Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby Malcolm » Sun Jun 16, 2013 6:20 pm

tobes wrote:
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.



Buddhists can be and are political, but they ought not be political in the name of Dharma. Otherwise we have aberrations such as Sri Lanka and Burma.
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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby kirtu » Sun Jun 16, 2013 6:24 pm

I find your pessimism disturbing ... but it's also not factual. Let me remind you that physics is inexorable and universal.

Indrajala wrote:Alternative energies strategies clearly don't work.


Germany electricity from renewables 2000 6.3%
Germany electricity from renewables 2012 25%

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).


But - the Swedes for one have developed alternative energy trucks and large portions of the transportation network is in fact convertible to alternative energy.

Wind and solar degrade the infrastructure faster because of unstable currents.


It's not the 50's anymore, this problem has been solved for a long time (although I just saw a reference to grid instability from an article in Der Spiegel). And anyway solar furnaces are coming on line (in the US for example) that will run 24X7 because solar energy is stored during the day in a molten material that then runs a conventional electricity generator.

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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sun Jun 16, 2013 6:33 pm

MalaBeads wrote:My "Buddhist source" was provided: "whatever appears neither harms nor benefits."
And yet Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche devoted his entire life to working for the benefit of sentient beings.
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby BuddhaSoup » Sun Jun 16, 2013 6:34 pm

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


Ven. Indrajala:

I've always valued and respected your writings on this forum. I'm not typically naive; in my profession, I'm a lawyer and frankly see examples every day of samsaric screwed up life. Being naive is not typically one of my faults among many. I still hold a place in my heart and mind that we are not as destined for global failure as it seems. I still maintain that efforts like Bhikkhu Bodhi's Buddhist Global Relief are the right path.

Economists, anthropologists, climate scientists may all agree with your assessment. You certainly have a refined view of these issues as you navigate India with its poverty and exploding populations....I'm looking out my window at suburban USA, with minivans and soccer moms passing by on their way to McDonalds. I do see your point.

However, I'm throwing in with Bhikkhu Bodhi on this one....from http://www.buddhistglobalrelief.org :

Our mission is to combat chronic hunger and malnutrition. Bearing in mind the Buddha’s statements that “hunger is the worst kind of illness” and “the gift of food is the gift of life,” we sponsor projects that promote hunger relief for poor communities around the world. We pursue our mission by:

providing direct food aid to people afflicted by hunger and malnutrition
helping develop better long-term methods of sustainable food production and management appropriate to the cultures and traditions of the beneficiaries
promoting the education of girls and women, so essential in the struggle against poverty and malnutrition
giving women an opportunity to start right livelihood projects to support their families.
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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sun Jun 16, 2013 6:34 pm

Malcolm wrote:
tobes wrote:
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.



Buddhists can be and are political, but they ought not be political in the name of Dharma. Otherwise we have aberrations such as Sri Lanka and Burma.
And Tibet! ;)
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby Malcolm » Sun Jun 16, 2013 6:37 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
tobes wrote:
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.



Buddhists can be and are political, but they ought not be political in the name of Dharma. Otherwise we have aberrations such as Sri Lanka and Burma.
And Tibet! ;)



I don't think Tibet qualifies in the same way.
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he is said to be a ṛṣī; the others are the opposite of him."

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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby MalaBeads » Sun Jun 16, 2013 7:02 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:
MalaBeads wrote:My "Buddhist source" was provided: "whatever appears neither harms nor benefits."
And yet Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche devoted his entire life to working for the benefit of sentient beings.


HH Dilgo Khyentse practiced and taught Dharma until what he imparted was a "mind the neither benefited nor harmed".

I'd be careful about getting hung up on the word or the concept of "benefited". It will only lead you into duality, no matter what the temporary conditions appear to be.

And of course, this is just my two cent interpretation of what he was about.

I am very willing to concede to more realized minds than mine.

Cheers.

:smile:
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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sun Jun 16, 2013 8:14 pm

Malcolm wrote:I don't think Tibet qualifies in the same way.
Not the current political situation, no. I am talking pre-PRC occupation Tibet. You know, the feudal theocracy.
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby wisdom » Sun Jun 16, 2013 9:23 pm

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


Nevermind I misread the way this was stated, still caffinating... :coffee:
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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby tobes » Mon Jun 17, 2013 1:08 am

Malcolm wrote:
tobes wrote:
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.



Buddhists can be and are political, but they ought not be political in the name of Dharma. Otherwise we have aberrations such as Sri Lanka and Burma.


I'm saying more that Buddhists ought to be political as an expression of Dharma - which is distinct from identity politics related to the 'name' of Dharma.

You concern is very common among western Buddhists who wish to align Buddhism with secularist liberalism - but I personally have more of a problem with that than with Bhikkhu Bodhi in robes publically endorsing Occupy Wall Street.

If one can see what is unwholesome and wholesome, one ought to stand with what is wholesome and resist what is unwholesome.

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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby Malcolm » Mon Jun 17, 2013 2:08 am

tobes wrote:
I'm saying more that Buddhists ought to be political as an expression of Dharma

:anjali:


No, they should be political as expressions of their conscience apart from Dharma. The minute that you claim your conscience is Dharma, then you destroy the Dharma and yourself.
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he is said to be a ṛṣī; the others are the opposite of him."

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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby Zhen Li » Mon Jun 17, 2013 2:19 am

tobes wrote:I'm saying more that Buddhists ought to be political as an expression of Dharma - which is distinct from identity politics related to the 'name' of Dharma.

You concern is very common among western Buddhists who wish to align Buddhism with secularist liberalism - but I personally have more of a problem with that than with Bhikkhu Bodhi in robes publically endorsing Occupy Wall Street.

If one can see what is unwholesome and wholesome, one ought to stand with what is wholesome and resist what is unwholesome.

If Buddhists are supposed to be political then we will end up having more disagreements. I can't see how this is beneficial for the Sangha.

Just look at this forum, whenever there is a mildly political topic, everyone gets into furor and becomes aggressive, but when talking about the Dharma we all have common ground.

Religion and politics are things which they say should not be discussed outside the correct forums. We all agree on our religion, to an extent at least, that much is certain if we are all on Dharmawheel, or all in a Buddhist temple. Politics is a separate issue which I think a lot of us will disagree on despite our similarities in religion.

Bhikkhu Bodhi's view of what is the correct type of politics for a Buddhist to have, may be different from another's view.

Personally, I believe being involved in conventional politics is not appropriate for Buddhists. Not just because it causes discord, but also because it deals with the impermanent and that which is subject to suffering.

To practice generosity, give. To practice compassion, help others.

If you can't see how to do this without being political, then you can't see the Bodhisattva path.
malcolm wrote:No, they should be political as expressions of their conscience apart from Dharma. The minute that you claim your conscience is Dharma, then you destroy the Dharma and yourself.

I would agree.

In promoting social justice, or whatever political ends you believe in, you fall into a chasm of the utmost danger to think that you are doing so in the name of the Dharma.

Dharma is true eternally, political opinions, whatever they may be, are transitory and differ from situation to situation. They are marked by impermanence, not self and suffering. They are not suitable for refuge - the Dharma is suitable for refuge.

All hail the Dharma :bow:
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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby tobes » Mon Jun 17, 2013 2:31 am

Malcolm wrote:
tobes wrote:
I'm saying more that Buddhists ought to be political as an expression of Dharma

:anjali:


No, they should be political as expressions of their conscience apart from Dharma. The minute that you claim your conscience is Dharma, then you destroy the Dharma and yourself.


How can you claim that a true dharma practitioner has a conscience independent of the dharma?

The Dharma is not some objective thing independent of the world; it is a collection of truths, ideas, practices and values all of which are expressive of the way one is and ought to be in the world. In this sense, it is always and already political.

Buddhist history clearly shows this; as do numerous nikayas and shastras.

Nagarjuna did not see any contradiction between the dharma and giving robust normative political advice. Nor did the Buddha.

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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby Nilasarasvati » Mon Jun 17, 2013 2:36 am

Tobes:
Nagarjuna did not see any contradiction between the dharma and giving robust normative political advice. Nor did the Buddha.


More importantly than this:


If Buddhists are supposed to be political then we will end up having more disagreements. I can't see how this is beneficial for the Sangha.


A person can not, by nature of the way the world works, be a-political.

Everybody has strong politics. Apathy is political. It affirms the status quo. The degree to which you can ignore, forget, and be unconscious of politics is the degree of your privilege and power.

A person living in a shanty-town outside Shanghai has no choice but to feel the constant sting and horror of "politics." People born into wealthy families where they have the social mobility to choose a career, a lifestyle, etc. that matches their personal values--they don't have to "be political" but they are the product and a creature created solely by the "politics" they have the option of ignoring. The degree to which you can be "apolitical" is the degree to which you've deluded yourself into thinking you somehow exist independently from a global system of exploitation.

EVERYTHING is political, whether we like it or not, have power to change it or not, or are harmed by it or helped by it.
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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby Monsoon » Mon Jun 17, 2013 2:38 am

I would like to touch on a couple of points about global relief efforts.

Many years ago I was, like many others, appalled by the famines in many places, and accompanying deaths of so many people of all ages. At the time I strongly believed that sending food/medical supplies was the right humanitarian thing to do. Then I a had shift in perspective and began to think that the primary reason for all this famine induced suffering was the imbalance between population and resources. Without outside help this system would surely balance itself. Then I began to feel very bad. Was I no longer humanitarian? Did I no longer value human life, all human life? Ultimately, between one view and the other I, once again like many, opted out of making any decision at all. Neither supporting nor condemning. And yet, by not supporting the relief efforts I was not only implicitly condemning through inaction, but was also hoping to gain 'feel good factor' from the efforts of people who did support relief. So another round of emotional turmoil followed. Finally I realised that supporting people in a resource-desert was unsustainable. The only sensible thing to do would be to offer support until such a time that those people could be relocated to an area of greater resource where outside intervention was no longer required. Unfortunately that has never really happened. Relief efforts continue to try and sustain people in unsustainable environments. Yet abandoning them, to me, would be emotional suicide at this moment in my existence.

Also, in providing relief, one important thing is largely overlooked. The instilling of a desire in the recipient for the life and opportunities of the giver. To me this is a bad thing (though perhaps unavoidable).

In the West a lot of us live in environments of excess, and reduction of that excess is seen as deprivation to unacceptable levels rather than a return to an acceptable normal level. Much like overweight people who do not relish dieting because they don't understand that they are simply reducing their consumption to standard levels and not into starvation levels.

Finally, as a new-to-Buddhism person I think that if our practices lead not only to our own liberation but to the arising of co-beneficial communities, this would represent the optimal way forward. Otherwise we will continue to treat symptoms and not causes.

Sorry if that is all a bit naive, but I am a naive kind of guy.
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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby tobes » Mon Jun 17, 2013 2:43 am

Ben Yuan wrote:
tobes wrote:I'm saying more that Buddhists ought to be political as an expression of Dharma - which is distinct from identity politics related to the 'name' of Dharma.

You concern is very common among western Buddhists who wish to align Buddhism with secularist liberalism - but I personally have more of a problem with that than with Bhikkhu Bodhi in robes publically endorsing Occupy Wall Street.

If one can see what is unwholesome and wholesome, one ought to stand with what is wholesome and resist what is unwholesome.

If Buddhists are supposed to be political then we will end up having more disagreements. I can't see how this is beneficial for the Sangha.

Just look at this forum, whenever there is a mildly political topic, everyone gets into furor and becomes aggressive, but when talking about the Dharma we all have common ground.

Religion and politics are things which they say should not be discussed outside the correct forums. We all agree on our religion, to an extent at least, that much is certain if we are all on Dharmawheel, or all in a Buddhist temple. Politics is a separate issue which I think a lot of us will disagree on despite our similarities in religion.

Bhikkhu Bodhi's view of what is the correct type of politics for a Buddhist to have, may be different from another's view.

Personally, I believe being involved in conventional politics is not appropriate for Buddhists. Not just because it causes discord, but also because it deals with the impermanent and that which is subject to suffering.

To practice generosity, give. To practice compassion, help others.

If you can't see how to do this without being political, then you can't see the Bodhisattva path.
malcolm wrote:No, they should be political as expressions of their conscience apart from Dharma. The minute that you claim your conscience is Dharma, then you destroy the Dharma and yourself.

I would agree.

In promoting social justice, or whatever political ends you believe in, you fall into a chasm of the utmost danger to think that you are doing so in the name of the Dharma.

Dharma is true eternally, political opinions, whatever they may be, are transitory and differ from situation to situation. They are marked by impermanence, not self and suffering. They are not suitable for refuge - the Dharma is suitable for refuge.

All hail the Dharma :bow:


On this forum, most of the aggressive disagreements are sectarian divisions specifically about the Dharma.

There is nothing wrong with political difference - what are you so afraid of?

If someone disagrees with Bhikkhu Bodhi, that's fine, wonderful. Let them express their disagreement calmly and wisely: that makes the world a better place - not the total disavow of politics (which is itself, a highly political act).

No one is arguing that one should take refuge in politics over the Dharma, or that one should manipulate the Dharma toward some political end.

I am saying: if you're a true dharma practitioner, you can discern what is wholesome and what is unwholesome, and you can recognise that reality is more than your individual concerns. You can generate genuine concernful involvement with the suffering of others (which implies helping them realise their potential), and you can act on all of this, rather than just paying lip service to it, or considering it as taking place entirely on the plane of abstact thought.

A politics emerges from this, and that is not at odds with the Dharma at all: it is an expression of its efficacy.

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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby tobes » Mon Jun 17, 2013 2:45 am

Nilasarasvati wrote:
Tobes:
Nagarjuna did not see any contradiction between the dharma and giving robust normative political advice. Nor did the Buddha.


More importantly than this:


If Buddhists are supposed to be political then we will end up having more disagreements. I can't see how this is beneficial for the Sangha.


A person can not, by nature of the way the world works, be a-political.

Everybody has strong politics. Apathy is political. It affirms the status quo. The degree to which you can ignore, forget, and be unconscious of politics is the degree of your privilege and power.

A person living in a shanty-town outside Shanghai has no choice but to feel the constant sting and horror of "politics." People born into wealthy families where they have the social mobility to choose a career, a lifestyle, etc. that matches their personal values--they don't have to "be political" but they are the product and a creature created solely by the "politics" they have the option of ignoring. The degree to which you can be "apolitical" is the degree to which you've deluded yourself into thinking you somehow exist independently from a global system of exploitation.

EVERYTHING is political, whether we like it or not, have power to change it or not, or are harmed by it or helped by it.


:good:

Totally, totally agree. That is exactly the point.

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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby Indrajala » Mon Jun 17, 2013 2:48 am

BuddhaSoup wrote:I still maintain that efforts like Bhikkhu Bodhi's Buddhist Global Relief are the right path.


There's what we should do, and then there's what we will do collectively. Maybe it feels good being the virtuous maverick, but band-aids on a gaping wound doesn't help so much, though you at least try.

Charitable projects are generally built on good intentions and their agents of course feel compelled to get out there and do something. However, few anticipate long-term consequences to their projects. Do you feed a hundred children in a slum if you can? Of course, but the issue is that these hundred children when they mature will multiply into several hundred more. Nobody wants to let these kids die, but the reality is that you're damned if you do, damned if you don't.

You might argue that education is the key because educated women are better able to control their reproduction. That's not always the case. In northern Indian women can be educated, but still married off at a young age and showcased as a trophy wife. Fertility clinics here in India seem to be well-advertised. Traditional Hindu culture, at least in the north, demands children. Adoption isn't really culturally viable. Even so, getting a decent education to hundreds of millions of destitute women in the slums of the world isn't going to happen anytime soon, let alone just India.


Our mission is to combat chronic hunger and malnutrition.


If we have a few billion more people in the coming decades life is going to just be that much harder for the rest of the human population:

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http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-n ... rowth.html

The Limits to Growth model had interestingly proved to be quite accurate, even though it was drafted a number of years ago. We live on a planet with finite resources and have rapidly blown through a good chunk of them already. Even if climate change wasn't an issue, how are we going to feed so many people and keep the economies needed to look after them when energy costs cripple oil-based economies and infrastructures? Alternative energy sources depend on fossil fuels either directly or indirectly.

This is why charitable work in a lot of places might actually cause more harm than good in the long-term. If you don't do anything, a lot of people go hungry. If you do something, in the long-term there are that many more people that have to fight to survive, making life harder for everyone.

Unfortunately, most people believe technology will save us. This is tied into the belief in progress, and moreover in the benevolent presents bestowed upon us by technology. This is why short-term problems are fixed, but with long-term problems people just assume technology will somehow solve things or that an omnipotent elite "won't let anything serious happen".
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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby BuddhaSoup » Mon Jun 17, 2013 2:53 am

The Buddha did not proscribe politics as a wrong livelihood. Nor did he proscribe "engaged Buddhism" as it might be defined by Bhikkhu Bodhi. It seems to me that the Noble Eightfold Path describes the criteria by which we can judge the merit and ethics of any endeavor. From my reading of some of the early sutras, you see a very practical Gautama. I get no sense of a soft "to engage in politics is to engage in the impermanent and therefore to cultivate suffering" approach. Sometimes, people did stuff in the presence of the Buddha and he responded with very practical statements. Kings would seek his counsel and he would treat them like human beings in need of correction and guidance. In a sense, by dealing with royalty as much as he did, he was quite political, and not afraid to apply his Dharma when it was needed. He left his Dharma as a guide for all of us, and I get no sense that we as Buddhists need be apolitical, or to wash our hands of the concerns of the world. Sometimes in trying to be Buddhist ,we get a little too precious with our approaches, too cautious and "nondual...there is no good or bad, so it's best to leave it alone...." ....and this is not the engaged approach that I see from the Teacher. I trust very few Buddhist "leaders" implicitly, but Bhikkhu Bodhi and a few others are setting this example of ethical engaged practice that is making a difference in places in the world that need the help.
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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby Zhen Li » Mon Jun 17, 2013 2:59 am

Nilasarasvati wrote:The degree to which you can ignore, forget, and be unconscious of politics is the degree of your privilege and power.

Or a reflection of your knowledge about how hopeless politics is. In politics, no matter who you support, it is the people who suffer. One man rode with General Juarez against Maximillian, he lost many chickens but he thought it was worth it. When Porfirio became president, he supported him, but he stole his chickens. Then came Huerta and he stole his chickens. Then came Carranza, and he also stole his chickens. And then Pancho Villa came to liberate and free him, and the first thing he did was steal his chickens. All over the world revolutions come and go, presidents rise and fall. They all steal your chickens. They only differ in name.
tobes wrote:I am saying: if you're a true dharma practitioner, you can discern what is wholesome and what is unwholesome, and you can recognise that reality is more than your individual concerns. You can generate genuine concernful involvement with the suffering of others (which implies helping them realise their potential), and you can act on all of this, rather than just paying lip service to it, or considering it as taking place entirely on the plane of abstact thought.

I like this idea. But whenever I see people try to be political in the name of ideas, they just end up stealing chickens.

I can see what is wholesome and unwholesome (to my limited degree), and I see that politics, even when the intent is wholesome, always involves unwholesome actions. And is therefore unwholesome.

Moreover, I'm not sure where you got the name tag which says "Tobes: Qualified to tell you who is a True Dharma Practitioner."
BuddhaSoup wrote:In a sense, by dealing with royalty as much as he did, he was quite political, and not afraid to apply his Dharma when it was needed.

What the Buddha proscribed in the Sutras to kings, I agree with it all. In the modern world, with modern political concerns, I am not wise enough, and Bhikkhu Bodhi is not wise enough, to provide advice commensurate with the Buddha's. Remember, if he did not become the Buddha, he would have become the Cakravartin. What kind of genius do you think you are? Do you really understand the "correct" way to run a country? Not even a King knows that. To quote some satire,
W.S. Gilbert, Iolanthe wrote:And while the House of Peers withholds
Its legislative hand,
And noble statesmen do not itch
To interfere with matters which
They do not understand,
As bright will shine Great Britain’s rays
As in King George’s glorious days!
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