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Re: Monastics protesting social injustice

Posted: Wed Apr 07, 2021 6:35 am
by GnosticMind
Over thirty years ago, I read the following on Buddhism and social awareness -- it influenced me at the time --

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com ... 3,200_.jpg

I found there was a definite problem -- politicised people I knew had almost zero spiritual consciousness and typically, had contempt, even hostility and derision, for any form of spiritual expression or focus.

And on the other hand, I was ( and still am) frequently horrified at 'spiritual peoples' ( for want of a better word) often profound ignorance about Palestine, Yemen, Iran and so on.

It struck me -- what was the point of spending years devoting practice to Metta, Karuna,Uppheka -- when one was utterly clueless about , for example, what was going on in Gaza? ( and many other areas I could mention) Buddhists I knew got passive aggressive angry about these issues when I brought them up and came up with all manner of excuses and obfuscations...talk about ruffled feathers , and that alerted me too -- what's the point of all that meditation if Buddhists get their feathers ruffled at such topics? So how deep is their Metta and Karuna?

But I'd probably better not go there on Dhammawheel...

Re: Monastics protesting social injustice

Posted: Wed Apr 07, 2021 6:49 am
by GnosticMind
Poem: Please Call Me By My True Names
#37 Autumn 2004
By Thich Nhat Hanh

Don’t say that I will depart tomorrow— even today I am still arriving.

Look deeply: every second I am arriving to be a bud on a Spring branch, to be a tiny bird, with still-fragile wings, learning to sing in my new nest, to be a caterpillar in the heart of a flower, to be a jewel hiding itself in a stone.

I still arrive, in order to laugh and to cry, to fear and to hope. The rhythm of my heart is the birth and death of all that is alive.

I am a mayfly metamorphosing on the surface of the river. And I am the bird that swoops down to swallow the mayfly.

I am a frog swimming happily in the clear water of a pond. And I am the grass-snake that silently feeds itself on the frog.

I am the child in Uganda, all skin and bones, my legs as thin as bamboo sticks. And I am the arms merchant, selling deadly weapons to Uganda.

I am the twelve-year-old girl, refugee on a small boat, who throws herself into the ocean after being raped by a sea pirate.

And I am also the pirate, my heart not yet capable of seeing and loving.

I am a member of the politburo, with plenty of power in my hands. And I am the man who has to pay his “debt of blood” to my people dying slowly in a forced-labor camp.

My joy is like Spring, so warm it makes flowers bloom all over the Earth. My pain is like a river of tears, so vast it fills the four oceans.

Please call me by my true names, so I can hear all my cries and laughter at once, so I can see that my joy and pain are one.

Please call me by my true names, so I can wake up and the door of my heart could be left open, the door of compassion.

Re: Monastics protesting social injustice

Posted: Wed Apr 07, 2021 6:57 am
by GnosticMind
Anarchism matches Buddhism and Dao-ism most beautifully -- read Tolstoy's 'Confessions' and a glimpse of such prisms on worldliness and world weariness in 'After the Dance'

http://www.online-literature.com/tolstoy/2728/

Connections between Buddhism and Nihilism and world engagement and world weariness can also be glimpsed in Chekhov's work -- read 'The Bet'

Re: Monastics protesting social injustice

Posted: Wed Apr 07, 2021 6:58 am
by Ceisiwr
GnosticMind wrote: Wed Apr 07, 2021 6:35 am
It struck me -- what was the point of spending years devoting practice to Metta, Karuna,Uppheka -- when one was utterly clueless about , for example, what was going on in Gaza?
To awaken.

Re: Monastics protesting social injustice

Posted: Wed Apr 07, 2021 8:00 am
by retrofuturist
Greetings,
GnosticMind wrote: Wed Apr 07, 2021 6:35 am But I'd probably better not go there on Dhammawheel...
Indeed. General conversation about the pros and cons of Engaged Buddhism belongs over at Dharma Wheel Engaged.

Also, this topic is specifically about "Monastics protesting social injustice". If you're not talking about monastics, you're probably off-topic.

:thanks:

Metta,
Paul. :)

Re: Monastics protesting social injustice

Posted: Thu Apr 08, 2021 2:10 am
by BrokenBones
I listened to this interesting and uplifting talk this morning. I can't remember exactly where (maybe 15-20 minute mark) Ajahn Sucitto in a few words totally dismisses monks involvement in the political arena and as far as I understood it, the laypersons over involvement as well, if they are really seeking an end to suffering.
It basically comes down to identification and the problems that stem from that identification.

https://dharmaseed.org/teacher/9/talk/64842/

Re: Monastics protesting social injustice

Posted: Thu Apr 08, 2021 2:58 am
by GnosticMind
One of the main problems of course, is that Theravada monks -- when they do get involved -- they are pretty much always at the ultra-conservative, ultra-nationalist end of the spectrum (unlike the Vietnamese liberation-resistance monks and nuns who campaigned with the people when American bombs and napalm were falling like rain, and unlike the conscious Liberation Theology monastics from the Christian tradition who resisted corrupt capitalism materialism at great cost in South America and unlike the Korean Catholic monks and nuns who actively resist materialism, pollution and colonisation , gestures which are inseparable from their spiritual lives)

See Ashin Wirathu and his grim crew -

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_ ... in+wirathu+

Sri Lankan ultra-conservative reactionary monks --

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_ ... csit+monks

Of course, a beautiful example of Theravadins not being reactionary passive conservatives and royalist apologists ( well the monks do need their awards from monarchs and they need golden chant shields and flowery titles and funds) is their ordaining of trees to preserve the forest, which was wonderful --

https://www.google.com/search?q=monks+o ... 11&bih=438

Re: Monastics protesting social injustice

Posted: Thu Apr 08, 2021 4:44 am
by BrokenBones
Good monks, bad monks, left wing, conservative etc etc.
The basic advice to 'Buddhist' monks is... don't get involved... it's not your job... you're not doing the laity or yourself any favours by entangling yourself in worldly affairs.
Monks need to operate in whatever system they find themselves in and within that system teach the Buddha's words.
If they want to address issues like 'stopping climate change' (an oxymoron for a Buddhist monk if I ever heard one) then disrobe and run for election... don't taint the Dhamma by calling for regime change or trying to imply what 'social/political views' the Buddha would take.

Monastics protesting social injustice

Posted: Thu Apr 08, 2021 4:51 am
by GnosticMind
In South Korea, monks very rarely get involved in social protest, but the reasons why are complex -- Buddhism and Daoism has been marginalised for centuries in Korea and treated with suspicion and it still is : Buddhism in Korea reached its peak when it dominated culture with great heights of intellectual and artistic achievement in Koguryeo, Silla and Koryo periods -- but for at least about three hundred years or more, Buddhism was ( and still is) seen by the Confucian hierarchy as subversive and seditionary, since it paid no heed to worldly values, 'family values' and state hierarchies -- no temples were allowed in Seoul in the previous Chosun Dynasty and were forced into the countryside.

Then at the time of Japanese occupation, Buddhist monastics from Korea -- generally -- got on fairly well with Japanese monastics, which is beyond the pale in Korea since it means collaboration with the coloniser, a charge some scholars consider unfair since the monastics were getting along with each other on theological lines, not in terms of aligning oppressive systems. Scholars argue it both ways.

Bhikkhunis play more of a role in Korea in social causes and in actively helping the needy -- they frequently align with Catholic orders in Korea -- bear in mind that Catholicism in Korea has not descended to the awful state it has in the West and is free from scandal -- in Korea, Catholicism is linked with anti-materialism and anti-driven, harsh capitalist values -- possibly a little like Liberation theology without the overt openly socialist tinges.

For ultra-conservatism in Korea, the Protestants and evangelists have long ago joined hands with reactionary Confucian tendencies in society, which have been prevalent and dominant in South Korea -- and in North Korea -- for at least 500 years. They are a very strong force in Korea society. Where the Confucians left off, the Protestants took up the reigns.

Re: Monastics protesting social injustice

Posted: Thu Apr 08, 2021 4:53 am
by GnosticMind
As for protesting -- Koreans generally protest against more Buddhism!

See here --

http://www.koreaherald.com/view.php?ud=20180725000853

Monastics protesting social injustice

Posted: Thu Apr 08, 2021 4:59 am
by GnosticMind
Bones said, "Good monks, bad monks, left wing, conservative etc etc.
The basic advice to 'Buddhist' monks is... don't get involved... it's not your job... you're not doing the laity or yourself any favours by entangling yourself in worldly affairs.
Monks need to operate in whatever system they find themselves in and within that system teach the Buddha's words."

Well, there's a lot to be said for that of course -- if monks can help, perhaps it is in helping each individual to reach a state of calmness and steadiness and coolness within themselves first, before they go out into a mad world ruled by the strangest of impulses -- so much of modernity makes people half mad, neurotic and dysfunctional -- perhaps monastics are already 'doing their bit' by resisting the flow of hysteria inherent in society.

Yes -- there's a lot to be said for that.

Each person who reaches a level of coolness from Samadhi and ana-panasati -- surely must be a good thing, however small a thing it may be, for the world.

Got to start somewhere -- it seems a reasonable place to begin, and I feel very grateful to those Bhikkhus who taught me those skills and awareness -- no doubt.

Re: Monastics protesting social injustice

Posted: Thu Apr 08, 2021 5:21 am
by GnosticMind
Perhaps by presenting such a radically different example to humanity, a radical going against the material flow of modernity, that already IS the Sangha's protest against injustice.

Speaking personally, going back decades now, the sight of a monk gliding across a lawn in his robes, gaze averted, looking modestly at the ground, in the middle of a crowded metropolis, amongst the hubub and chaos of loud and conflicted Babylon -- it blew me away with its beauty and aesthetics and its sheer disinterest in what the material world valued so highly -- what a wonderful living example.

Perhaps dropping out -- because to a high degree that is what meditating monks are doing -- is protest enough, and it can be a very bold protest too.

( of course not all monastics are dropping out -- many of them are still very much part of 'the system' and state power and trade-give- and take-and receive and negotiate, and bargain and exchange, albeit sometimes indirectly)

Re: Monastics protesting social injustice

Posted: Thu Apr 08, 2021 5:51 am
by SteRo
BrokenBones wrote: Thu Apr 08, 2021 4:44 am Good monks, bad monks, left wing, conservative etc etc.
The basic advice to 'Buddhist' monks is... don't get involved... it's not your job... you're not doing the laity or yourself any favours by entangling yourself in worldly affairs.
Monks need to operate in whatever system they find themselves in and within that system teach the Buddha's words.
If they want to address issues like 'stopping climate change' (an oxymoron for a Buddhist monk if I ever heard one) then disrobe and run for election... don't taint the Dhamma by calling for regime change or trying to imply what 'social/political views' the Buddha would take.
Putting aside "within that system teach the Buddha's words" the rest is great and laymen might want to contemplate to follow the same.

Re: Monastics protesting social injustice

Posted: Thu Apr 08, 2021 6:47 am
by BrokenBones
SteRo wrote: Thu Apr 08, 2021 5:51 am
BrokenBones wrote: Thu Apr 08, 2021 4:44 am Good monks, bad monks, left wing, conservative etc etc.
The basic advice to 'Buddhist' monks is... don't get involved... it's not your job... you're not doing the laity or yourself any favours by entangling yourself in worldly affairs.
Monks need to operate in whatever system they find themselves in and within that system teach the Buddha's words.
If they want to address issues like 'stopping climate change' (an oxymoron for a Buddhist monk if I ever heard one) then disrobe and run for election... don't taint the Dhamma by calling for regime change or trying to imply what 'social/political views' the Buddha would take.
Putting aside "within that system teach the Buddha's words" the rest is great and laymen might want to contemplate to follow the same.
Thanks Stero

The monks have no alternative but to operate within the system... if it's a bad system they shouldn't conspire with it but their only duty is to teach the Dhamma.

Re: Monastics protesting social injustice

Posted: Thu Apr 08, 2021 7:07 am
by Aloka
This is a talk which was given by Ajahn Sumedho at Amaravati Monastery in 2007:

"Freedom from politics":

https://www.amaravati.org/audio/freedom-from-politics/

I enjoyed listening to this talk - and in it he said that the monastic sangha isn't supposed to take sides in politics and try to influence people. He said they should encourage morality in all political structures and not create division and emnity.


:anjali: