Middle Way Politics

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Middle Way Politics

Postby Malcolm » Thu Jan 30, 2014 11:37 pm

The key teaching of the Buddha is the Madhyama Pratipad, the middle way.

What would a middle way politics look like, one informed by the Buddha's teachings rather than those of secular authors?
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Re: Middle Way Politics

Postby Son of Buddha » Thu Jan 30, 2014 11:44 pm

Malcolm wrote:The key teaching of the Buddha is the Madhyama Pratipad, the middle way.

What would a middle way politics look like, one informed by the Buddha's teachings rather than those of secular authors?


I would say Democratic Socialism.

what would the Buddha say? hmmmm not sure ......... possibly a theocratic monarchy ran by the wheel turning King.

then again the Buddha did crush the the caste System in the Pali-Canon...but I don't remember him setting up a new view on a "future" government system.
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Re: Middle Way Politics

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Thu Jan 30, 2014 11:47 pm

Malcolm wrote:The key teaching of the Buddha is the Madhyama Pratipad, the middle way.

What would a middle way politics look like, one informed by the Buddha's teachings rather than those of secular authors?



I think it's relative depending on time, place, and circumstance..but basically one would try to help all beings achieve a state of less suffering (the suffering of suffering to be specific, since political change and the material change it brings can't do anything at all to salve the other two), with a minimum of coercion, while encouraging both participation (and a "right" and obligation to participation in that sense), and some sense of responsibility. In addition, instead of politics based on "inherent rights" of really existing beings..I wonder if the model would not be drawn from the acknowledgment of interdependence.

I think you could make a valid argument for a number of different directions, but I think that Anarchism/Libertarian leaning ideas (on the left and right, though personally I am solidly left of center) will be a more natural fit than either statist, or statist/corporatist combinations.

If I had to pick a current party from my personal point of view, I would say to me The Green Party and similar groups are at least vaguely pointed in the right direction, simply due to advocay of things like smaller scale, cooperative tackling of problems.. even if the parties themselves are pretty lackluster right now. In Europe, it seems that democratic socialist ideals (at least on paper) fit the bill, though I gather there are plenty of complaints in practice.

However, a big part of "Dharma politics" would hopefully be honesty about what is, and is not possible, which puts it out of the running...lol. Politics runs on an unreal picture about "the future", and perpetuates itself with providing people with either fear or longing towards it..the usual endless preparation of samsara.
"Just as a lotus does not grow out of a well-levelled soil but from the mire, in the same way the awakening mind
is not born in the hearts of disciples in whom the moisture of attachment has dried up. It grows instead in the hearts of ordinary sentient beings who possess in full the fetters of bondage." -Se Chilbu Choki Gyaltsen
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Re: Middle Way Politics

Postby Malcolm » Fri Jan 31, 2014 2:05 am

Son of Buddha wrote:
Malcolm wrote:The key teaching of the Buddha is the Madhyama Pratipad, the middle way.

What would a middle way politics look like, one informed by the Buddha's teachings rather than those of secular authors?


I would say Democratic Socialism.

what would the Buddha say? hmmmm not sure ......... possibly a theocratic monarchy ran by the wheel turning King.

then again the Buddha did crush the the caste System in the Pali-Canon...but I don't remember him setting up a new view on a "future" government system.


Buddha refuted the brahmanical theory of the caste system, but he certainly did not "crush" it.

Democratic socialism is a secular theory.
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འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

Though there are infinite liberating gateways of Dharma,
there are none not included in the dimension of the knowledge of the Great Perfection.

-- Buddha Samantabhadri
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Re: Middle Way Politics

Postby Malcolm » Fri Jan 31, 2014 2:07 am

Johnny Dangerous wrote:
Malcolm wrote:The key teaching of the Buddha is the Madhyama Pratipad, the middle way.

What would a middle way politics look like, one informed by the Buddha's teachings rather than those of secular authors?



I think it's relative depending on time, place, and circumstance..but basically one would try to help all beings achieve a state of less suffering (the suffering of suffering to be specific, since political change and the material change it brings can't do anything at all to salve the other two), with a minimum of coercion, while encouraging both participation (and a "right" and obligation to participation in that sense), and some sense of responsibility. In addition, instead of politics based on "inherent rights" of really existing beings..I wonder if the model would not be drawn from the acknowledgment of interdependence.

I think you could make a valid argument for a number of different directions, but I think that Anarchism/Libertarian leaning ideas (on the left and right, though personally I am solidly left of center) will be a more natural fit than either statist, or statist/corporatist combinations.

If I had to pick a current party from my personal point of view, I would say to me The Green Party and similar groups are at least vaguely pointed in the right direction, simply due to advocay of things like smaller scale, cooperative tackling of problems.. even if the parties themselves are pretty lackluster right now. In Europe, it seems that democratic socialist ideals (at least on paper) fit the bill, though I gather there are plenty of complaints in practice.

However, a big part of "Dharma politics" would hopefully be honesty about what is, and is not possible, which puts it out of the running...lol. Politics runs on an unreal picture about "the future", and perpetuates itself with providing people with either fear or longing towards it..the usual endless preparation of samsara.


Lets not say "Dharma politics", because they should not mix. Middle Way Politics is informed by Dharma, but does not pretend to be Dharma.
http://www.bhaisajya.net
http://www.bhaisajya.guru
http://atikosha.org
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

Though there are infinite liberating gateways of Dharma,
there are none not included in the dimension of the knowledge of the Great Perfection.

-- Buddha Samantabhadri
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Re: Middle Way Politics

Postby dzogchungpa » Fri Jan 31, 2014 2:20 am

Are you going to run for office?
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Re: Middle Way Politics

Postby Adamantine » Fri Jan 31, 2014 3:18 am

I would imagine in a Middle Way politic that those who were universally recognized as embodying the traits of Wisdom would be the ones who would be nominated, drafted, or elected to the role of making the far-reaching decisions about enacting policies which would effect the majority of humans and other sentient beings in a given territory. For instance, Samdhong Rinpoche - Lobsang Tenzin being elected as the first Prime Minister of the Central Tibetan Administration was one example of this -- as was the universal request that Dudjom RInpoche become the first official "head of the Nyingma" community in exile in the first stage of the Tibetan diaspora.

In absence of those embodying Wisdom making the far-reaching decisions, I am not sure how a middle-way politics could work.

I've worked in politically oriented organizations where consensus was the primary decision making process, and as idyllic as this may sound, it caused endless delays to accomplishing anything because there was often a few highly confused or disruptive individuals who (intentionally or not) sabotaged the process.

The question remains: in a world of confused inhabitants, who has the clarity to know whom are the embodiers of Wisdom? Would a Middle Way philosophy be imposed by force, to make people support only those who seemed to embody the wisdom of the Middle Way?

We live in an overwhelmingly pluralistic world.
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Detachment is the final happiness. ~Sri Saraha
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Re: Middle Way Politics

Postby Virgo » Fri Jan 31, 2014 3:49 am

dzogchungpa wrote:Are you going to run for office?

I highly doubt it as Malcolm is not really concerned with the eight worldly concerns, as most politicians are. If he were to, however, I am sure that he would do it with a pure motivation.

Also, he comes from a political family, so I assume he really knows what he is talking about.

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Re: Middle Way Politics

Postby Will » Fri Jan 31, 2014 3:53 am

The model is the Chakravartin, like Ashoka. But since monarchies are not making a comeback soon, any system that has a Dharma-based leader will benefit.

Buddha taught only those teachings which have the 'taste of freedom' - buddha nature within all, karma & fruits thereof, rebirth et cetera. All these need good understanding.

So the populace needs to put freedom, not control, or rule by the state above all. Little or no bureaucracy, informed citizenry, individual responsibility for helping others in need and self-reliance are major needed factors.
One should refrain from biased judgments and doubting in fathoming the Buddha and the Dharma of the Buddhas. Even though a dharma may be extremely difficult to believe, one should nonetheless maintain faith in it. Nagarjuna
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Re: Middle Way Politics

Postby kirtu » Fri Jan 31, 2014 11:25 am

Adamantine wrote:I would imagine in a Middle Way politic that those who were universally recognized as embodying the traits of Wisdom would be the ones who would be nominated, drafted, or elected to the role of making the far-reaching decisions about enacting policies which would effect the majority of humans and other sentient beings in a given territory.


Like Dr. Ron Paul of course, whom a majority of voters in his part of Texas say embodies "great wisdom" for them. :cry:

Ideally this principle is correct and necessary.

I've worked in politically oriented organizations where consensus was the primary decision making process, and as idyllic as this may sound,


It doesn't sound idyllic, it sounds stupid*. Consensus is not possible. Anyone who read the history of the student demonstrations in France during the 60's would know that. On this side of the Atlantic they were more successful with it but generally didn't try actual consensus (not for long). Recounting your experience/observation is but a footnote in a long string of one-sided observations.

Kirt

*this in no way refers to you or anyone involved of course but naive doesn't come close. This refers to the process itself.
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Re: Middle Way Politics

Postby Simon E. » Fri Jan 31, 2014 12:07 pm

kirtu wrote:
Adamantine wrote:I would imagine in a Middle Way politic that those who were universally recognized as embodying the traits of Wisdom would be the ones who would be nominated, drafted, or elected to the role of making the far-reaching decisions about enacting policies which would effect the majority of humans and other sentient beings in a given territory.


Like Dr. Ron Paul of course, whom a majority of voters in his part of Texas say embodies "great wisdom" for them. :cry:

Ideally this principle is correct and necessary.

I've worked in politically oriented organizations where consensus was the primary decision making process, and as idyllic as this may sound,


It doesn't sound idyllic, it sounds stupid*. Consensus is not possible. Anyone who read the history of the student demonstrations in France during the 60's would know that. On this side of the Atlantic they were more successful with it but generally didn't try actual consensus (not for long). Recounting your experience/observation is but a footnote in a long string of one-sided observations.

Kirt

*this in no way refers to you or anyone involved of course but naive doesn't come close. This refers to the process itself.


I would baulk at the term stupid, but somewhat naive certainly...
I work for the National Health Service, which is the largest employer in the UK.
15 or so years ago the buzzword was ' consensus '.
After a year or two the whole mechanism seized up..endless meetings which resolved nothing and led to a total lack of accountability.
Professionally trained managers had to be brought in to clear up the mess.
The legacy of that time can be felt to this day.
Last edited by Simon E. on Fri Jan 31, 2014 12:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Middle Way Politics

Postby Tsongkhapafan » Fri Jan 31, 2014 1:02 pm

There's no need for politics in the Pure Land.

Until then, politics should be about being of the people and working for the people - working for all without discrimination. A bodhisattva would make the best politician. The Middle Way politics would also be about recognising that problems come from the mind and not from external conditions, therefore primarily it would be encouraging people to meditate and control their minds, paying less attention to the importance of external conditions.
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Re: Middle Way Politics

Postby Malcolm » Fri Jan 31, 2014 1:52 pm

I was not really talking so much about the role of leaders in politics, but of course this is an understandable inference. What I am really trying to get at is a means of discovering a Buddhist political sensibility which is informed by Buddha's teachings, but can be applied in how we conduct ourselves in political matters.

For example, the Buddha's original middle way was a path between indulgence and asceticism. So the real question is, "How do we Buddhists walk this path in whatever political situation we find ourselves in". That is what I mean by "MIddle Way Politics". TKfan has the right idea, this is not so much about applying political remedies as a party, but what kind of political choices we make in light of our understanding of the Buddha's teaching, based on our own personal transformation dependent on our being people who live in a "polis", who are part of a "polity". So in that case, Adamantine's question about use of force is not an issue. Obviously a key point of a middle way politic would have to include ahimsa as a guiding principle.
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འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

Though there are infinite liberating gateways of Dharma,
there are none not included in the dimension of the knowledge of the Great Perfection.

-- Buddha Samantabhadri
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Re: Middle Way Politics

Postby Simon E. » Fri Jan 31, 2014 2:11 pm

Tsongkhapafan wrote:There's no need for politics in the Pure Land.

Until then, politics should be about being of the people and working for the people - working for all without discrimination. A bodhisattva would make the best politician. The Middle Way politics would also be about recognising that problems come from the mind and not from external conditions, therefore primarily it would be encouraging people to meditate and control their minds, paying less attention to the importance of external conditions.

That sounds to me to be a recipe for absolute, but well intentioned, chaos.
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Re: Middle Way Politics

Postby Nemo » Fri Jan 31, 2014 3:41 pm

Ideally it would be a meritocracy. The most spiritually advanced in the group is given near absolute authority. People stay in the collective as long as they wish. The mission obviously transcends members personal desires. The leader need not be an expert in everything. They delegate. Their main job is to purify motivation and justify the use of resources.

The game of modern politics is about selfish elites retaining undeserved wealth and power. There is no middle way of exploitation and coercion. The Buddha's life choices seem to support this thesis. You might as well be talking about Buddhist methods of warfare.
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Re: Middle Way Politics

Postby Tsongkhapafan » Fri Jan 31, 2014 4:39 pm

Simon E. wrote:
Tsongkhapafan wrote:There's no need for politics in the Pure Land.

Until then, politics should be about being of the people and working for the people - working for all without discrimination. A bodhisattva would make the best politician. The Middle Way politics would also be about recognising that problems come from the mind and not from external conditions, therefore primarily it would be encouraging people to meditate and control their minds, paying less attention to the importance of external conditions.

That sounds to me to be a recipe for absolute, but well intentioned, chaos.


How so? I think I could cope with the end of consumerism/capitalism :)
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Re: Middle Way Politics

Postby Sherab Dorje » Fri Jan 31, 2014 5:12 pm

Nemo beat me to it: I imagine that it would definitely be some sort of meritocracy. Probably with a socialist bent.
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
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Re: Middle Way Politics

Postby Adamantine » Fri Jan 31, 2014 6:47 pm

Malcolm wrote:What I am really trying to get at is a means of discovering a Buddhist political sensibility which is informed by Buddha's teachings, but can be applied in how we conduct ourselves in political matters.


"How do we Buddhists walk this path in whatever political situation we find ourselves in".


but what kind of political choices we make in light of our understanding of the Buddha's teaching, based on our own personal transformation dependent on our being people who live in a "polis", who are part of a "polity".


So in that case, Adamantine's question about use of force is not an issue. Obviously a key point of a middle way politic would have to include ahimsa as a guiding principle.


I see, so likewise Nemo's response re: meritocracy(similar to my initial thought)is off topic, at least from your intended topic.

So far the societies of the past which were run with a Madhyamika backbone were ones such as Ashoka's kingdom, ruled largely by might-- and Tibetan historical rulers which were either Kings like Trisong Deutsen imposing ethics and views somewhat by force, or whomever later was backed by warlords: usually Mongolian ones : whether they were Sakya Pandita, Karmapas, or most prevalently: Dalai Lamas. So for better or worse, there were never really Middle Way political parties or thinkers crafting comprehensive and explicit political views.

So being part of a larger polity -one that is not run on Middle Way principles- but expressing our politics with Middle Way principles, that's another story. So if I get you right: rather than going to a socialist book club or an anarchist meeting to mix with other political associates to discuss common political views and try to effect change either through voting, lobbying, protesting, or insurrection ~ you are contemplating or proposing we ponder what a Middle Way political ideology might look like? If we all associated with the Middle Way party, how would we discuss effecting positive change in the world, or the community?

Regarding personally making political choices based on our understanding of Middle Way principles, I would imagine any of us Mahayanists are trying to do this to some degree, as it is.
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Detachment is the final happiness. ~Sri Saraha
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Re: Middle Way Politics

Postby reddust » Fri Jan 31, 2014 7:13 pm

I will be posting more on this topic but I want to research what other folk think of "Middle Way" politics. I understand this is from a Buddhist view but I wanted to see if "middle way" had been used before. I see there is a lot of material on this from the Buddhist view and other views. I don't know much about politics or it's structure except through my experience which has been limited.

I don't know if this is a real, I haven't researched the quote:

"In politics the middle way is none at all." - John Adams


In general I dislike politics and it's institutions, it seems to attract the worst kind of human beings. But I understand when people get together in a group politics happen, there seems to be no way around it. So I will be looking into structures that will be difficult for those who crave power to infest and take over. My first thought would be something like we had at the beginning of America, small central government and many state and local governments. Decentralize the power structures and give local groups the power to govern themselves. Just thinking about this makes me feel overwhelmed and confused. But I know this is a very important topic as the government we have right now is involved in every part of my life and I really resent this fact because it is so corrupt and controlling. Governments that form no matter how well structured seem to in the end become corrupt and eventually fall. Is there anyway to avoid this? Or if this is the way it is with governments how can we the common people use this to our advantage rather than the power structure taking advantage?

I wish I could just climb out of the past and see new structures we haven't thought about but I am not that smart. But I am going to try anyway.
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Re: Middle Way Politics

Postby Adamantine » Fri Jan 31, 2014 7:57 pm

I've always kind of been partial to Fourier's Phalanstary decentralized and eroticized commune model. . . just an aside. I suppose there's good reason the initial American experiments went south-- including two large fires. . . but I wonder what a number of Middle Way communities based on similar (not identical) structures would look like.

I've also spent some time on an anarchist - artist community based on permaculture principles that I found to be quite idyllic in many ways.

In general, self-sustaining communities that exist somewhat outside of the nihilist or eternalist dominant cultures at large may be the most skillful means to navigate the contemporary world for Middle Way practitioners.
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