Article: The Zen Buddhist Nuclear Weapons Expert in Trump's White House

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anjali
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Article: The Zen Buddhist Nuclear Weapons Expert in Trump's White House

Post by anjali » Sun Sep 17, 2017 5:00 am

An interesting article on Chris Ford, a Buddhist and conservative, posted today.
A senior official in the White House tasked with advising President Donald Trump on weapons of mass destruction is an ordained Zen Buddhist chaplain, who long ago reconciled Buddhism's non-violent teachings with his support for aggressive, sometimes violent American foreign policy.

Christopher A. Ford, special assistant to the president and National Security Council senior director for weapons of mass destruction and counterproliferation, who is also a former Navy reserve intelligence officer, a Rhodes scholar and a State Department veteran, was ordained in the Prajna Mountain Order of Soto Zen Buddhism at the Upaya Institute and Zen Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico in March 2010.
...
Ford has worked in Washington, D.C. since 1996, serving on the staffs of various Senate committees before joining the State Department in 2003 as the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State reponsible for arms controls, non-proliferation and disarmament verification and compliance policy. In 2006 he took over the job of U.S. Special Representative for Nuclear Proliferation, which has diplomatic responsibilities related to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and other nonproliferation activities worldwide.

In 2008 Ford left the government to join the Hudson Institute as a senior fellow and to delve deeper into his Buddhist education. He signed onto the two-year chaplaincy program at Upaya, which describes itself on its website as "a Zen Buddhist practice and educational center dedicated to the development of the relationship between traditional Buddhism and compassionate engagement with our world."
...
In a much longer paper, Ford's 90-page, footnote-heavy 2010 dissertation for the chaplaincy program, he examines "undertaking public policy choice through the prism of Buddhist engagement." In the paper, Ford argues in part that despite its reputation, "engaged Buddhism" is not strictly pacifist and, in some contexts, the use of force is appropriate.

"Sometimes 'not taking sides' is to take a side: the side of the status quo. Engaged Buddhists clearly understand this point in the context of other social justice issues, but many of them remain curiously resistant to admitting it in the arena of organized violence," he writes. "Nor is it the case that we always have an entirely nonviolent option when confronted even by the difficult choices presented by everyday life."
For those interested, here is Ford's dissertation: Action and Force in Engaged Buddhism: Public Policy and the Koan of Engagement. I haven't read it, so can't comment on its merits.

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Re: Article: The Zen Buddhist Nuclear Weapons Expert in Trump's White House

Post by liuzg150181 » Sun Sep 17, 2017 10:36 am

Reminds me of these two related article I had found with regards to Buddhism and violence:
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfr ... ay-message
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfr ... dalai-lama

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Re: Article: The Zen Buddhist Nuclear Weapons Expert in Trump's White House

Post by TharpaChodron » Wed Sep 20, 2017 6:20 am

I recently wrote a little blog piece that I called "The Trumpian in the Zendo." In my generalized thoughts, western male fantasies about machismo and Samurai culture created a very minor subculture of macho male fascination with Zen Buddhism that attracts some who would have an affinity with Trump. I got this idea from reading about the dispute at the San Francicsco Zen center between members who felt they have an obligation to speak out against Trump and other consevative Zen people who did not agree with their take on politics and Zen. Imo Zen and western orientalist notions of traditional Japanese culture have fed into this, albeit in a misguided way.

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Re: Article: The Zen Buddhist Nuclear Weapons Expert in Trump's White House

Post by kirtu » Thu Sep 21, 2017 3:38 am

anjali wrote:

"Sometimes 'not taking sides' is to take a side: the side of the status quo. Engaged Buddhists clearly understand this point in the context of other social justice issues, but many of them remain curiously resistant to admitting it in the arena of organized violence," he writes. "Nor is it the case that we always have an entirely nonviolent option when confronted even by the difficult choices presented by everyday life."
For those interested, here is Ford's dissertation: Action and Force in Engaged Buddhism: Public Policy and the Koan of Engagement. I haven't read it, so can't comment on its merits.
In summary, "it's not always so" "Thurman is contradictory" and "Engaged Buddhism is undefined." It seems to be more criticism of previous approaches to Engaged Buddhism, and esp. Thurman, to permit violence . and is thus a one note affair.

He does recognize that enlightened leadership is necessary in the world.

Kirt
Kirt's Tibetan Translation Notes

"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: Article: The Zen Buddhist Nuclear Weapons Expert in Trump's White House

Post by kirtu » Thu Sep 21, 2017 3:47 am

TharpaChodron wrote:I recently wrote a little blog piece that I called "The Trumpian in the Zendo." In my generalized thoughts, western male fantasies about machismo and Samurai culture created a very minor subculture of macho male fascination with Zen Buddhism that attracts some who would have an affinity with Trump. I got this idea from reading about the dispute at the San Francicsco Zen center between members who felt they have an obligation to speak out against Trump and other consevative Zen people who did not agree with their take on politics and Zen. Imo Zen and western orientalist notions of traditional Japanese culture have fed into this, albeit in a misguided way.
I hadn't heard of this but was aware that some Shambhalla people were supporters of the False Dmitry. However I thought this to be merely an individual aberration localized to specific centers.

An "ethnic Buddhist" friend of mine embraced Trump for unknown reasons. However her basic politics are certain to be conservative.

Kirt
Kirt's Tibetan Translation Notes

"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: Article: The Zen Buddhist Nuclear Weapons Expert in Trump's White House

Post by kirtu » Thu Sep 21, 2017 3:54 am

TharpaChodron wrote:I recently wrote a little blog piece that I called "The Trumpian in the Zendo."
Where is this?

Kirt
Kirt's Tibetan Translation Notes

"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: Article: The Zen Buddhist Nuclear Weapons Expert in Trump's White House

Post by TharpaChodron » Fri Sep 22, 2017 1:45 am

kirtu wrote:
TharpaChodron wrote:I recently wrote a little blog piece that I called "The Trumpian in the Zendo."
Where is this?

Kirt
If I get inspired to start writing more, I will share. I've been so absorbed with work recently that I haven't been inclined to do much anything with it.

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Re: Article: The Zen Buddhist Nuclear Weapons Expert in Trump's White House

Post by The Cicada » Fri Sep 22, 2017 3:55 am

TharpaChodron wrote:western male fantasies about machismo and Samurai culture created a very minor subculture of macho male fascination with Zen Buddhism
It's just the opposite. I think we have a very limited subset of individuals in the West for whom an idea of Buddhism as a kind of "Milquetoast-yana" seems to appeal, along with fantasies of Tibet as a perfect society and very particular ideas about what the Buddha "really meant" about certain issues despite all scriptural evidence otherwise. One manifestation of this phenomenon is the vegan movement, which takes vegetarianism to heights that the Buddha himself never required and with a certain sense of moralizing fanaticism.

The the outsized influence that the views of such individuals has on the way Buddhism is portrayed in the West has everything to do with why the majority of Western people overlook Buddhism as a serious spiritual path and spiritual community despite being both receptive to the teachings of Buddhism and needful (think antidepressants) of the insights it offers.
kirtu wrote:
anjali wrote:
For those interested, here is Ford's dissertation: Action and Force in Engaged Buddhism: Public Policy and the Koan of Engagement. I haven't read it, so can't comment on its merits.
In summary, "it's not always so" "Thurman is contradictory" and "Engaged Buddhism is undefined." It seems to be more criticism of previous approaches to Engaged Buddhism, and esp. Thurman, to permit violence . and is thus a one note affair.

He does recognize that enlightened leadership is necessary in the world.

Kirt
With all due respect, Kirt:
Image
kirtu wrote:An "ethnic Buddhist" friend of mine embraced Trump for unknown reasons. However her basic politics are certain to be conservative.

Kirt
Because she is wise, Kirt.
:bow: :heart:

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Re: Article: The Zen Buddhist Nuclear Weapons Expert in Trump's White House

Post by Grigoris » Fri Sep 22, 2017 8:02 am

Don't you love it when aspiring mass-murderers use Buddhism to justify their psychopathy? Makes me proud to be a Buddhist!
The Cicada wrote:Image
I can't really put my finger on it either, but I can give examples of un-enlightened leadership... For example: Trying to reignite a 60 year old animosity, in order to justify giving an extra $54 billion dollars (for a total of $640 billion) to murderous minions, so that they can wreak havoc on innocents all over the world. That is pretty damn unenlightened as far as I am concerned.
The the outsized influence that the views of such individuals has on the way Buddhism is portrayed in the West has everything to do with why the majority of Western people overlook Buddhism as a serious spiritual path and spiritual community despite being both receptive to the teachings of Buddhism and needful (think antidepressants) of the insights it offers.
Nope. It has to do with the 2000 year spiritual domination of Judaeo-Christianity over the minds of Westerners and the fact that Buddhism is still seen as the superstitious ramblings of colonised (read: inferior) cultures. Same issue with Islam (even though it, like Christianity has the same Middle-Eastern geographic roots and philosophical basis).

It also is bypassed by the many Westerners that cling desperately to Materialism.
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
The Supreme Source - The Kunjed Gyalpo
The Fundamental Tantra of Dzogchen Semde

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Re: Article: The Zen Buddhist Nuclear Weapons Expert in Trump's White House

Post by The Cicada » Fri Sep 22, 2017 10:17 pm

Grigoris wrote:Don't you love it when aspiring mass-murderers use Buddhism to justify their psychopathy?
I am from Texas. I am not a psychopath. There is a difference.
Makes me proud to be a Buddhist!
I try to give back.
I can't really put my finger on it either, but I can give examples of un-enlightened leadership... For example: Trying to reignite a 60 year old animosity, in order to justify giving an extra $54 billion dollars (for a total of $640 billion) to murderous minions, so that they can wreak havoc on innocents all over the world. That is pretty damn unenlightened as far as I am concerned.
Not really sure if what you're addressing here is current events of politics involving players with real human motivations or if you just watched "Despicable Me" or its sequel and were set off by some aspect of the plotline.

Nope. It has to do with [...] and the fact that Buddhism is still seen as the superstitious ramblings of colonised (read: inferior) cultures. Same issue with Islam (even though it, like Christianity has the same Middle-Eastern geographic roots and philosophical basis).

It also is bypassed by the many Westerners that cling desperately to Materialism.
Kung Fu was developed in China during many persecutions as a means of effective self defense aimed at simply disabling the attacker when possible. The sōhei of Japan also arose to counter violent threats to Buddhism. The picture that's been painted of Buddhist monks who just float away to safety when targeted by bullets is nothing but a fantastic lie. Obviously, even ethnic Buddhism and it's conservative adherents would seem "macho" by comparison to that spiritual fantasy.

Still, addressing the substance of your comments here, there's undoubtedly an element of cultural pride that keeps some people from seriously considering Buddhism even after they examine it through comparative religion studies, and you seen this more often at the upper end of the social hierarchy where some people even inherit prestige tied with churches and doctrines. There are also those for whom religion is entirely unappealing, which can just as often be due to a Nietzchean cynicism as a conscience assauging materialism.

Nonetheless, speaking for the less materialistic Americans of the hinterland, outside of the major cities and between the coasts, this snob appeal isn't what holds sway. There are many people who hold to their tradition out of genuine faith while also realizing that their doctrines must be fundamentally in error given the realities of modern social life and scientific understanding. With a sustained effort over time, I have no doubt that any proselytizing sect which is able can gain adherents in the States, just like Islam and the Mormons currently are.

I often hear discouragement and dismissal at the idea that spreading the Nichiren Buddhist lineage, or any religion whatsoever, can be effective due to the effects of materialism on modern people. I can't speak for the rest of the world, (though I assume that this is true for humanity itself,) but I know that Americans will never abandon religion. It's a bit like one of my favorite bloggers wrote, "Atheism is the religion of the future and always will be." Of course, tomorrow is always, perpetually, a day away.

As far as I'm concerned, a Buddhist weapons expert is a sign that Buddhadharma is spreading in the West, and therefore a good sign.

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Re: Article: The Zen Buddhist Nuclear Weapons Expert in Trump's White House

Post by Grigoris » Fri Sep 29, 2017 7:21 am

The Cicada wrote:
Fri Sep 22, 2017 10:17 pm
I am from Texas. I am not a psychopath. There is a difference.
I was talking about Ford, not you. Psychopathic? I don't know... Paranoid? Definitely...
Not really sure if what you're addressing here is current events of politics involving players with real human motivations or if you just watched "Despicable Me" or its sequel and were set off by some aspect of the plotline.
I don't expect intelligent replies from you, but this one has pushed the limits of braindead to new levels...
As far as I'm concerned, a Buddhist weapons expert is a sign that Buddhadharma is spreading in the West, and therefore a good sign.
Not when the "Buddhist" uses Buddhism to justify mass murder, that's not a good sign at all.
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
The Supreme Source - The Kunjed Gyalpo
The Fundamental Tantra of Dzogchen Semde

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Re: Article: The Zen Buddhist Nuclear Weapons Expert in Trump's White House

Post by doublerepukken » Fri Sep 29, 2017 8:24 pm

Lol, only in America. I'm more convinced we truly are in Mappō

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Re: Article: The Zen Buddhist Nuclear Weapons Expert in Trump's White House

Post by The Cicada » Fri Sep 29, 2017 11:08 pm

Grigoris wrote:
Fri Sep 29, 2017 7:21 am
The Cicada wrote:
Fri Sep 22, 2017 10:17 pm
I am from Texas. I am not a psychopath. There is a difference.
I was talking about Ford, not you. Psychopathic? I don't know... Paranoid? Definitely...
Not really sure if what you're addressing here is current events of politics involving players with real human motivations or if you just watched "Despicable Me" or its sequel and were set off by some aspect of the plotline.
I don't expect intelligent replies from you, but this one has pushed the limits of braindead to new levels...
Are you sure you aren't my ex-wife's sock account?
As far as I'm concerned, a Buddhist weapons expert is a sign that Buddhadharma is spreading in the West, and therefore a good sign.
Not when the "Buddhist" uses Buddhism to justify mass murder, that's not a good sign at all.
What are you talking about? Who is using Buddhism to "justify mass murder?" Ford?

...I mean, if America is at war on some front on Buddhism's behalf, someone should have let me know. I need to be on the front lines. Praise Lord Buddha and pass the ammunition—those aren't just confirmed hits, those are karmic connections being formed!

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Re: Article: The Zen Buddhist Nuclear Weapons Expert in Trump's White House

Post by kirtu » Sat Sep 30, 2017 12:11 am

The Cicada wrote:
Fri Sep 29, 2017 11:08 pm
...I mean, if America is at war on some front on Buddhism's behalf, someone should have let me know. I need to be on the front lines. Praise Lord Buddha and pass the ammunition—those aren't just confirmed hits, those are karmic connections being formed!
All beings need to undertake the discipline of refraining from harming others in any way, including thoughts of harming others.

Kirt
Kirt's Tibetan Translation Notes

"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: Article: The Zen Buddhist Nuclear Weapons Expert in Trump's White House

Post by The Cicada » Sat Sep 30, 2017 12:16 am

kirtu wrote:
Sat Sep 30, 2017 12:11 am
All beings need to undertake the discipline of refraining from harming others in any way, including thoughts of harming others.

Kirt
This is true. But when the choice is between non-violence and letting others suffer at the hands of the unscrupulous, I take a different tack. Better to convince others, to use diplomacy, reason, compassion, generosity, tolerance and patience... but sometimes, even all of that fails.

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Re: Article: The Zen Buddhist Nuclear Weapons Expert in Trump's White House

Post by Grigoris » Sat Sep 30, 2017 7:46 am

The Cicada wrote:
Fri Sep 29, 2017 11:08 pm
What are you talking about? Who is using Buddhism to "justify mass murder?" Ford?
Oh, you still don't even know what this conversation is about? So why are you posting?
Are you sure you aren't my ex-wife's sock account?
Seems to me that your ex-wife may have understood something about you, that you are clearly unaware of.
...I mean, if America is at war on some front on Buddhism's behalf, someone should have let me know. I need to be on the front lines. Praise Lord Buddha and pass the ammunition—those aren't just confirmed hits, those are karmic connections being formed!
Like I said: i don't expect you to hear anything intelligent from you. Anyway, I don't respond to your statements for your benefit, but for those reading your nonsense.

Here's something related to your "issue" that the readers of this thread may find interesting:

Why Facts Don’t Change Our Minds
New discoveries about the human mind show the limitations of reason.
By Elizabeth Kolbert
https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017 ... -our-minds
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
The Supreme Source - The Kunjed Gyalpo
The Fundamental Tantra of Dzogchen Semde

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Grigoris
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Re: Article: The Zen Buddhist Nuclear Weapons Expert in Trump's White House

Post by Grigoris » Sat Sep 30, 2017 8:00 am

The Cicada wrote:...
Tell you what... If you can give me an intelligent and reasoned analysis of how the threat of nuclear carnage for colonialist purposes is related to the axioms of Buddhism, then I will refrain from calling you a screwball militarist and will even start taking some of your posts seriously.

I think that's fair.
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
The Supreme Source - The Kunjed Gyalpo
The Fundamental Tantra of Dzogchen Semde

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