Buddhist Anarchism

Alleviating worldly suffering along the way.
rob h
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Buddhist Anarchism

Postby rob h » Sun Mar 10, 2013 6:55 pm

This was written by Gary Snyder in 1961, and still seems to make perfect sense. I didn't even know who he was until I read this after researching recently, but think it's easily one of the best things I've read in a while.

The person who wrote the article was apparently fine with any nonprofit reposting of this, but will just link a few paragraphs anyway and you can check the page if you want to read more. (the terms and conditions here says no reposting of entire articles, not sure how that applies if there's no copyright, but will just paste a few paragraphs either way.)

No one today can afford to be innocent, or indulge himself in ignorance of the nature of contemporary governments, politics and social orders. The national polities of the modern world maintain their existence by deliberately fostered craving and fear: monstrous protection rackets. The “free world” has become economically dependent on a fantastic system of stimulation of greed which cannot be fulfilled, sexual desire which cannot be satiated and hatred which has no outlet except against oneself, the persons one is supposed to love, or the revolutionary aspirations of pitiful, poverty-stricken marginal societies like Cuba or Vietnam. The conditions of the Cold War have turned all modern societies — Communist included — into vicious distorters of man’s true potential. They create populations of “preta” — hungry ghosts, with giant appetites and throats no bigger than needles. The soil, the forests and all animal life are being consumed by these cancerous collectivities; the air and water of the planet is being fouled by them.

The joyous and voluntary poverty of Buddhism becomes a positive force. The traditional harmlessness and refusal to take life in any form has nation-shaking implications. The practice of meditation, for which one needs only “the ground beneath one’s feet,” wipes out mountains of junk being pumped into the mind by the mass media and supermarket universities. The belief in a serene and generous fulfillment of natural loving desires destroys ideologies which blind, maim and repress — and points the way to a kind of community which would amaze “moralists” and transform armies of men who are fighters because they cannot be lovers.

The mercy of the West has been social revolution; the mercy of the East has been individual insight into the basic self/void. We need both. They are both contained in the traditional three aspects of the Dharma path: wisdom (prajna), meditation (dhyana), and morality (sila). Wisdom is intuitive knowledge of the mind of love and clarity that lies beneath one’s ego-driven anxieties and aggressions. Meditation is going into the mind to see this for yourself — over and over again, until it becomes the mind you live in. Morality is bringing it back out in the way you live, through personal example and responsible action, ultimately toward the true community (sangha) of “all beings.”


Source : http://www.bopsecrets.org/CF/garysnyder.htm
"A 'position', Vaccha, is something that a Tathagata has done away with." - MN 72

rob h
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Re: Buddhist Anarchism

Postby rob h » Sun Mar 10, 2013 7:00 pm

To add something else concerning anarchism, incase there's any confusion :

There is probably more rubbish talked about anarchism than any other political idea. Actually, it has nothing to do with a belief in chaos, death and destruction. Anarchists do not normally carry bombs, nor do they ascribe any virtue to beating up old ladies.

It is no accident that the sinister image of the mad anarchist is so accepted. The State, the press and all the assorted authoritarian types, use every means at their disposal to present anarchy as an unthinkable state of carnage and chaos. We can expect little else from power-mongers who would have no power to monger if we had our way. They have to believe that authority and obedience are essential in order to justify their own crimes to themselves. The TV, press and films all preach obedience, and when anarchy is mentioned at all, it is presented as mindless destruction.


Source : http://www.radical.org.uk/anarchism/


Also :

Professor Chomsky said if anarchy meant questioning authority and demanding the truth, then everyone should be anarchic.

"In that sense I think everyone should be an anarchist," he said, in response to heavy applause from the audience.

Anarchism should not be viewed in a negative light, Prof Chomsky said.

"It's not the conception of anarchism as people running wild and breaking windows.

"In our age we have to overcome the barriers introduced by the ranks of capitalism and corporate capitalism and I think there is some sense in that, at the core of the anarchist tradition ... is to ask and raise questions about authority, hierarchy and domination.

"And if it cannot justify itself, then it should be dismantled. That's the core principle of anarchism."


Source : http://www.news.com.au/breaking-news/anarchy-rules-ok-chomsky-tells-australia/story-e6frfku0-1226184908524#ixzz2KVvbm3Ad
"A 'position', Vaccha, is something that a Tathagata has done away with." - MN 72

Kim O'Hara
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Re: Buddhist Anarchism

Postby Kim O'Hara » Mon Mar 11, 2013 3:16 am

rob h wrote:This was written by Gary Snyder in 1961, and still seems to make perfect sense. I didn't even know who he was until I read this after researching recently, but think it's easily one of the best things I've read in a while.

The person who wrote the article was apparently fine with any nonprofit reposting of this, but will just link a few paragraphs anyway and you can check the page if you want to read more. (the terms and conditions here says no reposting of entire articles, not sure how that applies if there's no copyright, but will just paste a few paragraphs either way.)

No one today can afford to be innocent, or indulge himself in ignorance of the nature of contemporary governments, politics and social orders. The national polities of the modern world maintain their existence by deliberately fostered craving and fear: monstrous protection rackets. The “free world” has become economically dependent on a fantastic system of stimulation of greed which cannot be fulfilled, sexual desire which cannot be satiated and hatred which has no outlet except against oneself, the persons one is supposed to love, or the revolutionary aspirations of pitiful, poverty-stricken marginal societies like Cuba or Vietnam. The conditions of the Cold War have turned all modern societies — Communist included — into vicious distorters of man’s true potential. They create populations of “preta” — hungry ghosts, with giant appetites and throats no bigger than needles. The soil, the forests and all animal life are being consumed by these cancerous collectivities; the air and water of the planet is being fouled by them.

The joyous and voluntary poverty of Buddhism becomes a positive force. The traditional harmlessness and refusal to take life in any form has nation-shaking implications. The practice of meditation, for which one needs only “the ground beneath one’s feet,” wipes out mountains of junk being pumped into the mind by the mass media and supermarket universities. The belief in a serene and generous fulfillment of natural loving desires destroys ideologies which blind, maim and repress — and points the way to a kind of community which would amaze “moralists” and transform armies of men who are fighters because they cannot be lovers.

The mercy of the West has been social revolution; the mercy of the East has been individual insight into the basic self/void. We need both. They are both contained in the traditional three aspects of the Dharma path: wisdom (prajna), meditation (dhyana), and morality (sila). Wisdom is intuitive knowledge of the mind of love and clarity that lies beneath one’s ego-driven anxieties and aggressions. Meditation is going into the mind to see this for yourself — over and over again, until it becomes the mind you live in. Morality is bringing it back out in the way you live, through personal example and responsible action, ultimately toward the true community (sangha) of “all beings.”


Source : http://www.bopsecrets.org/CF/garysnyder.htm

:thumbsup:
Good stuff - thanks!
I knew and liked some of Snyder's writing from years ago but recently read that his thinking moved towards what we would call engaged Buddhism with an environmental focus. I haven't yet tracked down those books/articles, but this extract makes me even more inclined to do so.

:namaste:
Kim

randomseb
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Re: Buddhist Anarchism

Postby randomseb » Wed Mar 20, 2013 2:22 pm

Personally I.think some form of anarcho-communism would be most fitting to buddhism (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anarchist_communism) or some future system incorporating good aspects of all current systems, something like described in the Red/Green/Blue Mars novels,.Let's say. But in the West we have this irrational fear of anything with the term communism, because of the abuses of what amounted to dictator run so called "communism" examples that we have had in recent centuries.
Disclaimer: If I have posted about something, then I obviously have no idea what I am talking about!

gordtheseeker
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Re: Buddhist Anarchism

Postby gordtheseeker » Wed Mar 20, 2013 10:15 pm

The joyous and voluntary poverty of Buddhism becomes a positive force. The traditional harmlessness and refusal to take life in any form has nation-shaking implications. The practice of meditation, for which one needs only “the ground beneath one’s feet,” wipes out mountains of junk being pumped into the mind by the mass media and supermarket universities. The belief in a serene and generous fulfillment of natural loving desires destroys ideologies which blind, maim and repress — and points the way to a kind of community which would amaze “moralists” and transform armies of men who are fighters because they cannot be lovers.


Great words there. :thumbsup:

Leo Rivers
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Re: Buddhist Anarchism

Postby Leo Rivers » Thu Mar 21, 2013 7:04 pm

Please see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uchiyama_Gudo

and read the chapter about Uchiyama Gudo in "Zen at War. He was a Social Activist Anarchist.
Victoria, Brian (1998).Zen at War . Weatherhill.
http://www.amazon.com/Zen-at-War-2nd-Edition/dp/0742539261

He used the Lotus Sutra in a good way.

For my own take...


In an important sense I am an anarchist.

Strictly speaking I do not accept the idea that by birth, (royalty), or bestowal of privilege, (knighthood), that some individual or class is better in nature or more deserving of the proceeds of a society than any other. I do not accept a monARCHY in either a classical or economic sense.

More essentially, I hold no religion (dogma), or allegiance (state) above the obligations of my Conscience.

Buddhism, eschewing Caste as arbitrary and autonomy as a good thing, is naturally anarchic.

Most Southeast Asian nations and Japan in WW II proved the Buddhist idea of self wrought karma and the Yogacara idea of goetra (lineage) can be perverted to justify abandoning classes of the unfortunate to "their fate by karma" and empowering an arrogant caste of "Bodhisattvas" to murder peoples “for their own good” (so they don’t do more wrong minded things). Horrifying rubbish. The worst of self justifying sh*t.

Buddhist anarchism being focused on “self taming” naturally eschews Marxist "us verses them" rhetoric and "ends justify the means" rhetoric.

Social obligation in the modern sense of social activism is a wholesome extension of Buddhist Bodhisattva motivation where frankly it never existed before the Modern Era.

That's why for me as an atheist I can accept the reality that previous Buddhist teachers, including Sakyamuni, might need expanding upon (or even correcting!) without having to rationalize all famous Buddhist sutras and famous Buddhist teachers into a single all embracing explanation-scaffolding that makes them all "right", even if only in the sense of being provisional teachings.

Buddhism being a human endeavor is a work of perfection in progress. Buddhism being an ultimate expression of ethical autonomy and conscience is by nature an engaged anarchism.

Leo

Johnny Dangerous
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Re: Buddhist Anarchism

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Thu Mar 21, 2013 7:56 pm

It warms my heart (actually probably just reinforces my own biases lol) to know that there are others who see Buddhism and leftish anarchist ideas as complimentary.
"We're chained to the world and we all gotta pull" -Tom Waits

Leo Rivers
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Re: Buddhist Anarchism

Postby Leo Rivers » Thu Mar 21, 2013 8:55 pm

Buddhism, eschewing Caste as arbitrary and autonomy as a good thing, is naturally anarchic.
should be Buddhism, eschewing Caste as arbitrary and viewing autonomy as a good thing, is naturally anarchic.

:oops:

Kim O'Hara
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Re: Buddhist Anarchism

Postby Kim O'Hara » Thu Mar 21, 2013 9:25 pm

Leo Rivers wrote:
Buddhism, eschewing Caste as arbitrary and autonomy as a good thing, is naturally anarchic.
should be Buddhism, eschewing Caste as arbitrary and viewing autonomy as a good thing, is naturally anarchic.

:oops:

It's okay :consoling:
We knew what you meant ... and agreed with it, too. :smile:

:namaste:
Kim

dyanaprajna2011
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Re: Buddhist Anarchism

Postby dyanaprajna2011 » Sun Mar 24, 2013 12:33 pm

It's really hard to pinpoint an exact political ideology that could be associated with Buddhism or the Buddha's teachings, especially his ethical teachings, but I've always been inclined to see the political leanings of Buddhism as anarcho-socialist. I'm not sure how many would agree with this, but that's just my humble opinion.
"If you want to travel the Way of Buddhas and Zen masters, then expect nothing, seek nothing, and grasp nothing." -Dogen

kirtu
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Re: Buddhist Anarchism

Postby kirtu » Sun Mar 24, 2013 12:39 pm

dyanaprajna2011 wrote:... but I've always been inclined to see the political leanings of Buddhism as anarcho-socialist.


As always Shakyamuni Buddha's teaching stands outside of world systems but he was always encouraging people to give to others and esp. to fields of merit first and then aid the poor, sick and destitute and he did that himself for many, many lifetimes as shown in the Jataka stories.

Kirt
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Kim O'Hara
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Re: Buddhist Anarchism

Postby Kim O'Hara » Sat Jul 20, 2013 3:28 am

kirtu wrote:
dyanaprajna2011 wrote:... but I've always been inclined to see the political leanings of Buddhism as anarcho-socialist.


As always Shakyamuni Buddha's teaching stands outside of world systems but he was always encouraging people to give to others and esp. to fields of merit first and then aid the poor, sick and destitute and he did that himself for many, many lifetimes as shown in the Jataka stories.

Kirt

And that, IMHO, makes him some variety of leftie in today's terms.
But he was no radical wanting to tear down the whole social system and rebuild it from the ground up. In fact, he didn't, AFAIK, advocate any wholesale social changes - he just encouraged people to behave better within the existing structure.
What he would have said in the face of our military dictatorships, "ethnic cleansing", entrenched government corruption, etc, is anyone's guess. I like to think he would have encouraged participatory-democracy groups like Avaaz http://www.avaaz.org/en/highlights.php/ and GetUp! https://www.getup.org.au/campaigns.

:namaste:
Kim

dyanaprajna2011
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Re: Buddhist Anarchism

Postby dyanaprajna2011 » Mon Jul 22, 2013 12:42 pm

Kim O'Hara wrote:
kirtu wrote:
dyanaprajna2011 wrote:... but I've always been inclined to see the political leanings of Buddhism as anarcho-socialist.


As always Shakyamuni Buddha's teaching stands outside of world systems but he was always encouraging people to give to others and esp. to fields of merit first and then aid the poor, sick and destitute and he did that himself for many, many lifetimes as shown in the Jataka stories.

Kirt

And that, IMHO, makes him some variety of leftie in today's terms.
But he was no radical wanting to tear down the whole social system and rebuild it from the ground up. In fact, he didn't, AFAIK, advocate any wholesale social changes - he just encouraged people to behave better within the existing structure.
What he would have said in the face of our military dictatorships, "ethnic cleansing", entrenched government corruption, etc, is anyone's guess. I like to think he would have encouraged participatory-democracy groups like Avaaz http://www.avaaz.org/en/highlights.php/ and GetUp! https://www.getup.org.au/campaigns.

:namaste:
Kim


This is a good point. It's something I've put a little thought in from time to time. He was more concerned with changing the individual, rather than the whole system. Personally, I've tried to find a good political philosophy to lean towards, basing, as much as possible, on the Buddha's teachings. Because of this, I'm increasingly starting to lean Green.
"If you want to travel the Way of Buddhas and Zen masters, then expect nothing, seek nothing, and grasp nothing." -Dogen

Kim O'Hara
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Re: Buddhist Anarchism

Postby Kim O'Hara » Sun Jul 28, 2013 2:42 am

:thumbsup: dyanaprajna2011 :smile:
It's a problem, isn't it? Mainstream politics usually gives us only two or three choices of affiliation and - quite often - none of them align with good values on a majority of issues.
If we don't somehow participate in "the system", we can't do anything to improve it. To me, that is a failure of compassion, often arising from defeatism (for instance, see the climate change thread, http://www.dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.php?f=42&t=6973&start=40#p137747, if you have plenty of spare time to read it).
If we do want to participate, we either have to work within an established group, and put up with those policies we don't agree with, or work outside all groups and miss out on the leverage, encouragement and sense of community that groups can give us.
I have ended up not becoming an official member of any political party or pressure group but participating in campaigns by Avaaz, GetUp! and environmental groups like WWF. When elections come round, I always vote and always vote leftish, most often Green.

:namaste:
Kim

Ramon1920
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Re: Buddhist Anarchism

Postby Ramon1920 » Sun Jul 28, 2013 3:41 pm

Please keep your politics and Buddhism separate so we don't become a target for your political rivals. :coffee:

Guerrilla movements are fine, but if you start associating it with Buddhism then Buddhism becomes an easy target. Take the persecution of Buddhists that happened and continues to some degree in China. Take the massacre of Burmese monks just a few years ago. Modern governments have no problem targeting the religious.

Kim O'Hara
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Re: Buddhist Anarchism

Postby Kim O'Hara » Sun Jul 28, 2013 10:11 pm

Ramon1920 wrote:Please keep your politics and Buddhism separate so we don't become a target for your political rivals. :coffee:

Guerrilla movements are fine, but if you start associating it with Buddhism then Buddhism becomes an easy target. Take the persecution of Buddhists that happened and continues to some degree in China. Take the massacre of Burmese monks just a few years ago. Modern governments have no problem targeting the religious.

Hi, Ramon,
YMMV, of course, but here in Australia there is zero likelihood of persecution resembling the instances that you mention.
I still don't go around saying, "I'm a Buddhist so I vote Green," or anything like that, simply because my beliefs - political or religious - are no-one else's business. On the other hand, I don't hide the connection in a discussion (like this) where it is relevant.

:namaste:
Kim

dzoki
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Re: Buddhist Anarchism

Postby dzoki » Wed Aug 14, 2013 7:06 pm

I am not sure that I would like to live in an anarchist society.The problem with anarchist society is that it is a little too loose and this problem is not on the side of an anarchist society itself, but from the outside of it. Let´s imagine an area where this society would live. This area would still be very likely surrounded by a regular states be it democratic republics, fascist dicatorships, monarchies, oligarchies etc. In any case i am sure that regardless of their system these outer countries would try to subdue under whatever pretext this anarchist land. Anarchist society being built out of smaller loosely connected self-reliant communities might not be able to withstand such attempts of domination from the outside countries.
In my mind the ideal society could be a small absolutist monarchy ruled by a buddha. Another option that comes to my mind would be a libertarian constitutional republic. In any case, whether anarchist community or absolutist monarchy, the amount of individual freedom and prosperity always depends on karma of its inhabitants. What I see as a worldly freedom is how much one can travel, sell, buy etc. in other words how many activities one can do without government poking its nose into it and limiting it by restrictions and regulations. There can be an absolutist monarchy where the subjects have much more freedom than citizens of most democratic democracy. However nowadays it seems that very few people on this planet are free from shackles of bureaucracy and out of those there are not many that are making any use of their positive situation in dharmic sense.

Zhen Li
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Re: Buddhist Anarchism

Postby Zhen Li » Thu Dec 12, 2013 7:58 pm

dzoki wrote:There can be an absolutist monarchy where the subjects have much more freedom than citizens of most democratic democracy. However nowadays it seems that very few people on this planet are free from shackles of bureaucracy and out of those there are not many that are making any use of their positive situation in dharmic sense.

In many senses, the most free societies in history were those ruled by enlightened despots.

Not only does an enlightened despotist regime have absolute sovereignty - there's no black and white with regards to who owns what - but the individual in charge will run it like a business, working for profit maximization meaning that everyone will tend to have improvements in their standard of living. The closest we can see to this in the modern world are societies like HK, Singapore, or Dubai, run in subsidiarity or by a family, and they tend to be the most successful of all. If the world consisted of absolute monarchies, and you were given the freedom of exit from each polity, choosing to contribute and pay taxes to the enlightened despot of your choice, you more or less have the right/duty to vote with your feet. It all seems like a very congenial idea to my mind.

Kim O'Hara
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Re: Buddhist Anarchism

Postby Kim O'Hara » Thu Dec 12, 2013 10:00 pm

Zhen Li wrote:
dzoki wrote:There can be an absolutist monarchy where the subjects have much more freedom than citizens of most democratic democracy. However nowadays it seems that very few people on this planet are free from shackles of bureaucracy and out of those there are not many that are making any use of their positive situation in dharmic sense.

In many senses, the most free societies in history were those ruled by enlightened despots.

Not only does an enlightened despotist regime have absolute sovereignty - there's no black and white with regards to who owns what - but the individual in charge will run it like a business, working for profit maximization meaning that everyone will tend to have improvements in their standard of living. The closest we can see to this in the modern world are societies like HK, Singapore, or Dubai, run in subsidiarity or by a family, and they tend to be the most successful of all. If the world consisted of absolute monarchies, and you were given the freedom of exit from each polity, choosing to contribute and pay taxes to the enlightened despot of your choice, you more or less have the right/duty to vote with your feet. It all seems like a very congenial idea to my mind.

Please think about this a bit more, Zhen Li.
"They tend to be the most successful of all" only by an extraordinarily narrow and un-compassionate - therefore anti-Buddhist - set of measurements, i.e., GDP and the wealth of the richest individuals.

:jedi:
Kim

reddust
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Re: Buddhist Anarchism

Postby reddust » Thu Dec 12, 2013 10:17 pm

One of my favorite essays on Anarchy is by Bob Black….

You ever feel like going to work is wrong, just feels really wrong, this guy goes straight to the heart of the matter and his essay really resonates with me. Come on let's play :twothumbsup:

In the essay Black argues for the abolition of the producer- and consumer-based society, where, Black contends, all of life is devoted to the production and consumption of commodities. Attacking Marxist state socialism as much as Liberal capitalism, Black argues that the only way for humans to be free is to reclaim their time from jobs and employment, instead turning necessary subsistence tasks into free play done voluntarily – an approach referred to as "ludic". The essay argues that "no-one should ever work", because work - defined as compulsory productive activity enforced by economic or political means – is the source of most of the misery in the world. Black denounces work for its compulsion, and for the forms it takes – as subordination to a boss, as a "job" which turns a potentially enjoyable task into a meaningless chore, for the degradation imposed by systems of work-discipline, and for the large number of work-related deaths and injuries – which Black characterizes as homicide. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Abolition_of_Work
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