Maybe I can refine my idea a little. Please bear with me.
Adamantine wrote:Nilasarasvati, it is a bit disingenuous to hold to the historic latin root of a term when we are discussing the contemporary meaning. You are holding to definition 5a of the Merriam-Webster definitions and everyone else is clearly discussing all the others, mainly the first 4. These lists are in the descending order of common use and relevance.
I never said those other aspects/definitions were not also political. Actually, if we go with Greg's definition (which I agree with as a maxim) "everything is political."
I'm just trying to attest to the fact that those first 3 definitions aren't the sole scope of politics. Especially in our daily lives; very few of us work for the FBI or are currently sitting in a public office, but still have a constant cyclical relationship with the structures of power and privilege. Also, you're quoting from official, highly recognized, mainstream, conservative sources of thought. Just because those usages/denotations are more common, more easily understood, more colloquially used does not mean they are the most accurate, insightful, or progressive.
John Lennon, Bob Dylan, Vonnegut, and Ginsburg would be pretty unanimous in agreeing that everyday actions, attitudes, and statements can be political--can even effect change. Staying in bed for two weeks with Yoko, wearing a beard,--whatever. We make ripples with everything we do. Focusing solely on the mechanisms of power and the artifices of government slants the whole discussion away from those who have no legitimate power.
Help HELP! I'm being semantically repressed!
That all said.. even with your thoughts in mind.. some of the greatest practitioners are those who have lived in caves, in retreat, outside of society altogether let alone "political" life. And of course, the ones that achieve real freedom may be spontaneously benefiting beings without any calculated thought of repercussions, praise or blame or political consequence in any obvious way. At least, we are familiar with this type of saint and label them as "Crazy-Wisdom" adepts. Drukpa Kunleg, Milarepa, Garab Dorje, and so many other Mahasiddhas. "Political" implies an adhered to and thought out agenda, even if it is one of benefit towards others. I believe what Malcolm is getting at is the freedom that true practice generates that is beyond any calculated agendas whatsoever. There is the ability to benefit beyond the ego's need to benefit(which sadly often can achieve the opposite result).
Absolutely, no contest. True realization is utterly beyond the crude and clumsy means of political apparatus, political agenda, etc. And masters like these, it's easy to see, had profound periods of total withdrawal from the bullhonkey of the polis. And I agree with Malcolm in saying that, pragmatically, people who get attached to political views and actions (Especially using the Dharma to inform them) turns "The God into the demon."
Where we disagree is in the realm of what seems inevitable: to people like me, so long as you have Karma, you are bound into and ruled by the political sphere. Your involvement in it, your negative karma that arises from it, etc. is unavoidable. And my whole tack in this thread has been trying to get people to stop denying that they somehow exist in a vacuum from that because they think it doesn't wash with Buddhist practice.
It doesn't wash with Buddhist practice! But if you have a social security number, a bank card, a drivers license, or a birth certificate, you can't escape it and you are bound by your Bodhisattva vows to have as compassionate and vast a view of the scope of political ramifications as possible.
Moreover, just because you are enlightened doesn't mean you don't end up directly or indirectly causing political/social situations. All those masters you cited eventually emerged and interacted with beings.
When the hunters encountered Milarepa and asked if he was a demon or a man because he looked so unholy and bizzare, he just looked at them like they were the crazy ones and started singing this song about how their precious human life didn't seem that precious when he saw their gruesome and harmful occupation. For Milarepa and those hunters he encountered, it was a sublime upadesha that probably resulted in accomplishment!
But Milarepa also intended for other beings to hear that song. And they did and still do in towns all throughout the Himalayas. And for those relative beings, the "moral of the story" was, don't hunt. It's a taboo. It's verboten. Black and White. It's not necessarily a sublime upadesha. It's just a social statement. Just because from their side they have no politics and no agenda doesn't mean that the actions of enlightened beings don't inform the relative political choices of ordinary beings,
the social mores of the cultures they influence, and the inevitable cycles of cause and effect that produce the conditions of a polity.