Patriotism

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Patriotism

Postby Jechbi » Sat Jul 04, 2009 4:58 pm

For those who are in or from the U.S., happy Fourth of July. As we light things on fire and watch stuff explode, maybe it's worth asking about this composite mental fabrication we call "patriotism."

In the United States, patriotism is seen almost unanimously as a virtue. Obviously that's not true in every country. In Germany, patriotism sometimes is viewed as something to be ashamed of. But it seems as if patriotism is mixed with all kinds of mental factors that are optional, or that can come in degrees: Pride, love (of country), a sense of belonging, a sense of community, etc.

Does anyone here think patriotism in any form can have a place as we try to apply the Buddhadhamma in our real lives?

To light the fuse: Some of these ABC's of patriotism seem to be more in line with Dhamma than others:
Bobette Bryan wrote:A--Accept that you're not alone. The people of the United States will stand strong and united through any crisis.
:smile:
B--Buy America. Help the wounded economy make a full recovery.
:|
C--Celebrate today, because you're part of one of the greatest nations beneath the sun.
:?
D--Don't panic because of what you hear on the news or read in the paper.
:)
E--Embrace the ones you love and cherish family values.
:heart:
F--Fly the flag proudly. Many people have fought and died for it.
:weep:
G--Greet each dawn with optimism. Remember President Franklin Roosevelt's words: "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself..."
:thinking:
H--Honor the constitution and all the liberties it grants you. Honor the liberties it grants other Americans as well. Many have fought to give you these privileges.
:embarassed:
I--Instill a sense of American pride in your children. Teach them the many reasons why they should be glad to be part of this great nation.
:?
J--Join the ranks of those who refuse to be bullied or frightened by foreign aggressors. Do your part to help your nation and your neighbor.
:shrug:
K--Know the Pledge of Allegiance and treasure the meaning of the beautiful words:
"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands: one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."
:soap: :roll:
L--Love your neighbor with all of your heart.
:clap:
M--Measure the United States by all of the privileges and opportunities it grants you every day. Unlike the citizens of many other countries, you can do anything you want, become anyone you want to be.
:?
N--Never lose faith that this country will succeed in the face of adversity. God will always guide this nation and keep each star on the American flag shining bright.
:rofl:
O--Offer hope. Everyone could use some.
:thumbsup:
P--Pray that God will continue to richly bless this country, and remember our mot! to is: "In God is our trust."
:roll:
Q--Quit dwelling on the negative. Instead focus on making this nation even better tomorrow than it is today in the spirit of the founding fathers.
:|
R--Remember those who have fought for this country and honor them.
:(
S--Support our troops overseas. Keep their morale up.
:?
T--Think about how lucky you are to be part of this great nation.
:pig:
U--Use your skills and talent to the best of your ability in order to make this country a great place to live.
:heart:
V--Vote. Don't throw away one of your greatest rights.
:thumbsup:
W--Wear a smile instead of a frown.
:twothumbsup:
X--X-ray the heart of the nation, and you'll find that it's beating stronger than ever. The eagle has grown new wings and is taking flight.
:shrug:
Y--Yield to the overwhelming feeling of national pride that's all around.
:shock:
Z--Zealously treasure your freedom, and do all you can to defend it with the heart of a true patriot.
:guns: :roll:

Metta

"ABCs of Patriotism," written and designed by Bobette Bryan, 2001[/quote]
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Re: Patriotism

Postby clw_uk » Sat Jul 04, 2009 5:50 pm

Greetings

Does anyone here think patriotism in any form can have a place as we try to apply the Buddhadhamma in our real lives?


No since patriotism is sakkāya-diṭṭhi, the first fetter


Also patriotism spawns an "us and them" attitude instead of fostering solidarity. Its very much tied with division instead of unity


Metta
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Re: Patriotism

Postby genkaku » Sat Jul 04, 2009 6:49 pm

Every year on patriotic holidays, I hang the American flag in front of the house. If you asked me why I should do such a thing, I would admit to you that I don't honestly know.

As close as I can come is this: Not to acknowledge and say thank you for the place in which you find yourself is a big mistake. So perhaps hanging out the flag that represents the country I am responsible for is just a way of reminding myself to pay attention and take responsibility. Whether anyone else hangs out the flag is not something to worry about ... it's like being a Buddhist: There's no inherent virtue in it, but if you choose to do it, then do it with attention and care.

My wobbly take.
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Re: Patriotism

Postby Ben » Sat Jul 04, 2009 10:42 pm

Good for you, Adam!

Happy fourth of July to all our American members!
Metta

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Re: Patriotism

Postby Jechbi » Sat Jul 04, 2009 11:28 pm

clw_uk wrote:
Does anyone here think patriotism in any form can have a place as we try to apply the Buddhadhamma in our real lives?

No since patriotism is sakkāya-diṭṭhi, the first fetter

Hmmmm, maybe. But it seems like certain elements of patriotism might be ok. Here are a few I like, from the list above:

Bobette Bryan wrote:A--Accept that you're not alone. The people of the United States will stand strong and united through any crisis.
D--Don't panic because of what you hear on the news or read in the paper.
E--Embrace the ones you love and cherish family values.
L--Love your neighbor with all of your heart.
O--Offer hope. Everyone could use some.
U--Use your skills and talent to the best of your ability in order to make this country a great place to live.
V--Vote. Don't throw away one of your greatest rights.
W--Wear a smile instead of a frown.

That gives us the letters a, d, e, l, o, u, v and w. Which can be re-arranged to spell:

U love wad!

So I think that tells us something.

:toast:
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Re: Patriotism

Postby retrofuturist » Sat Jul 04, 2009 11:41 pm

Greetings Craig,

clw_uk wrote:No since patriotism is sakkāya-diṭṭhi, the first fetter


Agreed. Clear and concise. Well said (again).

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Patriotism

Postby Individual » Sun Jul 05, 2009 12:00 am

Pride is a fetter to enlightenment -- that is, liberation from life and death, and from causality itself -- but it can also be a supporting factor for good deeds.

No one would regard self-esteem as a fetter because it is "pride"; the same goes for self-respect, dignity, honor, etc.. Instead of narrowly judging reality according to technical terms, notice: Pride can be the cause of arrogance or foolhardiness, but it can also be a support for positive things.

And the same is true of patriotism.

Patriotism can be jingoism, a fuel for war, xenophobia, discrimination, and belligerent diplomacy, but it can also be a source of personal self-worth, confidence, and faith, which supports right living.

As another example that comes to mind, because most of Buddhists -- let's be honest here -- are leftists, most of you would likely approve of multiculturalism. But when a person is proud to be black, hispanic, or Asian, is this not simply a form of sub-nationalism? What is it about being proud of one's own country that is necessarily harmful, but pride in one's racial heritage is not?

One can clearly see examples of racial nationalists that are harmful, like the Nazis, KKK, Nation of Islam, etc.. Even radical Muslim terrorists today are motivated by a kind of religious nationalism. But on the other hand, there are also clearly cases where nationalism has, for instance, bolstered a minority student's academic and post-academic success or encouraged charity.

Pride itself is never outright harmful unless it's coupled with something else, like hatred or fear. But pride can also be coupled with good things, like compassion and lovingkindness. Now, if a person is proud of doing good things, and this pride supports their actions, is that not a good thing?

The important thing is what it is a person's pride is based on and what it supports. A person should not be patriotic arbitrarily or ignorantly, but if a person is "proud" that their nation supports peace, freedom, and prosperity worldwide, that's a good thing.
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Re: Patriotism

Postby retrofuturist » Sun Jul 05, 2009 12:05 am

Greetings Individual,

Your post reminds us that the aversion associated with self/racial/sexuality/national loathing is no more productive than the greed and delusion associated with patriotism.

:thumbsup:

Again... the middle way awaits.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Patriotism

Postby Individual » Sun Jul 05, 2009 12:16 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Individual,

Your post reminds us that the aversion associated with self/racial/sexuality/national loathing is no more productive than the greed and delusion associated with patriotism.

:thumbsup:

Again... the middle way awaits.

Metta,
Retro. :)

Yes.
Last edited by Individual on Sun Jul 05, 2009 12:17 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Patriotism

Postby Jechbi » Sun Jul 05, 2009 12:16 am

So one wonders ... if we display the flag, is it only and exclusively an expression of sakkāya-diṭṭhi, wrong view of self? Or might there be some kusala intention also at play, depending on the person? Like Adam describes, for example? In other words, an expression of gratitude for community, an expression of mindfulness of self and others, and one's place in community? Etc.

Also came across this, fwiw. A Zen perspective on "Enlightened Patriotism," with some references to the Metta Sutta here, including this:
Taigen Dan Leighton wrote:The principles of liberty and justice for all, and the unalienable right of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" articulated by Jefferson and other founding fathers are highly synchronistic with Buddhist perspectives.

...

Our expression of spiritual values will only be helpful when informed by our return to inner work to find dignified calm and wholeness. Then we can present our views without stridency, in the context of actual dialogue and illuminated values. Such enlightened patriotism depends on including all beings, and on fearless openness to truth.
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Re: Patriotism

Postby Individual » Sun Jul 05, 2009 12:18 am

Jechbi wrote:So one wonders ... if we display the flag, is it only and exclusively an expression of sakkāya-diṭṭhi, wrong view of self? Or might there be some kusala intention also at play, depending on the person? Like Adam describes, for example? In other words, an expression of gratitude for community, an expression of mindfulness of self and others, and one's place in community? Etc.

Also came across this, fwiw. A Zen perspective on "Enlightened Patriotism," with some references to the Metta Sutta here, including this:
Taigen Dan Leighton wrote:The principles of liberty and justice for all, and the unalienable right of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" articulated by Jefferson and other founding fathers are highly synchronistic with Buddhist perspectives.

...

Our expression of spiritual values will only be helpful when informed by our return to inner work to find dignified calm and wholeness. Then we can present our views without stridency, in the context of actual dialogue and illuminated values. Such enlightened patriotism depends on including all beings, and on fearless openness to truth.

I was digging up quotes on patriotism to demonstrate my point above.

One of them I found:
"It should be the work of a genuine and noble patriotism to raise the life of the nation to the level of its privileges; to harmonize its general practice with its abstract principles; to reduce to actual facts the ideals of its institutions; to elevate instruction into knowledge; to deepen knowledge into wisdom; to render knowledge and wisdom complete in righteousness; and to make the love of country perfect in the love of man. "
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Re: Patriotism

Postby Ben » Sun Jul 05, 2009 12:24 am

Hi all
retrofuturist wrote:
clw_uk wrote:No since patriotism is sakkāya-diṭṭhi, the first fetter


Agreed. Clear and concise. Well said (again).

Metta,
Retro. :)


I agree but I also think what Adam says has currency.
Developing a sense of gratitude for the social environment one finds oneself and the benefits of that society, isn't unwholesome, and gratitude for the sacrifices that past and present generations gave to provide those social benefits, isn't unwholesome.
Be thankful you don't live in some god-awful pit of misery like Zimbabwe, Somalia or North Korea.

Ben
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Re: Patriotism

Postby retrofuturist » Sun Jul 05, 2009 12:30 am

Greetings Ben,

I understand your point.

The way I actively understand it personally as a form of wise-reflection is as follows....

Is there any reason for my interests to be treated as more important than the interests of anyone else? No.

Is there any reason for the interests of folk in one arbitrarily defined region (street, suburb, city, state, country, planet, galaxy...) to be treated as more important than the interests of those in a different region? No.

Being thankful to others is certainly a good thing... very meritorious, very positive and if people need patriotism or other arbitrary classifications in order to achieve that, I would certainly not begrudge it (given its positive outcome), but I think that as Buddhists we should be able to see past this, knowing that it is actually a form of wrong view as pointed out previously.

(After seeing all those Michael Jackson pics/videos, I'm awfully tempted to respond with John Lennon's "Imagine" right about now... :tongue: )

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Patriotism

Postby Ben » Sun Jul 05, 2009 12:50 am

Retro I couldn't agree more!
I think we should investigate patriotism and see it for what it actually is.
To quote Adam: pay attention and take responsibility.
And for a lot of people it is imbued with conceit and personality view. Granted.
For some people, lets say having a sense of social gratitude, can be a vehicle for positive mindstates. And as Buddhists I think we should take advantage of the occassion to foster those positive mindstates, just like we should utilise the occassion of Christmas to develop metta and practice dana.
Kind regards

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Re: Patriotism

Postby Individual » Sun Jul 05, 2009 12:55 am

Ben wrote:Retro I couldn't agree more!
I think we should investigate patriotism and see it for what it actually is.
To quote Adam: pay attention and take responsibility.
And for a lot of people it is imbued with conceit and personality view.

Sarah Palin violates flag code

Image

Obama stops wearing his flag pin

Obama starts wearing it again

...I also remember for about six months after 9/11, there were flags EVERYWHERE. You couldn't go on the highway without seeing a flag strapped to the back of somebody's car.

You don't see so many of those flags anymore, but what has changed? For many people, July 4th is just an excuse to get drunk and blow stuff up.
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Re: Patriotism

Postby Jechbi » Sun Jul 05, 2009 1:53 am

retrofuturist wrote:... but I think that as Buddhists we should be able to see past this, knowing that it is actually a form of wrong view as pointed out previously.

What we think we should be able to do and what actually arises from this not-self mind can be two different things. That's why it's probably worth recognizing the various compenents of this mental fabricatication we label "patriotism" and try to understand which of them are kusala and which are akusala.

And this is of course a process one applies to oneself, not to others. So if someone waves a flag and says they're patriotic, then as Buddhists we should be able to not make judgements about that other person's kamma. (Which of course doesn't mean that we won't.)
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Re: Patriotism

Postby retrofuturist » Sun Jul 05, 2009 2:03 am

Greetings Jechbi,

Jechbi wrote:
retrofuturist wrote:... but I think that as Buddhists we should be able to see past this, knowing that it is actually a form of wrong view as pointed out previously.

What we think we should be able to do and what actually arises from this not-self mind can be two different things.


Precisely why the Buddha taught about Right View and Right Mindfulness. Right View alone, if not backed by Right Thoughts, Right Mindfulness is not going to achieve the intended outcome.

Jechbi wrote:That's why it's probably worth recognizing the various compenents of this mental fabricatication we label "patriotism" and try to understand which of them are kusala and which are akusala.

Jechbi wrote:So if someone waves a flag and says they're patriotic, then as Buddhists we should be able to not make judgements about that other person's kamma. (Which of course doesn't mean that we won't.)


Agreed - we are not mind-readers. We do not know whether there is generosity or lovingkindness at play, or whether it's aversion or greed at play. The only thing that can be known is that it's not based in wisdom of the inherent emptiness of patriotism and symbolism... but that doesn't necessarily make it "bad". Most of what goes on in the world is conceived at a conventional level and not everything is unwholesome.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Patriotism

Postby clw_uk » Sun Jul 05, 2009 2:18 am

Hey Individual

Pride is a fetter to enlightenment -- that is, liberation from life and death, and from causality itself -- but it can also be a supporting factor for good deeds.

No one would regard self-esteem as a fetter because it is "pride"; the same goes for self-respect, dignity, honor, etc.. Instead of narrowly judging reality according to technical terms, notice: Pride can be the cause of arrogance or foolhardiness, but it can also be a support for positive things.


No one is saying that it cant lead to good but if one is practicing for nibbana then pride needs to be understood and overcome. You cant have pride and nibbana since you cant even have pride and stream-entry

Patriotism can be jingoism, a fuel for war, xenophobia, discrimination, and belligerent diplomacy, but it can also be a source of personal self-worth, confidence, and faith, which supports right living.


I would argue however that the negative effects of patriotism on a society outway the good. It can lead to good for "your own" but as you said it can lead to hatred, feelings of superiority, suspicion and war. In effect what it does is split humanity into armed encampments



As another example that comes to mind, because most of Buddhists -- let's be honest here -- are leftists, most of you would likely approve of multiculturalism.


Former member of the Communist party :lol:

But when a person is proud to be black, hispanic, or Asian, is this not simply a form of sub-nationalism? What is it about being proud of one's own country that is necessarily harmful, but pride in one's racial heritage is not?


Yes it is harmful, in terms of Dhamma but also in worldly terms as well since it leads to a feeling of "us and them" on some level and can spark racism

One can clearly see examples of racial nationalists that are harmful, like the Nazis, KKK, Nation of Islam, etc.. Even radical Muslim terrorists today are motivated by a kind of religious nationalism. But on the other hand, there are also clearly cases where nationalism has, for instance, bolstered a minority student's academic and post-academic success or encouraged charity.


The good here doesnt seem to outway the bad


Pride itself is never outright harmful unless it's coupled with something else, like hatred or fear.


Pride always leads to hatred or fear on some level since one has to always protect ones pride. If you have pride then it will come under attack sooner or later and you will feel hatred, fear or both

But pride can also be coupled with good things, like compassion and lovingkindness. Now, if a person is proud of doing good things, and this pride supports their actions, is that not a good thing?


Detachment leads to greater acts of compassion and kindness

The important thing is what it is a person's pride is based on and what it supports. A person should not be patriotic arbitrarily or ignorantly, but if a person is "proud" that their nation supports peace, freedom, and prosperity worldwide, that's a good thing.


But that can still lead to feelings of superiority etc

metta
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Re: Patriotism

Postby pink_trike » Sun Jul 05, 2009 9:11 am

Patriotism is a figment of our egoic hunger for solidity and certainty which are both irrational, impossible concepts that we crave in our delusionary state of ignorance. We live on a tiny clump of molten rock, soil, and atmosphere whirling around a larger burning clump at 65k miles an hour, and the terrestrial clump we live on is subject to periodic, devastating, enormous change as a result of the movements of the heavens and the intensity of the burning clump. How absurd is it to think that specific areas (nations) of the the clump we live on are in someway superior to other clumps of this planet when all clumps of the planet are subject to destruction and regeneration by forces larger than our host clump? There will be another "Fall" and we'll all be primitive again...our false sense of patriotic superiority won't be worth a bent penny then. What clowns we are...
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Re: Patriotism

Postby Rhino » Sun Jul 05, 2009 3:24 pm

pink_trike wrote:Patriotism is a figment of our egoic hunger for solidity and certainty which are both irrational, impossible concepts that we crave in our delusionary state of ignorance.
[...]
What clowns we are...

:goodpost:
We're all seeking for certainty and security. That's what we call 'self'. The 'self' wants to be sure,it doesn't see impermanence and it doesn't want to see it; the 'self' avoids seeing impermanence. It does everything to make the things in such a manner that it can be sure.

But I'm from germany and here is patriotism rather suspect. This is certainly against the background of the history of Germany. A patriot here is quickly stamped as a nazi. The patriotism in the USA looks strange to me and sometimes awkward. But I didn't grew up with this and in the US patriotism seems to be highly respected by the community. To me it looks like a case of conditioning.
With best wishes

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