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Politics and The Personal: What Does Buddhism Teac…

February 26th, 2006 Leave a comment Go to 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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