Hostile environment/political activism

Discuss the application of the Dharma to situations of social, political, environmental and economic suffering and injustice.
TruthBonzo
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Hostile environment/political activism

Post by TruthBonzo » Thu Feb 20, 2020 6:55 pm

At the moment I'm in a bad situation where I am hated and mistreated. This mistreatment is partly based on the claim that I'm not a human being. It's not racisim just pure bigotry. I'm a politically engaged person and I see this hatred as an aspect of how my country is run.

On the one hand I can tell myself that this is the reality of the world and that my interest in Buddhism and meditation will help me to deal with it. On the other hand I can get out and find a better place to live.

I will be getting out but I feel like I can never be free of it because my political awareness means that as long as the situation exists it needs to be challenged. My view is that the powerful need to be challenged. To do nothing is to be part of the problem.

I was reading something recently about the notion of non-harming and I have been wondering about how it relates to this situation. I have to be careful about anger that comes up and knowing the difference between wanting revenge and wanting to cause damage to the injustice. I have seen how my angry reactions can feed the situation.

Is it actually better to leave the madness to its own devices and get as far away from it as possible?

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Queequeg
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Re: Hostile environment/political activism

Post by Queequeg » Thu Feb 20, 2020 7:35 pm

TruthBonzo wrote:
Thu Feb 20, 2020 6:55 pm
My view is that the powerful need to be challenged. To do nothing is to be part of the problem.
I isolated that part of your post because that seems to be the dharma that informs your motivation.

You posted on a Buddhist forum, in the engaged Buddhism sub-forum, so maybe it might help to analyze this through Buddhadharma.

1. Is this a teaching that leads to the end of suffering?

2. Does this teaching necessitate a certain course of conduct or can this be expressed with flexibility?

It sounds like you are burned out or on the verge of burning out. If you have the possibility, maybe it might help for you to take a step back and reassess. Give yourself some time to decompress, see if a little distance will let you see things differently. Of course, if the circumstances are dire and unavoidable, there may be no choice but to push on. I hope you stay safe.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta

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PadmaVonSamba
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Re: Hostile environment/political activism

Post by PadmaVonSamba » Fri Feb 21, 2020 1:37 am

Buddhism has all sorts of vows,
But revenge isn’t one of them.
Conquering one’s enemy is easy
compared with controlling one’s own mind.
Yes, you can fight injustice without causing harm,
and if you are clever about it, the results will be
much, much more effective.
.
.
.
Profile Picture: "The Fo Ming (Buddha Bright) Monk"
People on web forums sometime seem to be foaming at the mouth.

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Kim O'Hara
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Re: Hostile environment/political activism

Post by Kim O'Hara » Fri Feb 21, 2020 3:57 am

PadmaVonSamba wrote:
Fri Feb 21, 2020 1:37 am
Buddhism has all sorts of vows,
But revenge isn’t one of them.
Conquering one’s enemy is easy
compared with controlling one’s own mind.
Yes, you can fight injustice without causing harm,
and if you are clever about it, the results will be
much, much more effective.
.
.
.
:good:

Acting always for the benefit of people around you, not for your own benefit or for the sake of revenge or fighting abstract injustice, is the key to political engagement which doesn't harm yourself. In fact, it can become a large part of your practice, your dana to society.

:namaste:
Kim

muni
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Re: Hostile environment/political activism

Post by muni » Fri Feb 21, 2020 9:21 am

TruthBonzo wrote:
Thu Feb 20, 2020 6:55 pm
At the moment I'm in a bad situation where I am hated and mistreated. This mistreatment is partly based on the claim that I'm not a human being. It's not racisim just pure bigotry. I'm a politically engaged person and I see this hatred as an aspect of how my country is run.

On the one hand I can tell myself that this is the reality of the world and that my interest in Buddhism and meditation will help me to deal with it. On the other hand I can get out and find a better place to live.

I will be getting out but I feel like I can never be free of it because my political awareness means that as long as the situation exists it needs to be challenged. My view is that the powerful need to be challenged. To do nothing is to be part of the problem.

I was reading something recently about the notion of non-harming and I have been wondering about how it relates to this situation. I have to be careful about anger that comes up and knowing the difference between wanting revenge and wanting to cause damage to the injustice. I have seen how my angry reactions can feed the situation.

Is it actually better to leave the madness to its own devices and get as far away from it as possible?
May you be very well. If you can have compassion for such, this is powerful medicine. If it makes you feel down, even becoming depressed, I would take a step back. Be carefull not to harm as reaction, because suffering invites harming. We cannot be protected for outer enemies and cannot slay them, we can only be protected from own wandering harming mind and then compassion can flow. In that way all enemies are slain.

Be sure there is always what we call Buddha Nature = Primordial Goodness. And none is a separation of this.
Phenomena adorn emptiness, but never corrupt it.

Only if you have developed the love and compassion of relative bodhichitta can absolute bodhichitta – the very essence of the Great Perfection and the Great Seal – ever take birth in your being. Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.

muni
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Re: Hostile environment/political activism

Post by muni » Fri Feb 21, 2020 9:27 am

Kim O'Hara wrote:
Fri Feb 21, 2020 3:57 am
PadmaVonSamba wrote:
Fri Feb 21, 2020 1:37 am
Buddhism has all sorts of vows,
But revenge isn’t one of them.
Conquering one’s enemy is easy
compared with controlling one’s own mind.
Yes, you can fight injustice without causing harm,
and if you are clever about it, the results will be
much, much more effective.
.
.
.
:good:

Acting always for the benefit of people around you, not for your own benefit or for the sake of revenge or fighting abstract injustice, is the key to political engagement which doesn't harm yourself. In fact, it can become a large part of your practice, your dana to society.

:namaste:
Kim
:good:
Phenomena adorn emptiness, but never corrupt it.

Only if you have developed the love and compassion of relative bodhichitta can absolute bodhichitta – the very essence of the Great Perfection and the Great Seal – ever take birth in your being. Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.

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Ayu
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Re: Hostile environment/political activism

Post by Ayu » Fri Feb 21, 2020 9:30 am

When I was young, I traveled Europe and India a bit, looking for a better place. It was a good journey that made me understand: there is no better place. Samsara, exploitation, racism, ignorance and greed is everywhere. That's sad but good to know.
There's no better place outside far away. We might leave unbearable cirumstances, that's okay. But we have to build a better place by ourselves where ever we are, right now, here. Therefore mind training and patience cannot be neglected. It's the only way to stop the misery.
For the benefit and ease of all sentient beings. :heart:

SteRo
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Re: Hostile environment/political activism

Post by SteRo » Fri Feb 21, 2020 1:19 pm

TruthBonzo wrote:
Thu Feb 20, 2020 6:55 pm
...
Is it actually better to leave the madness to its own devices and get as far away from it as possible?
Sometimes yes. However "as far away from it as possible" needs not to be understood in the context of location. Letting go might do as well.

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PadmaVonSamba
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Re: Hostile environment/political activism

Post by PadmaVonSamba » Fri Feb 21, 2020 1:58 pm

Political activism addresses contradictions in society (if you are a Marxist, then “class contradictions”).
As a political activist, you can take sides if you wish, and if it’s a question of good vs. evil, then you should take sides.
But, I think, as a Buddhist, one needs to bring up the basic things that all sides share in common. This is not necessarily for the purpose of some kind of premature reconciliation, but also to reveal levels of truth that are otherwise being ignored. This too can expose contradictions, but more effectively, coming from a point of neutrality.
For example, climate change. We all need a planet where we can live. The more this is seen as a common goal, as everybody's problem to deal with, then at some point you don’t have to take sides about it. Those who deny the reality of it will be the only ones taking sides.
.
.
.
Profile Picture: "The Fo Ming (Buddha Bright) Monk"
People on web forums sometime seem to be foaming at the mouth.

SteRo
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Re: Hostile environment/political activism

Post by SteRo » Fri Feb 21, 2020 3:00 pm

Maybe it's just prejudice but when thinking "political activism" the thought "hysteria" is associated quite naturally. So "political activism" appears to be an affliction.

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PadmaVonSamba
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Re: Hostile environment/political activism

Post by PadmaVonSamba » Fri Feb 21, 2020 3:35 pm

SteRo wrote:
Fri Feb 21, 2020 3:00 pm
Maybe it's just prejudice but when thinking "political activism" the thought "hysteria" is associated quite naturally. So "political activism" appears to be an affliction.
Well, it can be shouting and demonstrating and throwing things or posting angry stuff on Facebook. But it can also be developing solutions, calling people, writing letters, circulating petitions, meeting with representatives, etc. which is much more hard work, Not as much hysteria.
Profile Picture: "The Fo Ming (Buddha Bright) Monk"
People on web forums sometime seem to be foaming at the mouth.

TruthBonzo
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Re: Hostile environment/political activism

Post by TruthBonzo » Fri Feb 21, 2020 5:10 pm

Queequeg wrote:
Thu Feb 20, 2020 7:35 pm
TruthBonzo wrote:
Thu Feb 20, 2020 6:55 pm
My view is that the powerful need to be challenged. To do nothing is to be part of the problem.
I isolated that part of your post because that seems to be the dharma that informs your motivation.

It sounds like you are burned out or on the verge of burning out.
I don't know how you came to this conclusion from what I wrote but you are right. I posted on here because I wanted to see my part in it instead of projecting everything outwards towards the persecutors.

I'm trying to force the world to be what I think it should be. Like a child having a tantrum. Without this the situation would be transformed. I have been reluctant to admit this to myself. It's quite a deep thing that's prior to any political engagement. It's powerful but subtle. Thanks for pointing me towards it.

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Queequeg
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Re: Hostile environment/political activism

Post by Queequeg » Fri Feb 21, 2020 6:48 pm

TruthBonzo wrote:
Fri Feb 21, 2020 5:10 pm
Queequeg wrote:
Thu Feb 20, 2020 7:35 pm
TruthBonzo wrote:
Thu Feb 20, 2020 6:55 pm
My view is that the powerful need to be challenged. To do nothing is to be part of the problem.
I isolated that part of your post because that seems to be the dharma that informs your motivation.

It sounds like you are burned out or on the verge of burning out.
I don't know how you came to this conclusion from what I wrote but you are right. I posted on here because I wanted to see my part in it instead of projecting everything outwards towards the persecutors.

I'm trying to force the world to be what I think it should be. Like a child having a tantrum. Without this the situation would be transformed. I have been reluctant to admit this to myself. It's quite a deep thing that's prior to any political engagement. It's powerful but subtle. Thanks for pointing me towards it.
Well, I suppose even if I helped you accidentally, that's good. :)

I've heard that anger is an expression of discernment, which is in turn an expression of wisdom. Anger, though, is a dangerous emotion because it tends to burn, and burning is a chain reaction that burns indiscriminately. Its likely to burn the person who holds it more often than it burns its object. Personally speaking, there are a lot of things in the world that make me angry for the injustice. As other's have remarked above, though, there are different ways of addressing these issues. Consider other paths forward.

Consider Dharma as a path to address the faults you see in the world. Buddha was prophecied at his birth to either be a king who would rule the world righteously or a great spiritual leader. He was carefully trained and cultivated to be a great king, but when he realized that a king would never solve the greatest threat to his people, death, he gave up being a prince to figure out how to conquer death. Down to this day, we follow his instructions on conquering death. If he had become a king, he'd be a footnote in history books. Which path do you think has the greater potential for impact? Political power or Spiritual power?
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta

tkp67
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Re: Hostile environment/political activism

Post by tkp67 » Fri Feb 21, 2020 6:57 pm

Queequeg wrote:
Fri Feb 21, 2020 6:48 pm
I've heard that anger is an expression of discernment, which is in turn an expression of wisdom.
I don't think I have had a cause to appreciate anger up until now. I get stuck in that realm and while I understand the danger of anger I often have a hard time letting go of cause because I couldn't fathom a benefit. This makes total sense in an economy of verbiage.

TruthBonzo
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Re: Hostile environment/political activism

Post by TruthBonzo » Fri Feb 21, 2020 8:23 pm

Queequeg wrote:
Fri Feb 21, 2020 6:48 pm

I've heard that anger is an expression of discernment, which is in turn an expression of wisdom. Anger, though, is a dangerous emotion because it tends to burn, and burning is a chain reaction that burns indiscriminately. Its likely to burn the person who holds it more often than it burns its object.
The question is when you are deliberately targeted and persecuted such as Buddhists in Tibet

https://savetibet.org/tibetan-self-immolations/

Their protests are pretty severe. Just because you are a Buddhist doesn't mean that the world will leave you in peace to get on with your life. You could find yourself in a situation where you are bombarded with negativity on a daily basis. It's not easy to deal with it.

One aspect of this for me is how much to engage with the world and how much to separate myself from it. If you live in an environment that has embraced a nasty culture it's bound to have an effect. Is the answer to move into a monastery to get away from it's influence?

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Queequeg
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Re: Hostile environment/political activism

Post by Queequeg » Fri Feb 21, 2020 9:09 pm

TruthBonzo wrote:
Fri Feb 21, 2020 8:23 pm
The question is when you are deliberately targeted and persecuted such as Buddhists in Tibet

https://savetibet.org/tibetan-self-immolations/

Their protests are pretty severe. Just because you are a Buddhist doesn't mean that the world will leave you in peace to get on with your life. You could find yourself in a situation where you are bombarded with negativity on a daily basis. It's not easy to deal with it.

One aspect of this for me is how much to engage with the world and how much to separate myself from it. If you live in an environment that has embraced a nasty culture it's bound to have an effect. Is the answer to move into a monastery to get away from it's influence?
Are you in Tibet?

I don't know what you should do, and you really ought not take advice from some rando on the internet anyway.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta

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Re: Hostile environment/political activism

Post by avatamsaka3 » Sat Feb 22, 2020 10:53 am

It doesn't sound like you need Buddhism now. It sounds like you need Do-Something-About-Your-Problem-ism. That's fine.
to get away from its influence
If you go to another planet, its influence will still be there in your mind. Buddhism is, if you really boil it down, all about taming the mind. A monastery is not a heaven on earth. People there have their defilements, issues, concerns. If you go there and you find other problems, what will you do then? Also, becoming a monastic is not something to take lightly. You need to have a deep, cultivated commitment to dharma study, practice, and the vinaya (or community guidelines/ethics) in order to start out on the right foot. You can just run into places that accept people who just run in, but my impression is you wouldn't be starting well that way.

It sounds like you need a neutral space where you can sort all this out. I don't know where that would be, but nature can be nice to visit once in a while.

TruthBonzo
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Re: Hostile environment/political activism

Post by TruthBonzo » Sat Feb 22, 2020 4:47 pm

Queequeg wrote:
Fri Feb 21, 2020 9:09 pm

Are you in Tibet?

I don't know what you should do, and you really ought not take advice from some rando on the internet anyway.
I'm in a western democratic country. I used Tibet as an extreme example of a bad environment.

TruthBonzo
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Re: Hostile environment/political activism

Post by TruthBonzo » Sat Feb 22, 2020 5:21 pm

dolphin_color wrote:
Sat Feb 22, 2020 10:53 am
It doesn't sound like you need Buddhism now. It sounds like you need Do-Something-About-Your-Problem-ism. That's fine.
I need both. I've already been helped by Queequeg's reply whether it was intentional or not.

In one of tich nhat hanh's books he talks about putting yourself in a supportive environment. I'm in the opposite situation. If I tried to attend a Buddhist group in this area the people around me would question my right to be there and to have any interest in Buddhism. They would ridicule and demean me until I left. I'm not suggesting that a Buddhist teacher would do this.

I don't challenge those with power because I feel some moral duty I do it because I fell like I'm being attacked. That is essentially true. My government needs to attack me to protect its privilege.

The kind of people who end up in power are ruthless, selfish and completely devoid of any humanity. It's this type of person that tends to dominate.

I read something in a book by Steve Hagen where he gives an example of a Zen teacher who went from China to Japan. His teacher told him to not involve himself in human affairs. He set up his monastary in a remote part of Japan.

States and the armys and police who act on their behalf cause human suffering on a massive scale. The powerful are some of the worst examples of humanity.

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Johnny Dangerous
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Re: Hostile environment/political activism

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Sun Feb 23, 2020 6:53 am

TruthBonzo wrote:
Sat Feb 22, 2020 5:21 pm
dolphin_color wrote:
Sat Feb 22, 2020 10:53 am
It doesn't sound like you need Buddhism now. It sounds like you need Do-Something-About-Your-Problem-ism. That's fine.
I need both. I've already been helped by Queequeg's reply whether it was intentional or not.

In one of tich nhat hanh's books he talks about putting yourself in a supportive environment. I'm in the opposite situation. If I tried to attend a Buddhist group in this area the people around me would question my right to be there and to have any interest in Buddhism. They would ridicule and demean me until I left. I'm not suggesting that a Buddhist teacher would do this.
What happened, how did they ridicule and demean you?
I don't challenge those with power because I feel some moral duty I do it because I fell like I'm being attacked. That is essentially true. My government needs to attack me to protect its privilege.

The kind of people who end up in power are ruthless, selfish and completely devoid of any humanity. It's this type of person that tends to dominate.
I think that's a bit one sided. The ironic thing is that some of the people in power probably started out like you, they wanted to make a change, maybe even (like you) felt they had choice but to do so. So it's not so black and white.
I read something in a book by Steve Hagen where he gives an example of a Zen teacher who went from China to Japan. His teacher told him to not involve himself in human affairs. He set up his monastary in a remote part of Japan.

States and the armys and police who act on their behalf cause human suffering on a massive scale. The powerful are some of the worst examples of humanity.
"The powerful" aren't some different species of being, nor do they have particular tendencies. This is all just Samsara. It is unsurprising that the higher you go, the more the Five Poisions dominate. this is of course no reason to not be active or to do good, only a reason to question your tendency to reify people as this or that, or assume your own battle is more important than the other ones.

Fact is, Everyone thinks they are the good guy, and that is our blindness. The best you can do is do good and keep a compassionate heart while fighting the power, the latter can turn into poison (for you and others) really quickly without the former.
"...if you think about how many hours, months and years of your life you've spent looking at things, being fascinated by things that have now passed away, then how wonderful to spend even five minutes looking into the nature of your own mind."

-James Low

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