Inequality

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Rakshasa
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Re: Inequality

Post by Rakshasa » Tue Sep 09, 2014 8:35 am

Karma in Buddhism is different from Brahmanical/Hindu concept of Karma. The Karma as laid out in Bhagavad Gita justifies caste system. In the early days during Buddha, Brahmins would often justify their superiority and the "lower birth" (caste) of others on the basis of Karma - and Buddha strongly rebuked this concept. Poor and rich states of a person are decided by the Karma/action of the present life, where as Hindus, and some Buddhists in this forum, tend to give more weightage to past karma.

If everything was determined by past karma, there wouldn't be any meaning of the current life. I know people who had been poor, and unlucky all through out life, but through their own efforts and hard work rose to financial stability and prosperity. This kind of thinking where someone's poverty is justified by bad past karma, tends to develop a pity if not discrimination against those who are poor as unequal( "he/she must have done real bad things to get to this state now"). This has been happening in India for ages now. The condition of the untouchables was FORCED onto them by the high caste Hindus and Brahmins, and then they justified their condition by bad past karma. According to Buddhism, it is the present karma of the Brahmins and high caste Hindus which is wrong and which led to the poverty of the untouchables - not the other way round. I know many ex untouchables who are very rich because of their own effort, and many are now Buddhists. On the other hand there are Brahmins who are poor. Is it because of Karma too?

Buddhist concept of karma is different form both Hindu and Jain concepts. I think there was a quote in this forum from a Pali Sutta which laid it out clearly that one's poverty or affluence has nothing to do with past karma. Yes, "past" in this life (bad investment decision, laziness etc), but certainly not in the past life.
Last edited by Rakshasa on Tue Sep 09, 2014 8:44 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Inequality

Post by Grigoris » Tue Sep 09, 2014 8:38 am

Absolute equality?

If people do not think there is something wrong with these pictures, and that it cannot be remedied because karma is karma, then I think they really need to work on their bodhicitta, coz it seems to me they are lacking both compassion and wisdom.
obese child.jpg
obese child.jpg (9.66 KiB) Viewed 1577 times
hungry children.jpg
hungry children.jpg (9.5 KiB) Viewed 1577 times
PS And just to be clear: Compassion for both cases.
"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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Rakshasa
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Re: Inequality

Post by Rakshasa » Tue Sep 09, 2014 8:58 am

Sherab Dorje wrote:Absolute equality?

If people do not think there is something wrong with these pictures, and that it cannot be remedied because karma is karma, then I think they really need to work on their bodhicitta, coz it seems to me they are lacking both compassion and wisdom.
obese child.jpg
hungry children.jpg

Yes, you are very correct. This type of lethargic thinking where the condition of the poor is justified, and often ridiculed, based on his own actions is seeping into western society through Buddhism, even when the Buddhist concept of Karma is not the same as the Hindu concept of Karma, which is really associated with the concept of caste system.

"Karma" has nothing to do with the unit of currency used in a country, whether it is gold backed or fiat or if the central bank practices fractional reserve banking, or if your country is devoid of natural resources like Japan or rich like Africa etc. These are simply things related to present life. Bankers have become rich by simply trading using high frequency tradition platforms. On the other hand, businessmen who were once affluent became bankrupt due to bad business decisions or external factors (like cheaper labour available elsewhere). The economics of the world has absolutely NOTHING to do with the concept of poor. My father was born dirt poor, but is now so rich that many people envy him.

For all we know, a man born to a stable and happy lower middle class family probably had much better karma than someone born filthy rich to a father who is hooked to cocaine and hookers. I am not saying that rich people are bad. Rich people can be as bad as poor people or blacks or mongoloids. There Africans who are very rich and there are others, who are poor. There are Indians living in the slums, there are South American tribes living openly in the forests.

Karma of past life is overrated. It is very rare to even get a human birth according to Buddhism. There are chances most humans will not get a human birth again for a long time. So every human is at about the same level as past karma goes. Just the same as all humans share 99.99% of the genetics.

Originally, Brahmanism did not have the concept of Karma as is evident from the Vedas. The hymn containing "as you sow so you reap" is not exactly the same as Buddhist concept of Karma. But Brahmins took up the concept of Karma to justify their caste system and their top place in the hierarchy.

In short, concept of Karma does not make the complex Economical advancement of modern society redundant.

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Re: Inequality

Post by Kaccāni » Tue Sep 09, 2014 9:41 am

So let me sum up:

One says "there is no leveling, everybody is equal", and has the essence of being in mind, which is somehow vibrating along the lines when the subject is "Buddhism".
Another one says "there is leveling", and applies a certain perspective, different from it. Monastic life.
And yet another one applies yet another perspective, and finds leveling.

So as long as one applies perspectives, levels can be found, infinitely many. Yet I see no agreement in this discussion about which levels should be discussed. Mere "hierarchy" is pointless, since it is only a superstructure to "levels", thus also infinitely many hierarchies can be found on anything upon changing perspective. "Economic" would be something. Or "power". Or "entitlement to spiritual progress labels" (which in my opinion also only befits the beholder's stereotypes as to who should be entitled to it, and not what "is"). If one likes to discuss these things. It can be fun at times. It can be a pain at others.

When it comes to Buddhism as religion, I see many projected hierarchies when it comes to views of "spiritual progress", and along with that status or worship. Another hierarchy I see is created on the quest for authenticity, to be truer, or more traditional. In buddhist methods there I see hierarchies of "faster", "easier", "the only really and definitely working way all others are garbage", etc. Part of the problem as I see started along with the first "descriptions" of the path, the Jhanas, etc. It is too easy for the human mind to create hierarchies from that, mind loves doing that. Where the path itself points to transcending those concepts. But the end seems to be not so neigh ... Also too easy to create hierarchies in terms of time. So if we talk in terms of people who are not up to give up concepts, yes. Infinitely many hierarchies, and along with those infinetly many inequalities.

I just don't see the point. It's like telling "there is suffering". It's stating the obvious. Will that happen in human societies? Probably they will not be able to escape the obvious. Thus also buddhist human societies.

So then there's the question which I ask myself: How to deal with the fact, that this happens in human societies, and I cannot change it, since the many perspectives seem to be the play of the universe? You could now say, you could try to escape into Buddhism. But unfortunately that only works on a personal level. As soon as you create relationships to other people, those perspectives come back. Thus they also exist in any form of organized buddhism, since organization is such a perspective. So I for my part conventionally just don't try to feed them. I try to not to level people. That's practice enough. But it also kicks organizations when it comes to terms of value.

Many people, when starting out, try to find hold in religion, also buddhism, to "improve". To be better than (before, somebody else, etc.). To try to "become enlightened" could be seen as an attempt to "beat the system". That attempt loves inequality, since it is based upon the wish of creating an inequality. To escape the game. "Spiritual Progress" is such a nice oxymoron that amuses me. So I am stepping on many noses. But I will too, if I do not. The question is by what perspective are my actions being judged in that moment. That I have no influence on. If somebody decides not to like it, then so it is.

Because many people on the part have years of struggle on their backs, and along with, when looking into the past, seems to come a perspective of "being authority". Within a canon of texts or an established system that may even be a valid perspective, and dependent on your predisposition a fun one too. Won't blame anybody.

But who applies what to what when they try to force their views on somebody else? For my part, I consider it self-deception. Happens.

Thus, of course, please disagree.

Best wishes
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Re: Inequality

Post by muni » Tue Sep 09, 2014 10:52 am

Inequality is grasping mind/grasping thought itself.
*Look into the mirror of your mind* Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.

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Re: Inequality

Post by Zhen Li » Wed Sep 10, 2014 1:44 am

Gwenn Dana wrote:So as long as one applies perspectives, levels can be found, infinitely many. Yet I see no agreement in this discussion about which levels should be discussed. Mere "hierarchy" is pointless, since it is only a superstructure to "levels", thus also infinitely many hierarchies can be found on anything upon changing perspective. "Economic" would be something. Or "power". Or "entitlement to spiritual progress labels" (which in my opinion also only befits the beholder's stereotypes as to who should be entitled to it, and not what "is"). If one likes to discuss these things. It can be fun at times. It can be a pain at others.
Well, there is early on a presentation of spiritual hierarchy, some have realised more than others and have less hindrances than others. But I agree that this is very prone to lead to accumulation of more complex hierarchy that may be more distraction than help. However, if one looks at Mahayana hierarchies, the question is one of a different level of values -- as you say, changing perspective.

I don't think we can really say people are "entitled" to anything in Buddhism. If you want to have the title of Cakravartin, you don't get it bestowed upon you, instead you actualise Cakravartin-status through hard effort. European and Brahmanical notions of entitlement, e.g. through patrilineality, or Austro-asiatic notions which are matrilineal, are both samsaric. There is a lineage and family of Buddhas, Dharmarajas, but every Buddha acquires that position through conquest over Mara. There is to a certain extent the notion of divine kingship here, in that there is a continuation of the Dharmic body politic through the lineage of Buddhas, but there is no notion of kingly sacrifice like there is in Christianity. The Buddhas go into parinirvana, but the Dharma still remains for many eons without a Buddha (in the strictest sense, i.e. non-cosmic or mystical).
Sherab Dorje wrote:I still don't see anybody presenting any scriptural references showing that Buddhism supports social and economic inequality, whereas I have provided scripture supporting the contrary.
I didn't claim that Buddhism supports economic and social inequality. It's just the way the world is. There's nothing to support. That's like saying, Buddhism supports weather. That's just the way the world is. Your references, as I have demonstrated a number of times, merely demonstrate an advocacy of generosity, which everyone is in agreement on that Buddhism supports.
Sherab Dorje wrote:If people do not think there is something wrong with these pictures, and that it cannot be remedied because karma is karma, then I think they really need to work on their bodhicitta, coz it seems to me they are lacking both compassion and wisdom.
Bad karma in both cases of course. Can you remedy it? Obviously you can. This is different from advocating levelling or equality. If there is a beggar, you give. You practice. Thinking about who to blame and pillory for it, and who to take from, is missing the point of generosity.

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Re: Inequality

Post by greentara » Wed Sep 10, 2014 4:53 am

Zhen li, What if there are many Beggars? Perhaps many, many mouths too Feed? When to give and when to say I just cannot anymore....who chooses who is most worthy of your charity.

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Re: Inequality

Post by Zhen Li » Wed Sep 10, 2014 5:02 am

I guess it's just a matter of degrees of devotion. At a certain point a Bodhisattva has no qualms giving up his life if asked. Until then, up to the limit in either exhaustion of willpower or resources.

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Re: Inequality

Post by Grigoris » Wed Sep 10, 2014 8:18 am

Zhen Li wrote:I didn't claim that Buddhism supports economic and social inequality. It's just the way the world is.
It's not "just the way the world is", it is the way we make it. And how do we make it? Through karma (intentional action). We make this world, not God, not chance, not fate. We make it, through our actions. We can make it somewhat better, we can make it somewhat worse or we can transform it into a Pure Land. It is 100% up to us.
Bad karma in both cases of course. Can you remedy it? Obviously you can. This is different from advocating levelling or equality.
No, it is not different from advocating equality. In order to feed those that don't have enough food (for example), those that have an overabundance of food have to share it. This will lead to an equalising in the allocation of resources.
If there is a beggar, you give. You practice. Thinking about who to blame and pillory for it, and who to take from, is missing the point of generosity.
If I have $2 and due to my generosity I give $1 to a beggar then we both have $1. Economically we become equals. If I have $1 and somebody else has $1 and due to my greed I take it, then I have $2 and they have $0. I am the cause of their poverty. I am then to blame for their poverty.

If somebody pointed their finger at me and said: "They took the $1 from that guy there." there would be nothing false about their statement. If somebody else said: "C'mon man, you don't need the $2, give the $1 back to the poor guy. Giving it back will lead to you receiving even more in the future without having to generate negative outcomes" There would be nothing wrong with that statement also. If a third person came along and said: "Don't worry about having $2, the other guy was meant to lose it anyway, if you didn't take it somebody else would, it is his karma." Well, I would have to consider that that person lacks wisdom and compassion (to say the least). You may beg to differ.
"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: Inequality

Post by Grigoris » Wed Sep 10, 2014 9:44 am

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"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: Inequality

Post by Malcolm » Wed Sep 10, 2014 2:14 pm

Sherab Dorje wrote:We make this world, not God, not chance, not fate. We make it, through our actions. We can make it somewhat better, we can make it somewhat worse or we can transform it into a Pure Land. It is 100% up to us.
In order for the world to be a pure land, we do not have do anything except realize it as such. But there is no way to create an outer material utopia.

If you really want to create such a place, then you have to convince every person to strictly avoid the ten nonvirtues. Since you cannot force others to avoid the ten nonvirtues, all you can do is start with yourself.
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[A]nything at all that is well spoken is the word of the Buddha.

-- Ārya-adhyāśaya-sañcodana-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra

The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
One can understand that all of those Dharmas in
which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

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Re: Inequality

Post by Grigoris » Wed Sep 10, 2014 2:26 pm

Malcolm wrote:In order for the world to be a pure land, we do not have do anything except realize it as such. But there is no way to create an outer material utopia.
I do not think that ending starvation and malnutrition is utopian in the slightest. We have ample resources to do so. Utopian would be to believe that every single person on this globe can live an American middle class lifestyle. This is just not going to happen. Anyway, I did not talk about a utopian situation, I specifically stated "somewhat better". Ending starvation and malnutrition (something that is 100% possible) will make the world "somewhat better".
If you really want to create such a place, then you have to convince every person to strictly avoid the ten nonvirtues. Since you cannot force others to avoid the ten nonvirtues, all you can do is start with yourself.
You won't see me disagreeing.
"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: Inequality

Post by Malcolm » Wed Sep 10, 2014 2:35 pm

Sherab Dorje wrote:
Malcolm wrote:In order for the world to be a pure land, we do not have do anything except realize it as such. But there is no way to create an outer material utopia.
I do not think that ending starvation and malnutrition is utopian in the slightest. We have ample resources to do so. Utopian would be to believe that every single person on this globe can live an American middle class lifestyle. This is just not going to happen. Anyway, I did not talk about a utopian situation, I specifically stated "somewhat better". Ending starvation and malnutrition (something that is 100% possible) will make the world "somewhat better".
If you really want to create such a place, then you have to convince every person to strictly avoid the ten nonvirtues. Since you cannot force others to avoid the ten nonvirtues, all you can do is start with yourself.
You won't see me disagreeing.
Greg, there are a number of obstacles to this happening: 7 billion in fact.

There is no way to effect such an outcome without establishing a command economy, and we know where that leads:

Image
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[A]nything at all that is well spoken is the word of the Buddha.

-- Ārya-adhyāśaya-sañcodana-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra

The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
One can understand that all of those Dharmas in
which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

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Re: Inequality

Post by kirtu » Wed Sep 10, 2014 2:38 pm

Malcolm wrote:
But there is no way to create an outer material utopia.

If you really want to create such a place, then you have to convince every person to strictly avoid the ten nonvirtues. Since you cannot force others to avoid the ten nonvirtues, all you can do is start with yourself.
I take your point but nonetheless we *can* create an outer near utopia. The Scandinavian countries and Holland have done it in fact. They have relatively minimal inequity, people have all their basic needs met, they have relative opportunity even in an unacknowledged economic Depression, etc. How did they do it? They embraced slightly different forms of social democracy and made the decision to support one another socially. The Germanic countries (including Luxembourg for this) are not far behind.

In the English countries pretty much only New Zeland makes the grade but I am not as familiar with the range of scarcity and inequity in the UK to make a decision. Australia may join the civilized nations of the world within decades (they could do it at any moment actually). The Canadians are up there and might have made the grade (except their treatment of the First People's is at least spotty). The gross inequities and scarcities faced by most other nations are a result of decisions made by people in power.

The creation of relative outer material utopia's can in fact be tracked using economic measures (in fact that is one of the putative goals of economics). This is the median PPP combined with measures of inequity and social mobility primarily. High median PPP + low inequity + high social mobility = practical outer utopia.

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"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."
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Re: Inequality

Post by LastLegend » Wed Sep 10, 2014 2:45 pm

What that sickle and hammer in flag represent? Cut rice in the rice field and chop wood?
NAMO AMITABHA
NAM MO A DI DA PHAT (VIETNAMESE)
NAMO AMITUOFO (CHINESE)

Bodhidharma [my translation]
―I come to the East to transmit this clear knowing mind without constructing any dharma―

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Re: Inequality

Post by Grigoris » Wed Sep 10, 2014 2:45 pm

Malcolm wrote:Greg, there are a number of obstacles to this happening: 7 billion in fact.

There is no way to effect such an outcome without establishing a command economy, and we know where that leads:
Just in case you didn't know, we do have a command economy: It is directed by those with the most money.

And Stalinism is not the only answer.
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"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: Inequality

Post by Hieros Gamos » Wed Sep 10, 2014 2:56 pm

Sherab Dorje wrote:Just in case you didn't know, we do have a command economy: It is directed by those with the most money.
:twothumbsup:
Capacities or labour power cannot be used without the worker using his will, his understanding and experience, to put them into effect. The use of labour power requires the presence of its ‘owner,’ and it remains mere potential until he acts in the manner necessary to put it into use, or agrees or is compelled so to act; that is, the worker must labour. To contract for the use of labour power is a waste of resources unless it can be used in the way in which the new owner requires. The fiction ‘labour power’ cannot be used; what is required is that the worker labours as demanded. The employment contract must, therefore, create a relationship of command and obedience between employer and worker ... In short, the contract in which the worker allegedly sells his labour power is a contract in which, since he cannot be separated from his capacities, he sells command over the use of his body and himself. To obtain the right to use another is to be a (civil) master.
Carole Pateman, The Sexual Contract

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Re: Inequality

Post by Hieros Gamos » Wed Sep 10, 2014 3:00 pm

Society seems to have ‘covered up’ in the popular consciousness the fact that the traditional name [for employer and employee] is ’master and servant.’
David Ellerman

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Re: Inequality

Post by theanarchist » Wed Sep 10, 2014 6:35 pm

kirtu wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
But there is no way to create an outer material utopia.

If you really want to create such a place, then you have to convince every person to strictly avoid the ten nonvirtues. Since you cannot force others to avoid the ten nonvirtues, all you can do is start with yourself.
I take your point but nonetheless we *can* create an outer near utopia. The Scandinavian countries and Holland have done it in fact. t

Countries that live, like all industrial nations at the cost of the poor south in the form of cheap labour and ressources. So, example failed.

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Re: Inequality

Post by theanarchist » Wed Sep 10, 2014 6:41 pm

Zhen Li wrote:No. I think it's fortunate to be born as a human, and it's a lovely world.


I just say, Ebola in Africa, ISIS in the middle east, war in Ukraine, sexual abuse of children, starvation and violence against helpless humans in countless towns and villages on this planet. Plus the cruelty against animals.


Yeah, lovely place... :thinking: Maybe when there are no humans around....

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