Middle Way Politics

Alleviating worldly suffering along the way.

Re: Middle Way Politics

Postby tellyontellyon » Thu Feb 13, 2014 3:44 pm

Hi Malcolm,
So what deep ecologists do is sort of individual? Your commitment/practice to deep ecology involves you practicing an ancient medical practice. As it doesn't rely on technology, it should survive any impending global environmental/industrial/social/financial collapse?

So it's sort of waiting for everything to break down, but you'll survive (or people like you will survive) because you do something that doesn't need technology and you can grow your own veg.... Oh, and meditate and stuff etc.
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Re: Middle Way Politics

Postby Sherab Dorje » Thu Feb 13, 2014 6:35 pm

Malcolm wrote:There are certain criteria that render one's view as "deep ecological", and lacking those, one cannot describe oneself as a deep ecologist no matter how ecocentric one's views may be. That is, the basis of one's philosophy must lead inevitably to the platform of deep ecology. It can be generated by different value systems such Buddhist, Christian or Philosophical values. The "deep" in deep ecology is a gloss for "nondual".
I think you are reading way too much into deep ecology in order to then justify to yourself that it is Buddhist and thus not worldly dharma. The deep, in deep ecology, means ecocentric instead of anthropocentric. I am not going to deny that ecocentrism is undoubtedly less dualistic than anthropocentricism. But on the basis of this rhetoric capitalism, being ego and anthropo -centric, cannot fall within the milieu of non-dualism (or more correctly, ecocentrism) and thus cannot be justified as somehow fitting into a deep ecology model. When was the last time you ran into an ecologically minded CEO of Enron (for example), the World Bank, or the IMF?

Do not confound the two (non-dual and ecocentric).

Foremans approach does not deny humans a role in an ecosystem, it just does not make them the centre of the system. Thus it is an ecocentric platform: an approach that puts the benefit of the whole (ecosystem) above that of one of the parts (humans).
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Re: Middle Way Politics

Postby Malcolm » Thu Feb 13, 2014 7:56 pm

Sherab Dorje wrote:I think you are reading way too much into deep ecology in order to then justify to yourself that it is Buddhist and thus not worldly dharma.


I don't think that deep ecology is Buddhadharma. However I think it is ethically consistent with Buddhadharma for a number of reasons.

The deep, in deep ecology, means ecocentric instead of anthropocentric.

I am not going to deny that ecocentrism is undoubtedly less dualistic than anthropocentricism. But on the basis of this rhetoric capitalism, being ego and anthropo -centric, cannot fall within the milieu of non-dualism (or more correctly, ecocentrism) and thus cannot be justified as somehow fitting into a deep ecology model. When was the last time you ran into an ecologically minded CEO of Enron (for example), the World Bank, or the IMF?

Do not confound the two (non-dual and ecocentric).



You are quite simple mistaken. Frederick Bender clarifies this point in his The Culture of Extinction:

In Buddhism, the technical term for the ontological quality of particulars, incorporating both their phenomenality and their interdependence, is "suchness" (Skt. tathatha). To frame objects in their suchness is, in Mahayana Buddhist terminology, to express the nondualist "two-truth" doctrine. Particulars, if framed dualistically through the prevalent subject/object (egocentric) and subject/predicate (linguistic) dualities, are real only conventionally. Something similar to the Buddhist two-truth doctrine defines ecological thinking. Living beings are phenomenal manifestations of Earth's ecosphere. They are also particulars-in-relation, though not "bare," self-standing particulars. Deep ecology's so-called depth, considered ontologically, functions as a metaphor for nondualism.

Frederic L. Bender. The Culture of Extinction: Toward a Philosophy of Deep Ecology (Kindle Locations 4373-4376). Kindle Edition.

Arne Naess also states:

The belief and acceptance that all whole beings can attain Buddhahood depend upon the rejection of subject-object dualism. That is, one must abandon the sentiment that there is always and always must be an ego involved in experience. An appeal to spontaneity, perhaps especially spontaneous experience in nature, is preferable to a detached view of subject-object relations.

The nondualism in Buddhism is sometimes expressed verbally by saying that all beings are one, or that each being is one with all other beings. Such a formula must not be taken in the counterintuitive sense that, for example, I cannot be cold and hungry and somebody else warm and satisfied. The formula does not imply rejection of personal pronouns or any psychology of the ego and self.

It is an interesting problem to formulate clearly the views that have rejection of subject-object dualism as a common characteristic. Whatever way we formulate the nondualism, adherents of deep ecology tend to feel sympathy with views such as the following, expressed by Yasuaki Nara:

"[I]n Dōgen, through the negation of the egocentric self, whole being, including man, animal, mountains, rivers, grasses, trees etc., is one with him, making both nature and himself encompassed within the world of the Buddha."


Naess, Arne (2009-05-01). The Ecology of Wisdom: Writings by Arne Naess (pp. 198-199). Counterpoint. Kindle Edition.

Foremans approach does not deny humans a role in an ecosystem, it just does not make them the centre of the system. Thus it is an ecocentric platform: an approach that puts the benefit of the whole (ecosystem) above that of one of the parts (humans).


Naess' position is a little different. First he questions the usefulness of the term "biocentric", "ecocentric" and so on:

Supporters of the deep ecology movement like to say that they support ecocentrism, not anthropocentrism, and Spinoza certainly offers high-level premises for what has sometimes been labeled biocentric or ecocentric egalitarianism. I think these Latin or Greek terms are useless in serious discussions, but they may be helpful in offering some vague idea of a kind of basic attitude. Spinoza tried something immensely difficult, namely, to articulate with some preciseness certain basic attitudes.

He continues a bit later by saying:

It is characteristic of the deep ecology movement that great efforts at conservation are argued not only as something good and profitable for human beings, but also as something valuable for what is intended to be conserved. It is worthy of conservation, independently of any narrow human interests. This is often called the nonanthropocentric or biocentric or ecocentric view. Nevertheless, in the current social and political milieu, success in conservation efforts depends heavily on arguments that do stress narrowly human interests, especially the requirements of human health. The supporters of the deep ecology movement combine such arguments with those that are independent of narrow human interests.11 It is essential that “experts” and others who influence policies agree about this combination and that the public be made aware that basically there is agreement. Otherwise, the public is deceived.

Naess, Arne (2009-05-01). The Ecology of Wisdom: Writings by Arne Naess (p. 303). Counterpoint. Kindle Edition.

This why why "hard" ecocentrism cannot be construed even remotely as deep ecology. Anyway, Bookchin claimed that Earth First! had converted to social ecology as it turned leftwing.
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Re: Middle Way Politics

Postby tellyontellyon » Thu Feb 13, 2014 8:21 pm

...great efforts at conservation are argued not only as something good and profitable for human beings, but also as something valuable for what is intended to be conserved...


Without wanting to repeat myself, can you give us some kind of idea of what these 'great efforts' actually comprise of - other than the great effort you put into your particular form of healing?

I'm really not being facetious, I just don't feel I've had a satisfactory answer to my question yet. Can you give me some practical examples of the conservation activities that Deep Ecologists are actively involved in at the moment?
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Re: Middle Way Politics

Postby Malcolm » Thu Feb 13, 2014 8:32 pm

tellyontellyon wrote:
...great efforts at conservation are argued not only as something good and profitable for human beings, but also as something valuable for what is intended to be conserved...


Without wanting to repeat myself, can you give us some kind of idea of what these 'great efforts' actually comprise of - other than the great effort you put into your particular form of healing?

I'm really not being facetious, I just don't feel I've had a satisfactory answer to my question yet. Can you give me some practical examples of the conservation activities that Deep Ecologists are actively involved in at the moment?



Deep ecologists can be found in all aspects of the conservation movement. But I frankly doubt that most of the people who call themsevles "deep ecologists" really understand what deep ecology really means.

Basically, Arne Naess identified three great movements of the 20th century: the peace movement, the social justice movement and the deep ecology movement. All three of these can be included under the rubric of "green" politics. But he clarified, you can't do all three. You have to pick one.

For example, while green politics have been largely coopted by the new left in the form of Social Ecology, there are "greens" like myself who are deep ecologists. There is no badge that distinguishes a deep ecologist from any other type of environmentalist. There is no organization to join. However, Vandana Shiva is a deep ecologist, Joanna Macy, Julia Butterfly HIll, Gary Snyder, John Seed, Pierre-Félix Guattari, Fritzjof Capra, Wendell Barry (recently arrested demonstrating against coal mining in Appalachia) are all people who have some connection with the movement. But as it is not a left wing or right wing trip, it is not organized into cadres with political action committees and so on. Deep ecology is an organic movement. It is slow growing, but then, so are trees. It tends to propagate rhizomatically, like fungus.
Last edited by Malcolm on Thu Feb 13, 2014 9:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

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Re: Middle Way Politics

Postby tellyontellyon » Thu Feb 13, 2014 9:20 pm

Cheers. M. Will look up those people and see what they are up to.
“Don't you know that a midnight hour comes when everyone has to take off his mask? Do you think life always lets itself be trifled with? Do you think you can sneak off a little before midnight to escape this?”
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Re: Middle Way Politics

Postby Malcolm » Thu Feb 13, 2014 9:33 pm

tellyontellyon wrote:Cheers. M. Will look up those people and see what they are up to.


Vandana Shiva
http://www.navdanya.org

Wendell Barry
http://www.wendellberrybooks.com/author.html

Bill Mckibben
http://www.billmckibben.com

These are probably three of the most well known active advocates of some form or another of deep ecology.

Three decades of writings on deep ecology:
http://trumpeter.athabascau.ca/index.ph ... rch/search

I imagine in the end you will be more comfortable with social ecology, since it comes out of the left and is based on class analysis and so on:

http://www.thegreenfuse.org/socialecology.htm

Murray Bookchin hated deep ecology, he writes:

What Is Deep Ecology?

Deep ecology is so much of a black hole of half-digested, ill-formed, and half-baked ideas that one can easily express utterly vicious notions like Foreman's and still sound like a fiery radical who challenges everything that is anti-ecological in the present realm of ideas. The very words deep ecology, in fact, clue is into the fact that we are not dealing with a body of clear ideas but with a bottomless pit in which vague notions and moods of all kinds can be such into the depths of an ideological toxic dump.


He spews more of the same here:
http://dwardmac.pitzer.edu/Anarchist_Ar ... epeco.html
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འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

Though there are infinite liberating gateways of Dharma,
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-- Buddha Samantabhadri
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Re: Middle Way Politics

Postby AlexanderS » Mon Feb 17, 2014 6:36 pm

I personally think it's very telling that many great awakened beings including Buddha Skakyamuni, Padmasambhava, Naropa and so forth left positions of great political power(monarch positions) in search for the "solution". For me it put out a clear message. That politics is a losers game
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Re: Middle Way Politics

Postby madhusudan » Fri Aug 08, 2014 7:37 pm

Politics is the use of violence and coercion. Otherwise it'd just be a suggestion.
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Re: Middle Way Politics

Postby tellyontellyon » Fri Aug 08, 2014 10:52 pm

Alexander

But somebody has to have enough heart to work out how we are all going to get enough food and shelter and education and dispose of waste and health-care etc.... Monastics can sit in the monasteries... fine. But lay Buddhists have to take care of organizing and running society while making sure they have enough food for their families... and some to donate to the monastics.
Politicians are not all bad, even though many are.

'Politics' is about how we organize society and use resources... we shouldn't leave it up to the politicians!

Everybody has a responsibility for making sure that the selfish, violent, ignorant people don't always get their own way.

:heart:
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Re: Middle Way Politics

Postby madhusudan » Sat Aug 09, 2014 10:18 pm

tellyontellyon wrote:Everybody has a responsibility for making sure that the selfish, violent, ignorant people don't always get their own way.

:heart:


Levers of power attract the "selfish, violent, ignorant people" like flies to dung.
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Re: Middle Way Politics

Postby tellyontellyon » Sat Aug 09, 2014 10:53 pm

Levers of power attract the "selfish, violent, ignorant people" like flies to dung.


Same thing happens in Dharma centres sometimes... all the more reason to get involved and make sure things go in a better direction.
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Re: Middle Way Politics

Postby tlee » Wed Aug 13, 2014 10:48 am

Supposing that any given Buddhist government is controlled by a genuine Buddhist person or people without external influences or ignorance of their situation, the politics of it would have to be based off of their actions as an individual. Those individual actions being limited by the rules and advise of the Buddha's to what is wholesome, the governments would have predictable outcomes, if not particular forms.

I've been wondering for a few years if it is better to have a world government with undisputed rulers or many groups constantly manipulating, attacking and destabilizing to retain and gain control. If only we did have someone with the foresight of the Buddhas to direct us. Perhaps there's a reason they didn't institute a world government though.
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Re: Middle Way Politics

Postby Queequeg » Wed Aug 13, 2014 10:37 pm

Simon E. wrote:Multinational mining companies are not trying to practice Dharma.


In the U.S., under the Hobby Lobby Supreme Court decision, they might be able to... as long as they are closely held.
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Re: Middle Way Politics

Postby Queequeg » Wed Aug 13, 2014 11:37 pm

I know this is an old thread. But the wonder of forums like this is that the conversation is documented so it can be picked up again.

Before the turn off into a discussion of EarthFirst! politics, there was a question about Buddhist politics and what it would look like. I think in posing the question of what Middle Way politics would look like, we jumped ahead of the game and confused the bigger issue that I think we are asking. I will return to Middle Way politics later.

I think the first question we would need to ask ourselves is, what is the purpose of engaging in the political process?

Assuming we have a government organized on democratic principles, as a general principle, people participate in the political process to try and direct the community's resources and to implement policies that they want. These policies are implemented in any number of ways - in a general sense, through budgeting for programs and services, and through establishing normative rules (and penalties for not observing those rules).

If we have some other form of government, monarchy, or even despotism, whatever it is, our aim would be at influencing the decision making process. In past times, Buddhists have sought to implement policy through advice to or even conversion of the sovereign. We might, as a means of getting to a point where we as Buddhists can influence decision making, might work for opening such channels - like advocating for the implementation of democratic principles if there are none. (The Vajjis were brought up tangentially in the thread, but IIRC, the Buddha looked approvingly on the political organization of Vajjian society, which seems to have been a Republic. I think a Buddhist democracy advocate could find support for their activities in the Buddha's admiration of the Vajjis.)

So then as a Mahayana Buddhist, how would I like to see resources directed?

As a Mahayana Buddhist, as a bodhisattva, my wish is for awakening, and the awakening of all beings. I would therefore like to see the community's resources directed to this goal. In the past, this was done most directly by the support of the Sangha, by housing and feeding sravakas. We here on the board have different views on the ideal Buddhist society and the relationship between the 4 classes of Buddhists, but generally, I think we can generally agree that we'd support policies that enabled the pursuit of enlightenment, from providing the basic material needs to more advanced institutions for the preservation and dissemination of Buddha Dharma. In a pluralistic society, these government policies would need to be for the benefit of the whole society, not just Buddhists, so building monasteries is probably out of the question. Schools and hospitals, though...

I did not read the entire thread, but did skim it. It seems there is a lot of idealism here. Sure, it would be great to have a Buddha as ruler, but that's not happening any time soon. Even a Buddhist spiritual meritocracy is a pipe dream under present conditions - I think too many of us might be focused on some sort of Buddhist totalitarian state ideal ruled and administered by perfected beings. I don't think such a state has ever existed, and we are a looooong way from realizing anything like that.

Instead, we have the pluralistic societies organized on democratic principles, and as Buddhists, as a group among the plurality, we can contribute towards the implementation of policies we believe in through coalitions and cooperation with others who share in general principles. Some things we can work with others on could include peace and order, social welfare, universal healthcare and of course, good education. On more refined levels, we could certainly work with others who are trying to influence culture towards making compassion normative. I think if we are able to set up society so that real material want (and by this I mean, nobody is hungry, nobody is stressed out of their minds worrying about having a place to live, nobody is worried that medical bills are going to wipe them out) is eliminated and we make compassion the default norm in our interpersonal relations, we are a long way to establishing a society in which the pursuit of enlightenment is easier for everyone. From there, it would be up to Buddhists and our institutions to propagate Buddhadharma.

In achieving these policy goals, we would of course be constrained by systemic rules as well as our own ethical standards. This is where Middle Way politics might be applicable. I don't think anyone takes Middle Way to mean the compromise position, but rather that we ourselves, in our conduct, avoid extremes. We might not, for instance, set up Super PACS to accept dirty money with all its strings, but we could engage in fund raising to publicize our positions and support candidates who share our goals and values. Etc.

Anyways.
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