Should Religion Get Involved in Politics?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
plwk
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Should Religion Get Involved in Politics?

Postby plwk » Fri Nov 16, 2012 6:22 am


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Sekha
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Re: Should Religion Get Involved in Politics?

Postby Sekha » Fri Nov 16, 2012 7:21 am

Where knowledge ends, religion begins. - B. Disraeli

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James the Giant
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Re: Should Religion Get Involved in Politics?

Postby James the Giant » Fri Nov 16, 2012 10:58 am

One western Ajahn I met quite openly discouraged his bhikkhus from voting. That's going a bit too far I feel. He needn't indulge in talk of kings, etc, to vote.

But actually engaging in politics and supporting political parties? No.
It is shameful what some of the the Sri Lankan sangha have said and done, especially in regards to the war. And more recently, the words of some of the Burmese bhikkhus regarding the Rohingays... totally disgusting, and devoid of humanity.
Their actions bring disrepute on the whole sangha.


But as for resisting an oppressive regime... hmm...
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you will put an end to suffering and stress.

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Dhammanando
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Re: Should Religion Get Involved in Politics?

Postby Dhammanando » Fri Nov 16, 2012 6:06 pm

At 0:40 in the video, Rev. Dhammananda says:

“The Buddha has given this advice: ‘anujaanaami bhikkhave raajaana.m anuvattitu.m’. First advice as the followers of the Buddha: to cooperate with the existing government or law enforced by the government.”


The passage quoted is from one of the Khandhakas of the Vinaya Pitaka. It was spoken after some king (I forget if it was Bimbisara or Pasenadi) had introduced a new calendar. Some bhikkhus approached the Buddha in doubt as to whether they should follow it or stick with the old calendar (e.g., when deciding on the date for entering the rains retreat). The Buddha replied by ruling that bhikkhus should conform to the wishes of kings and made it an offence of wrong-doing not to do so.

Buddhaghosa’s Vinaya Atthakatha qualified the rule by limiting its scope to those wishes of a king that are ‘dhammika’: ‘righteous’, ‘just’, ‘in line with Dhamma’.

So, pace Dhammananda this is not a general piece of advice for “followers of the Buddha”. It’s a Vinaya rule and concerns bhikkhus only.

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daverupa
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Re: Should Religion Get Involved in Politics?

Postby daverupa » Fri Nov 16, 2012 6:13 pm

Another case of political realities in the Vinaya is the second parajika, which defines theft according to the definition used by the government. Indeed, most Vinaya rulings are almost neurotically concerned with making as few social waves as possible, all for the purpose of creating wholesome space for monastics to practice.

Beyond the Pali, we can note that the Mulasarvastivada Vinaya is a huge compendium of a Buddhist response to dharmasastra law, with the same purpose.

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Kim OHara
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Re: Should Religion Get Involved in Politics?

Postby Kim OHara » Fri Nov 16, 2012 11:54 pm


plwk
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Re: Should Religion Get Involved in Politics?

Postby plwk » Sat Nov 17, 2012 3:00 am

Thank you Bhante Dhammanando for that kind elucidation.

sekha, thank you for the scriptural citations and when you refer to 'old man', is that with reference to the late Ven Dr K Sri Dhammananda? And if so, does not proper Buddhist etiquette entail the proper use of appellation for the ordained by the laity?

Yes, James, I can understand those sticky situations but I can't help but to think on how difficult it is on one hand to apply and integrate the Buddha Dhamma in our lives and not include the sphere of national politics as well, although not getting mired as much as possible in the usual dirty games of politicians but for the general social welfare and good governance of the nation, especially as lay Buddhists?

Kim, I try to follow back the original title of the actual poster of video but what I can hope to shed some light for you as how I understand this video is:
a. Buddhism is generally regarded as one of the world's many available religions, yes? So, in this sense, Buddhism is meant as a 'religion'
b. On that note, should its adherents (here encompassing the laity and ordained) be involved in politics?
c. Politics? I should think it refers to the extent of being involved in the general good governance of the country which involves social welfare activism? Though not meant to be an exhaustive definition but I have these two in mind. For example, as a lay Buddhist, being a good citizen of my country, it's my constitutional duty to engage myself in voting for a proper and just government for the country come every national general election at the very least to becoming involved full time as a member of parliament and so forth.
d. So based on the above, the opinions of lay and ordained Buddhists (here with special reference to Theravadins as this is a Theravada Forum) are sought in this matter under 'General Theravada discussion' but non Buddhists are also welcomed to give their input based on their observance on countries where 'Buddhists' are the seeming majority in society. Hope this brief is of some use.

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Kim OHara
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Re: Should Religion Get Involved in Politics?

Postby Kim OHara » Sat Nov 17, 2012 4:35 am


Buckwheat
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Re: Should Religion Get Involved in Politics?

Postby Buckwheat » Sun Nov 18, 2012 6:28 am

It depends on one's motives...

Greed, anger and delusion directed toward gaining power and fame, or wanting to assert that "I am right..." will lead to negative consequences.

Renunciation, goodwill, and harmlessness directed toward affecting positive social change, done skillfully, could lead to some beneficial kammic fruit.

The political system is a tool. It is up to the users to determine the work done with the tool.
Sotthī hontu nirantaraṃ - May you forever be well.

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Jason
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Re: Should Religion Get Involved in Politics?

Postby Jason » Sun Nov 18, 2012 8:38 pm

Personally, I don't think religion should get involved in politics, but people definitely should. While the Buddha clearly discouraged the monastic community from engaging in 'worldly' activities such as politics, I think it's a mistake for lay-followers not to be. For one, politics affects almost every aspect of our lives, and being engaged in our communities and being a part of the political discussion, not to mention being active in broader political movements, is what makes our political systems function more effectively, and how progress, however slow it may sometimes be, is made.

To leave these these kinds of activities and decisions solely in the hands of others, some of whom are slaves to their defilements, isn't wise, in my opinion. And if we choose to live in the world, then I think we at least share some responsibility for shaping it; and it makes sense to have people motivated by things like non-greed, non-aversion, and non-delusion add their voices to the mix, not to mention helping do what they can to fix things like inequality and injustice as long as it's done with a spirit of compassion and harmlessness. The greatest danger of the practice, in my opinion, is the tendency of practitioners to ignore the world around them while seeking their own happiness.

Moreover, just from a practical standpoint, not addressing many of the material conditions giving rise to and supporting society's suffering ultimately serves to help maintain their continued existence (when this is, that is), which can negatively affect our practice, as well as that of others. If the society one lives in isn't conducive to practicing Buddhism, for example, then it does matter what kind of society one lives, so we should naturally try to make it as conducive for ourselves and others as possible. As the Buddha said in , "To reside in a suitable locality, to have done meritorious actions in the past and to set oneself in the right course — this is the greatest blessing."

It'd be great if everyone were free from greed, hatred, and delusion, and everyone treated everyone else with kindness, compassion, and generosity—if the world was free from all forms of exploitation, privation, and gross inequalities. But the world isn't a perfect place, and we're not all saints; and one of the ways we can help alleviate some of the world's suffering is by trying to materially change it for the better. And from this point of view, it's not about making Buddhism political, but about applying the ideals of Buddhism in all that we do, which for me includes being political active.
"Sabbe dhamma nalam abhinivesaya" ().

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Jason
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Re: Should Religion Get Involved in Politics?

Postby Jason » Sun Nov 18, 2012 10:36 pm

"Sabbe dhamma nalam abhinivesaya" ().

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SarathW
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Re: Should Religion Get Involved in Politics?

Postby SarathW » Mon Nov 19, 2012 1:04 am

I think that people involved in politics should involved (learned) at least all five major religions!
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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Kim OHara
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Re: Should Religion Get Involved in Politics?

Postby Kim OHara » Mon Nov 19, 2012 3:22 am


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Sekha
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Re: Should Religion Get Involved in Politics?

Postby Sekha » Mon Nov 19, 2012 1:14 pm

Where knowledge ends, religion begins. - B. Disraeli

http://www.buddha-vacana.org


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