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 Post subject: Buddhists and Ayn Rand
PostPosted: Thu Oct 11, 2012 6:02 am 
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I have some questions arising from this topic AynRand's "objectivism" compared with dharma, but unrelated.

As I noted in the above thread, I was surprised, upon searching, how much discussion there is regarding compatibility between Buddhism and Objectivism (Ayn Rand's philosophical child), and thought it might be an interesting topic for discussion here, in itself.

From the above thread:
viniketa wrote:
undefineable wrote:
Moreover, isn't the whole 'self-interest' thing incompatible with Theism, let alone Christianity?!


Ayn Rand was an atheist and Objectivism part of her explanation of atheism, so it is strange that several Christian groups have taken-up Objectivism as philosophical basis for their conservatism.

As for Baudadharma being conservative, I've seen the claim before, but do not understand it. How can a doctrine so grounded in impermanence be conservative, in the true sense?


So, that is one part of the question: Is Buddhist philosophy conservative and, if so, in what way?

Thoughts?

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 11, 2012 6:12 am 
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Define conservative.

If you mean trying to maintain the current social-political order, then traditionally yes. Since change leads into the Kali Yuga.

It could even be argued that Buddhism is reactionary (far right). *puts on flame retardant suit* Because Buddhism considers the time of the Buddha to be supreme and seeks to return to it (Maitreya, Pure Lands etc.).

But Buddhism isn't political, so it's hard to classify using political terms.

It's my understanding from the Pali Sutras, that the Buddha's political view was "What does it have to do with Enlightenment? Who cares."

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 11, 2012 6:23 am 
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Konchog1 wrote:
Define conservative.

If you mean trying to maintain the current social-political order, then traditionally yes. Since change leads into the Kali Yuga.

It could even be argued that Buddhism is reactionary (far right). *puts on flame retardant suit* Because Buddhism considers the time of the Buddha to be supreme and seeks to return to it (Maitreya, Pure Lands etc.).

But Buddhism isn't political, so it's hard to classify using political terms.

It's my understanding from the Pali Sutras, that the Buddha's political view was "What does it have to do with Enlightenment? Who cares."


Conservationists wish to conserve: environments, biology, society, power... Take your pick. Doesn't necessarily have to be about politics (power), but we live in a political world, some people have privileges they wish to conserve, and this affects many aspects of life, including whether or not one has the 'resources' to devote to 'enlightenment'...

:namaste:

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 11, 2012 6:27 am 
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So Environmentalists can't be Liberal and Liberals don't cling to power? :shrug:

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Equanimity is the ground. Love is the moisture. Compassion is the seed. Bodhicitta is the result.

-Paraphrase of Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tsephel citing the Guhyasamaja Tantra

"All memories and thoughts are the union of emptiness and knowing, the Mind.
Without attachment, self-liberating, like a snake in a knot.
Through the qualities of meditating in that way,
Mental obscurations are purified and the dharmakaya is attained."

-Ra Lotsawa, All-pervading Melodious Drumbeats


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 11, 2012 6:29 am 
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Konchog1 wrote:
So Environmentalists can't be Liberal and Liberals don't cling to power? :shrug:


Good questions...

:namaste:

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 11, 2012 4:25 pm 
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Interesting - Anyone care to elaborate on how Ayn Rand's writing compares to Buddhadharma? I remember a thread comparing Nietzsche's thought to Buddhism, but then Nietzsche wrote enough about everything from all angles to have since been compared with everything else as well. I know little of Rand (she's still more-or-less unknown in my country - the UK) and remember less, but know enough to understand that she was Niezsche's intellectual successor in a sense - atleast in as far as their teachings can be applied to a society. I'd be surprised if someone hasn't already written a book about how Nietsche's 'Uberman' ideal has helped shape today's USA via Rand's recent surge in popularity. {I understand the 'Tea Party' via Glenn Beck(?) recently took Hayek's similarly extreme-right/anarcho-capitalist 'The Road to Slavery' to no.1 on Amazon's US bookstore}

As to Buddhism, I've pointed out b4 that the 2'nd precept against 'taking what is not given' appears to rule out ay benefit to be had from taxation - apart from the spending on the military and police that I understand most wealthy Americans agree on. {I take it Rand's position is the same-?!}

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 11, 2012 4:36 pm 
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One can learn a lot at Ayn Rand Institute.

Here's an excerpt from one view of compatibility:

Quote:
Objectivism also teaches that reason is the human faculty that identifies and integrates a person's experience, and that reason itself is fully competent to understand and interpret the facts of reality. Moving into the more rigid territory-the frozen views of Objectivism-Ayn Rand taught that any form of irrationalism, supernaturalism, or mysticism, that any claim to a nonsensory, nonrational form of knowledge, is to be automatically rejected. To Ayn Rand a rational and objective code of ethics and morality is not only possible but comes from an assessment of the nature of human beings, as well as the nature of reality. In Objectivism the sole standard of the "good" is not God or the needs of society or other people, but "Man's life,"[1] which is what is objectively required for a person to live, survive, and maintain a sense of well-being.

Focusing on the self Objectivism teaches that human beings are ends in and of themselves and that we all have the right to exist for our own sakes. An Objectivist does not sacrifice another person for himself, nor does he sacrifice himself for another person. The principles of justice and respect for individuality, autonomy, and personal rights replace the principle of sacrifice in society and also in personal and interpersonal relationships.

Objectivism is very empowering, and very seductive, because, contrary to what we tend to learn and experience in our schools and places of worship, Objectivism does not tell you that your mind is impotent or that to be smart or to be an individual is somehow bad. Objectivism does not teach you that you are inherently sinful, as with the Christian concept of original sin, or that you are ultimately powerless, just one small cog in the larger machine. Objectivism does not teach that your life is futile, that it must be lived in service to everyone else, or that you are ultimately doomed[2]. Objectivism does not teach nihilism or existentialism or that existence is ultimately meaningless. On the contrary Objectivism teaches exactly the opposite of each of these, which makes it a powerful and important philosophy. Unfortunately, the implementation of Objectivist ethics and the epistemology are inherently flawed.

Rather than the external, reality-based nature of dukkha taught by traditional Buddhism, Objectivism teaches that humanity's primary problem is that we have not learned to understand the nature of our own power or our possibilities, as opposed to not understanding the true nature of reality itself. Objectivism celebrates the mind and the self and teaches that, like the Buddha inside of all of us, we are competent enough to understand reality. The most important message of Objectivism is that life is not about dread and defeat and anguish, but about achievement and exaltation in being human.

I certainly take no issue with this-in fact, you could say that the empowering, self-directed portions of Objectivist philosophy are a practice of right view and right action. However one reason for the blending of Objectivist epistemology and Zen Buddhism into Dark Buddhism is that Ayn Rand often confused reason with what is reasonable. There is a large difference between reason itself, which is a mental process, and what actions, speech, thoughts, and feelings a person might find to be "reasonable." Anyone who has read The Fountainhead or Atlas Shrugged can see that her idealized men and women are not accurate characterizations of human beings. They are, essentially, robots who act purely out of reason, logic and defiance...and that is actually not reasonable at all.

More importantly-and this is seen time and again in her nonfiction essays, books, articles, and speeches-if someone disagreed with Rand's notion of what was reasonable, she would accuse that person of being "irrational" or "against reason." Although "reason" may be objective, as it is ultimately based on reality, what is "reasonable" is purely subjective. Objectivism teaches blindness to this distinction and also promotes very rigid views that are, necessarily inaccurate and ultimately illogical. To give you an idea of just how frozen these views can be, Rand considered her personal opinions on music, art, and literature to be what was rational, and if another opinion was expressed, the holder of that opinion was an "irrational"-and sometimes "immoral"-person. This type of moral judgment, which is not based on any sort of objective standard, pervades the writings and codes of Objectivism.
http://www.darkbuddhism.com/id3.html


There are other view. See the search link in the OP...

:namaste:

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 11, 2012 5:25 pm 
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Sorry but Ayn Rand was the apex of ego and selfishness.

To live in her world is to live in hell.

May the things I possess be held in trust for the benefit of all.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 11, 2012 5:49 pm 
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Konchog1 wrote:
Define conservative.

If you mean trying to maintain the current social-political order, then traditionally yes. Since change leads into the Kali Yuga.


That's a tradition definition of conservatism, true. But by your argument, the Emancipation Proclamation is certainly a step toward Kali Yuga, insofar as it ended the traditional practice of slavery. I think most Buddhists would argue that ending slavery (an inherently violent practice) is a social good and not a sign of decline.

It's true though that certain Buddhist traditions have been made into vehicles or ideologies of reactionary politics. It's at this point in the thread where it's conventional to cite Victoria's book Zen at War, so there you have it.

This doesn't mean that Soto Zen (for one) is inherently reactionary. It just means that reactionaries of various stripes may make use of Buddhist discourses in their own ways, much as pro-slavery politicians used Christian narratives and themes to support their practices.

Which brings us back to Rand. I don't see the point in comparing Rand-ism to Buddhism. What is the purpose?

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 11, 2012 5:56 pm 
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viniketa wrote:

So, that is one part of the question: Is Buddhist philosophy conservative and, if so, in what way?


This is a question that is much more significant than the specific case of Rand readers trying to appeal to Buddha (or in Rand Paul's case, Aqua Buddha. Google it for laughs).

One way to think about this is to consider how Shakyamuni intervened in the social order of his day. What did he conserve? What did he abrogate?

Another is to pose the same question in the light of the traditions that followed. I think different examples (and hence different evidence) will yield different answers. Which is to say, some traditions are more or less conservative than others. Institutions are, to some extent, inherently conservative insofar as they serve to reproduce themselves into the future.

As I write this, I suppose I'm more interested in the sociological and historical question regarding Buddhism and conservatism than the philosophical question viniketa put forward. My apologies if I've shifted the topic somewhat.

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 11, 2012 7:55 pm 
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Karma Dondrup Tashi wrote:
Sorry but Ayn Rand was the apex of ego and selfishness.

To live in her world is to live in hell.

May the things I possess be held in trust for the benefit of all.


I agree with this 100%.Although I agree that to an extent,"selfishness" can be healthy,Ayn Rand's philosophy and Buddhism are incompatible.Objectivism calls self-sacrifice "immoral."so if Buddhist were to accept this,it would spit in the face of the thousands of people who died protecting the dharma.Buddha's sacrifice for the betterment of mankind is "immoral" to Objectivist.I agree with Karma Dondrup Tashi,to live in her world would be to live in hell.

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 11, 2012 8:16 pm 
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Karma Dondrup Tashi wrote:
Sorry but Ayn Rand was the apex of ego and selfishness.
.

No apologies necessary. I tend to agree.

Jikan wrote:
Which brings us back to Rand. I don't see the point in comparing Rand-ism to Buddhism. What is the purpose?


I think a lot has to do with this book: Dark Buddhism: Integrating Zen Buddhism and Objectivism

I've not read it, but it kicked-off some debate. Primarily, some people seem to think that Buddhist values regarding 'self-salvation' and self-sufficient virtues are highly compatible with Rand.

Jikan wrote:
I suppose I'm more interested in the sociological and historical question regarding Buddhism and conservatism than the philosophical question viniketa put forward. My apologies if I've shifted the topic somewhat.


No apologies necessary. I'm interested in the broader questions, also. Particularly the extent to which Buddhism can be considered conservative.

:namaste:

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 30, 2014 5:09 am 
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My 2 cents... (not a buddhist yet...)

Ayn Rand values = Why (Purpose-Happiness) + What (Reason-tool of knowledge) + How (Self esteem-mind is competent)

Gautam Buddha values = Why (Pradnyan-Higher Knowledge) + What (Sila-Wholehearted commitment to what is wholesome) + How (Samadhi-Excercise, memory & concentration)

Both suggest "life is worth living"

(http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/reason.html)
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhism)


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 30, 2014 6:07 am 
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Rand's philosophy has about as much in common with Buddhist ideas as Hitler's.
Get real.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 30, 2014 9:13 am 
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viniketa wrote:
Konchog1 wrote:
Define conservative.
...


Conservationists wish to conserve: environments, biology, society, power... Take your pick. Doesn't necessarily have to be about politics (power), but we live in a political world, some people have privileges they wish to conserve, and this affects many aspects of life, including whether or not one has the 'resources' to devote to 'enlightenment'...

:namaste:

Hi, Viniketa,
Coming late to the discussion, can I first mention a small difference in terminology:
"Conservatives" means "people who wish to conserve", theoretically people who wish to conserve anything and everything but in common usage people who wish to conserve existing social traditions, wealth distributions and power structures.
"Conservationists" means "people committed to conservation, i.e. protection of the natural environment".
There is not much agreement or overlap between the two groups, since conservationists see existing social traditions, wealth distributions and power structures as causes of environmental degradation and destruction, while (most) conservatives see (most) conservationists as radicals bent on changing society.

Secondly, I will add my vote to those of everyone who has already described Ayn Rand as profoundly anti-dharmic.
:jedi:

:namaste:
Kim


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 30, 2014 1:16 pm 
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Ayn Rand's approach lacks compassion.
She was Margaret Thatcher's fave philosopher.
Karma being the merry prankster that it is perhaps 'Ayn Rand' is currently earning a living sweeping some VVIP's swish apartment in Mumbai.

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 30, 2014 2:22 pm 
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Ayn Rand was a bizarre ideologue. She did not have the mental faculties to extrapolate what would happen if her ideals were actually taken seriously by a majority. Caring for children is a waste of your resources since they are disgusting "taker" parasites. At best her utopia can only last for one single generation. There is a reason why she is taught to first year polisci students. She is the poster girl for pseudointellectuals.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 30, 2014 3:11 pm 
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Objectivism is the product of a damaged psyche. A philosophy that was subsequently used to put an intellectual gloss on the greed and selfishness of the robber barons of American commerce. Vilifying compassion and any real sense of human community it has about as much in common with Buddhism as Satanism.

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 30, 2014 6:21 pm 
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Objectivism is the philosophy of the hell realms. It is not compatible with the Dharma. Period.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 31, 2014 2:08 am 
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"Focusing on the self Objectivism teaches that human beings are ends in and of themselves and that we all have the right to exist for our own sakes. An Objectivist does not sacrifice another person for himself, nor does he sacrifice himself for another person. The principles of justice and respect for individuality, autonomy, and personal rights replace the principle of sacrifice in society and also in personal and interpersonal relationships."



That isn't really true. Objectivism teaches that those not destined to rule by virtue of their superiority have no rights that their rulers need respect.
It's not about the realm of hell, it's about the animal realm in human life, where the big fish eat the little.


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