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PostPosted: Sat Jun 15, 2013 5:10 pm 
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Location: Trāyastriṃśa. Just kidding. What a cool sanksrit word, huh?
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Sitting for revolution is a fine idea if we were already settled and at peace inside. But if we are not (and who is really?) then we will only create more problems on top of problems. Ginsberg had a lot of seemingly wonderful ideas but was internally himself a bit of mess.


We're all wounded healers :juggling:


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 15, 2013 5:10 pm 
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tobes wrote:
So does the Chan master join in the civil rights movement or does she consider it a trivial diversion from the ways of heaven?


Interesting question. I was told that Daido Loori around 1992, in the middle of a seshin, in the morning after everyone had entered the Buddha Hall, verbally gave permission to students to go down to DC for a Gay rights march that was being held that morning.

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Quote:
Or to use a more contemporary example, does she sit with Occupy? Should she?


There have been Zen/Chan masters sitting with Occupy. And Thurman walked down there and gave a speech.

Zen Peacemakers at Occupy Wallstreet

Danny Fischer's Dharma Talk on 15 October, 2011 - Global Day of Action for Occupy Wall Street

Thurman at Occupy Wallstreet

However Shunryu Suzuki had a different reaction when asked about the anti-war movement of the 60's, from Crooked Cucumber:
Quote:
Interview with John Steiner
It was in the fall of 1968, October I think. I was sitting on a zafu in the second or third row from the front.... There had been a big anti war march on I think the previous day that I went to. I was quite concerned about the war. A guy in the back during the question and answer period said, "How come we're meeting here when there's a war going on out there? Suzuki Roshi didn't get it and I repeated the question. He jumped off the stage and came behind me put his stick on me and started hitting me over and over shouting, "You fool! you fool! You're wasting your time!" I remember that distinctly.

When he got back on the stage he said, "How can you expect to do anything in the world when you can't tie your shoes?"

When he was hitting me I thought, Oh this is like something out of the books and wondered if I was going to get enlightened.

Afterwards Bob Halpern came up to me and said, "Steiner, you forgot to bow." I really appreciated that because it brought me back down to earth and showed me how self‑centered I was.

Then Suzuki Roshi apologized to me and said, "The reason I hit you is I was reminded of what I went through in Japan during the war and it brought up that old frustration.

He put his hand on my shoulder and I saw his thin arm, and from the underside loose skin hanging down just a little, and I was struck with his age and fragility. It was a very touching intimate moment. He wouldn't have done that if he hadn't felt that I could receive it and it was appropriate for me.

The core issue was that he realized I wasn't ready to go out into the world yet. I came to sense it at the time but realized consciously later....A half year later I was at Zen Center. In my time there, especially the three years at Tassajara, I learned to listen to my inner voice.


But this is about the student themselves not being ready to go out not about activisim itself.

Kirt

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 15, 2013 5:39 pm 
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Nilasarasvati wrote:
Quote:
Sitting for revolution is a fine idea if we were already settled and at peace inside. But if we are not (and who is really?) then we will only create more problems on top of problems. Ginsberg had a lot of seemingly wonderful ideas but was internally himself a bit of mess.


We're all wounded healers :juggling:


Yes, I think thats true.

And some of it is because we are all from cultures that are deeply impaired, wounded, if you will.

I also think that sangha is only beginning to be the Jewel that Buddha spoke of it as.

Trungpa Rinpoche and Suzuki-Roshi both placed tremendous faith in the Buddhas teachings by naming western Dharma heirs. They knew that is was useless to name another foreign successor in a land that had to learn how to carry on the Buddhas way.

Was the western sangha ready for such a responsibility? Not quite or not exactly. But Westerners are remarkably resilient. And we, as a group or as a whole, do not give up. So in a sense, their faith, not in us exactly, but in the Buddha teachings, was well founded. Here we are, still at it, still endeavoring to realize the best of what the Buddha taught, each in our own muddled and befuddled way, carrying our culture and wounds with us in the process.

So yes, we are all wounded healers, and are learning how to use those wounds to heal what has gone wrong both in Buddhism and in the larger world.

:namaste:


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 15, 2013 6:28 pm 
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mandala wrote:
To me, the most "radical counter cultural movements" that could exist today, would be those extolling the merits of ethical living in the greedy, selfish and money-hungry world we live in.


Absolutely. :woohoo: :namaste:

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 15, 2013 8:19 pm 
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In my opinion to be transgressive towards society one merely has to refrain from engaging in the activities of capitalism, which basically means not placing the acquisition of wealth, status and a beautiful mate as your primary objectives in life. It means you are not "driven" by these things. They don't motivate you and although you may or may not have them or seek them at times, it is not what defines you or your reality. In our society we are told, go to college, get a career, acquire wealth, obtain a mate, buy a house, get married and have kids. If you decide that this path is not what you want to do with your life, then you have transgressed the unwritten rules of society and even if people like you, there will always be an element of alienation between you and your fellow members of society.

However real transgression is when you break your own rules of conduct and shatter your own ideals and perceptions of reality. Its when the hippie goes to college and gets a career. Its when the businessman gives up worldly pursuits and moves to India. Its when the shy introvert overcomes their inhibitions and takes a stranger home from a bar. Its when the greedy person finally stops on the street and gives money to the homeless. In my opinion this is how transgression is really practiced in an internal sense, and it gives us a better perspective on our life, mind, and reality, and helps us shatter our pre-conceived notions about the way things have been, are, or "must be". This is the real purpose of transgression as well, its an act of destruction aimed at our own projections and views about reality. When done with this purpose in mind, with the proper intentions, it becomes a skillful way to overcome obstacles and gain greater understanding.


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 16, 2013 12:54 am 
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wisdom wrote:
In my opinion to be transgressive towards society one merely has to refrain from engaging in the activities of capitalism, which basically means not placing the acquisition of wealth, status and a beautiful mate as your primary objectives in life. It means you are not "driven" by these things. They don't motivate you and although you may or may not have them or seek them at times, it is not what defines you or your reality. In our society we are told, go to college, get a career, acquire wealth, obtain a mate, buy a house, get married and have kids. If you decide that this path is not what you want to do with your life, then you have transgressed the unwritten rules of society and even if people like you, there will always be an element of alienation between you and your fellow members of society.

However real transgression is when you break your own rules of conduct and shatter your own ideals and perceptions of reality. Its when the hippie goes to college and gets a career. Its when the businessman gives up worldly pursuits and moves to India. Its when the shy introvert overcomes their inhibitions and takes a stranger home from a bar. Its when the greedy person finally stops on the street and gives money to the homeless. In my opinion this is how transgression is really practiced in an internal sense, and it gives us a better perspective on our life, mind, and reality, and helps us shatter our pre-conceived notions about the way things have been, are, or "must be". This is the real purpose of transgression as well, its an act of destruction aimed at our own projections and views about reality. When done with this purpose in mind, with the proper intentions, it becomes a skillful way to overcome obstacles and gain greater understanding.


:good:


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 16, 2013 4:28 am 
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MalaBeads wrote:
tobes wrote:
I admit to being a walking mess of contradictions.


Well, there you go and thats the nub of the problem, isnt it?

I am also this way, make no mistake about it.

And what is inside gets reflected outside.

So theres the dilemma.

I do not sit for revolution (as i heard Ginsberg once say).

Why? Because my sitting for revolution would only create revolution because theres still plenty that is unresolved inside me.

Sitting for revolution is a fine idea if we were already settled and at peace inside. But if we are not (and who is really?) then we will only create more problems on top of problems. Ginsberg had a lot of seemingly wonderful ideas but was internally himself a bit of mess.

It takes one to know one.

Cheers.

:smile:


The danger with that logic is that no Buddhist anywhere does anything political at all, out of the humble sense that it may simply create more problems.

I don't think one needs to be perfectly peaceful to discern what is wholesome and what is unwholesome, what is just and what is unjust, what is good for society and what is bad for society.

There has to be some discernment, some stability, some openness, some heart - but are we all really so bereft of these things??

I think, one has to act, one has to help. If it means defending good values, or resisting bad ones, or walking with the oppressed: it is our obligation to act.

Otherwise we are just the privileged few resting on our cushions, waiting for others to do it. But it's our work, our responsibility.

:anjali:


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 16, 2013 4:31 am 
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kirtu wrote:
tobes wrote:
So does the Chan master join in the civil rights movement or does she consider it a trivial diversion from the ways of heaven?


Interesting question. I was told that Daido Loori around 1992, in the middle of a seshin, in the morning after everyone had entered the Buddha Hall, verbally gave permission to students to go down to DC for a Gay rights march that was being held that morning.

Additionally:
Attachment:
mlk_tnh.jpg



Quote:
Or to use a more contemporary example, does she sit with Occupy? Should she?


There have been Zen/Chan masters sitting with Occupy. And Thurman walked down there and gave a speech.

Zen Peacemakers at Occupy Wallstreet

Danny Fischer's Dharma Talk on 15 October, 2011 - Global Day of Action for Occupy Wall Street

Thurman at Occupy Wallstreet

However Shunryu Suzuki had a different reaction when asked about the anti-war movement of the 60's, from Crooked Cucumber:
Quote:
Interview with John Steiner
It was in the fall of 1968, October I think. I was sitting on a zafu in the second or third row from the front.... There had been a big anti war march on I think the previous day that I went to. I was quite concerned about the war. A guy in the back during the question and answer period said, "How come we're meeting here when there's a war going on out there? Suzuki Roshi didn't get it and I repeated the question. He jumped off the stage and came behind me put his stick on me and started hitting me over and over shouting, "You fool! you fool! You're wasting your time!" I remember that distinctly.

When he got back on the stage he said, "How can you expect to do anything in the world when you can't tie your shoes?"

When he was hitting me I thought, Oh this is like something out of the books and wondered if I was going to get enlightened.

Afterwards Bob Halpern came up to me and said, "Steiner, you forgot to bow." I really appreciated that because it brought me back down to earth and showed me how self‑centered I was.

Then Suzuki Roshi apologized to me and said, "The reason I hit you is I was reminded of what I went through in Japan during the war and it brought up that old frustration.

He put his hand on my shoulder and I saw his thin arm, and from the underside loose skin hanging down just a little, and I was struck with his age and fragility. It was a very touching intimate moment. He wouldn't have done that if he hadn't felt that I could receive it and it was appropriate for me.

The core issue was that he realized I wasn't ready to go out into the world yet. I came to sense it at the time but realized consciously later....A half year later I was at Zen Center. In my time there, especially the three years at Tassajara, I learned to listen to my inner voice.


But this is about the student themselves not being ready to go out not about activisim itself.

Kirt


Add Bhikkhu Bodhi to the list:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V9TgBVLvvcU

If it's so obvious to him, why is it so distant from us??

:anjali:


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 16, 2013 4:39 am 
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wisdom wrote:
In my opinion to be transgressive towards society one merely has to refrain from engaging in the activities of capitalism, which basically means not placing the acquisition of wealth, status and a beautiful mate as your primary objectives in life. It means you are not "driven" by these things. They don't motivate you and although you may or may not have them or seek them at times, it is not what defines you or your reality. In our society we are told, go to college, get a career, acquire wealth, obtain a mate, buy a house, get married and have kids. If you decide that this path is not what you want to do with your life, then you have transgressed the unwritten rules of society and even if people like you, there will always be an element of alienation between you and your fellow members of society.

However real transgression is when you break your own rules of conduct and shatter your own ideals and perceptions of reality. Its when the hippie goes to college and gets a career. Its when the businessman gives up worldly pursuits and moves to India. Its when the shy introvert overcomes their inhibitions and takes a stranger home from a bar. Its when the greedy person finally stops on the street and gives money to the homeless. In my opinion this is how transgression is really practiced in an internal sense, and it gives us a better perspective on our life, mind, and reality, and helps us shatter our pre-conceived notions about the way things have been, are, or "must be". This is the real purpose of transgression as well, its an act of destruction aimed at our own projections and views about reality. When done with this purpose in mind, with the proper intentions, it becomes a skillful way to overcome obstacles and gain greater understanding.


I think this is beautifully put, and profoundly true - but again, it is exemplifies such an individualist logic.

What about working together with fellow human beings, for a shared horizon? Why is that so impossible for us contemporary Buddhists to even conceive?

To go back to the OP, I think this is the real shift, and what may be meant by the difference between radicalism and conservatism. In the radical counter cultural days - however idiotic, or ungrounded, or unwise they may have been, there was a tangible sense of 'we' working together to build a better/more enlightened world.

Now it's all about 'me' and my projections, our 'own' view of reality, the happiness-psychology project, the mindfulness in the office project et al et al.

I'm not imputing all this on you Wisdom - it's just a good spring board into that distinction.

To flesh that out a little: conservative - in the sense of preserving the status quo, which in this case is the ideology of neoliberalism, and particularly its associated values of individualism.

Radical - in the sense of disrupting or transforming the status quo, which in this case would be imply living, practicing, thinking, acting with a more collectivist/socially interdependent modality.

:anjali:


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 16, 2013 12:39 pm 
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tobes wrote:

I think, one has to act, one has to help. If it means defending good values, or resisting bad ones, or walking with the oppressed: it is our obligation to act.

Otherwise we are just the privileged few resting on our cushions, waiting for others to do it. But it's our work, our responsibility.

:anjali:


I absolutely agree.
While there are some Buddhist groups who do make a stand on issues like animal cruelty and get into the community to provide soup kitchens and palliative care, there is a decided lack of socially engaged Buddhism on the whole.
If i remember rightly, the Dalai Lama said a while ago something along the lines of, Buddhism can learn from the Christians in terms of providing service to the community and being proactive in helping those in need.


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 16, 2013 4:30 pm 
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I agree also!
Just dive in like Joseph Knecht at the end of the novel "Magister Ludi, The Glass Bead Game" by Hermann Hesse.


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 16, 2013 4:44 pm 
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mandala wrote:
... there is a decided lack of socially engaged Buddhism on the whole.


The problem is that if you make social work your main activity, practice time is sacrificed and a lot of community interests are subverted to such tasks as a means of justifying Buddhism's existence in the world. Once you're down that road, you can't go back. Everyone will see your identity as being charity givers and organizers, not a community of practitioners trying to achieve liberation.

The other sick fact of reality is that a lot of charity and goodwill causes greater long-term suffering than it remedies.

Take for example vaccination and food programs done by NGOs in the third world. A lot of premature deaths are prevented, but the consequence is overpopulation, which leads to greater suffering in the long-term: depressed wages, competition, food shortages, disease, malnutrition and so forth. These new problems require increased complexity, which in our day is bought with economic development and increased fossil fuel use. So in order to grow sufficient food to feed your huge population you need infrastructure and industrial agriculture, all of which uses fossil fuels and pollutes the environment.

What's a really sick fact is that the world is already past its human carrying capacity and manages to get by for the most part only because of finite fossil fuels, so doing any charity work that adds more humans to the population and/or lets people live longer lives is actually doing more harm than good. The environment has to absorb that much more pollution and give that much more resources to support another human life.

There is still merit in virtuous deeds, but we're in such a messed up time that helping people can actually mean doing more harm in the long-term.

Really the solution is to gain liberation from saṃsāra, which is the point of Buddhadharma. Social work and charity amount to palliative care. They're still praiseworthy and virtuous activities, but you need to realize they're not really a solution to the vicissitudes of time, civilization, ecology and saṃsāra.

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 16, 2013 5:24 pm 
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Indrajala wrote:
mandala wrote:
... there is a decided lack of socially engaged Buddhism on the whole.


The problem is that if you make social work your main activity, practice time is sacrificed and a lot of community interests are subverted to such tasks as a means of justifying Buddhism's existence in the world. Once you're down that road, you can't go back. Everyone will see your identity as being charity givers and organizers, not a community of practitioners trying to achieve liberation.

The other sick fact of reality is that a lot of charity and goodwill causes greater long-term suffering than it remedies.

Take for example vaccination and food programs done by NGOs in the third world. A lot of premature deaths are prevented, but the consequence is overpopulation, which leads to greater suffering in the long-term: depressed wages, competition, food shortages, disease, malnutrition and so forth. These new problems require increased complexity, which in our day is bought with economic development and increased fossil fuel use. So in order to grow sufficient food to feed your huge population you need infrastructure and industrial agriculture, all of which uses fossil fuels and pollutes the environment.

What's a really sick fact is that the world is already past its human carrying capacity and manages to get by for the most part only because of finite fossil fuels, so doing any charity work that adds more humans to the population and/or lets people live longer lives is actually doing more harm than good. The environment has to absorb that much more pollution and give that much more resources to support another human life.

There is still merit in virtuous deeds, but we're in such a messed up time that helping people can actually mean doing more harm in the long-term.

Really the solution is to gain liberation from saṃsāra, which is the point of Buddhadharma. Social work and charity amount to palliative care. They're still praiseworthy and virtuous activities, but you need to realize they're not really a solution to the vicissitudes of time, civilization, ecology and saṃsāra.


I think what is being said here needs to be carefully considered.

"Do-gooders" create as much negative as they do positive. I know that will not be a popular thing to say but from a Buddhist viewpoint it is accurate i think.

We all want to believe that the positive things we do in the world make a positive difference. And of course, they do.

But we need to know and consider very carefully that what everything we do carries its opposite with it.

There is no "good" without "bad". There is no "bad" without "good".

HH Dilgo Khyentse said (and I have been contemplating this ever since I first heard it):

"Whatever arises neither harms nor benefits".

Samsara, by its very nature, will never be finished.

So the only thing we can change, really, is our minds.

Something to consider.

:smile:


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 16, 2013 5:32 pm 
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Indrajala wrote:
The problem is that if you make social work your main activity, practice time is sacrificed and a lot of community interests are subverted to such tasks as a means of justifying Buddhism's existence in the world. Once you're down that road, you can't go back. Everyone will see your identity as being charity givers and organizers, not a community of practitioners trying to achieve liberation.
Social work is (can be) practice: generosity, patience, mindfulness (are you doing it properly?), etc...

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 16, 2013 5:42 pm 
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MalaBeads wrote:
"Do-gooders" create as much negative as they do positive. I know that will not be a popular thing to say but from a Buddhist viewpoint it is accurate i think.


Few can manage truly benevolent acts (I don't consider myself capable), so our good deeds are tainted by mundane concerns and motivations. The people we help also have their own karma to deal with, too. So while we might try and do good in the world to remedy social problems, the long-term result may not be desirable, let alone anticipated.

The green revolution was founded on presumably benevolent intentions, but the result of ample food surpluses over the last half-century has been massive overpopulation in lands that were already near or at their healthy carrying capacities. If India had half a billion less people there wouldn't be such destitution and gut wrenching poverty. But surplus food production enabled the population levels we have now.


Quote:
So the only thing we can change, really, is our minds.


You can achieve liberation, but you cannot fix saṃsāra.

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 16, 2013 5:45 pm 
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gregkavarnos wrote:
Social work is (can be) practice: generosity, patience, mindfulness (are you doing it properly?), etc...


That's true. I don't deny that. However, you don't achieve liberation on merit alone. Merit just produces circumstances which are favourable to having the ability and leisure to work towards liberation. Generosity is indispensable, yes, but it is a means to an end. Buddhist communities need to be mindful of that when deciding their long-term plans and goals.

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 16, 2013 5:46 pm 
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I'm willing to take the chance that food redistribution programs, programs that help poor villages develop water supplies so that they can grow basic food crops, and other programs to eradicate hunger, for example, are on balance positive things to do. The suggestion that eradicating hunger and disease will only promote more lives and cause fewer deaths seems to me the chance I'm willing to take...the developed world can in turn work on lessening its carbon consumption and develop alternative energy strategies (which already exist, by the way). Saving others from starving might increase populations, but we have the technology available to deal with increasing populations and we need only to will and the desire as a developed world to do so. That is the Buddhist way....renunciation by those who have, and food and clean water to those who have not.


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 16, 2013 5:50 pm 
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MalaBeads wrote:
"Do-gooders" create as much negative as they do positive. I know that will not be a popular thing to say but from a Buddhist viewpoint it is accurate i think.
Sounds like a really weak excuse to be a self-centred, hedonistic, uncaring prat.
Quote:
But we need to know and consider very carefully that what everything we do carries its opposite with it.
Some Buddhist sources for this line of thinking please?

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 16, 2013 6:08 pm 
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BuddhaSoup wrote:
I'm willing to take the chance that food redistribution programs, programs that help poor villages develop water supplies so that they can grow basic food crops, and other programs to eradicate hunger, for example, are on balance positive things to do.


In the long-term though, those villagers, motivated by desire and other afflictions, will reproduce and multiply, leading to resource strain, competition and decreasing standards of living, which can turn into conflict over dwindling finite resources. Even if they secure external resources through the economy or something, then they'll increase their consumption inevitably even if it just means getting a scooter or building a bigger house. If enough villages develop like this, the state might provide infrastructure, which only amplifies the level of pollution the people can and inevitably will produce.

Quote:
The suggestion that eradicating hunger and disease will only promote more lives and cause fewer deaths seems to me the chance I'm willing to take...the developed world can in turn work on lessening its carbon consumption and develop alternative energy strategies (which already exist, by the way).


This is naive. Countries don't work like that. Idealism doesn't dictate real policy in the world.

Decreasing your carbon consumption would entail economic contraction. This is not politically feasible because economic contraction entails decreasing military power. As Cicero said, war is not so much about weapons as it is about money.

Alternative energies strategies clearly don't work. Most electricity is generated through fossil fuels. Nuclear, wind and solar are all subsidized by fossil fuels (the transport network alone required to build and maintain such power resources depends on oil). Wind and solar degrade the infrastructure faster because of unstable currents.

The reality is societies very seldom voluntarily reduce their complexity. Our complexity depends on fossil fuels, both for food production and industrialization, both of which enable high levels of social complexity needed to build and reproduce technologies which a lot of people believe will save us from our collective sins. I don't have any faith that the first world will voluntarily sacrifice some of its complexity and well-being for third world residents. It isn't in their interests.

So, elevating more and more rural dwellers into industrialized lifestyles does more damage than good. Once they get hooked on industrialized living, they'll become another energy guzzling polluting community on the planet. Meanwhile they can pray technology will somehow absolve them of their ecological sins.

Quote:
Saving others from starving might increase populations, but we have the technology available to deal with increasing populations and we need only to will and the desire as a developed world to do so.


So where is this technology and how many years would it take to implement on a sufficient level to halt the effects of economically debilitating high energy costs?

Quote:
That is the Buddhist way....renunciation by those who have, and food and clean water to those who have not.


Most human beings are not capable of voluntary renunciation.

Most of the educated world knows that carbon emissions are increasing on a monthly basis despite it being clear that they need to halt, yet people just keep consuming, demanding economic growth and living decadent lifestyles while maybe recycling their pop bottles while thinking they're "doing their part".

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 16, 2013 6:16 pm 
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gregkavarnos wrote:
MalaBeads wrote:
"Do-gooders" create as much negative as they do positive. I know that will not be a popular thing to say but from a Buddhist viewpoint it is accurate i think.
Sounds like a really weak excuse to be a self-centred, hedonistic, uncaring prat.
Quote:
But we need to know and consider very carefully that what everything we do carries its opposite with it.
Some Buddhist sources for this line of thinking please?


Unless you are a realized being, with a mind of non-duality, then "good" and "bad" will constantly appear in tandem.

My "Buddhist source" was provided: "whatever appears neither harms nor benefits."

The mind of HH Dilgo Khyenste was good enough for me. He was, and is, in no way, a self centered, hedonistic, uncaring prat.

That's all I can give you Greg.


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