Buddhist ethics at a national level

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Indrajala
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Buddhist ethics at a national level

Postby Indrajala » Mon Aug 05, 2013 2:44 am

I've been thinking lately how Buddhist ethics are not really appropriate or desirable at a national level.

For instance, we avoid killing as the first precept, but a nation needs to employ violence to suppress and/or deter internal and external threats. If you don't have a police force capable of utilizing lethal force there could easily be chaos. Likewise, a military (a force trained to kill and destroy hostile parties) is necessary for national defence. At times lethal force has to be used.

Stealing is also problematic because at the end of the day a lot of financial systems which benefit a nation are sophisticated forms of exploitation designed to get people as much unearned wealth as possible, whether it be from exploitation of the local proletariat or foreign labour. This is actually necessary because it is access unearned wealth which keeps your people calm and placated. If your country is living beyond its carrying capacity, it is unearned wealth from abroad that makes up for the deficit.

You could ask people to sacrifice, but people seldom voluntary sacrifice. They become accustom to a certain standard of living and collectively don't downgrade without some kind of revolt.

As we were discussing elsewhere, sexual misconduct to a certain extent is tolerated. Pornography, prostitution and so on might have to be undesirable albeit tolerable vices in a society which values freedom of expression, and would rather not try to stamp out sin.

With respect to lying, a government has to regularly do this to keep the population in check. Honesty and transparency don't really work. You need some level of propaganda, too, to keep the masses on the right track. If you don't do it, then someone else hostile to you will have their own propaganda and benefit from your own lack of skilled lying.

In a dog eat dog world, I can't really see Buddhist values being appropriate at a national level. It would possibly prove quite disastrous if you were in any kind of position of power or not protected by a big brother.
tad etat sarvajñānaṃ karuṇāmūlaṃ bodhicittahetukam upāyaparyavasānam iti |

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Re: Buddhist ethics at a national level

Postby yegyal » Mon Aug 05, 2013 4:05 am

What is more appropriate for a monk, to renounce samsara or justify it?

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Re: Buddhist ethics at a national level

Postby Indrajala » Mon Aug 05, 2013 4:15 am

tad etat sarvajñānaṃ karuṇāmūlaṃ bodhicittahetukam upāyaparyavasānam iti |

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Monsoon
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Re: Buddhist ethics at a national level

Postby Monsoon » Mon Aug 05, 2013 4:58 am

So what? :shrug:

Morality/ethics can never be forced on people.

Meaningful change only occurs under one of two distinct conditions:

1. If enough people willingly adopt it to create a ripple out effect.

2. Survival imperative.

Legal systems and national/international policies may seem to constrain behaviour but they do little to address the underlying issues, and thus our societies exist in a state of tension. Breakdowns frequently occur.

Also, when referring to anything as a 'national level' it would be well to bear in mind that a nation is not a single entity and cannot be treated as such.
Let peace reign!

Metta,


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Indrajala
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Re: Buddhist ethics at a national level

Postby Indrajala » Mon Aug 05, 2013 7:35 am

tad etat sarvajñānaṃ karuṇāmūlaṃ bodhicittahetukam upāyaparyavasānam iti |

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Re: Buddhist ethics at a national level

Postby lobster » Mon Aug 05, 2013 8:45 am

Depends which Buddhist ethics you are aware of. Many systems engage or change the idea of Buddhist or religious ethics to suit an agenda. You are no doubt aware of this in for example in Sri Lanka or in monastic 'politics'. Many of us are fortunate in being able to practice Buddhism. However it might be difficult to openly practice in highly Islamic states or to practice any ethical Islam in parts of Buddhist Burma.
In the future it might be that being a Sangha member is seen as a form of mental illness. So is ethics just a justifying construct?

:shrug:

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Re: Buddhist ethics at a national level

Postby Monsoon » Mon Aug 05, 2013 9:26 am

Let peace reign!

Metta,


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Re: Buddhist ethics at a national level

Postby shaunc » Mon Aug 05, 2013 10:20 am

Don't most of us do this to some extent. I try my best to keep the 5 precepts, but the fact of the matter is that occasionally I have to box on with the best of them. I try to rationalise my indiscretions by telling myself that it was necessary & unavoidable, the big question is of course in whose opinion.

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Re: Buddhist ethics at a national level

Postby Indrajala » Mon Aug 05, 2013 11:03 am

tad etat sarvajñānaṃ karuṇāmūlaṃ bodhicittahetukam upāyaparyavasānam iti |

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Re: Buddhist ethics at a national level

Postby kirtu » Mon Aug 05, 2013 12:47 pm



"Even if you practice only for an hour a day with faith and inspiration, good qualities will steadily increase. Regular practice makes it easy to transform your mind. From seeing only relative truth, you will eventually reach a profound certainty in the meaning of absolute truth."
Kyabje Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.

"Only you can make your mind beautiful."
HH Chetsang Rinpoche

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Re: Buddhist ethics at a national level

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Mon Aug 05, 2013 4:12 pm

Yes, doing what is right is hard or near impossible on a large scale..and the closer you get to having power or influence, the more being ethical cannot be part of the calculus if you want to continue, isn't that samsara?

Not sure where you're going with is, that it's best for Buddhists to support authoritarian governments or something?

You could just as easily draw the conclusion that it is not worth a Buddhists time to support political organization at all, or that they should do a small part to put some "non samsaric" ethics out there.
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Re: Buddhist ethics at a national level

Postby Zhen Li » Mon Aug 05, 2013 4:57 pm

It doesn't seem to be a huge demand to wish for a government to abide by the five precepts.

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Indrajala
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Re: Buddhist ethics at a national level

Postby Indrajala » Mon Aug 05, 2013 5:19 pm

tad etat sarvajñānaṃ karuṇāmūlaṃ bodhicittahetukam upāyaparyavasānam iti |

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Re: Buddhist ethics at a national level

Postby Indrajala » Mon Aug 05, 2013 5:20 pm

tad etat sarvajñānaṃ karuṇāmūlaṃ bodhicittahetukam upāyaparyavasānam iti |

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kirtu
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Re: Buddhist ethics at a national level

Postby kirtu » Mon Aug 05, 2013 6:04 pm



"Even if you practice only for an hour a day with faith and inspiration, good qualities will steadily increase. Regular practice makes it easy to transform your mind. From seeing only relative truth, you will eventually reach a profound certainty in the meaning of absolute truth."
Kyabje Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.

"Only you can make your mind beautiful."
HH Chetsang Rinpoche

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Indrajala
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Re: Buddhist ethics at a national level

Postby Indrajala » Mon Aug 05, 2013 6:28 pm

tad etat sarvajñānaṃ karuṇāmūlaṃ bodhicittahetukam upāyaparyavasānam iti |

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Zhen Li
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Re: Buddhist ethics at a national level

Postby Zhen Li » Mon Aug 05, 2013 7:14 pm

It's probably not realistic to expect countries to give up defensive measures, which can take forms such as armies.

This may mean having the threat of possible death to forces hostile to the country, but it is not beyond the stretch of the imagination to at least expect them to never wage offensive war or to not uphold the death penalty.

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Re: Buddhist ethics at a national level

Postby MaitriYNOD » Mon Aug 05, 2013 7:39 pm

Contemporary national politics are concentrated chunks of samsara. Of course, as human beings we cannot extricate ourselves entirely, as any monastery will lie within the borders of some sovereign nation or another, but the fact that the gears of all states are greased with theft and violence is testament to faults of samsara. Renouncing conventional politics and involvement with state systems to the best of one's a ability is something that will benefit a practitioner.
I am a lustful, angry dullard with no power of realization. Do not put anything I say into practice without first confirming it with a qualified teacher.

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Re: Buddhist ethics at a national level

Postby Monsoon » Mon Aug 05, 2013 10:28 pm

Let peace reign!

Metta,


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Re: Buddhist ethics at a national level

Postby Astus » Tue Aug 06, 2013 12:02 am

About the need of armies and killing:

The last time Hungary was attacked was in the 16th century by the Ottoman Empire, and (unsurprisingly) most of the country got occupied until the end of the 17th century. Mostly before and after that the army was used to attack other countries. It seems to me that the whole concept of "you need weapons to defend yourself" is wrong and mistaken. Just as on a personal level there are certain individuals who are intent on killing, occasionally there are military leaders who want to conquer the world. But just as the majority of humans don't run around murdering others, countries rarely rise to take over everyone else's lands.

It might be that in the USA it is OK for the police to shoot people, but that is not normal in most European countries. Death sentence in the EU is also abolished.

I believe it is possible to have the law of non-violence and other basic Buddhist values govern a society. That's what the rule of a Cakravartin is about. And while there are wars on Earth even now, billions of people live in peace.
Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.




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