Response to Wrong Views?

Discuss the application of the Dharma to situations of social, political, environmental and economic suffering and injustice.
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Queequeg
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Response to Wrong Views?

Post by Queequeg » Fri Jul 15, 2016 4:51 pm

This thread is split off from the reaction to the tragedy in Nice.
Kim O'Hara wrote:The only feasible solution, then, is to reduce or remove the conditions which lead to such acts - which are, precisely repression, suppression and demonisation of religious or ethnic groups. It also happens to be the more compassionate solution, so I would hope that members of a Buddhist forum would support it.
I don't mean to pick an argument here, but your response captures one glaring omission in a comprehensive, peaceful approach - one that I am always surprised when Buddhists leave out -

At the heart of these acts is Wrong View, and any approach that will work must address this. Addressing these Wrong Views is a messy and complicated endeavor, but it in no small part starts with critique, particularly of strains of Islam that are intolerant and authoritarian in nature. We can point out the scars of colonialism and more recently, the unjust wars in the Middle East, and all the myriad causes of anger, but these sorts of factors are hardly unique to the Middle East, and so it leads to the question, why is the Middle East different? I dunno. Maybe its because of the tropes they're trapped in. Maybe we should give some credence to the explanations of the individuals who pull this stuff off, who claim they do it in the name of their God, and start there.

As Buddhists, is it our responsibility to point out these Wrong Views? Explain how they are Wrong?
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Re: Response to Wrong Views?

Post by Simon E. » Fri Jul 15, 2016 5:43 pm

Queequeg wrote:
Kim O'Hara wrote:The only feasible solution, then, is to reduce or remove the conditions which lead to such acts - which are, precisely repression, suppression and demonisation of religious or ethnic groups. It also happens to be the more compassionate solution, so I would hope that members of a Buddhist forum would support it.
I don't mean to pick an argument here, but your response captures one glaring omission in a comprehensive, peaceful approach - one that I am always surprised when Buddhists leave out -

At the heart of these acts is Wrong View, and any approach that will work must address this. Addressing these Wrong Views is a messy and complicated endeavor, but it in no small part starts with critique, particularly of strains of Islam that are intolerant and authoritarian in nature. We can point out the scars of colonialism and more recently, the unjust wars in the Middle East, and all the myriad causes of anger, but these sorts of factors are hardly unique to the Middle East, and so it leads to the question, why is the Middle East different? I dunno. Maybe its because of the tropes they're trapped in. Maybe we should give some credence to the explanations of the individuals who pull this stuff off, who claim they do it in the name of their God, and start there.

As Buddhists, is it our responsibility to point out these Wrong Views? Explain how they are Wrong?
The whole concept of Wrong View cannot be plucked from its context, the Buddha's Dharma. Outside of that context, it has little meaning. Even within that context it is interpreted in different ways according to the specific Buddhist tradition.
Wrong View is not an absolute irrespective of the subjects world view.
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Re: Response to Wrong Views?

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Fri Jul 15, 2016 5:46 pm

Queequeg wrote:
and so it leads to the question, why is the Middle East different? I dunno. Maybe its because of the tropes they're trapped in. Maybe we should give some credence to the explanations of the individuals who pull this stuff off, who claim they do it in the name of their God, and start there.

As Buddhists, is it our responsibility to point out these Wrong Views? Explain how they are Wrong?
On one level you're right that this IS connected to a particular interpretation of Islam, and I think that probably changes within Islam will be part of the likely solution.

On the other hand, in terms of violence the Middle East is not unique at all, look at the number of civilians that were killed by Pol Pot..in fact, look at the many genocides of the 20th century..there is nothing unique about this kind of violence, it is just a permutation that affects the West directly.
Last edited by Johnny Dangerous on Fri Jul 15, 2016 5:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Response to Wrong Views?

Post by Queequeg » Fri Jul 15, 2016 5:49 pm

Simon, Last I checked, Wrong View didn't have a caveat exempting its application in certain circumstances. Can you point me in the right direction?
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Re: Response to Wrong Views?

Post by Queequeg » Fri Jul 15, 2016 6:04 pm

Johnny Dangerous wrote: On one level you're right that this IS connected to a particular interpretation of Islam, and I think that probably changes within Islam will be part of the likely solution.

On the other hand, the Middle East is not unique at all, look at the number of civilians that were killed by Pol Pot..in fact, look at the many genocides of the 20th century..there is nothing unique about this kind of violence, it is just a permutation that affects the West directly.
Note, I want this discussion to not blow up, so understand I really am interested in the different ways to think about this. So, knowing that this can be a touchy subject, I promise to tread lightly and kindly for the sake of having the discussion, I hope others will participate on similar terms too.

A different permutation is different. That was a particular interpretation of Marxism that informed what happened in Cambodia. They wanted to erase history and start from scratch. Its similar to what motivated the Cultural Revolution, and similar ideas informed Stalin. In any event, Southeast Asia and its history in the 50's, 60s and 70s was different in a host of ways. You can't just draw some vague connection and say the only thing different is that what's happening in the Middle East affects the West. Most of the violence is in the Middle East - Arab on Arab, Muslim on Muslim. Qualitatively what's happening in the Middle East is totally different.

This is a different question -

My understanding of Buddhism is that it is applicable to all people. The Four Noble Truths are as applicable for someone born in Mecca as they are for someone born in Thailand, or Arizona, as the case may be. Why does the Buddhist critique of Wrong Views stop because someone claims one particular set of views or another?

I think it is applicable to all, so then the decision to not address Wrong Views is based on another factor. Am I off base in that apprehension?
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Re: Response to Wrong Views?

Post by Simon E. » Fri Jul 15, 2016 6:11 pm

What I am saying that that outside of the practical application of Buddhadharma it has no more meaning than does Sharia Law outside Islam. If you are actually proposing that a description of Wrong View should be part of a reaction to modify the behaviour of those who perpetrate such acts.
Wrong View is not a stand alone absolute.

If you are offering a Buddhist explanation of such behaviour to other Buddhists that is a different matter.
"Any major dude with half a heart
Will surely tell you my friend,
Any minor world that breaks apart
Can fall together again.
Any major dude will tell you."

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Re: Response to Wrong Views?

Post by Queequeg » Fri Jul 15, 2016 6:21 pm

Simon E. wrote:What I am saying that that outside of the practical application of Buddhadharma it has no more meaning than does Sharia Law outside Islam. If you are actually proposing that a description of Wrong View should be part of a reaction to modify the behaviour of those who perpetrate such acts.
Wrong View is not a stand alone absolute.

If you are offering a Buddhist explanation of such behaviour to other Buddhists that is a different matter.
What is outside the practical application of Buddhadharma? Where do we draw that distinction -what's the criteria? Why should the Buddhist explanation of behavior only be offered to Buddhists?
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Re: Response to Wrong Views?

Post by Simon E. » Fri Jul 15, 2016 6:27 pm

It shouldn't be 'only offered to Buddhists'..but the Eightfold Path is a series of skillful means within the schemata of Buddhadharma..not a description of Ontological reality.
"Any major dude with half a heart
Will surely tell you my friend,
Any minor world that breaks apart
Can fall together again.
Any major dude will tell you."

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Re: Response to Wrong Views?

Post by Queequeg » Fri Jul 15, 2016 6:36 pm

Simon E. wrote:It shouldn't be 'only offered to Buddhists'..but the Eightfold Path is a series of skillful means within the schemata of Buddhadharma..not a description of Ontological reality.
True... but, as in the case of the 62 Wrong Views, it is a denial of certain conceptions of ontological reality...

But I get your point.

It would seem to me, these young men who are perpetrating these acts might have been diverted from that course of action had they been exposed to alternative approaches to their existential problems. Maybe I'm biased, but I don't see someone engaged in the struggle for enlightenment strapping bombs to themselves, mowing people down with assault rifles, or driving a truck through crowded streets.

Again, as Buddhists, do we have a responsibility to our fellow beings to expose them to the Buddhadharma, at least open alternative opportunities for them?
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Re: Response to Wrong Views?

Post by Simon E. » Fri Jul 15, 2016 6:41 pm

They might. Had they.
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Will surely tell you my friend,
Any minor world that breaks apart
Can fall together again.
Any major dude will tell you."

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Re: Response to Wrong Views?

Post by Karma Dorje » Fri Jul 15, 2016 7:35 pm

Queequeg wrote: Again, as Buddhists, do we have a responsibility to our fellow beings to expose them to the Buddhadharma, at least open alternative opportunities for them?
That is a conceit, I think. We can certainly make connections with beings so that some time in the future they make contact with the Dharma through liberation by seeing, aspirational prayers, etc. However, we can't "open alternative opportunities" if they lack a strong connection to the teachings and don't possess the necessary punya to put it into practice. If they are strongly connected to another religion, it won't make much sense to them and will never feel right. Even for those that do feel a connection, how many actually put it into practice? Given that, it is hoping against hoping that spreading the good news of the Eightfold Path will lead to a Damascene conversion by fundamentalists of any stripe.
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Re: Response to Wrong Views?

Post by Queequeg » Fri Jul 15, 2016 7:53 pm

Karma Dorje wrote:
Queequeg wrote: Again, as Buddhists, do we have a responsibility to our fellow beings to expose them to the Buddhadharma, at least open alternative opportunities for them?
That is a conceit, I think. We can certainly make connections with beings so that some time in the future they make contact with the Dharma through liberation by seeing, aspirational prayers, etc. However, we can't "open alternative opportunities" if they lack a strong connection to the teachings and don't possess the necessary punya to put it into practice. If they are strongly connected to another religion, it won't make much sense to them and will never feel right. Even for those that do feel a connection, how many actually put it into practice? Given that, it is hoping against hoping that spreading the good news of the Eightfold Path will lead to a Damascene conversion by fundamentalists of any stripe.
Putting aside whether confidence in the efficacy of Dharma is a conceit...

I've seen this argument before and there is something fundamentally fatalist in it, and ultimately, meaningless; a justification for whatever course is elected, whether its action or inaction.

Most of us are Westerners whose contact with Dharma came in the West. For that, we have to thank the people who brought the teaching to the West and made it available. Now, did we appear in the West in conjunction with our teachers who brought it to the West? Perhaps.

It can equally be argued that outreach to share dharma is also destined and this is born out if one person takes it up in response to that outreach. If you never take any outreach action, that is equally destiny.
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Re: Response to Wrong Views?

Post by Karma Dorje » Fri Jul 15, 2016 8:06 pm

Queequeg wrote: Putting aside whether confidence in the efficacy of Dharma is a conceit...

I've seen this argument before and there is something fundamentally fatalist in it, and ultimately, meaningless; a justification for whatever course is elected, whether its action or inaction.

Most of us are Westerners whose contact with Dharma came in the West. For that, we have to thank the people who brought the teaching to the West and made it available. Now, did we appear in the West in conjunction with our teachers who brought it to the West? Perhaps.

It can equally be argued that outreach to share dharma is also destined and this is born out if one person takes it up in response to that outreach. If you never take any outreach action, that is equally destiny.
Who said anything about "destiny". The reality of Dharma is that if you have no connection to the teachings, you won't find them. If you have a connection to the teachings, you won't be able to avoid them. This is just a question of samskara and punya. The teachers that came here spoke to those who were interested. They did not climb on soapboxes to proselytize. Did we appear in the West in conjunction with the teachers who brought the teachings here? Obviously. If someone is interested, we must teach them to whatever capacity we have. If they aren't interested, we should really keep our mouths shut.
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Re: Response to Wrong Views?

Post by Queequeg » Fri Jul 15, 2016 8:18 pm

Karma Dorje wrote: Who said anything about "destiny". The reality of Dharma is that if you have no connection to the teachings, you won't find them. If you have a connection to the teachings, you won't be able to avoid them. This is just a question of samskara and punya. The teachers that came here spoke to those who were interested. They did not climb on soapboxes to proselytize. Did we appear in the West in conjunction with the teachers who brought the teachings here? Obviously. If someone is interested, we must teach them to whatever capacity we have. If they aren't interested, we should really keep our mouths shut.
How exactly does tendency toward enlightenment start? Where does the accumulation of merit commence? Can you categorically say it does not start with outreach?
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Re: Response to Wrong Views?

Post by Malcolm » Fri Jul 15, 2016 8:40 pm

Queequeg wrote:
Karma Dorje wrote: Who said anything about "destiny". The reality of Dharma is that if you have no connection to the teachings, you won't find them. If you have a connection to the teachings, you won't be able to avoid them. This is just a question of samskara and punya. The teachers that came here spoke to those who were interested. They did not climb on soapboxes to proselytize. Did we appear in the West in conjunction with the teachers who brought the teachings here? Obviously. If someone is interested, we must teach them to whatever capacity we have. If they aren't interested, we should really keep our mouths shut.
How exactly does tendency toward enlightenment start? Where does the accumulation of merit commence? Can you categorically say it does not start with outreach?
The tendency towards awakening begins with the wish to escape suffering. The accumulation of merit begins when you wish others to escape suffering before you yourself escape suffering, just as when, under an ancient Śakyamuni, the being who eventually became our Śakyamuni wished that the guardians of hell torment him rather than the other beings in the hell realms.

Of course, any being who avoids the ten natural nonvirtues is accumulating (transient) merit as well.
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Re: Response to Wrong Views?

Post by Queequeg » Fri Jul 15, 2016 8:45 pm

Malcolm wrote: The tendency towards awakening begins with the wish to escape suffering. The accumulation of merit begins when you wish others to escape suffering before you yourself escape suffering, just as when, under an ancient Śakyamuni, the being who eventually became our Śakyamuni wished that the guardians of hell torment him rather than the other beings in the hell realms.
Excellent. Can you direct me to a source on that?
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Re: Response to Wrong Views?

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Fri Jul 15, 2016 9:12 pm

A different permutation is different. That was a particular interpretation of Marxism that informed what happened in Cambodia. They wanted to erase history and start from scratch. Its similar to what motivated the Cultural Revolution, and similar ideas informed Stalin. In any event, Southeast Asia and its history in the 50's, 60s and 70s was different in a host of ways. You can't just draw some vague connection and say the only thing different is that what's happening in the Middle East affects the West. Most of the violence is in the Middle East - Arab on Arab, Muslim on Muslim. Qualitatively what's happening in the Middle East is totally different.
Other than saying "they're different", you're failing to explain exactly how, so I'd say you also are being vague. Sure the reasons here for remaking history is Jihadist Islam, rather than Marxism, but in action the result doesn't appear to be hugely different other than the fact that JIhadist propaganda has been exceptionally effective, and their terror has been much more effectively tactically, so thus far they don't have nearly the body count...let's hope they never reach that point.

Can you explain how they are qualitatively different, and what you think makes the Middle East "unique" in this regard, rather than just a similar pattern played out with different actors?

There's always a tendency to see one's time, and the Great Enemy of that time as unique, but I just don't see much evidence of that.

They are despicable to be sure, but I think it's time that we stop treating these guys as if they are some amazing thing, IMO a lot of the narrative surrounding them is a loop that ends up feeding them notoriety.

Jihadist ideology appeals to people who already have tendency towards sociopathic behavior, I think any correction of "wrong view" would come from overall fighting within Islam against this sort of fundamentalism, which eventually might lessen the number of people who jump into it, maybe interrupt the cycle of indoctrination. Again though, if you just take a cursory glance at the life of many of these guys, they were already heading in that direction, years of petty crime, spousal abuse, whatever else... so there is no "correcting" their views, I wouldn't think.

I think one thing that will help is when the public narrative shifts from "it's all Islam's fault" on the one hand or "nothing to do with Islam" on the other, to Muslims acknowledging that they are in the best position to be a "front line" against these ideologies, and that while ISIS does not represent Islam, they are a certain interpretation of it, and one which can be opposed. The whole "it's not *real* Islam" thing seems to remove the agency of the people who would best affect a cultural change.
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Re: Response to Wrong Views?

Post by Malcolm » Fri Jul 15, 2016 9:31 pm

We are all tainted by the three poisons. But in this epoch, we are especially tainted by hatred. What is hatred? It is not anger, nor merely enmity, nor a grudge. Hatred is the wish that some being or something cease to exist.

We should keep this definition in mind when we are discussing politics, because the attachments and aversions implicit in hatred can be a real trap we may not notice.
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Re: Response to Wrong Views?

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Fri Jul 15, 2016 9:40 pm

Malcolm wrote:We are all tainted by the three poisons. But in this epoch, we are especially tainted by hatred. What is hatred? It is not anger, nor merely enmity, nor a grudge. Hatred is the wish that some being or something cease to exist.

We should keep this definition in mind when we are discussing politics, because the attachments and aversions implicit in hatred can be a real trap we may not notice.

What is the best response to these things though? I get so tired of all the breathless narratives put out by the media, so much of the talk on the subject on both sides is just nonsensical...it's hard to know where to begin.
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Re: Response to Wrong Views?

Post by Malcolm » Fri Jul 15, 2016 9:49 pm

Johnny Dangerous wrote:

What is the best response to these things though?
Compassion and a personal commitment to see the real nature of the mind that generates such a hatred.
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— Chogyal Namkhai Norbu

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