Buddhist ethics at a national level

A forum for discussion of Buddhist ethics.

Re: Buddhist ethics at a national level

Postby Wayfarer » Tue Aug 06, 2013 12:57 am

Indrajala wrote:In a dog eat dog world, I can't really see Buddhist values being appropriate at a national level. It would possibly prove quite disastrous if you were in any kind of position of power or not protected by a big brother.


I think that the political model suggested by Buddhist ethics was well anticiplated in E F Schumaker's classic Small is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered. The main themes of this book, which has been in print since initial publication in 1973, is on sustainability and community-level economics and development. I suppose Mohamed Ynuis' 'micro-banking' initiative might have drawn on that model to some extent.

I think the best overall political model for this development is a hybrid of democratic socialism and 'small-l' liberalism, without stifling innovation on the one hand, whilst restraining the excesses of Big Capitalism on the other.

Of course in many ways it is an impossible dream as we are so overpowered by massive corporations, super-powers and immense populations all over the world.

I also agree there will often be a disparity between a conscientious system of values and the demands of 'real-politik' in a dangerous and unstable world. That is why, as you well know, it pays not to be too attached to anything, although that is much easier said than done.
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Re: Buddhist ethics at a national level

Postby Indrajala » Tue Aug 06, 2013 2:21 am

jeeprs wrote:Of course in many ways it is an impossible dream as we are so overpowered by massive corporations, super-powers and immense populations all over the world.

I also agree there will often be a disparity between a conscientious system of values and the demands of 'real-politik' in a dangerous and unstable world. That is why, as you well know, it pays not to be too attached to anything, although that is much easier said than done.


That's why talking about alternative models that don't take into account reality are fruitless endeavours.

For example, micro-nations are a nice idea in theory, but if you try to break away from big brother you'll probably be punished severely. On the other hand, you could form small communes and pay token homage to the state while trying to have as little to do with it as possible.
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Re: Buddhist ethics at a national level

Postby Indrajala » Tue Aug 06, 2013 2:23 am

Astus wrote:I believe it is possible to have the law of non-violence and other basic Buddhist values govern a society. That's what the rule of a Cakravartin is about. And while there are wars on Earth even now, billions of people live in peace.


We're in a temporary period of relative stability. History works in cycles. The first half of the 20th century was chaotic and turbulent for most people in the world. That was only in our grandfather's generation, too.

After WWII things largely settled down all things considered, but a sense of security is the first step to disaster.
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Re: Buddhist ethics at a national level

Postby Zhen Li » Tue Aug 06, 2013 3:25 am

Buddhist should offer advice to politicians, but not meddle. Buddhists shouldn't be in the business of revolution.
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Re: Buddhist ethics at a national level

Postby shaunc » Tue Aug 06, 2013 7:10 am

kirtu wrote:
shaunc wrote:... but the fact of the matter is that occasionally I have to box on with the best of them.


What exactly do you mean by this? You are saying that "circumstances" force you to depart from the five precepts? What circumstances other than saving a being's life could possibly do this?

Kirt


Feeding a family often requires some resourceful thinking. Exaggerating qualifications & experience to prospective employers, small cash jobs that you don't pay tax on. Killing vermin. False compliments to people in the hope of more work.
Sometimes in this world Kirt, you got to do what you got to do. I'm pleased to hear that you can live your life without ever breaking any of the 5 precepts.
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Re: Buddhist ethics at a national level

Postby Astus » Tue Aug 06, 2013 10:58 am

Nations don't exist outside of the imagination of people. Nations don't make decisions, nations don't do anything, only people do. And people simply means many individual humans. Ethical behaviour is possible only for individuals, because they can make choices and have views. If a person identifies with the concept of a nation it is accepting a community as one's own, and that includes the rules of that community. It is subjecting oneself to an ideology, the ideology of nationhood. This ideology can be used by those who are accepted as leaders within the same framework of community. Whether nations "do" this or that depends on each person's thinking. Since many are happy to relinquish the burden of thinking for himself in matters that don't directly concern him, leaders are invested with making decisions for those. But again, leaders are humans just like everyone else, and they make decisions based on their own thinking.

Buddhism exists also on the ideological level. And just as people can believe in nationhood, they can also do that with Buddhism. Of course, it has to be simple and easy, because unless one has strong interest in something, they don't care to ponder about abstract doctrines. That killing and stealing is bad is generally self-evident for everyone. The trick is that people can always come up with exceptions, or don't think of something as actually murder or theft. There is also a huge lack of general understanding about how emotions could be correctly managed. And it is this area, handling emotions, where Buddhism can provide useful and practical methods. But first it is important to establish the idea that emotions can actually be managed.

Jumping to unclear concepts of metaphysical entities like nations makes one lose sight of the daily reality. As I said, nations don't actually do anything, therefore they can't have any ethics either. Only living people can act in ethical and unethical ways.
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Re: Buddhist ethics at a national level

Postby Kim O'Hara » Tue Aug 06, 2013 12:15 pm

Astus wrote:Nations don't exist outside of the imagination of people. Nations don't make decisions, nations don't do anything, only people do. And people simply means many individual humans. Ethical behaviour is possible only for individuals, because they can make choices and have views. If a person identifies with the concept of a nation it is accepting a community as one's own, and that includes the rules of that community. It is subjecting oneself to an ideology, the ideology of nationhood. This ideology can be used by those who are accepted as leaders within the same framework of community. Whether nations "do" this or that depends on each person's thinking. Since many are happy to relinquish the burden of thinking for himself in matters that don't directly concern him, leaders are invested with making decisions for those. But again, leaders are humans just like everyone else, and they make decisions based on their own thinking.

:good:

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Re: Buddhist ethics at a national level

Postby MaitriYNOD » Tue Aug 06, 2013 7:45 pm

Indrajala wrote:
yegyal wrote:What is more appropriate for a monk, to renounce samsara or justify it?


That's irrelevant to this discussion.

The ethics of a monk are totally different from the ethics of running a nation.


As a monk and practitioner, why do you concern yourself with the ethics of running a nation? You don't run a nation.

Also, while he has never really had the opportunity to govern functional sovereign nation, the present Dalai Lama has done a bang up job of wielding tremendous political power in an ethical fashion. What it sounds like you're saying is that given the general state of affairs, such a model would not be efficacious, as it would quickly be victimized by less morally upright interests. I think you're absolutely right. This is why politics should be an objeect of renunciation for a practitioner in this particular time and world system.
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Re: Buddhist ethics at a national level

Postby Indrajala » Wed Aug 07, 2013 2:59 am

MaitriYNOD wrote:As a monk and practitioner, why do you concern yourself with the ethics of running a nation? You don't run a nation.


The bodhisattva ideal entails understanding reality and actively engaging the world so as to positively benefit beings. In order to do this you need facts, knowledge and references.

It is also a question of ethics, which I should have an opinion about.

I don't have to justify my interests to you in any case.


This is why politics should be an objeect of renunciation for a practitioner in this particular time and world system.


Easy to say that when you live in a first world country.
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Re: Buddhist ethics at a national level

Postby bleak » Wed Aug 07, 2013 6:33 am

First of all, the founding fathers clearly designed the Constitution as a "law of the land;" NOT as a law and religion of the land.

Having said that, let me ask you, which particular elitist mind control program has you so twisted at the root that you come up with a statement like the following...
Indrajala wrote:With respect to lying, a government has to regularly do this to keep the population in check. Honesty and transparency don't really work. You need some level of propaganda, too, to keep the masses on the right track. If you don't do it, then someone else hostile to you will have their own propaganda and benefit from your own lack of skilled lying.

That is absurd. You must not be aware of any history (especially the USA) that points to the incredible suffering and degradation that this kind of mindless compliance leads to. You seem to be saying (and correct me if I'm wrong) that what you are told by the government and it's tool, mainstream media, is truthful and factual. Let me clue you in to something. It is not. In fact, the depth of deceit and treachery is so deep that millions have died because of it. And millions more will die if something isn't done about it.

So if your idea of "reality" is getting told what IS by a bunch of multi-generational trillionaires who live in comfort and luxury while the rest of us are literally dying from their forced agenda for a less populated earth, you'd really better unplug the TV and start meditating more because, IMO, you are truly a LOST SOUL right now. Stop being complacent, compliant, and complicate and start being MORE concerned about what is really taking place in the world. It's not something the Buddha would buy into like you have. Not even close. Because, if anything, Buddha stood (or sat) for Truth. You don't hear ANY truth on the news. It's all lie after lie after lie. Either one of omission, half truths (to make the lie more believable), or flat-out bold-faced LIES. Please stop being so naive and gullible. It hurts ALL of us who are aware and awake to the perpetuation of their hidden agenda.
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Re: Buddhist ethics at a national level

Postby Indrajala » Wed Aug 07, 2013 6:53 am

bleak wrote:First of all, the founding fathers clearly designed the Constitution as a "law of the land;" NOT as a law and religion of the land.


Lovely. But not all of us are Americans.


You seem to be saying (and correct me if I'm wrong) that what you are told by the government and it's tool, mainstream media, is truthful and factual. Let me clue you in to something. It is not. In fact, the depth of deceit and treachery is so deep that millions have died because of it. And millions more will die if something isn't done about it.


Where did I say that? You need to reread what I wrote.

I'm quite aware that what the state and media say are often well developed lies, but nevertheless to keep a country running you probably need to have some amount of propaganda, because if you don't your enemies will use that opportunity to undermine your legitimacy.

What I'm saying is that a government in order to be successful and fend off the soft power of opponents inevitably needs to lie. This isn't a good thing, but the survival of the state probably requires it. There is the ideal where everyone would be honest and transparent, but in real life it doesn't work like that.

Look at it this way. There were a lot of pro-communist movements in North America in the 20s and 30s. The state had to basically fight their propaganda with their own. In reality both sides had their own vested interests to attend to, but nevertheless the survival of the elites and their state were at stake, so they couldn't sit on their hands. Was that right or wrong? That's a bit too subjective. It was clearly in the interests of enough people to smash down communist movements in North America. If they hadn't, especially in the dirty thirties, there might have been revolution or some kind of violent revolt that would have cost a lot of lives.


You don't hear ANY truth on the news. It's all lie after lie after lie.


Well not 100% lies. But the lies serve a function. That isn't to justify it or say it is right, but nevertheless there is a utility to lying which consolidates resources and leads to cohesion amongst the population. You see it in China. If it wasn't for the propaganda machine, the people might easily revolt in some regions, which would lead to a lot of needless casualties and economic damage. The propaganda is calculated as a necessary evil I imagine. You might argue it is the elites trying to secure their place and position at the top, which is true to some degree, but the common people get a piece of the pie, too.

The truth might actually do more harm than good, especially in a liberal democracy which purportedly values human rights. If you had to tell America that foreign oil reserves needed to be secured through violence to ensure they can continue living the decadent lifestyles they enjoy, they might not feel so comfortable. On the other hand, if you tell them it is about peace and democracy, it makes most people compliant. In any case, they enjoy a portion of unearned wealth from abroad, so they won't complain too much.


It hurts ALL of us who are aware and awake to the perpetuation of their hidden agenda.


Elites have their limitations. In fact, they compete with each other which actually leads to problems at the ground level (i.e., common people suffer). It is better to have a strong and unified section of elites capably running a country than a fractured free for all. In return they get a posh lifestyle, but then being an elite comes with a lot of dangers. I don't have any problems with suitably rewarding capable leadership.

It isn't the 1% that require the lies and propaganda. It is the rest of the population which gets a chunk of unearned wealth and has to be placated when it doesn't come on time.

If you are a citizen of a western country, you actually get part of the unearned wealth gained through NATO operations in the ME. The fact that most of our countries are debt ridden yet still continue enjoying very high standards of living says something.
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Re: Buddhist ethics at a national level

Postby bleak » Wed Aug 07, 2013 8:07 am

You're not getting what I'm saying. Let me use a specific example. 9/11. In your opinion, what happened on 9/11? Who is responsible for 9/11? Let me know that so there is some kind of base to use.
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Re: Buddhist ethics at a national level

Postby Indrajala » Wed Aug 07, 2013 8:26 am

bleak wrote:You're not getting what I'm saying. Let me use a specific example. 9/11. In your opinion, what happened on 9/11? Who is responsible for 9/11? Let me know that so there is some kind of base to use.


It was clearly a conspiracy crafted by our reptilian alien overlords to enslave humanity. David Icke has explained it all quite well.

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Re: Buddhist ethics at a national level

Postby bleak » Wed Aug 07, 2013 8:45 am

LOL. Yeah, that's just what I expected. OK, just tell me a couple of things then to set the record straight. Why did Building Seven fall? Where is the wreckage from flights 77 (DC) and 93 (Shanksville)? Show me THOSE pics, smart guy.

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Re: Buddhist ethics at a national level

Postby kirtu » Thu Aug 08, 2013 6:44 pm

Indrajala wrote:
kirtu wrote:Greenland has never been in a war. Iceland withdrew from the Iraqi War and does not need the US or UK for a protective umbrella (at least not since the end of the Cold War). It is true that with a single exception, Buddhist countries without militarizes disappeared. But after the 20th century we can try again to live in peace without the naked worship of force.

Kirt


Indrajala wrote:Their populations and economies combined, they are largely irrelevant in the world.


In your original posting(s) you didn't address yourself to a population or significance limit. Your statement was essentially that no nations could live by Buddhist precepts. Greenland and Iceland (and a few other nations) come close.

They are both still under the protective umbrella of NATO, which is comprised of nations which do use a lot of naked force to get what they want.


In general NATO does not use a lot of naked force. The US does and some other leading nations go along. NATO in fact refused to stop genocide on European soil when they should have until the US guaranteed intervention (Serbian/Croatian/Balkan Wars 1989-1995). The US used naked force with NATO also only twice - the First and Second American-Iraqi Wars.

Both are relatively very new nations and it wasn't so long ago were occupied during WWII.


Greenland is a new country. However it's native populations culture is millennia long. Iceland is not a new nation. It is the world's oldest democracy (it beat Switzerland by about 200 years). Neither we occupied during WWII (unless you are referring to the US/UK forces that they invited to establish bases - not the usual use of the term "occupied").

You can suggest we try to live in peace, but that's easy when you're sitting in a first world country without predatory neighbours or in a region with increasingly scarce essential resources like water.


It's true that most nations at peace and without a history of warfare are in fact isolate places.

On a world with finite resources there will never be peace. There can only be periods of relative stability, which will then falter resulting in bloodshed, genocides, war, atrocities, famine and so forth.


Resources are not that limited. Humankind can eliminate famine and hunger and overt war easily. We don't because the elites don't want to and most people think it can't be done.

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Re: Buddhist ethics at a national level

Postby kirtu » Thu Aug 08, 2013 6:57 pm

bleak wrote:First of all, the founding fathers clearly designed the Constitution as a "law of the land;" NOT as a law and religion of the land.


Legal redress in the US is severely limited. People with lower status and power get run over daily here. And it goes on for centuries in some cases. The case of African-Americans is the archetypal example for this. It only took ~188 yrs for African-Americans to be declared legally equal to other citizens with the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

I had a friend who had a promising career in the State Department before it became known that he was Gay. His career was derailed after that. He tried to fight it through legal action and kept insisting that the US was "a nation of Laws and not Men". Too late did he discover that the US is a nation of men and women who use the laws to advance their own agenda, and they are largely successful in doing so.

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Re: Buddhist ethics at a national level

Postby Jigme Tsultrim » Sat Dec 07, 2013 8:34 am

Scientists have confirmed that there are genetically passed memories. Even an aversion to a particular smell can be conditioned and passed through the genes in 2 generations. The nation state is a creature of tribalism and little more. It is a way of our extended family to compete with your extended family over resources. Without regard the various changes brought about over the millenia, the basis remains the same:us versus them. This is hard coded into our genetics.
A look at the presidency of Jimmy Carter supports the OP. Here, a highly ethical man made an at best ineffective president.
I once ask a Lama about how he deals with bad people regarding relations with the outside world. The answer? "We have our bad people talk to their bad people".
The idea that nations can be ruled by the precepts is absurd and dangerous. It attempts to deny the purpose of the state:us and them. There are worse people in the world lusting after the resources of your nation. Personally, I want a guy guarding the borders who will USE his gun, that leaves a zone for me to practice in relative safety.
If the USA had been ruled by the precepts in the 1940's, the world would be far worse off IMO. Of course times are a changin', really? Just wait for the resource wars that are surely coming.
There may be a time when the precepts will guide the world, but none of us will be around that long. For now, letting the Dharma help us rule ourselves is a big enough task for most all of us.
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Re: Buddhist ethics at a national level

Postby oushi » Sat Dec 07, 2013 11:21 am

After WW III , ethics will be redundant for few centuries, as natural compassion will be sufficient for those few survivors. Nowadays, those who want to bring morality at a national level, are simply assassinated.
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Re: Buddhist ethics at a national level

Postby Malcolm » Sat Dec 07, 2013 10:13 pm

Indrajala wrote: Pornography, prostitution and so on...


Sex work is only a vice under patriarchy.

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Re: Buddhist ethics at a national level

Postby Malcolm » Sat Dec 07, 2013 10:44 pm

kirtu wrote:
Legal redress in the US is severely limited.


That is an over-generalization.

In Yankeedom and the Left Coast, things are easier.

You live on the border of the Deep South. Your perspective about the US is heavily colored by the fact that you on the edge the cultural sphere of one of the most brutal, aggressive and repressive societies every known, founded at Charleston by slavers from Barbados.

You should read American Nations (Woodard, 2011) -- it provides the answer for why I generally disagree with your characterizations of the "US". You live in a "US" I never have. I live in a "US" that you don't.

(Ironically, on another note, Obamacare was indirectly hatched by the Heritage Foundation...which is why it is such a cluster...)


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