is a product of karma (cause and effect), then of course we should pay attention to our actions, including that sacred right to vote we still enjoy in the USA. We always have an opportunity to think about which candidate wants to benefit the largest number of people in the population...who seems the most compassionate...who demonstrates the most wisdom in their decisions, who exemplifies "right speech." American Buddhists seem also to be "thinkers," and naturally analytical but this trait is certainly not limited to those who call themselves "Buddhists." I would encourage anyone to take some time, without getting "obsessed," to study the issues facing us today and find the candidate they deem can best help humanity, and all life on the planet. I won't say, "the sky is falling" but we are at a crossroads and which way we go most definitely will have an impact on future manifestations. Nothing says a Buddhist should not be engaged in his/her life...it's our mandala.

terrawi's picture

Appreciating your wise and loving-kind response, Sunjewel! Cultivating our innate qualities of wisdom and compassion and expressing them through "body, speech and mind" ~~in this very life~~seems to me at the core of all great teachings, including Buddhism. As you well say, "...it's our mandala."

NancyLanceAlot's picture

Comments all over a wide spectrum! Certainly enlightened activities are part of Buddhism, but there is debate about whether we are capable and wise enough to determine what are beneficial actions and what might actually turn out to be harmful. However, when it comes to voting for Bernie Sanders, there can be no doubt! Give 'em hell, Bernie, or at least an extra big dose of samsara!

Sunjewel's picture

Yes, Bernie Sanders, "right speech" all the way. I'm supporting him as best I can. Thank you for your comment.

sadhvi's picture

"The main engine of Buddha's revolution was the society-within-society he founded, the sangha or community, with its fourfold membership of nuns, monks, laywomen, and laymen". I always smile when I read statements like this. I think how long it took those nuns and women to be acceptable and, even then, not as acceptable and, to this day, not acceptable enough, apparently. Not so sure that writing out the early (and continuing in some cases) misogyny of Buddhism is all that helpful. Maybe better to "clean house" before foisting yet another ideology on society. Also not so sure that an academic does have a realistic take on how people outside the academy live their lives. The academy is a pretty sheltered place and Thurman moves in rarified circles. There are so many examples of societies where Buddhism is the "state religion" and, for the most part, they don't seem any more "enlightened" than other societies...beginning with the feudal society of Tibet.
The wonderful qualities of wisdom and compassion can be applied, quietly and with humility, to all aspects of life and have a profound influence on the societies we live in. Do we really need yet another
"engine of revolution"? How many times do we need to repeat this lesson?

by the way good luck with your back surgery, Jackelope.

sanghadass's picture

praise the lord and pass the ammunition! shucks - no point fixin sumthin if it ain't busted!

cdgoodison@gmail.com's picture

Lot of cranky responses here towards Uma's dad.

marginal person's picture

The United States was founded by the wealthy landowning class.Besides the British , their biggest fear was `the mob` by which they meant poor people. Native Americans , women and slaves were not considered persons.
These men formed a government which would serve their interest and devised a system in which any type of fundamental change in governance could always be frustrated by a small minority.
I suggest reading Howard Zinn's " A People's History of the United States" if Mr Thurman wishes some basic knowledge of US history
As far as " America being the most comfortable home on earth for the pursuit of enlightenment" I'll have to quote Marvin Gaye, "makes me wanna holler and throw up both my hands". There is nothing wrong with optimism but that statement borders on the delusional.

mariaL99's picture

I wish that the importance of voting and being involved , stepping up, for Buddhists, did not need to be said.For me Buddhism is about living our connectedness to all things , all beings , as best we can, so not incompatible with involvement at all.

celticpassage's picture

"...enlightened leadership can make a difference."
There are no enlightened leaders, true enlightenment and leadership are incompatible.

melcher's picture

"...true enlightenment and leadership are incompatible." This statement truly borders on the imbecilic. Not worth further comment.

Dominic Gomez's picture

Do you prefer enlightenment be mindless following, Celtic Passage?

jackelope65's picture

We must look to Nordic countries for greater essential freedom. There a McDonalds worker takes home $25,000 per year after $17,000 in taxes knowing that basic health care, education for themselves and their children, 4 weeks paid vacation, maternity leave, and more. In this county after working 120 hours a week for 20 years, going through medical school, internship, residency married with 3 children, then continuing to work 80-100 hours a week, I am disabled,retired,and broke because of a ruptured brain aneurysm, 2 very malignant cancers, a brain infection, 6 spine surgeries, total deafness, needing surgeries in part due to Vietnam experiences, asbestos lung involvement, with 25 major surgeries, now awaiting another spine surgery. I must live with my wife out of the USA away from my 3 children & 8 grandchildren in a 3'rd world country to survive, although where I live in a blue zone where people are much happier though poor. If you are rich, with all the support of that wealth through failure, you do well in the USA and can dabble in poor Indian slums in India and brag about famous links in the echelon of Buddhist politics but can behave like an 'ass' with audience, the general public, and family, bloated with knowledge and no real meditative practice. Buddhism in the USA is generally lead by the rich for the rich profiteering in unaffordable retreats where the poor cannot even pay room & board. However there are some great exceptions, such as Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche & Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche, who provide most of their services online for free. I am especially appreciative of Tricycle who offers such a variety of teachings, opposing viewpoints, retreats, movies, for such a reasonable cost for those far from the USA.

NancyLanceAlot's picture

Here's the difference, in my view: In Nordic countries, there is racial and socioeconomic equality, and a customer going into a McDonald's, for instance, probably perceives: "Look, these working-class people are exactly like my family! This could be my mother, or my nephew, or my cousin, they are exactly like my own kin! Of course they deserve a good wage--they are planning to marry and have a baby, after all!" Whereas in America, racial and socioeconomic differences are persistent and they "color" over what should be a perfectly reasonable thought. If I think... and by the way, I do... Oh, this person is exactly like me! Of course they deserve a living wage! I "feel" this because of my Buddhist practice and the growth of a sense of equality with others. In my mind, there is no doubt that everyone should be treated as equal, with the "golden rule."
You also comment about "expense" of Buddhism... it makes me feel ill and also makes me guffaw when I hear that people have to spend $40/night PLUS work hours to stay in a "retreat." Hahahahahhearty laughter! Don't fall for ridiculous materialism, folks. Get deeper understanding.

JYANKOWSKY's picture

Another "world-changer", knock yourself out...

melcher's picture

I've been somewhat involved in political causes and movements for most of my life and have come to Buddhism relatively recently. Whenever I've seen an overlap of Buddhist practice and political ideology, whether I agree with the political stance or not, I've experienced a feeling of dissonance that suggests to me that two distinct levels of discourse are being forced into unatural confluence. This article (and many of the comments) is no exception.

The effect of Buddhist practice on my political pursuits is both indirect and profound and not on the level of ideology. It is in the way that I choose to experience and perceive every moment. Every thought, word and action proceeds from my perception. One can call this a 'political' choice I suppose, but the system we are all a part of is entirely too complex for us to automatically align Buddhism with one or another set of specific beliefs. To do so is to enter the realm of dogma.

foxybennett's picture

Maybe not all buddhist's are "liberals, marxists or occupiers", but surely the refuge vows bind us to
working towards resolving conflict by dialogue rather than armed force, which automatically influences
our political leanings.

foggedin's picture

Not intended as a criticism of the author but, IMO, if you're going to take on the monumental job of trying to save the country you should first have a deep knowledge of it and the world. For example, there are no US troops stationed in Russia to bring home for public works. The presence of US troops in Russia would probably make the Russians very cranky.

Although I kinda like the idea of diverting $200 billion from the defense budget, I would point out, under the category of "wise speech" that the use of terms such as "New Deal like, imperialism and American Messianism." serve only to divide.

Please take note of the following - NOT ALL BUDDHISTS ARE "LIBERALS, MARXISTS or OCCUPIERS"!

I am constantly amazed by the inability of so many American Buddhists to separate their practice from their particular political ideology. Although it's obvious that the liberal side of the political fence prevails, there are, in fact, practitioners who are politically and socially conservative.

Your choice, speech that divides or speech that unites.

jdebaun's picture

i am confused by your comments, in that i cannot find a link between your comments and Prof Thurman's excerpt above. Russians, defense budget?

I am thinking that, as an American, and living in New York, and being a Professor at a major University, he may well hyave a good knowledge of this country, and the world as a whole.

DigitalVlad's picture

gribneal: "we attempt to apply Buddhist thought to our responsibilities as American citizens". That's it! This is what the whole Thurman's messsage about. Being budhist became a synonym to being passive in a political or social meaning. Like, this is samsara all around, so let's get out. But Thurman remindes us the very basic things - there is no out. Buddha tought, do your best anywhere you are. Or anyone you are. So, since you are a citizen, do your best. Do it mindfully.

jdebaun's picture

Very well said. I could not agree more, based upon what is contained in this excerpt.

gribneal's picture

I've been an American and a voter longer than I have been attempting to live my life by Buddhist principles, so those things undoubtedly color my opinion. I did not interpret Thurman's interview to mean that Buddhism should become an official state religion but rather that we attempt to apply Buddhist thought to our responsibilities as American citizens. The people of Buddha's time did not have the vote; they had to learn to tread the political landscape differently than Americans do. If we who claim to be interested in alleviating suffering in our fellow humans use our right to vote mindfully, perhaps we could affect a change in the current trend of politicians who parade their ignorance before the public with pride. As an old feminist, I still believe the personal is political.

feralyung's picture

I do research in complexity theory and artificial intelligence with applications to bayesian agent based modeling in the social sciences. I have been a student of the cognitive sciences for decades. Within this framework, it is possible to put some meat on the bones of dependant origination and what becomes very clear is that the falsehood of the possibility of being in control must be abandoned. Even the most brilliant human(s) equipped with the most powerful phallanx of comeputers(sic)(pun deliberate) will be humbled by the complexity of finding a mathematical model with which to calculate ourselves out of our present quandry. The global warming models are a case in point where only physical process are being modeled mathematically. The complexity of modeling social processes is several magnitudes greater in complexity. This is what makes economics such a sick joke. The message of Buddhism, as I understand it, is that first and foremost we must work with all ernest to attain and maintain a spirit of compassion and equanimity(non-duality) so that we possibly might succeed in being alive as a species to greet the 22nd century. Humility in recognition of our limited cognitive capacity and concurrently recognition of our unlimited capacity for compassion and enlightenment will be key to our success!.

celticpassage's picture

If you think we can "calculate ourselves out of our present quandry." you have great faith in mathematics, assuming we are in a quandry of course and whose quandry we are in.

fishman.ellen's picture

This is what makes economics such a sick joke.
I'm confused, how does a system (economic) function without without predictions?

wms1110's picture

You didn't explain what Buddhist practice has to do with politics.

To me, promoting a particular point of view, no matter what that view happens to be, in a political setting under the guise of Buddhism smacks of evangelism - and conceited evangelism at that. Some of the wiser people in government have tried to separate politics and religion just for that reason.

I would like to point out that our democratic form of government has nothing to do with the Golden Rule either. It is supposed to be Majority Rule, although that doesn't always work either.

We could go on, but I'll stop here because political arguments always boil down to nothing more than a conflict of views to which opposing parties cling like super glue, each insisting he/she is right and the other(s) wrong.

celticpassage's picture

To me politicians and social activists all insist that you have no choice but to get involved with social reform which of course is not true: Buddhism and politics have no necessary connection.

Being a monastic with as little interaction with the world as possible is also a legitimate practice of Buddhism.

wtompepper's picture

Have you considered that being a monastic IS a political choice--at the very least, it requires a social system willing and able to financially support monasteries.

What about Thurman's point that Buddha, by creating an "society within society," is inherently engaging in politics? Politics does not simply mean voting labour or tory. It is much more than that. It is pretty clear that Buddha thought Buddhism WAS political--that it required the organization of a particular social system to aid in awakening. Are you asserting that Buddha was simply mistaken in this? That his involvement in the politics of his day had "no connection" to his teachings and beliefs?

It seems strange to be so confident that your understanding of Buddhism is better than not only Thurman's but Buddha's.

celticpassage's picture

Well, of course any and all action/lack of action can be considered 'political' but then the term looses any useful meaning.

If you take politics in its generally understood way, more or less participation in the systems and institutions used to govern societies, then I think, as I stated, that there is no necessary connection between an individual's Buddhist practice and said involvement in politics.

leaharlow's picture

Thanks for your post. Separation of Buddhism and state works for me too.

michaelstumpf's picture

The Golden Rule is Politics writ Large in our everyday individual/social manifest Life-so why not openly exchange our experiences on applying the Golden Rule.Plus the Buddha did interact with the world outside his sangha,trying to aide in avoid war between tribes.

wms1110's picture

The Politics of Enlightenment? Is there any such thing?

At risk of offending some people having a certain mindset, it seems to me that "politically or socially active Buddhism" is more a fabrication of New Age liberals than anything having to do with what the Buddha taught. I do not recall anyplace in the Pali Canon where Buddha concerned himself with anything other than teaching those within his immediate sphere of influence by preaching suffering and the escape from suffering to the Sangha and answering selected questions from others. In support of this contention, I quote from the Anguttara Nikaya (10:60), "There is the case where a monk abandoning any attachments, clingings, fixations of awareness , biases, or obsessions with regard to any world, refrains from them and does not get involved. This is called the perception of distaste for every world (translation by Thanissaro Bikkhu)."

My interpretation of history suggests that "the world" is, always has been, and probably always will be lead by "average, uninstructed worldlings" and I think trying to make it otherwise is a lot like trying to make the ocean level by pissing into it. In my opinion, anyone professing to be of any compassionate or virtuous religious or philosophical persuasion is well advised to remember the Golden Rule in all that he/she does, but I don't believe that responsibility includes deciding what anyone else thinks, needs, should do, or is entitled to. Others, equally "enlightened," might have a somewhat different view.

martin.mk.klvana's picture

Democracy & Buddhism is an oxymoronic collocation.
Everyone can be a king only in a stateless, individualistic, i.e. anarchistic, society. Therefore, i think that it is the combination of Buddhist philosophy with free market economy (possible only in an anarchistic society) that would be the very basis of an ideal world for all living beings to live in.

DarrellGKing's picture

I have long had a dislike, an aversion, for politics and social structures. I think even as a youth I sensed the busy work that dominates the social scene, the buzzing perceptual-motion machine dominated by activity undertaken simply to confirm I exist. Desperate but meaningless social projects, political maneuvers, merchandising, compromising.

I appreciated this article because it topic a step back from the bad rep I have given the sociopolitical world and showed me where we might actually take our practices to an interpersonal space where they could reinforce each other. I have a glimpse of a new outlook on the sangha that I will need to play with for a bit. Thank you.

D

hector.duzont's picture

:D