That's a valid point. But, the Buddha's instructions to the non enlightened are not necessarily equivalent to his actions. In other words, is a non enlightened person able to act the way the Buddha does? Or should they follow his instructions, and not get involved in stuff like that, until after they are enlightened, and thus can be sure they are getting involved only in ways that promote dhamma?SDC wrote: ↑Thu Jan 26, 2023 5:27 pmAbsolutely, but there are also quite a number of cases of the Buddha advising the laity about how best to conduct themselves in their lay lifestyles, and those cases are often the ones taken out of the broader context of liberation and used as justification for the argument that the Buddha encouraged social and political efforts as part of a Dhamma lifestyle. Very important that this distinction is emphasized. Yes, the Buddha was sure to say, if you want this societal situation/change, then such and such is the best way to go about it, but was clear that any such worldly accomplishment does not necessarily imply development in Dhamma on that individual level, which requires a whole other application of effort.zan wrote: ↑Thu Jan 26, 2023 3:31 pmThanks. All good points. Though, some of the suttas quoted above do make very clear recommendations against involvement.SDC wrote: ↑Thu Jan 26, 2023 2:17 pm Aside from some of the good examples cited above, when you take a look at any sutta where the Buddha is questioned about a worldly affair, there is not one case where the worldly is prioritized above the goal of the holy life. Sure, the Buddha conversed with leaders and citizens of great influence, and offered them advice on matters that were important to them, but he made it clear that the holy life was supreme among any matter.
So, isn’t so much that there was any recommendation against involvement, but simply, dedication to worldly affairs - even in cases where the world is improved - does not imply any development in the holy life. If the practice is not simultaneously being taken up on the personal, interior level, effort put into reducing the suffering of others is not an inroad to the four noble truths. The Buddha could not have been more clear on this.
To say it another way, there is nothing unwholesome about engaging in efforts to promote social harmony, but one should not mistake those efforts as being automatically aligned with development in Dhamma. Success in Dhamma would require an additional, internal effort, which may not always align with what is required for external change. Change that deals in external circumstances, not internal views. That is the key difference, and seems to be why the Buddha did not hesitate to offer such advice to lay followers whose questions were not in direct reference to Dhamma development.
If the Buddha says "Don't discuss kings and politics, etc. etc." but he, himself discusses these things in a way that promotes dhamma, does that mean an unenlightened person should emulate him, and discuss these things the way he does? Or should they follow his instructions, and not discuss them?