Evolving Beyond Tribalism

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Evolving Beyond Tribalism

Postby MalaBeads » Mon Oct 01, 2012 9:34 pm

I honestly don't know where to put this thread but this seems as good a place as any. Mostly likely such a discussion belongs in a thread on anthropology but that's not that important.

Elsewhere on DW, a discussion as ensued concerning evolving beyond tribalism and I would like to continue that discussion in a different thread.

To begin, I would like to table two words, "religion" and "evil" and take up two other words, "tribalism" and "evolve".

I very much agree that unless human beings learn to evolve beyond tribalism, the planet is finished. Where I disagree most likely is that the root of this problem is religion and that religion is evil.

If you look just a little deeper, you can see that tribalism is manifest in many forms on our planet. It shows up not only in religion, but nearly everywhere that human beings coalesce - in country boundaries, ethnic groupings, in politics, in religions, in the many, and myriad ways that humans organize themselves.

We are social creatures. Honestly, I would hate to see human beings be otherwise. But unless we find ways to organize our perceptions beyond these narrow definitions inherent in tribalism, we are doomed.

Buddhism teaches us about the root of these faulty perceptions. The false perceptions of dualism will only lead to destruction. Dividing the world into "us" and "them", into "good" and evil", into "my group" vs "your group" (whatever "grouping" that may be) is a dead end for humanity as a whole. To think that "my group" can win and thus it's okay to see this way is folly. No one "wins" when the world is seen as separate from oneself. Shakymuni Buddha's insight into how the world actually is, ie nothing and no one is separate from everything else, is incredibly valuable. Incredibly. To turn this insight into a religion separate from all others is to misunderstand the insight.

Shakymuni had an insight into the nature of reality, he did not found a religion. Others, later, established a religion. At least from my perspective, it is so important to understand this.

All thoughts and perspectives are welcome.
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Re: Evolving Beyond Tribalism

Postby viniketa » Tue Oct 02, 2012 12:05 am

It's a good question, though it is a bit broad, encompassing anything and everything that might be described as tribalism. Tribalism and labeling are two words I've seen used in this forum recently to describe the "us" vs. "them" thinking that pits humans against each other. Though different, they have one thing in common, which is they are both "short cut" methods to deal with diversity in ones environment. These "short cut" methods seem to be built-in to the human brain and, at some time in the past, were probably largely responsible for human kind's survival and rapid expansion in a hostile environment. These methods allow us to divide the world into broad categories for quick decision-making without engaging higher orders of abstract thinking. Labeling as a short cut is typically based on categorizing objects into easily recognizable physical semblances. In tribalism, the bases for categories are either familial lineages or leader lineages to which one can attach blind loyalty.

Evolution beyond tribal thinking will require either long periods of Darwinian-type environmental selection or society-wide conscious decisions to "change our minds". If we are saying we want the latter to happen, how do we go about coming to this common decision?

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If they can sever like and dislike, along with greed, anger, and delusion, regardless of their difference in nature, they will all accomplish the Buddha Path.. ~ Sutra of Complete Enlightenment
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Re: Evolving Beyond Tribalism

Postby lobster » Tue Oct 02, 2012 4:50 am

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Re: Evolving Beyond Tribalism

Postby viniketa » Tue Oct 02, 2012 5:36 am



A nice story of personal evolution. Some would say this is the only type of evolution possible.

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If they can sever like and dislike, along with greed, anger, and delusion, regardless of their difference in nature, they will all accomplish the Buddha Path.. ~ Sutra of Complete Enlightenment
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Re: Evolving Beyond Tribalism

Postby MalaBeads » Tue Oct 02, 2012 2:26 pm

Viniketa,

You asked a question about "how". I don't think a common decision is required as much as a common education about how things actually work.

I'm for educating people in the most basic sense. Education past ignorance. Simple things. Like showing people that if you pull a string on scarf it effects the whole scarf. If you pollute one river, it will eventually affect all the water on the planet. No water on the planet is separate from any other water. No air is only "my" air. This is not a "scientific" education (although this kind of insight can be expressed scientifically). It s not a "religious" education (although again, it can be expressed religiously). It is just a simple common sense insight.

So if you ask how, I would respond - through education.
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Re: Evolving Beyond Tribalism

Postby Martyn » Wed Oct 03, 2012 6:39 pm

Human beings doomed? I would it were so, but alas it may not happen. Humans are good at surviving, in a similar way to rats and cockroaches, I reckon they will keep going, although maybe in smaller numbers.

I can foresee a new cold war with the rise of China, but the Chinese GDP is still a third that of the USA so it may take several decades before there is serious conflict. Military muscle is a product of economic wealth. Even if there is a nuclear war, some people will survive, maybe billions, although of course it will be a completely different world/civilisation.

Most people are crap, including most so-called Buddhists, so it's no big loss. Is it going too far to say that the human race is evil? A species whose destruction of the environment and other living beings is only matched by its destruction of other humans.

The sooner this cancer is gone the better.
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Re: Evolving Beyond Tribalism

Postby Dechen Norbu » Thu Oct 04, 2012 11:30 am

Martyn wrote:Most people are shit, including most so-called Buddhists, so it's no big loss.
The sooner this cancer is gone the better.

This is a very deluded thing to say as you are reducing people to their flaws.
Defects are not intrinsic, but adventitious. People are like that due to ignorance, an innate ignorance they don't even know they need or can dispel.

It's a moral imperative for those who know this attaining wisdom to a point in which they can help others to free themselves from the ignorance that ultimately causes so much suffering. Everyone wants to be happy, everyone wants to go home and that home is our true nature, free from any malice, any stain, any defilement. As we lost our way home and don't even know where it is, we take temporary substitutes for it and while at it hurt others, ourselves and create samsara.

The sooner this cancer is gone the better, as you say, but in this case the cancer is ignorance, not people.

Best wishes.
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Re: Evolving Beyond Tribalism

Postby muni » Thu Oct 04, 2012 11:44 am

Dechen Norbu wrote:[
.

It's a moral imperative for those who know this attaining wisdom to a point in which they can help others to free themselves from the ignorance that ultimately causes so much suffering. Everyone wants to be happy, everyone wants to go home and that home is our true nature, free from any malice, any stain, any defilement. As we lost our way home and don't even know where it is, we take temporary substitutes for it and while at it hurt others, ourselves and create samsara.


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Re: Evolving Beyond Tribalism

Postby viniketa » Fri Oct 05, 2012 12:25 am

Looking for something else, I came across this on Thich Nhat Hanh's teachings:

Compassion does not make any moral judgments about who is innocent and who is to blame. When we make such moral judgments we take the stance of a subject observing objects. Thus we lose the sense of immediate interbeing that is the essence of compassion. But when we identify with everyone, we realize that our own being and society’s good and evil aspects all share same the essential nature. "When we realize our nature of interbeing, we will stop blaming and killing, because we know that we inter-are." So we cannot reject anyone or anything as fundamentally evil. We stop splitting the world into good versus evil. Instead, we will love and become friends with everyone.

This does not mean, however, that we stop acting on behalf of right and justice. On the contrary, it means that we have a new motivation to struggle for social change. Most people base their efforts at moral improvement on the belief that they are among the "good people," seeking to stop the "bad people." This can too easily become self-righteousness, which is a mask for selfishness. At bottom, self-righteous morality stems from a desire to control the world by creating fixed boundaries, like the boundary between good and evil. When these boundaries are used to control others, they lead to misunderstanding, narrow-mindedness, and even cruelty. The desire for control, in turns, grows out of a desire for security: having something unchanging to hold on to, to maintain the illusion of a permanent self.

When we are truly mindful, we recognize that nothing in life is any more permanent or secure than an ocean wave. We are always riding the crest of a wave. To try to hold on to anything is to pursue an impossible illusion of security. When we accept the truth of this impermanence, we realize that all boundaries are human constructs imposed on the unpredictable, and therefore uncontrollable, process of reality. So we make no effort to control or impose ourselves on others. We simply respond to the demand of the moment, without expecting to control the future.
http://spot.colorado.edu/~chernus/Nonvi ... atHanh.htm


Although his teachings on "interbeing" are dismissed by some as "light weight", the more I learn the more I disagree with that assessment. As much as I, personally, long to live in an "uplifting" world, where everyone gets along or, at least, can disagree without enmity, I've never seen how that is possible. The reason human society is not utopia already is that no one has figured out a way to replace "what is" with "what should be". If done by force, coercion, or even mere fraud, utopia collapses immediately.

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If they can sever like and dislike, along with greed, anger, and delusion, regardless of their difference in nature, they will all accomplish the Buddha Path.. ~ Sutra of Complete Enlightenment
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Re: Evolving Beyond Tribalism

Postby Malcolm » Fri Oct 05, 2012 12:44 am

viniketa wrote: The reason human society is not utopia already is that no one has figured out a way to replace "what is" with "what should be". If done by force, coercion, or even mere fraud, utopia collapses immediately.

:namaste:


Yes, no one has yet discovered a method of universally replacing samsara with nirvana. Hence Dharma.
http://www.bhaisajya.net
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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: Evolving Beyond Tribalism

Postby futerko » Fri Oct 05, 2012 1:07 am

viniketa wrote:
So we make no effort to control or impose ourselves on others. We simply respond to the demand of the moment, without expecting to control the future.


The reason human society is not utopia already is that no one has figured out a way to replace "what is" with "what should be".


Doesn't Thich Nhat Hanh's quote suggest we should in fact discard ideas of "what should be" in favour of what actually is?
we cannot get rid of God because we still believe in grammar - Nietzsche
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Re: Evolving Beyond Tribalism

Postby viniketa » Fri Oct 05, 2012 1:39 am

futerko wrote:Doesn't Thich Nhat Hanh's quote suggest we should in fact discard ideas of "what should be" in favour of what actually is?


Perhaps that is one way to approach it. Another is to recognize 'what is' as the same as 'what should be'. Either way, we cannot allow ourselves to despair of the loss of 'something better'.

Tricky thing, this bodhicitta...

:namaste:

P.S. I should clarify that the quote above is not, except for one sentence, a direct quote of TNH. Most is a paraphrase by the site owner, Ira Chernus.
If they can sever like and dislike, along with greed, anger, and delusion, regardless of their difference in nature, they will all accomplish the Buddha Path.. ~ Sutra of Complete Enlightenment
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Re: Evolving Beyond Tribalism

Postby futerko » Fri Oct 05, 2012 1:47 am

viniketa wrote:
futerko wrote:Doesn't Thich Nhat Hanh's quote suggest we should in fact discard ideas of "what should be" in favour of what actually is?


Perhaps that is one way to approach it. Another is to recognize 'what is' as the same as 'what should be'. Either way, we cannot allow ourselves to despair of the loss of 'something better'.

Tricky thing, this bodhicitta...

:namaste:

P.S. I should clarify that the quote above is not, except for one sentence, a direct quote of TNH. Most is a paraphrase by the site owner, Ira Chernus.


I was actually thinking more about perspectives rather than his phrasing about the future. Buddhism concentrating on a first-person perspective, while ideas of "should" tending toward the third-person, and tribalism being the attempt to establish an identity at the level of a third-person perspective.
we cannot get rid of God because we still believe in grammar - Nietzsche
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Re: Evolving Beyond Tribalism

Postby viniketa » Fri Oct 05, 2012 4:46 am

futerko wrote:
viniketa wrote:
futerko wrote:Doesn't Thich Nhat Hanh's quote suggest we should in fact discard ideas of "what should be" in favour of what actually is?


Perhaps that is one way to approach it. Another is to recognize 'what is' as the same as 'what should be'. Either way, we cannot allow ourselves to despair of the loss of 'something better'.


I was actually thinking more about perspectives rather than his phrasing about the future. Buddhism concentrating on a first-person perspective, while ideas of "should" tending toward the third-person, and tribalism being the attempt to establish an identity at the level of a third-person perspective.


Apologies, now I realize I do not understand your meaning. Could you please clarify?

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If they can sever like and dislike, along with greed, anger, and delusion, regardless of their difference in nature, they will all accomplish the Buddha Path.. ~ Sutra of Complete Enlightenment
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Re: Evolving Beyond Tribalism

Postby MalaBeads » Fri Oct 05, 2012 12:58 pm

Geez, I don't look in on this thread for 24 hours and I come back to a conceptual minefield.

First of all, having met Thich Nhat Hahn, I will say without equivocation, he is no lightweight. Far from it.

I'm kind of tried and a little cranky so I'll be brief. Buddhists don't own Dharma and 'should' is as problematic as it gets.

See y'all later. When I'm a little less tired and thnking doesn't hurt.
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Re: Evolving Beyond Tribalism

Postby viniketa » Fri Oct 05, 2012 1:50 pm

MalaBeads wrote:...'should' is as problematic as it gets.


Of course it is problematic. However, with statements like:

MalaBeads wrote:But unless we find ways to organize our perceptions beyond these narrow definitions inherent in tribalism, we are doomed.


how can "should" be avoided? Is this not a "prescriptive" statement?

If it is not prescriptive, but merely a prediction (if x does not happen, y will happen), then there is little to discuss.

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If they can sever like and dislike, along with greed, anger, and delusion, regardless of their difference in nature, they will all accomplish the Buddha Path.. ~ Sutra of Complete Enlightenment
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Re: Evolving Beyond Tribalism

Postby futerko » Fri Oct 05, 2012 2:28 pm

viniketa wrote:


A nice story of personal evolution. Some would say this is the only type of evolution possible.

:namaste:


I hadn't watched this video when I posted before, but it demonstrates my point.

She looks at Ken Wilber's idea of evolution from ego-, ethno-, global-, to cosmic-centric selves, as a progressive development, but the model of evolution that she puts forward depends upon identification with an idealised and imaginary perspective.
At the level of the self there still remains an ego which is undifferentiated from this imaginary other, which for me is precisely the locus of Dharma practice.

So the idea of these "short cut methods" are based upon an imaginary abstraction which can be universalized at various levels, tribal, religious, etc. where we take a God's-eye-view, but that still involves a top-down model such as an imposed structure like religion which reifies based upon an imaginary "big Other" rather than one which has been arrived at organically, such as the bottom-up model found through Dharma practice.
we cannot get rid of God because we still believe in grammar - Nietzsche
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Re: Evolving Beyond Tribalism

Postby Malcolm » Fri Oct 05, 2012 3:29 pm

MalaBeads wrote:
Buddhism teaches us about the root of these faulty perceptions.


Substitute "Dharma" for "Buddhism" and I will readily agree.
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: Evolving Beyond Tribalism

Postby viniketa » Fri Oct 05, 2012 4:16 pm

viniketa wrote:These "short cut" methods seem to be built-in to the human brain...


futerko wrote:So the idea of these "short cut methods" are based upon an imaginary abstraction which can be universalized at various levels, tribal, religious, etc...


Perhaps I should have used another word, such as 'mechanisms'. Anyway, I do not refer to 'conceptual' methods; rather I am referring to natural tendencies of our minds (that may be based in brain pathways) to reduce complexity by 'bypassing' higher-order abstractions and recalling simple perceptions such as feelings or sounds. These are simple 'recall' functions that may or may not be associated with higher-level abstractions. But, yes, they can be generalized to any level, up to and including 'universal'.

I would agree that Dharmic practice (as proposed by MalaBeads but using Malcolm's term) indeed aims at this natural tendency of mind (in addition to others) to help us overcome these habits of thinking.

futerko wrote:...where we take a God's-eye-view, but that still involves a top-down model such as an imposed structure like religion which reifies based upon an imaginary "big Other" rather than one which has been arrived at organically, such as the bottom-up model found through Dharma practice.


Here, I am lost. Who is taking a 'God's-eye-view', and where are they taking it? Also, if this is intended to clarify your previous statement, I find I am more confused. Again, I'm not trying to be obstructive.

From what I think you might mean, I was never referring to some "big Other" nor any "models". In fact, if I were to take one idea from TNH, it would be that there is no "other", imaginary, organic, top- or bottom-down, or otherwise.

:namaste:
If they can sever like and dislike, along with greed, anger, and delusion, regardless of their difference in nature, they will all accomplish the Buddha Path.. ~ Sutra of Complete Enlightenment
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Re: Evolving Beyond Tribalism

Postby MalaBeads » Fri Oct 05, 2012 4:42 pm

Malcolm wrote:
MalaBeads wrote:
Buddhism teaches us about the root of these faulty perceptions.


Substitute "Dharma" for "Buddhism" and I will readily agree.


I don't know how to have this discussion. I see Dharma as a-cultural, or beyond culture. Not confined to any particular system or any particular era. However, as with learning any art, you have to master the particulars. And particulars are always associated with a "system". The system I learned - and so did you Malcom, was Buddhist. It didn't have to be but it was. But as with any true "art form", for lack of a better description, it contains within itself the means to go beyond it.

I am very much groping in the dark for ways to say this, as may be obvious. Language is one of those incredibly inadequate
forms for communicating.

I could say Dharma is a perception and leave it at that but that doesn't seem exactly correct either. I don't know.

What do you think?
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