Politics and The Buddha-Dharma
by Justin Meserve, Dayton, USA, The Buddhist Channel, Nov 27, 2005
Engaging the positive values of Dharma practice in the political landscape of the world has intrigued me, and occupied a great deal of my thought. I obviously am not the Blessed one himself, and so can never give a definitive answer. I have given the eight fold path sincere attention, and application in my life. So in the interest of open discussion I will offer my two cents for what ever it amounts too.
Before I make my point I will define the causes of stress in my view. Starting with a simple human life; that life will crave land to live on, food to eat, career, romance, status, social acceptance,and so on. Through there whole life they will work very hard for those things to adorn there life,and make it personally meaningful.
Personal stress is felt in part when we all have to labor like a miner smashing, picking, blasting, just for one ounce of worldly pleasure. This becomes a deeper cause for stress when multiplied to encompass all the millions of beings fighting for these things. Individuals form gangs, nations, and such to help dominate the opportunities for these things they crave. This misery, hard work, vexation, pain, grief, despair is what I view as the causes of conflicts, and social problems.
These miseries are painful for me to see, painful to endure, and if I could take a pill and make it all better I would gladly do so. In reading these editorials I do not doubt anyones heart to wish to take that magic pill for the same of everyones well being.
Since I find myself with no magic pill to take I am forced to reason a different strategy. One strategy is to heal the world. I can figure that my emotional pains, metal trouble, and over all personal confusion can end if I heal every one else. The problem with this strategy is not everyone has the ability to see there own craving or see the four noble truths in the world. People are so swept away by there own craving they can never see what a slave they are to it. So this strategy is noble, but at the very best is weak. If this method had power then the Blessed one himself would have become a social crusader, setting up soup kitchens, reforming the government, protesting, after protesting to fix the world and end suffering. The Buddha after obtaining awakening I believe was never going to teach the world exactly because no one would ever believe him.
The second strategy is to calm the fires of your own heart, and seek the bliss that comes via concentration. The Buddha taught ?right concentration? mainly just fostered by 7 other factors. Concentration by definition is secluding the mind to one pointed awareness. Before my mind was able to concentrate I personally needed to nurture wy own emotional wounds with loving-friendly thoughts, morality,building my own sense of dignity, and such.
I believe this is starting to illustrate ?Buddhism? as we all know and love. This craft of the heart,nurturing or own well being, healing or en-flames senses, and gradually leading us to the greater pleasures of tranquility born from secluding inwards, and letting go of our craving. This strategy has much more personal power, and strength.
How does this relate to politics? Politics in my view is nothing less than the governing of the worlds resources, buying, selling, trading. It is also my observation that through out history economics changed rapidly of its own nature, and politics is always playing catch up. Despotism can not govern a feudal economy,and monarchy is in adequate to govern free enterprise. Now we are evolving into a global economy, and once again our political structures need to adapt. It is easy to see the turmoil as society stews, and brews on its political/social evolution.
The ?craft of the heart? dharma practice has no direct relationship with buying, selling, trading, and such. As we all participate in buying, selling, and trading, and also in voting how it wealth is to be redistributed the tranquility, emotional security, wholesome nature, and maturity of understanding will naturally become an agent of blessing to society. The more a persons concentration deepens, and maturity of understanding suffering, and its end I believe those blessings can not be stopped if the person wanted to contain them.
In summary I think the Buddha would say that the relationship of Dharma practice, and economy/politics have no direct relations. A person could be a monk for instance, never engage in politics, and grow to enlightenment.
However in-directly as our hearts mature there will be a natural there will be an active over lap in politics. Although are own maturity of awareness may lead us to apply ourselves in certain skillful directions. Those worldly directions are still ?worldly? and have nothing to to with enlightenment.