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Politics and The Personal: What Does Buddhism Teac…

February 26th, 2006 No comments

Politics is not often a subject of Buddhist teachings, however, this does not mean that Buddhist teachings have nothing to say about the subject. Buddhist teachings about peace, compassion, non-violence and the nature of person-hood are all relevant to a our daily world. War and politics intermingle seamlessly as the interface between powerful men. The law as the tool of poltics, and it’s enforcers from judges to prison warders, are the interface between the powerful, the governors, and the governed. The basic dynamic has remained unchanged for milennia.

From parents and schools and churches and company law and accounting and one thousand other namesless enshrined systems, we learn who we are and how we are to be. Politics forms a very significant portion of ego, and to this extent, it is a bad thing. Freud with his fictitious substructures of personality and sytemetised nonsense would have disagreed. The super-ego, he would have argued is what lifts us from barbarity. He was wrong – this is what drives many to break the norms.

Buddhism teaches us to undo ego and hence politics as real forces that dictate our lives. It opens us to be real feeling human beings. Buddhist wouldn’t make great soldiers. To pick up the gun is abhorrent. It is contradictory to the fundamental nature of man. Man is not a “barbaric” creature it is the cage of other peoples ideas that causes the barbaric acts of those driven to the edge. They are the roadkill of power politics and economics that by definition empowers the strong by tappping the poor.

Buddhism teaches that it would be better to spend our energy on solving problems than waging war. It teaches us that peace is a real and virtuous and available place, personally and politically. It teaches that compassion grows from your own awareness and that you can grow your awareness. And that compassion leads to outer and inner peace. As a practical philosophy Buddhism says a lot about the nature of our society and its ways, even though aimed principally at self transformation.

Buddhism has always been a personal and political issue for me. I have never separated the two ends. This site has included many political stories and themes and they are interwoven with the personal ones and with Buddhist Dhamma (”teachings”). I was therefore quite chuffed today to discover I am nominated for a “Blogissattva” Award It is of course an ego-thing to be quite chuffed – but never mind; “You can’t win em all”.

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The Met: It’s Official: “We’re Useless” *

February 21st, 2006 No comments

I got a visit today from the local Community Police Team. They explained that, without identifying me to my neighbour, they had asked him to refrain from harrassing behaviour towards neighbours and he had promised to stay away from me.

Later I telephoned to ask how they could resolve those two statements. They said he had made allegations about me and the official decision was that it was best left alone as no allegation could be substantiated.

He weighs 18 stones, I weigh nine. He is a diabetic who does not look after his health and is going mad because sugar is dissolving his brain. I have a recording of a phone call in which he states “there is nothing you can do about it. It’s all set up”, and when I ask “so I am going to be beaten up am I?”, he replies “if you want to seee it that way”.

I am a buddhist pacifist. He states “I am only violent when provoked” and has told a friend of mine “I’m gonna put part two of my plan into action. You should stay away from him or my associates might think you are his bodyguard and beat you up as well”. This is because when I told him “We will never be friends. I don’t like to be friends with people who threaten me. Lets leave it at that”, I was “cheeky”.

The C.I.D, having heared the recording think that no action is the best course when an 18 stone nutter with paranoia and a streak for violence and causing problems with a neighbour picks on a 9 stone 6′ rake who is disabled and recieves mobility and care allowances. I am under 6 surgeons at three hospitals: I don’t think I’ll survive a trip to A&E as well.

Luckily A good friend has connections who might ensure a swift high level reappraisal of this absurd situation. If not the council are taking action and I’m going for an injunction, privately, as the police won’t. So it’s official: The Met are completely useless*.

* This is, as usual, a heavy and useful paraphrasement made by an anonymous random phrase generator.

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Welcome To The Age Of Aquarius: The Age Of Freedom

February 17th, 2006 No comments

Broadband, Wifi, Mass Starvation, War, Terrorism: What have these got to do with an age of peace? How can we possibly get from here to there? Where are we, even, and do we have a clue where we need to be?

We are at the cusp of the tide, the turning of an age. The fabulous Mr Fritjof Capra wrote of this some time ago in his masterpiece “The Turning Point”. The book describes in some detail the central themes of the age in which we live. In short one civilisation is ending and another is beginning.

The nature of such discontinuous change is often troublesome. Confusious even had a curse “May you live in interesting times”. It can be said that “interesting” times are usually troublesome for those who live through them. Wars, famine, conflict, resource shortages, these things in all their forms are the marks of a civilisation at end and cause much suffering. Meanwhile others enjoy great wealth, there is a new renaissance in the west of a truer form of personal freedom than has existed in years.

The great faiths, including Catholicism and Islam seem to be engaged in mutual destruction with their exclusive philosophies, thus the people increasingly “go their own way”. People left to themselves are naturally self-balancing, to a point, and thus there will be increasing harmony in some places. In others, where the toll of decay and under investment have taken the highest toll on those on the edge there will be increasing madness.

Terrorism will be conquered, not by governments or defence forces, but by the people and the internet, but then so will governments. Politicians and terrorists share with the religious their mutually destructive/exclusive philosophies and this is the nature of the age that is ending.

The win/lose mentality will be history in one hundred years. It is history more and more each day. We are collectively coming to the conclusion that no priest or politician can solve our problems: indeed they are often the proximate cause.

The new mentality could best be called “open”. I am open to you and you to me. And if that open-ness is collectively beneficial we remain so. We are all free to be ourselves, we all learn to be ourselves – it is the age Einstein prophesied of peace harmony and truth through freedom from myth and control.

It is the age that brings you freedom and it is now, and forever. You only have to look inside to find your place in it. And this will change from second to second, moment to moment.

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The Big View

February 17th, 2006 No comments

This is a really, really nice site. Go take a look: experience the big view.

“If life is a journey, then philosophy is like a compass. It helps us to find our way through the jungle of possibilities that life presents.

This website is about philosophy in the widest sense. It includes science, religion, mythology and other fields of thought that are not within the traditional scope of philosophy. However, it makes not much sense to treat these fields separately. Everything is connected. If one views anything from any possible angle, it can only increase understanding.

thebigview.com was established in October 1999 with the idea of rendering a bird’s eye perspective on various philosophical topics, hence, the name. The emphasis is on conciseness. Most people with Internet access are familiar with the problem of information overload. thebigview.com tries to present information succinctly, so that -hopefully- the gist of each topic is preserved, while not much else is said. It is intended for the reader who wants to get an overview of a philosophical topic in a minimum amount of time.

I would like to thank the readers for the overwhelmingly positive feedback. I am still adding material to this site, which means that content will keep growing, although probably at a slow pace. Please feel free to send comments and join our discussion board!

Thomas Knierim
(Editor & Webmaster)”

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Extrapolating Ego and Mentoring Munters

February 10th, 2006 No comments

Meditation, mantras and chants, prayers to the buddhas, the list goes on. There are other ways and means less well explored. Extrapolating the ego, stretching it, exploring it, being it, without let or hesitation is a method which can also lead to beneficial fruition.

There is a line from the Tao Te Ching, one of my favourite books, that says “If you want to be straight, you must let yourself be crooked”. It is an interesting Koan. What does it mean to be straight, what does it mean to be crooked?

These things one must explore and understand for oneself in the various aspects of ego which go to make up the person. Crookedness and straightness can refer equally to aspects of mind as well as body.

I haven’t been posting here for a while. Following five years of celibacy I recently made a democratic informed decision to get laid. To this end I joined a “swingers” website and starting hanging out in the chat room. It’s a world in itself I can tell you.

Having become familiar with the place and how things work, and having not get laid, I have mad some interesting friends. There are people who hang out in these rooms and have a laugh. Some of them probably meet and have sex but they are pretty discrete. There are others called “munters” who run in and out of rooms shouting what would basically be obscenities in any other context but are considered as nothing more than crass in this situation.

People react differently to this , some becoming abusive and others putting the offenders on “iggy”, ignoring them, or trying to be nice, often for a limited period. A few times I have tried a different approach, explaining to the person concerned how their behaviour could be moderated to achieve more friendly responses.

Some don’t like this and some react with interest. Some think a little about it and respond with a changed attitude. People want to learn. You might think you get the dregs of society and those of low social status on these sites but no, they are often well educated and erudite, interesting and charming. I could say that of the regulars at least – though the “munters”, by and large, I can not vouch for: they probably span allsorts.

So I didn’t get laid, but I made some friends with whom I can have a social life of sorts and a place where I can, to a small extent, undertake some Dhammic activity in helping others with their communication skills. Like the Tao said, if you want yourself to be straight you have to let yourself be crooked.

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