Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby Malcolm » Wed Jun 19, 2013 12:16 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:
greentara wrote:Indeed no political position is in accordance with the dharma. Discord resides anywhere where people are urged to take sides in a way that urges them, as Iago does in Shakespeare's Othello, to ''mock the meat'' on which hate, jealousy and desire for power feeds.
Really? And what of King Menander and Ashoka then?



Ashoka's biased favoring of the Vaibhajyavadins was pure politics and not Dharma. Also, he was a war criminal (which everyone seems to blank out on), excused because he was forgotten in India until the Brits revived his memory from the pillars (which noone could read for two millennia.)

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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby wisdom » Wed Jun 19, 2013 10:51 pm

Malcolm wrote:
gregkavarnos wrote:
greentara wrote:Indeed no political position is in accordance with the dharma. Discord resides anywhere where people are urged to take sides in a way that urges them, as Iago does in Shakespeare's Othello, to ''mock the meat'' on which hate, jealousy and desire for power feeds.
Really? And what of King Menander and Ashoka then?



Ashoka's biased favoring of the Vaibhajyavadins was pure politics and not Dharma. Also, he was a war criminal (which everyone seems to blank out on), excused because he was forgotten in India until the Brits revived his memory from the pillars (which noone could read for two millennia.)

M


Also, wasn't Ashokas prison system considered one of the worst to have ever existed? Perhaps that was another cruel ruler I had heard about though. Although I also heard he later totally accepted Dharma and did a lot of good.
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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby Nilasarasvati » Wed Jun 19, 2013 11:18 pm

Yeah I personally have never understood anybody who wants to prop up and stand behind any monarch...violence is pervasive in all systems of government most classically of all in a Feudal system or an Empire.

Walter Benjamin says it best: "Every document of civilization is also a document of Barbarism."
You can find treasuries of evidence that show the positive actions, programs, benefits of any world ruler or any governmental system...it's just one half of the coin. It's always built on slavery and exploitation of some kind and the oppression and cultural genocide of those groups who don't fit well into the "unity" and "harmony" of the kingdom/republic/confederacy. Directly or indirectly. The forms differ, the negative consequences look uniformly the same.

I give up a really long anxious-dog whine when I hear people talk about Trisong Deutsen's hologrammatic prisons/public executions.

Why do Buddhists feel like we need to support/believe in any kind of system? I mean I hear people saying half of that "Well, it's the nature of the beast," everybody on here is very well educated and we all agree every system has its brutal aspects...why does anybody feel the need to justify them by saying "look at the bright side! You have really good orthodontia in America now!"

Not to say I don't have a thesis--I believe Government=violence, so I'm essentially an anarchist. Outwardly, I participate in liberal democratic processes to try to assist relative changes for the benefit of those who have the least advocacy.
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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby tobes » Wed Jun 19, 2013 11:42 pm

Malcolm wrote:
tobes wrote:
Example 1: if from the perspective of the Dharma, there can be no grasping to phenomenal entities, no sense of 'mine', no sense of possession....then it follows that there cannot be a grounding for individual ownership - in the form of natural, innate or even positivist rights.



False, if this were the case, there could be no precept against taking what is not given. Property is recognized as a natural right in Dharma. I.e. the precept against taking what is not given.

For example, in Dharma, it is illegal to destroy the homes of beings. For example, the bodhisattva vow maintains that it is violation of that vow to destroy cities, towns and so on. One could extend this to ant hills and so on.

Therefore, if a Buddhist practices a politics predicated on the preservation of those rights, they are out of accord with the Dharma.
However, if a Buddhist practices a politics which is explicitly the negation of those individual rights to ownership, than she is in accord with the Dharma.


False, as above.

It is not the case that both of those positions are equal with respect to the Dharma, and that therefore, there is no relationship between the political and the Dharma. One is in accord with it, one is not in accord with it.


Those positions are equal with respect to Dharma since neither position has to do with achieving liberation in Dharmic sense.


You can't have it both ways - if you allow for a connection between ethical normativity and the Dharma, then you automatically allow for political normativity too (i.e. values and choices - both of which you have previously demarcated from the Dharma, as in some separate realm of 'human ethics').

Moreover, whilst I agree that the precept not to take property presupposes a theory of property rights, that theory cannot be a 'natural right to individual ownership' - the predications of such a theory are not at all commensurate with Buddhist metaphysics or ethics.

That only leaves the possibility of a positivist right - and that can only be established as a particularist normative response to the problem of theft: which leaves us explicitly in political terrain. i.e. if you say that normatively and positively that theft is bad and giving is good, that is a political position on the nature and question of property ownership - which is itself seminal to the basic structure of economic and political organisation.

Therefore, by your own logic and reasoning, the Dharma is political.

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

Postby Malcolm » Wed Jun 19, 2013 11:55 pm

tobes wrote:
Moreover, whilst I agree that the precept not to take property presupposes a theory of property rights, that theory cannot be a 'natural right to individual ownership' - the predications of such a theory are not at all commensurate with Buddhist metaphysics or ethics.


Of course it is. Just read the Siggalaka sutta.





That only leaves the possibility of a positivist right


Stealing is a natural non-virtue, not a "positivist" non-virtue. Therefore, ownership is a natural right, not a positivist right.

In any case, you can have all the fine definitions and subtle nonsense you want. It is just intellectual self-stimulation. Dharma and politics are not compatible.

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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby anjali » Thu Jun 20, 2013 1:02 am

Malcolm wrote:It's really not hard — the purpose of Dharma is to transcend worldly entanglements like politics, power, government etc.

Politics is fundamentally about accepting and rejecting — the basis of the eight so called worldly dharmas i.e. praise/blame and so on.

So advice about conduct in Dharma, any Dharma, is ultimately about becoming free from those eight worldly dharmas.

This is why Dharma and politics are incompatible, and why, even though Dharma practitioners may act politically if they choose, they should understand that those actions are based in human ethics rather then sublime Dharma.


Nicely summarized position. One definition of politics I like was proposed by Harold Lasswell, a political scientist: "who gets what, when, and how." Not a standard definition, but a functional one for the most part. For sentient beings, politics of course requires making choices, accepting and rejecting. For an enlightened being, this wouldn't be the case. A master's enlightened, choiceless activity will naturally determine who gets what, when, and how. If we take the master to be an embodiment of the Dharma, then that embodiment necessarily functions politically. From this we can see that, not only are Dharma and politics compatible, they are inseparable.
  • The object of the game is to go on playing it. --John Von Neumann
  • All activities are like the games children play. If started, they can never be finished. They are only completed once you let them be, like castles made of sand. --Khenpo Nyoshul Rinpoche
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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby tobes » Thu Jun 20, 2013 1:03 am

Malcolm wrote:
tobes wrote:
Moreover, whilst I agree that the precept not to take property presupposes a theory of property rights, that theory cannot be a 'natural right to individual ownership' - the predications of such a theory are not at all commensurate with Buddhist metaphysics or ethics.


Of course it is. Just read the Siggalaka sutta.





That only leaves the possibility of a positivist right


Stealing is a natural non-virtue, not a "positivist" non-virtue. Therefore, ownership is a natural right, not a positivist right.

In any case, you can have all the fine definitions and subtle nonsense you want. It is just intellectual self-stimulation. Dharma and politics are not compatible.

M



So individual ownership is natural, but particular individuals per se nor particular entities do not substantially exist.

So who naturally owns what and how is that grounded?

i.e. you need a theory of substance to ground a claim for natural rights. Most Buddhists profoundly reject such a theory, and it is clearly not found in the sutta addressed to Siggalakka

You can however, get ground for positivist rights, when you acknowledge that concepts (and thus, rights) are nominal and conventional - I would argue that precepts and virtues are thus. This is not to deny that there might be something like a 'natural law' of causation, and thus certain natural virtues or vices. It is simply to say that the moment these are put into a conceptual form (which a precept or right requires), we are entering into the domain of concepts, which can only be nominal and positivist.

If you find this to be intellectual self-stimulation, then don't respond. However, it is cheap to assert that whilst partaking in a discourse where you strongly defend a particular view.

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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby Nilasarasvati » Thu Jun 20, 2013 2:25 am

Ahhhh page 10

where it finally gets really really good.
This is some great discourse! Please keep turning out these posts!
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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby Malcolm » Thu Jun 20, 2013 2:36 am

tobes wrote:
So individual ownership is natural, but particular individuals per se nor particular entities do not substantially exist.


So individual ownership is natural [conventionally, just as selves are], but particular individuals per se nor particular entities do not substantially exist [ultimately].

So who naturally owns what and how is that grounded?


Conventional persons own conventional things.


you need a theory of substance to ground a claim for natural rights.


This does not follow: you simply need conventional persons.


Most Buddhists profoundly reject such a theory, and it is clearly not found in the sutta addressed to Siggalakka


What is found in the Siggalaka sutta is the notion that lay people should employ others, save wealth, and so on -- all of which is predicated on the common sense notion that individuals own things.

You can however, get ground for positivist rights, when you acknowledge that concepts (and thus, rights) are nominal and conventional


Water is a convention, nevertheless, wetness is innate to water. Conventionality and innateness are not mutually exclusive, though some people who badly misunderstand things think so.

M
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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby dzogchungpa » Thu Jun 20, 2013 2:56 am

I can't seem to find this Siggalaka sutta, can someone provide a reference?
ཨོཾ་མ་ཧཱ་ཤུནྱ་ཏཱ་ཛྙཱ་ན་བཛྲ་སྭཱ་བྷཱ་བ་ཨཱཏྨ་ཀོ་྅ཧཾ༔

The thousands of lines of the Prajnaparamita can be summed up in the following two sentences:
1) One should become a Bodhisattva (or, Buddha-to-be), i.e. one who is content with nothing less than all-knowledge attained through the perfection of wisdom for the sake of all beings.
2) There is no such thing as a Bodhisattva, or as all-knowledge, or as a ‘being’, or as the perfection of wisdom, or as an attainment.
To accept both these contradictory facts is to be perfect.
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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby Adamantine » Thu Jun 20, 2013 3:38 am

Just a reminder of our TOS: "Be polite. Rudeness in any form will not be tolerated. Any member who is intentionally unpleasant will initially be suspended to give the moderating team time to discuss if there is to be further action."

So please no more comments referring to anyone's posts as any form of nonsense (unless it is evident that it was clearly intended as such, in which case you could notify the mods by reporting it). Also, comments referring to people's posts as intellectual self-stimulation is a bit condescending and furthermore may be misconstrued. Please stay on point and refer to the Enlightened Discussion guidelines which includes this sentiment: "In an enlightened discussion, it is never acceptable to comment on your discussion partner in anything other than glowing, admiring terms, no matter what he says".

Otherwise, it's an interesting dialogue so keep it up!
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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby Nilasarasvati » Thu Jun 20, 2013 3:48 am

I dig the high standards of our new GM.

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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby Jnana » Thu Jun 20, 2013 4:48 am

dzogchungpa wrote:I can't seem to find this Siggalaka sutta, can someone provide a reference?

I think Malcolm might be referring to DN 31 (alternate titles: Sīgāla Sutta, Sīgālaka Sutta, Sigālovāda Sutta, Siṅgālovāda Sutta).
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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby jeeprs » Thu Jun 20, 2013 6:09 am

Politics is unavoidable on the level of conventional existence. It might have no ultimate significance but as long as people have to live in communities, follow laws, provide public services, and so on, then some kind of political engagement is unavoidable.

Even the Buddhist teaching itself is only an 'expedient means' to help beings realise the true nature. That is the meaning of the parable of the Raft, is it not?

It follows from that, I would think, that the kind of political system that Buddhism would encourage would be minimalist and self-limiting. Of course the obvious difficulty with that is that the ruthless will immediately see the opportunities for exploiting it. So in an 'ideal existence' there would be no need for politics, or even Buddhism, for that matter, but the world is never like that, it is an intermediate realm, within which politics plays a necessary part. I don't see how you can avoid that without basically ceding the field to self-interest.
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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby kirtu » Thu Jun 20, 2013 12:45 pm

Malcolm wrote:
kirtu wrote:However we have the mythological example of Shambhala where enlightened Dharma rulers were able to act politically without their actions based on human ethics. We can begin over time to actualize this archetype.


One word there, Kirt, and it is a big one: "mythological".

Democracies were myths (based on fact) until Iceland and Switzerland created them.

Secondly, your scenario requires a monarchy.

Doesn't require a monarchy. That part of the myth is irrelevant.

Third, Shambhala was destroyed by other humans, so it didn't really work out so well for the Shambhalians,

All Buddhist political elements that have been unable to defend themselves have gotten swallowed up except for Nepal. This is a serious problem. But it probably just means that Shambhala-like communities need to be created in relatively stable environments.

Anyway Buddhist utopianism is as much a fantasy as any other kind of utopianism.


Really? Like Changchub Dorje's commune? It sounds like that worked out pretty well.

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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby Malcolm » Thu Jun 20, 2013 12:50 pm

jeeprs wrote:Politics is unavoidable on the level of conventional existence. It might have no ultimate significance but as long as people have to live in communities, follow laws, provide public services, and so on, then some kind of political engagement is unavoidable.

Even the Buddhist teaching itself is only an 'expedient means' to help beings realise the true nature. That is the meaning of the parable of the Raft, is it not?

It follows from that, I would think, that the kind of political system that Buddhism would encourage would be minimalist and self-limiting. Of course the obvious difficulty with that is that the ruthless will immediately see the opportunities for exploiting it. So in an 'ideal existence' there would be no need for politics, or even Buddhism, for that matter, but the world is never like that, it is an intermediate realm, within which politics plays a necessary part. I don't see how you can avoid that without basically ceding the field to self-interest.


Politics is all about self-interest. That is yet another reason that it is incompatible with Dharma. Politics is not based on wisdom. It is always based on conflicts.

Buddhisms of course are not Dharma, and can encourage all the politics they like -- this is why we can have Green Buddhism, Marxist Buddhism, Conservative Buddhism, etc. Buddhisms are just sects based on the limitations and biases of their followers.

As I said, of course Dharma practitioners can act politically, even have political biases and opinions, but they should never confuse their political beliefs and opinions with the Dharma they are attempting to put into practice.
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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby Malcolm » Thu Jun 20, 2013 1:01 pm

kirtu wrote:
Secondly, your scenario requires a monarchy.

Doesn't require a monarchy. That part of the myth is irrelevant.



Seems pretty key to me.


Third, Shambhala was destroyed by other humans, so it didn't really work out so well for the Shambhalians,

All Buddhist political elements that have been unable to defend themselves have gotten swallowed up except for Nepal. This is a serious problem. But it probably just means that Shambhala-like communities need to be created in relatively stable environments.


Shambhala was a kingdom, a real historical place. It was destroyed by Muslims in the eighth century.

Anyway Buddhist utopianism is as much a fantasy as any other kind of utopianism.


Really? Like Changchub Dorje's commune? It sounds like that worked out pretty well.


Chanchub Dorje's place was not a utopia. It was just a small place in Khams where there were a bunch of Dharma practitioners following a teacher. But there was certainly no political ideology governing the place, utopian or otherwise. If one is a perfect Dharma practitioner, what need for politics will one have?

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འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

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he is said to be a ṛṣī; the others are the opposite of him."

-- Uttaratantra
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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby kirtu » Thu Jun 20, 2013 4:14 pm

kirtu wrote:All Buddhist political elements that have been unable to defend themselves have gotten swallowed up except for Nepal.


That's supposed to read: except for Bhutan. I would just change it but it's been quoted in response already.

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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby kirtu » Thu Jun 20, 2013 4:25 pm

Malcolm wrote:
kirtu wrote:All Buddhist political elements that have been unable to defend themselves have gotten swallowed up except for Nepal. This is a serious problem. But it probably just means that Shambhala-like communities need to be created in relatively stable environments.


Shambhala was a kingdom, a real historical place. It was destroyed by Muslims in the eighth century.


Of course above this should read: except for Bhutan.

This doesn't mean that Shambhala-like places have to be kingdoms. Democracies (or fledgling democracies) are no longer people gathering in a square and fighting each other when the vote didn't go their way (Novgorad and many other experiments in democracy, including the US at times, early on). They can be relatively enlightened places that may then become a beacon to others around them.


Anyway Buddhist utopianism is as much a fantasy as any other kind of utopianism.


Really? Like Changchub Dorje's commune? It sounds like that worked out pretty well.


Chanchub Dorje's place was not a utopia. It was just a small place in Khams where there were a bunch of Dharma practitioners following a teacher. But there was certainly no political ideology governing the place, utopian or otherwise. If one is a perfect Dharma practitioner, what need for politics will one have?


People still have to make mundane decisions about grain storage, etc. Scarce resources still need to be allocated (the essence of economics) and people still need guidance in living in society (the essence of politics) if only to promote cooperation. Beyond one's door some degree of picking and choosing becomes necessary.

Kirt
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“All beings are Buddhas, but obscured by incidental stains. When those have been removed, there is Buddhahood.”
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Re: Transgression, Tantra, Radical vs Conservative Buddhism

Postby Malcolm » Thu Jun 20, 2013 6:44 pm

kirtu wrote:
People still have to make mundane decisions about grain storage, etc. Scarce resources still need to be allocated (the essence of economics) and people still need guidance in living in society (the essence of politics) if only to promote cooperation. Beyond one's door some degree of picking and choosing becomes necessary.

Kirt


Yes, of course -- the role of politics is just such practical considerations.

But when people start saying "My point of view about grain storage is justified in this or that sutra of the Buddha", than at that point one is, to quote a mind training slogan, "reducing a god into a demon".

The difference between politics and Dharma is the difference between glasses and a mirror: one uses the former to focus on things outside oneself; but a mirror is used to investigate oneself.
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