Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby BuddhaSoup » Mon Jun 17, 2013 3:11 am

What kind of genius do you think you are? They all steal your chickens. They only differ in name.


This is why I don't keep chickens. :cheers:
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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby Nilasarasvati » Mon Jun 17, 2013 3:12 am

Or a reflection of your knowledge about how hopeless politics is.


Samsara is hopeless, too. It doesn't keep Avalokitesvara from vowing to empty the six realms and endlessly striving to do so.

Also, you failed to answer my main assertion--that nonaction is political, too. Withdrawal or apathy about political issues is, ultimately, another political choice. We are limited beings. Our choice to abstain from the petty dramas of the world does not have a neutral effect on politics**

**IF you have attained the bhumis and your solitary meditation/avoidance of the political sphere is really a source of miraculous help for sentient beings--you aren't included in this generalization.
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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby jeeprs » Mon Jun 17, 2013 3:24 am

There was a special on looming food shortages the other day. It pointed out that there is enough food produced right now to nourish everyone on the planet. But in the affluent countries more than a quarter of all food is wasted, and meanwhile many people are over-nourished, meaning they consume too much. Of course the political barriers to rectifying these anomalies are probably insurmountable. But note that they are political. There is potentially sufficient resources, but only if there was the political will for massive changes to food production and distribution. Clearly there doesn't seem to be and if 'action on climate change' is any guide, the democracies may indeed fail the challenge and global catastrophe might ensue. But even then the failures will have been largely political, that is, a collective failure to act.
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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby Zhen Li » Mon Jun 17, 2013 3:51 am

Nilasarasvati wrote:Also, you failed to answer my main assertion--that nonaction is political, too. Withdrawal or apathy about political issues is, ultimately, another political choice. We are limited beings. Our choice to abstain from the petty dramas of the world does not have a neutral effect on politics.

Unless your in office you don't have any real effect regardless of your views.

Your opinion doesn't matter, my opinion doesn't matter. We are just ants in the world.
Nilasarasvati wrote:Samsara is hopeless, too.

That's not a Buddhist assertion.
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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby smcj » Mon Jun 17, 2013 4:27 am

Samsara is hopeless, too

That's not a Buddhist assertion

I beg to differ. It is the First Noble Truth.
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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby Indrajala » Mon Jun 17, 2013 4:35 am

jeeprs wrote:There was a special on looming food shortages the other day. It pointed out that there is enough food produced right now to nourish everyone on the planet.


For now. In time we won't have the energy to feed seven or eight billion people. At around industrialization there were about a billion people living on organic agriculture.

As fossil fuels wind down and climate change and pollution eradicate a lot of major food sources (seafood namely), there simply won't be enough food to feed everyone. Those countries that are self-sufficient and armed will manage to get by for some time, but much of the rest world will see increasing hunger leading to increased incidents of disease and premature death as a result of malnutrition.

Here in India inflation already cuts into people's food budgets. The working class has to struggle more than they used to. The country depends on imported oil. As oil slowly starts its decline it will only get worse.

This isn't paranoia, either. Militaries around the world are preparing for peak oil:

http://www.spiegel.de/international/ger ... 15138.html
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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby Indrajala » Mon Jun 17, 2013 4:36 am

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

...

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


Germany's power generation isn't working so well:

http://www.spiegel.de/international/ger ... 50419.html

The problem is that wind and solar farms just don't deliver the same amount of continuous electricity compared with nuclear and gas-fired power plants. To match traditional energy sources, grid operators must be able to exactly predict how strong the wind will blow or the sun will shine.

But such an exact prediction is difficult. Even when grid operators are off by just a few percentage points, voltage in the grid slackens. That has no affect on normal household appliances, such as vacuum cleaners and coffee machines. But for high-performance computers, for example, outages lasting even just a millisecond can quickly trigger system failures.
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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby Nilasarasvati » Mon Jun 17, 2013 4:46 am

Unless your in office you don't have any real effect regardless of your views.


People mistake the scope of politics on Dharmawheel. In previous discussions about transgender politics, both Ben Yuan and Indrajala had a similar bent: politics = government = legislation =regulation. Everything else is somehow irrelevant.

I guess I have a much broader view of what political means.
For many of us, politics are more ordinary, every day activities. We all constantly define the politics of our households, our neighborhoods, our cities...politics isn't just who were at war with or who is sitting in an office somewhere with a lot of red velvet chairs and a phone with a million buttons who may or may not have the authority to blow up the world.

It was political for me when I learned that I didn't have to follow my parents religious views. It was controversial and political in the tiny desert town I lived in when I stopped coming to Church.
It was a political action when I discovered a community of people who affirmed me and my weird views.
It was political when I and many other students stood up and protested administrative corruption at Penn State (that later turned out to be hiding a massive child abuse scandal.)
It was political when my teacher, an African American Buddhist Lama with a White Wife, started a Vajrayana temple in the middle of Salt Lake City, Utah.



Politics isn't limited
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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby Zhen Li » Mon Jun 17, 2013 5:00 am

smcj wrote:
Samsara is hopeless, too

That's not a Buddhist assertion

I beg to differ. It is the First Noble Truth.

I beg to differ. It is the Third Noble Truth.

Nilasarasvati wrote:I guess I have a much broader view of what political means.

If you're going to have flexible definitions for everything, please don't assume others have them also.
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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby tobes » Mon Jun 17, 2013 5:01 am

BuddhaSoup wrote: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.


Beautifully put.

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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby tobes » Mon Jun 17, 2013 5:09 am

Ben Yuan wrote:
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.


By this logic it is not possible to ever improve things.

So - what about the gains of the last two centuries: the labour movements, the civil rights movements, the human rights movements, the green movements, the gender movements??

All equally samsaric and unwise?

Isn't it better that women can earn equal pay, African Americans can vote (or become President), children don't work in coal mines anymore (in the west at least) etc, etc etc....??

None of that happened by accident. It only happened because people made it happen. And it is plainly better, plainly an improvement.

Surely that is important.

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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby tobes » Mon Jun 17, 2013 5:19 am

Ben Yuan wrote:

If you're going to have flexible definitions for everything, please don't assume others have them also.


I think that Nilasaravati gave a pretty fair definition of the political.

Aristotle thought that we humans are political simply by virtue of the fact that we are social beings who must negotiate how to live amongst each other.

I can't think of too many political philosophers since him who thought that politics was just government - legislation -regulation. In fact I can't think of any.

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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby jeeprs » Mon Jun 17, 2013 5:37 am

Indrajala wrote:
jeeprs wrote:There was a special on looming food shortages the other day. It pointed out that there is enough food produced right now to nourish everyone on the planet.


For now. In time we won't have the energy to feed seven or eight billion people. At around industrialization there were about a billion people living on organic agriculture.

As fossil fuels wind down and climate change and pollution eradicate a lot of major food sources (seafood namely), there simply won't be enough food to feed everyone. Those countries that are self-sufficient and armed will manage to get by for some time, but much of the rest world will see increasing hunger leading to increased incidents of disease and premature death as a result of malnutrition.

Here in India inflation already cuts into people's food budgets. The working class has to struggle more than they used to. The country depends on imported oil. As oil slowly starts its decline it will only get worse.

This isn't paranoia, either. Militaries around the world are preparing for peak oil:

http://www.spiegel.de/international/ger ... 15138.html


I agree that mankind faces dire challenges, but I think you're being a bit too fatalistic. I acknowledge that it is a very difficult issue, and if you were to ask me 'what are you going to do about it?' I really wouldn't have an answer. But Thomas Malthus and Alvin Toffler, both of whom forecast inevitable mass starvation due to resource depletion, have both been proven wrong - so far. If they had been corrrect it would have happened long since.

(I read assiduously about 'peak oil' from 2006-2009, but since then I think it has become clear that the actual shortage of oil really is never going to be the problem. The environmental effect of procuring and burning it, and the cost involved in so doing, will be enormous problems. But the USA could feasibly become a net exporter of oil and a larger producer than Saudi Arabia in the next two decades. Plus there are absolutely enormous reserves off Brazil.)

In any case, back to the main point, I think that an alternative to catatrophic scenarios, is actually the possibility that overall living standards will stagnate or fall - more of a 'whimper' than a 'bang', so to speak. And that challenges some of the major underpinnings of capitalist economics, no question about that. But this is where Buddhist training could make a vital contribution - on the one hand by fostering altruism amongst the wealthier countries, on the other by emphasizing inner growth as an alternative to rampant consumerism for the emerging economies. Of course I realize that this is a wildly impractical pipe-dream at this time in history. But it seems preferable to fatalism. (There's an emerging type of economics based on the notion of 'prosperity without growth', although I haven't read up on it yet.)
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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Mon Jun 17, 2013 5:44 am

tobes wrote:
Ben Yuan wrote:
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.


By this logic it is not possible to ever improve things.

So - what about the gains of the last two centuries: the labour movements, the civil rights movements, the human rights movements, the green movements, the gender movements??

All equally samsaric and unwise?

Isn't it better that women can earn equal pay, negroes can vote (or become president), children don't work in coal mines anymore (in the west at least) etc, etc etc....??

None of that happened by accident. It only happened because people made it happen. And it is plainly better, plainly an improvement.

Surely that is important.

:anjali:


I know exactly where this is going to go, Indrajala or someone else will chime in about how things like the civil rights movement are somehow indelibly linked to imperialism, exceptionalism, and resource squandering. What conclusion anyone is supposed to draw from claims like these I have no idea, but it happens again and again on here. Apparently it's unwise to do merit because it might be tangentially, circumstantially connected to demerit. So basically, fighting for civil rights is ultimately the same as wanting America to keep sucking resources out of the world.

It's an argument you really can't win against, because anything good can ultimately be connected to something bad, or have bad consequences - it's friggin samsara!. Apparently to some that's reason to not really try doing good, I don't agree..but one thing's for sure, there is nothing to be said against a reductionist argument like that, the conclusion has already been made.

The best explanation i've ever heard for doing merit int he world is also the simplest, we all share the same water, us, Hitler, Pol Pot, George Bush..there is no choice whether or not we share water, it is just how things exist. It is constantly being filled up with filth, so all you can do is do you best to pour a bit of clean water in..it's no ultimate solution, because there is no ultimate solution at all, you will just break into a thousand pieces looking for ultimate solutions! It's FAR better than doing nothing at all though.

While it might be true that we can never know the ultimate affect of some of our decisions, it's equally clear that certain things are more likely to be "good" than others - why that's controversial I have no idea.
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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby smcj » Mon Jun 17, 2013 5:53 am

None of that happened by accident. It only happened because people made it happen. And it is plainly better, plainly an improvement.

Surely that is important.

Yes it is important. But it did not create a utopia. The solution to any problem will in turn lead to a different set of problems. (Ask anybody that thought getting married would secure their lasting happiness.) That is 'the suffering of change'. In fact much of today's problems are the suffering of change from the success of the industrial revolution; overpopulation, climate change, peak oil, etc. Then there is the suffering of compounded existence, which is too subtle for me to get a handle on.

So all of life, ultimately, will not availe a permanent, lasting happiness. Thus 'samsara is hopeless'--for lasting or permanent happiness. But yes, you've got to solve problems and improve conditions as you can too.
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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby Zhen Li » Mon Jun 17, 2013 7:08 am

tobes wrote:
Ben Yuan wrote: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.

By this logic it is not possible to ever improve things.

You are turning my claim about politics into a universal claim about all things. This is dishonest misrepresentation at its finest. I'm just being honest here, I mean nothing personal by it, but I think you should try to be a bit fairer to my message and not automatically assume I am being nihilistic about everything in the universe.
Nilasarasvati wrote:So - what about the gains of the last two centuries: the labour movements, the civil rights movements, the human rights movements, the green movements, the gender movements?

Labour movements, I support - so long as they don't force people into unions without their consent. A lot of labour movements just turned into pure thuggery, and many unions in the United States and United Kingdom are run like mafias.

Civil Rights I support. But the average person had little role in establishing them. In fact, their foundations are in Lords who wished to protect their landholding rights and Kings who wanted to maintain their legitimacy. That being said, I think that Magna Carta is one of the finest documents in human history. But you must also realise that the vision of civil rights we have today descends from this distinctly English institution, and we should not be so hasty to assume that all people and all cultures would do better with our own institutions. This, to pre-empt Indrajala perchance, is a form of intellectual imperialism. Personally, I think China and India would be better off with their traditional forms of government rather than these unnatural impositions called "Republics." Human rights also, I think one should be careful with. Obviously there are instances in Zimbabwe or China, which have outrageous aggression towards humans, but other definitions of "human rights" are often just cultural imperialism. Traditionally in Chinese culture, for example, it is not so that all people are naturally equal before the law, nor that they be presumed innocent before found guilty. Some people are assumed naturally superior or inferior, and at times it was believed that to be the subject of a legal proceeding disturbs society enough to make you worth punishing anyway, which also acts as deterrence in general, regardless of relevance to the crime.

The green movement, I personally don't support. This is a big issue, but I don't think we should waste our time 1. if the problem is not as urgent as we think (which is my opinion), and 2. if the solutions proposed won't do anything anyway (as Indrajala pointed out).

As for the gender movements, the same issue applies as with human rights. It is a cultural paradigm that genders should have the same roles. I don't think genders should have the same roles, we are different and society functions better when everyone has a well defined place. I know I sound like I am from 1900 to you, but I think that gender equality destroyed a lot of essential elements in our society. In terms of liberation, I concur with the Vimilakirti Sutra, men and women are equal, but in terms of society, I think things work better according to traditional structures (patriarchal or matriarchal depending upon ancient cultural norms).
Nilasarasvati wrote:All equally samsaric and unwise?

All equally samsaric, yes. Unwise in the sense of not prajna, yes.
Nilasarasvati wrote:Isn't it better that women can earn equal pay, negroes can vote (or become president), children don't work in coal mines anymore (in the west at least) etc, etc etc....??

In the west, generally speaking, women could earn equal pay at any point in history. The question is, will people be willing to pay them the same? There are different risks involved with employing different genders, and it also depends upon the job and the age of the woman in question. Supply and demand is the best way to determine wages. Which also means, if we have traditional family structures in the west and mothers do not work full time jobs like they do today, there will be more spaces open for women-specific jobs in general, and therefore higher wages.

Of course as for race and voting, I support equality where voting is part of society. Not all societies traditionally use voting however. This issue really arises from the historical atrocity which was the slave trade, without this we wouldn't have this issue - and moreover, it wasn't an issue in the UK or Canada where the slave trade was either non-existent or illegal. But suppose you land in India (not as a slave) in the Classical Age, and you're an Anaryan, i.e. non-Indian. Do you really expect to be able to be admitted to the Ksatriya caste? All such values are relative to time and tradition - of course in English speaking tradition, races must be treated equally in politics.

As for child labour, this is also relative to time and culture. In the west we have the luxury to disallow it, but in some countries you either have children work or you starve.
smcj wrote:So all of life, ultimately, will not availe a permanent, lasting happiness. Thus 'samsara is hopeless'--for lasting or permanent happiness. But yes, you've got to solve problems and improve conditions as you can too.

Yes, all actions will be marked with one kind of suffering or another, except for those that lead to liberation.

You should indeed act in the way you see fit for this world, do what you think is right of course, but don't think that you are doing it to accumulate merit or in the name of the Dharma. These are two very different things - one is the world of samsara, the other of nirvana.
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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby Sherab Dorje » Mon Jun 17, 2013 7:36 am

Poverty, starvation, required energy production, etc... has nothing to do with population levels and everything to do with resource allocation. Problem is that first worlders think that alleviating poverty means making everybody a first worlder. In this narrow prism of logic it is obviously impossible for economic equality to exist. It is quite obvious that this planet cannot support 7 billion first worlders. But it is Malthusian (and an extreme error) to say: they starve because there is not enough to go around. Starvation is due to greed and not to a lack of resources. There is much MUCH more than enough to go around. There is just a real need to reassess (especially in the first world) by what is meant by the term "enough".

And this idea that we let people die from causes that can be averted in order to keep the population in check? Nonsense. I once saw a photo documentary where a reporter went into the homes of families across the globe and photographed the family members, together with their food stocks (what they happened to have in their cupboard). The disparity was astounding. According to the "let 'em die" theory we should be letting first worlders die and helping people from developing countries survive, because the resources for every first worlder are enough to keep 5 people in the developing world alive.

And just to tie it back into Buddhism: in Ngondro practice we are taught to contemplate the value of this precious human rebirth and yet here we are discussing who should (deserves to) live and who should die. Like we are a great white bearded God.
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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby tobes » Mon Jun 17, 2013 7:40 am

Ben Yuan, I'm not trying to misrepresent you - I'm just trying to draw out the implications of what you are saying.

It seems that you hold that within samsara, everything is equally sh*t. But are there not good causes within samsara, and bad causes? Are there not good conditions within samsara, and bad conditions? Can't prajna discern those differences? In fact, isn't that what prajna primarily does?

As soon as we accept that one can discern what is good and what is not good within samsara, than both values and actions become important. The possibility of an enlightened politics emerges out of that.

If that discernment, those values and actions are not possible, than neither is any possibility of nirvana.

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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby Indrajala » Mon Jun 17, 2013 7:44 am

Ben Yuan wrote: Personally, I think China and India would be better off with their traditional forms of government rather than these unnatural impositions called "Republics."


Bihar is an interesting case where although superficially they have elected officials, in reality the system is still feudal. Most of India is still like this. Technically slavery is outlawed, but it still happens ... a lot. A lot of children are sold to households to be servants and they have no realistic way of leaving until they're old enough to fend for themselves, but by that time it is cheaper to just buy a new kid. The cops probably won't do much either because they see it as a favour to the family and it isn't your business to interfere.

Likewise, China is still following the old models it developed from ages past. There isn't an emperor, but the bureaucracy and high officials, tied in heavily with merchants, make the real decisions as was the case in much of imperial Chinese history. Nepotism and bribery are part of the game, as it was in the past, too. Communism looks good on paper, but Mao put himself in the imperial palace (literally), and lived like an emperor while speaking on and on about "the people".

It makes me think an imperial dynasty would have been better off in China in the 20th century. Something like a constitutional monarchy.

Obviously there are instances in Zimbabwe or China, which have outrageous aggression towards humans, but other definitions of "human rights" are often just cultural imperialism.


Human rights now are used to justify ghoulish levels of violence committed against non-aggressors. It is just an ideological justification to remove undesirable and uncooperative foreign states. I mean Iran's government might have a dark internal history, but all things considered they're somewhat cleaner compared to what the USA has been responsible for in the last sixty years.

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I don't think genders should have the same roles, we are different and society functions better when everyone has a well defined place.


I think I always agreed with such an idea, but back home in Canada I felt like I would be skinned alive if I said such things. Feminism is taught in the classroom and alternative viewpoints were not tolerated.

Having studied a lot of Chinese political philosophy, I agree that well defined roles and decision making positions are conducive to a harmonious society. As Confucius said:

    齊景公問政於孔子。孔子對曰:「君君,臣臣,父父,子子。」公曰:「善哉!信如君不君,臣不臣,父不父,子不子,雖有粟,吾得而食諸?」

    The duke Jing, of Qi, asked Confucius about government. Confucius replied, "There is government, when the prince is prince, and the minister is minister; when the father is father, and the son is son." "Good!" said the duke; "if, indeed, the prince be not prince, the minister not minister, the father not father, and the son not son, although I have my revenue, can I enjoy it?"


That being said, I personally find myself at odds with hierarchies and don't play along.

But then what's good for me is not necessarily good for society. I recognize this and know by not playing the game I will sacrifice comforts, status and prestige, but to me it is worth it. I don't mind being a lone roamer. I'll happily exist on the fringes, but I know very well for most people it can't work like this. What works for a monk, too, like non-violence, will not make good government policy for a state which has to have some kind of deterrent against foreign aggression.

In the west, generally speaking, women could earn equal pay at any point in history.


I think a woman's value and self-worth are better determined by her good qualities and virtuous behaviour. In the liberal west we tend to see "housewife" as some kind of lowly slave-like position for incompetent women who can't hack it in the world, whereas traditionally looking after a family and raising your children were considered virtuous and praiseworthy. Likewise, maintaining one's chastity and virtue were to be praised, not discouraged and mocked with promiscuity celebrated .

Imagine if the west operated like it used to. We might not have so many issues with divorce rates, one-person households, children being raised fatherless, child abuse deaths, sexually transmitted disease infection rates, teenage pregnancy rates, incarceration rates, depression and stress-related ailments.

Meanwhile cultures that maintain healthy families and "traditional" models of society don't really need to deal with these same problems. So, clearly we're doing something wrong. I personally put a lot of blame on feminism as it undermined a working model.

As for child labour, this is also relative to time and culture. In the west we have the luxury to disallow it, but in some countries you either have children work or you starve.


To be fair, in some places (like India), a lot of working class kids don't want to go to school after a certain point. They'd rather just get to work, earn money, start a family and do their own thing.

We tend to look down on child labour, but in some places it is seen as generosity. You hire someone's kid to clean your house or do gardening. They get fed and taken care of and some money is sent back to their parents. When they get older they're free to leave. There's a lot of abuse, sure, but abuse happens in public schools as well (actually a lot when you consider bullying is so problematic).

The other thing is that apprenticeships traditionally start at a young age. Youth are treated like adults early on, too. At 15 you're old enough to go out on your own, and many young men do this. They don't get the luxury of having a long drawn-out childhood complete with existential crises to blog about. They can't afford to be emo, so they grow up fast.

A lot of what we put kids through nowadays in schools is a waste of time anyway. Gym class is unnecessary, so is home economics.
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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby Zhen Li » Mon Jun 17, 2013 8:21 am

tobes wrote:It seems that you hold that within samsara, everything is equally sh*t. But are there not good causes within samsara, and bad causes?

There are wholesome and unwholesome actions, and wholesome and unwholesome fruits. But even the wholesome fruits cause attachment and therefore suffering. Actions which lead to liberation, and help others progress to liberation, do not have suffering as a fruit, but the deathless.
tobes wrote:Can't prajna discern those differences?

Yes, but it doesn't make them any less suffering.
tobes wrote:In fact, isn't that what prajna primarily does?

I generally take it to be a bit more profound.
tobes wrote:As soon as we accept that one can discern what is good and what is not good within samsara, than both values and actions become important.

You're mixing up the worldly and supramundane.

At the supramundane level, of course, there is a retroactive effect whereby one views samsara as nirvana. I don't think this is what you are trying to hint at however.
tobes wrote:The possibility of an enlightened politics emerges out of that.

I like the idea of the ruler being guided by Dharma. But there's a difference between actions which lead to nirvana, and actions which don't. It'd be lovely if a politician could bring us all to nirvana - besides the King of Lapis Lazuli Light.
Indrajala wrote:It makes me think an imperial dynasty would have been better off in China in the 20th century. Something like a constitutional monarchy.

I think many fantasise with this idea. In fact, many monarchies in history, even in the middle ages, were checked enough by the other classes to be in function constitutional monarchies. We're so force fed with American culture from childhood that we think the only rational way to govern a country is through a republic. The conditions for retaining the Qing Empire weren't present, due to a century of mismanagement, most would have rightly viewed the mandate of heaven as having begun to fade for the Qing.

I find it ironic that in India the British saw the value in retaining over 600 Rajas and Maharajas (perhaps from an instinctual experience of what happened three centuries earlier), but as soon as "Independence" was declared Petal and Menon went about abolishing them all. Many of the problems of India in the years following independence would have been solved with a federal and more decentralised model. Moreover, the decentralisation of power, as the US throughout history and the growth of their government has shown, generally affords greater freedom overall.

Wherever you find power, divide it, disperse it. Never trust anyone with too much power.
Indrajala wrote:What works for a monk, too, like non-violence, will not make good government policy for a state which has to have some kind of deterrent against foreign aggression.

This is true. Despite teaching kings dozens of times, the Buddha never asked them to stop executions or disband the army. He also did not include employment in the military or as a minister to be wrong livelihood, and having a strong army was one of the criteria he set down for being a "good monarch." The Buddha, although he upset within his Sangha a whole heap of social conventions, also asked kings to maintain and protect the existing religion and provide for Brahmins. The Buddha knew that the Sangha has it's place out of society, and that within society people must have appointed roles, and know and do their duty.

Big brother, small brother, teacher, student. I've always found myself most sure of what to do with my time when I am also clear to myself what my role is.
Indrajala wrote:Meanwhile cultures that maintain healthy families and "traditional" models of society don't really need to deal with these same problems. So, clearly we're doing something wrong. I personally put a lot of blame on feminism as it undermined a working model.

The Buddha not only said do not introduce new laws and customs, but also don't abolish the old ones. In ancient Rome they often thought of the Republic like an old man's attic, it looks messy and has stuff which most people find useless, but the old man knows where everything is and that everything is of some value. We must be careful not to abolish old customs and institutions in the name of abstract principles like rights, because we are thereby bound to disturb waters which have been carefully balanced by human prejudices and passions for hundreds of years.
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