Buddhism and Politics

It’s never as easy as you would like. To say Buddhists should not be involved in politics is obviously silly. But to say that all Buddhists should share a certain specific set of political views is also ridiculous.

A few years ago I was giving a talk at the Houston Zen Center. Gaelyn Godwin, who runs the center, took me aside before the talk and said, “We have a lot of conservatives in our group. So if you say anything political, it’s best not to assume the audience here is liberal.”

I had not intended to talk about politics at all. But maybe she’d seen this sort of thing before with visiting speakers. A lot of Buddhist centers in America have a very strong left-leaning political bias. I often see stuff for liberal causes tacked up to bulletin boards at the Buddhist centers I visit and it always bugs me. But maybe not for the reasons some of you would assume.

I find it amusing that, after my post I Wish I Could Agree, I’m seeing myself labeled as a “conservative Buddhist.” I’m really not. I’m fairly apolitical. But when it comes to most issues I tend to side with the more liberal, left-leaning views.

Zero Defex EP

Zero Defex EP

I am, after all, a member of the hardcore band Zero Defex, who have songs that address topics like the dangers of nuclear proliferation (Drop the A-Bomb On Me ), global warming (Armageddon), fracking (National Sacrifice Zone), unregulated capitalism (Competition), the horrors of war in general (This Means War, War Zone), and the hazards of dobermans sticking their noses up your butt when you’re trying to heat up a bagel (Swine Hunt Doggen). One of our songs was even used in the Ralph Nader presidential campaign a few years ago. No. I am definitely not a “conservative Buddhist.”

But I am concerned whenever I see any mixing of religion and politics. When I was a youngster I was aghast at seeing Christianity mixed with conservative politics, with the implication that Jesus himself wanted you to vote Republican. If we respond to that with the equivalent of, “No! Buddha wants you to vote Democrat!” I don’t see how that’s any better.

I understand when Buddhists are concerned with issues like militarism and global climate change. These are urgent matters that affect all of us. It’s just that it rankles me to see people representing themselves as the “leaders” of Buddhism and presenting their views as if they are the consensus views of all Buddhists.

I can’t count how many times I’ve had to explain that there is more than one form of Buddhism to people who seem surprised at this revelation. Or how many times I’ve had to tell someone that not every Buddhist considers the Dalai Lama to be their commander and spokesman. Or how many times I’ve had to explain that all Buddhists do not have a unified political agenda. Then something comes along like the meeting at the White House that I wrote about in my blog post and I have to start explaining it all over again.

Which is fine. I like explaining things.

What bugs me is when it appears that liberal, left-leaning Buddhists are trying to mix Buddhism with their political agenda in precisely the same way people like Pat Robertson mix Christianity with their conservative political agenda. This just makes us all look bad to everyone except lefty types who already agree with whatever cause is being espoused. Nobody is going to be convinced to change their views on militarism or global warming because they saw a photo of a bunch of weirdos in costumes they associate with cult members holding a banner outside of the White House. It’s an exercise in vanity, which can only serve to help entrench people’s previously established views.

This is not the same as saying Buddhists should never be involved in politics. If you’re a Buddhist and you want to get mixed up in that circus, be my guest. I don’t really care. Just please don’t represent yourselves as the leaders of Buddhism and your specific views as the correct ones for Buddhists to hold.

For my own part, I try to keep my political views out of what I do in my capacity as a teacher of Buddhism. I don’t want my politics to be seen as somehow “Buddhist.” It’s very easy to send a mixed up message.

For example, I’m a vegetarian. I really believe in vegetarianism. I think it’s a great thing and I’d like to see more people become vegetarians. I believe it’s an important issue in terms of personal health, environment, and ethics.

Yet I am very aware that a lot of people who don’t know much about Buddhism tend to believe that all Buddhists are vegetarians and that Buddhism requires its adherents to abstain from eating meat. This is not true. My friend Gesshin wrote a really good blog piece recently about this. In a nutshell, lots of Buddhists eat meat, and the historical Buddha never required his followers to be strict vegetarians.

Because I see the dangers of confusing people on this issue and making them think that Buddha will send them to Buddhist Hell for eating at McDonald’s (I think he should but he won’t), I tend to avoid making too many overt statements about my vegetarianism. And when I do talk about it, I always make sure I explain that vegetarianism is a personal choice, not something mandated by my Buddhist practice.

(Interestingly, I found that in Japan – where they should know better – I could simply say “I’m a Buddhist” and people would quickly accept my vegetarianism without any further need for discussion.)

I feel that Buddhists with strong political convictions would do better to approach their political convictions the same way. In America, Europe and the rest of the West, Buddhism is very often seen as going hand-in-hand with leftist political views. As is the case with vegetarianism, lots of folks who know little about Buddhism tend to assume Buddhists will have a leftist political bias.

Those people on the Interwebs who referred to me as a “conservative Buddhist” obviously knew that there was a general feeling that it was unusual to be a conservative and a Buddhist at the same time. Actually, it’s not that weird. Just like there are millions of liberal Christians, there are also millions of conservative Buddhists.

I think it’s unfair to take advantage of misunderstandings about Buddhism and its relation to politics in order to advance a specific agenda.

I don’t like it when religion gets mixed up in politics even when it’s a religion I follow and a political agenda I tend (mostly but not always) to agree with.

UPCOMING EVENTS

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August 14-16, 2015 Munich, Germany 3 DAY ZEN RETREAT

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August 24-29, 2015 Felsentor, Switzerland 5-DAY RETREAT AT STIFTUNG FELSENTOR 

August 30-September 4, 2015 Holzkirchen, Germany 5-DAY RETREAT AT BENEDIKTUSHOF MONASTERY

September 4, 2015 Hamburg, Germany LECTURE

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September 10-13, 2015 Finland 4-DAY RETREAT

September 16-19, 20015 Hebden Bridge, England 4-DAY RETREAT

September 26-27, 2015 Glastonbury, England 2-DAY RETREAT

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ONGOING EVENTS

Every Monday at 8pm there’s zazen at Silverlake Yoga Studio 2 located at 2810 Glendale Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90039. All are welcome!

Every Saturday at 9:30 there’s zazen at the Veteran’s Memorial Complex located at 4117 Overland Blvd., Culver City, CA 90230. All are welcome!

Plenty more info is available on the Dogen Sangha Los Angeles website, dsla.info

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156 Responses

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  1. Dog Star
    Dog Star May 25, 2015 at 9:01 am |

    Thank you, Brad. Very well put.

    (I have an interesting time explaining about vegetarianism and have to go through the whole, “Buddhism isn’t monolithic,” routine, as well, but it’s hard to avoid, as one’s dietary choices become obvious at some point.)

  2. Dog Star
    Dog Star May 25, 2015 at 9:11 am |

    So… when might your new book be coming out? (C’mon, man. Give us a clue!)

  3. buddy
    buddy May 25, 2015 at 9:33 am |

    So your response to the people who wrote very eloquent and respectful responses to your critical and dismissive post about the banner is to label them as ‘a bunch of weirdos’ performing ‘an exercise in vanity’, while perpetuating the idea that this group of people were the ones purporting to be the ‘leaders of Buddhism’ when both said letters clearly explained to you they weren’t? Tacky.

    1. Yoshiyahu
      Yoshiyahu May 25, 2015 at 9:42 am |

      Others have referred to the “dropping off of the self” idea with respect to political views. I wanted to point out that we often seem to have logical reasons for our beliefs and mindsets, it’s becoming clear that our political mindset is at least partly something we are born with. Proudly associating with those who share your views is, in a real way, like hanging out with people who have the same skin tone or hair or eye color or the ability to roll ones tongue into a tube shape. We don’t think of our political viewpoints in that way, but perhaps we should. It will help us to stop judging people because they see the world differently than we do, and stop us expecting we can bully someone into changing their views if only we give them enough arguments or evidence.

      http://www.pewresearch.org/files/2013/12/13.12.09_GeneticsPolitics.png

      1. Mark Foote
        Mark Foote May 26, 2015 at 9:35 am |

        “Jennions, similarly, argues that the decline effect is largely a product of publication bias, or the tendency of scientists and scientific journals to prefer positive data over null results, which is what happens when no effect is found. The bias was first identified by the statistician Theodore Sterling, in 1959, after he noticed that ninety-seven per cent of all published psychological studies with statistically significant data found the effect they were looking for. ”

        http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2010/12/13/the-truth-wears-off

        1. Mark Foote
          Mark Foote May 26, 2015 at 9:37 am |

          “Once I realized that selective reporting is everywhere in science, I got quite depressed,” Palmer told me. “As a researcher, you’re always aware that there might be some nonrandom patterns, but I had no idea how widespread it is.” In a recent review article, Palmer summarized the impact of selective reporting on his field: “We cannot escape the troubling conclusion that some–perhaps many–cherished generalities are at best exaggerated in their biological significance and at worst a collective illusion nurtured by strong a-priori beliefs often repeated.”

          (ibid)

          1. Mark Foote
            Mark Foote May 26, 2015 at 9:41 am |

            the coup de grâce?-

            ‘The situation is even worse when a subject is fashionable. In recent years, for instance, there have been hundreds of studies on the various genes that control the differences in disease risk between men and women. These findings have included everything from the mutations responsible for the increased risk of schizophrenia to the genes underlying hypertension. Ioannidis and his colleagues looked at four hundred and thirty-two of these claims. They quickly discovered that the vast majority had serious flaws. But the most troubling fact emerged when he looked at the test of replication: out of four hundred and thirty-two claims, only a single one was consistently replicable. “This doesn’t mean that none of these claims will turn out to be true,” he says. “But, given that most of them were done badly, I wouldn’t hold my breath.”’

    2. Dog Star
      Dog Star May 25, 2015 at 10:24 am |

      Hi Buddy.
      I think event itself was billed as The U.S. Buddhist Leadership Conference, or something to that effect. To me, that kind of implies the folks who attended consented to that label on some level. For them to disavow it later is kind of… I don’t know, but it’s less than honest.

      As to “a bunch of weirdos,” I can’t speak for Brad, and he certainly doesn’t need me to do so. But I think he is using humor to make a serious point, i.e. that for people who aren’t Buddhists or don’t already espouse the viewpoints of those holding the banner, the visual is possibly off-putting and thereby counter to what they are trying to accomplish in the first place.

      Incidentally, as he has now clarified for those of us who did not get it, he is including himself as one of those “weirdos.” That’s funny stuff, man! Hell, we’re ALL weirdos to some extent or we we wouldn’t be here earnestly pecking at our keyboards posting our inconsequential thoughts on a Buddhist blog. 🙂

      Lighten up, dude.

      1. buddy
        buddy May 25, 2015 at 11:25 am |

        From the response by Taigen Leighton that Brad posted a few days ago: ‘the three banners pictured outside the White House were not endorsed by all the conference attendees, but were created by Buddhist Peace Fellowship, and carried after the conference by some of us who agreed with them’.

        From the response by Dawn Haney that Brad linked to last week, ‘I wanted to clarify that the banner action was not an official part of the convergence, but a side action organized by us here at the Buddhist Peace Fellowship.’

        Participating in a ‘side action’ performed ‘after the conference’ implies no necessary consent to the agenda of the organizing group, and nor does clarifying their position afterwards in the face of misunderstanding imply dishonesty.

        1. Dog Star
          Dog Star May 25, 2015 at 11:42 am |

          I think we disagree on a point of logic here, and that’s cool. But it seems to me that going out of one’s way to take offense, especially on behalf of someone else, is like trying to tie your own dick in a knot. What’s the point?

          And my overall response is still the same,

          Lighten up, dude.

          1. buddy
            buddy May 25, 2015 at 11:52 am |

            First off, my initial comment was intended for Brad, not you, so you getting involved is some version of your own ‘dick-knotting’.
            Secondly, telling someone to ‘lighten up dude’ in the comments section of a blog ostensibly dedicated to the pursuit of the truth about reality, and often full of admittedly ill-considered, emotional rants by its owner, is condescending, dismissive and, ultimately, a sign of having run out of any worthwhile contributions to the discussion.

          2. Dog Star
            Dog Star May 25, 2015 at 12:01 pm |

            “telling someone to ‘lighten up dude’ in the comments section of a blog ostensibly dedicated to the pursuit of the truth about reality, and often full of admittedly ill-considered, emotional rants by its owner, is condescending, dismissive and, ultimately, a sign of having run out of any worthwhile contributions to the discussion.”

            Whatever, man. I guess you take yourself a lot more seriously than I do (and more seriously than I take myself). You may not believe it, but I wish you nothing but happiness. I’ll leave you alone now.

          3. blake
            blake May 26, 2015 at 8:11 am |

            Can confirm: tying one’s dick in a knot is an exercise in futility.

          4. Dog Star
            Dog Star May 26, 2015 at 3:36 pm |

            Damn, man! It was only a metaphor! I hope you didn’t hurt yourself? My karma’s fucked up enough as it is!

            🙂

        2. senorchupacabra
          senorchupacabra May 25, 2015 at 1:59 pm |

          Lighten. Up. Duuuuuuuuddddeeee.

          Your own responses are ill-considered, emotional rants that are condescending, disimissive, and, ultimately, a sign of never having anything worthwhile to contribute to the discussion in the first place.

          It’s ok, though. That’s a description the describes just about everybody. But not everybody takes themselves so seriously, and not everybody’s interwebz posts are as incorrigible as yours.

          I’m sure you’re a good person. Probably a better person than I am. But your crusade here is misguided and a waste of everyone’s time. AND TIME IS ALL WE HAVE.

  4. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote May 25, 2015 at 9:39 am |

    I agree, Mr. BW. Well said.

    I’ve mentioned before that Gautama’s cousin wanted the order to be vegetarian, and to only have three robes. Wikipedia’s pretty informative, about Devadatta; they list his new rules as follows:

    According to the Pāli Canon, he taught his sangha to adopt five tapas (literally, austerities) throughout their lives:

    “1) that monks should dwell all their lives in the forest;
    2) that they should accept no invitations to meals, but live entirely on alms obtained by begging;
    3) that they should wear only robes made of discarded rags and accept no robes from the laity;
    4) that they should dwell at the foot of a tree and not under a roof;
    5) that they should abstain completely from fish and flesh.

    The Buddha’s reply was that those who felt so inclined could follow these rules – except that of sleeping under a tree during the rainy season – but he refused to make the rules obligatory. They are among the 13 ascetic practices.”

    Off-topic, yes.

    What I find interesting is the mixture of psychic material with material instruction in Gautama’s teaching. Gautama definitely preached a morality that he saw as inseparable from enlightenment; he had a vision of the structure of society, and an abiding faith in reincarnation, and no sense of the separation of science and religion such as came forward in Western civilization in the course of the last five hundred years.

    Hard-won was the independence of science from religion, as is the independence of government from religion that was the true experiment in the founding of this country; neither is yet the currency of popular culture.

    1. Mark Foote
      Mark Foote May 25, 2015 at 9:40 am |

      Quote should have started from “According to the Pāli Canon…”, there.

      1. Mark Foote
        Mark Foote May 25, 2015 at 9:44 am |

        Try that again:

        Hard-won was the independence of science from religion, as was the independence of government from religion that was incorporated in the Bill of Rights in the founding of this country; neither is yet the currency of popular culture.

  5. Harlan
    Harlan May 25, 2015 at 10:01 am |

    Nice Brad. Succinct, clear, logical, on point.. Are you the same person who delivered that excruciating talk in Nashville?

    Also when I wondered if you were possibly a conservative Buddhist I was making no judgement on the matter. That’s your business.

    1. chasrmartin
      chasrmartin May 25, 2015 at 10:25 am |

      Harlan, speaking for myself, I once wrote that I’m ‘“conservative” in the peculiar American meaning of the word, where a radical egalitarian, pro-choice, pro-gay marriage, pro-free speech, pro-porn, mind your own damn business, yes we need to pay attention to what happens in the Middle East and Ukraine because we’d rather fight there than here anti-fascist Buddhist is “conservative” while an aristocratic elite dedicated to centralized control by a chosen few is “liberal.”’

      Robert Heinlein and Thomas Jefferson said some good things:

      “Political tags—such as royalist, communist, democrat, populist, fascist, liberal, conservative, and so forth—are never basic criteria. The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire. The former are idealists acting from highest motives for the greatest good of the greatest number. The latter are surly curmudgeons, suspicious and lacking in altruism. But they are more comfortable neighbors than the other sort.”

      — Robert A. Heinlein
      “Men by their constitutions are naturally divided into two parties: 1. Those who fear and distrust the people, and wish to draw all powers from them into the hands of the higher classes. 2. Those who identify themselves with the people, have confidence in them, cherish and consider them as the most honest and safe, although not the most wise depositary of the public interests. In every country these two parties exist, and in every one where they are free to think, speak, and write, they will declare themselves. Call them, therefore, Liberals and Serviles, Jacobins and Ultras, Whigs and Tories, Republicans and Federalists, Aristocrats and Democrats, or by whatever name you please, they are the same parties still and pursue the same object. The last one of Aristocrats and Democrats is the true one expressing the essence of all.”

      — Thomas Jefferson (Letter to Henry Lee, 1824)

      And Seng Ts’an wrote: “The best way isn’t difficult, as long as you stop picking and choosing. Stop making distinctions, and Enlightenment comes of itself.”

      Maybe the problem is with “conservative” and “liberal”.

      1. Shodo
        Shodo May 25, 2015 at 10:44 am |

        “Harlan, speaking for myself, I once wrote that I’m ‘“conservative” in the peculiar American meaning of the word, where a radical egalitarian, pro-choice, pro-gay marriage, pro-free speech, pro-porn, mind your own damn business, yes we need to pay attention to what happens in the Middle East and Ukraine because we’d rather fight there than here anti-fascist Buddhist…”

        That sure is a lot of words when you could have just said “libertarian” and be done with it. :3

        1. Dog Star
          Dog Star May 25, 2015 at 10:59 am |

          Hi Shodo,
          As I understand it, orthodox libertarians are strict isolationists. That doesn’t seem to be part of Charlie’s expressed opinion here.

          Why demand someone label themselves in any way?

          1. chasrmartin
            chasrmartin May 25, 2015 at 11:26 am |

            Yeah, what he said.

        2. chasrmartin
          chasrmartin May 25, 2015 at 11:26 am |

          Shodo, the problem with being a “libertarian” — which, if forced to label myself in one word is indeed the one word I usually pick — is that a whole lot of libertarians want to be put-up-a-wall-at-the-border isolationists, which seems to me only plausible if we can all move to Mars where other people, like ISIS, can’t get to us.

          There are also a lot of libertarians who seem to think you can’t be a Real Libertarian without being exactly their kind of libertarian, and my politics never seem to completely agree with anyone but me.

          And that only for a few minutes at a time.

          1. Shodo
            Shodo May 26, 2015 at 5:20 am |

            Lol… “Orthodox libertarians” are not strict isolationists, in fact it’s the opposite. That paragraph I quoted from you are issues that are far more important and central to libertarianism.
            Whether or not the borders should be open is not a defining issue… I mean, my God, you’re quoting Robert Heinlein! 😀

            I’m still scratching my head though… As far as philosophy is concerned, libertarianism and Buddhism are diametrically opposed.
            It’s the kind of conflict I can only be possible if you don’t understand one, or the other, or both.

          2. chasrmartin
            chasrmartin May 26, 2015 at 6:09 am |

            Yes, you’re right “Orthodox” libertarian is the issue I have. I’m very bad at orthodoxy.

            Now, my opinion on open borders is that I think anyone who goes through what iligales do to get here deserves to be here. In fact, I’d like to see walking across the Sonoran Desert and sneaking across the border be a requirement to run for public office.

            As to libertarianism vs Buddhism, well, consider the Buddha’s last words: “Attend to your own enlightenment.”

          3. Shodo
            Shodo May 26, 2015 at 12:52 pm |

            “Yes, you’re right “Orthodox” libertarian is the issue I have. I’m very bad at orthodoxy.”

            Are you sure?
            The things you stand for from the Heinlein quote… Open Borders… Your climate change denial (which, by the way, you should read my response to Dog Star from the previous post by Brad – if you are still citing “ClimateGate” you use very bad sources)

            From my point of view… you’ve got “orthodox” hands down. 😉

            How do you square your libertarianism with your buddhism btw? Just wondering…

        3. chasrmartin
          chasrmartin May 26, 2015 at 5:18 pm |

          On climate, well, I’ve written probably 100,000 words about it since I was the first American journalist to break the Climategate story. Go read them, get back to me.

          As to the other, you just want a debate and we’re heading towards one about orthodoxy. So how about you go ahead, and I’ll get on with my day.

          1. Shodo
            Shodo May 27, 2015 at 5:03 am |

            “On climate, well, I’ve written probably 100,000 words about it since I was the first American journalist to break the Climategate story. Go read them, get back to me. ”

            100,000 wasted words then… if it’s your only claim to fame then it’s no wonder you’re still harping on about it.

            Since your so-called “Climategate” story, what has happened?

            By 2011, nine separate investigations by the British government and multiple independent ethics committees had been done – ZERO found ANY evidence of wrongdoing.
            Aaaaaaaaand…
            The CRU data was replicated, by independent scientists.

            Now the usual libertarian line of attack is that this is evidence of a nefarious conspiracy! Lefty-Scientists who want to take away your god-given right to drive hummers, or some other slice of nonsense.

            I will counter that it’s evidence that “climategate” was bullshit from the beginning. 😉

            “As to the other, you just want a debate and we’re heading towards one about orthodoxy. So how about you go ahead, and I’ll get on with my day.”

            No, I asked because libertarianism and buddhism are contradictory and mutually exclusive world-views, You can’t be both. I’m trying to figure out where your ignorance lies. Either you don’t know much about libertarianism (which I doubt) or you don’t know much about buddhism (which is where I’m placing my bet.)

          2. chasrmartin
            chasrmartin May 27, 2015 at 6:20 am |

            See? You haven’t read the 100,000 words, and you’d rather have an argument out of ignorance.

          3. Shodo
            Shodo May 27, 2015 at 6:58 am |

            “See? You haven’t read the 100,000 words, and you’d rather have an argument out of ignorance.”

            True, I haven’t read your piece… nor do I feel that I have to, because I read many pieces on “climategate” before it was shredded as a hyperbolic fake-controversy.

            This is not a argument from ignorance however, It’s a conviction that you have absolutely nothing new to say on the matter, as well as feeling fairly certain you have no new bombshell that hasn’t already been shredded into irrelevance by the many investigations into it.

            How bout this – save us both time and present your single best argument.
            I promise I’ll be nice as I correct it. 😉

          4. chasrmartin
            chasrmartin May 27, 2015 at 7:07 pm |

            Shodo, I long ago made myself a promise not to get into this argument without an entrance exam. Tell me how you integrate a large numerically ill-conditioned system of partial differential equations. Explain to me with sufficient technical detail to be clear what the phrase “sensitive dependence on initial conditions” means. Cite any of the last five peer-reviews ed publications making new estimates of climate sensitivity. And explain Dick Lindzen’s iris hypothesis, and some daya supporting and weakening the hypothesis — and don’t forget to include the new paper in Nature Geoscience.

          5. Shodo
            Shodo May 28, 2015 at 5:22 am |

            “Shodo, I long ago made myself a promise not to get into this argument without an entrance exam.”

            Oh please…
            Don’t try to pass yourself off as some kind of expert, you are just a regular jack-off with no more than a cusory understanding of the science – just like me.

            I’ve seen your writing, and you are far more likely to write about diet trends and buddhism than you are about climate change… here’s a spattering of your headlines:

            “Why Are Science and Politics So Hard?”
            “Tomato Buddha”
            “Do Americans Get Enough Salt In Their Diets?”
            “Want to Lose Eight Pounds in Five Days?”
            “4 Weight-Loss Myths”
            “Master Yoda and the Buddha”

            So either you want to discuss climate change, or you don’t… and you are not going to make me jump thru your little arbitrary hoops, (like tracking down your cut/pasted definitions for the butterfly effect) as some sort of test to speak with you on something you are not even an authority in.. 😉

          6. chasrmartin
            chasrmartin May 28, 2015 at 12:43 pm |

            I didn’t think you’d pass the exam.

          7. Shodo
            Shodo May 28, 2015 at 5:42 pm |

            And I didn’t think you really wanted to tangle with me.

            Smart move. 😉

          8. Shodo
            Shodo May 29, 2015 at 6:26 pm |

            Buuuuuuuttt…

            Isn’t it funny that you demand a base level of understanding to discuss human-caused climate change (even as a non-expert yourself,) all while the overwhelming majority of the ACTUAL experts don’t agree with your position? That only 25 out of 16,000 peer-reviewed papers since 1991 deny AGW? That NO scientific body in the ENTIRE WORLD has a dissenting position on AGW?
            I don’t just find it funny… it’s goddamned hilarious.
            Your position has as much science as Creationism.
            In fact, are you sure that you are actually informed on the subject?

            And as far as Lindzen’s Iris hypothesis, well… let’s just say he hasn’t managed to convince his peers.

            Welcome to Hardcorezen! 😉

            http://www.skepticalscience.com/infrared-iris-effect-negative-feedback.htm

          9. Conrad
            Conrad May 30, 2015 at 2:38 am |

            I probably shouldn’t insert myself in this climate debate, since I don’t agree with Shodo, and I couldn’t pass Chasrmartin’s entrance exam. But it’s hard to resist, since this particular debate is one of my pet favs to follow.

            To Shodo, Climategate isn’t really all that important in my view, not because Michael Mann has been vindicated by any of the investigations, but because no one in climate science who matters takes his Hockey Stick work seriously anymore. Everyone has moved on and just wants to forget about it. Even Briffa, whose data Mann used, threw him under the bus with his own study and historical results. And when Mann sued that dude from National Review who called him a fraud, not a single scientist or scientific body even contributed a side brief to the court in support of Mann. No one. If Climategate mattered, it’s to the degree that it reported early on what most scientists were saying behind his back: that his work sucked, that the Medieval Warm Period was probably just as warm as things are today, and that none of that really matters anyway, because the argument about AGW doesn’t depend on any of that anyway. And, that the general evidence for strong AGW just wasn’t as certain as its public advocates were saying, and that private doubts existed even then. More so now.

            Anyway, the general political consensus on Climate issues seems to be that everyone has agreed to publicly agree that something needs to be done, that it’s a very important matter, and privately are working to make sure that nothing significant gets done. Make of that what you will, I think it’s a general admission that the science isn’t terribly persuasive.

          10. Shodo
            Shodo May 30, 2015 at 5:54 am |

            It doesn’t matter what Chasrmartin’s “entrance exam’s” questions are, they are arbitrarily chosen and irrelevant. It’s a tactic to make one look like an expert and simultaneously avoid a discussion.

            Conrad said:
            “To Shodo, Climategate isn’t really all that important in my view, not because Michael Mann has been vindicated by any of the investigations, but because no one in climate science who matters takes his Hockey Stick work seriously anymore. ”

            Incorrect.
            in fact:
            “More than two dozen reconstructions, using various statistical methods and combinations of proxy records, have supported the broad consensus shown in the original 1998 hockey-stick graph, with variations in how flat the pre-20th century “shaft” appears. The 2007 IPCC Fourth Assessment Report cited 14 reconstructions, 10 of which covered 1,000 years or longer, to support its strengthened conclusion that it was likely that Northern Hemisphere temperatures during the 20th century were the highest in at least the past 1,300 years. Over a dozen subsequent reconstructions, including Mann et al. 2008 and PAGES 2k Consortium 2013, have supported these general conclusions.”

            If it doesn’t matter anymore, it’s not because his findings were wrong or that nobody “took them seriously” or that his findings “sucked”, but because they have been shown to accurately reflect the evidence 24 times thru independent verification.
            Mann’s hockey stick was correct, and it’s a hockey stick that has been repeated by independent researchers over and over again.

            Also, note that the defense given by the National Review reporter is that he wasn’t seriously calling Mann’s work “fraudulent” but was merely “been using exaggerated language which was acceptable against a public figure”…

            What is that exactly, but an admission that he wasn’t *really* calling Mann a liar?

            “I think it’s a general admission that the science isn’t terribly persuasive.”

            The science is as solid and overwhelming as the science for evolution… There is however a very well funded disinformation campaign by free-market think tanks and moneyed interests who’s profits are threatened by anything being done about it.
            Did you not read my post above on just how vast the evidence and consensus is above your own?

          11. Conrad
            Conrad May 30, 2015 at 4:14 pm |

            Shodo, there are so many proxies that show a Medieval Warm Period that was just as warm as the present as to cast serious doubt on the legitimacy of the studies you refer to (but don’t cite). I know you’re a deep partisan on this issue, one who can’t admit to any serious problems with the so-called “consensus”, but the claim that the science here is even remotely similar to that which supports evolution is still offensive to my ears, and show that you’re simply not serious about the science of climate, only the politics of it. Which has been the problem from the start. So much of the science that tries to support the AGW hypothesis is simply shoddy and worse. As recent studies have shown, scientific studies are not reliable, because often they merely set out to prove the hypothesis they began with, rather than trying to disprove it. As Richard Feynman said, the purpose of science is to disprove its own hypotheses, not to support them. There is a great deal of evidence which undermines the current climate consensus, but it is being roundly ignored because all efforts are being directed at creating a political consensus for dangerous warming. And if someone isn’t on board with that agenda, watch out. It’s creation-science for environmentalists. And you seem to be one of the policemen for that cause. Best of wishes to you on that front, but I don’t think it’s working, and is in reality collapsing as the data keeps rolling in.

          12. Shodo
            Shodo May 30, 2015 at 5:16 pm |

            For a fellah complaining that I’m not citing sources, you didn’t cite a single one yourself… BUT I am glad you pointed that out, because i’m going to point some wisdom in your direction… Brad’s site won’t let me post a bunch of links, so you will need to educate yourself I’m afraid.

            As my claim that no scientific body of national or international standing rejects the IPCC assessments…

            Google the well cited Wikipedia page: “Scientific Opinion of Climate Change”

            But if you are too lazy, here is one from NASA, where there are links to over 200 scientific bodies.

            http://climate.nasa.gov/scientific-consensus/

            There have also been many surveys done, links to them all are on the wiki page: “Surveys of scientists’ views on climate change”… all show overwhelming consensus.

            That number according to the latest survey done is now 97% of publishing climate scientists agree in AGW.
            (HEY guess the percentage of publishing biologists that believe in evolution – 98%!)

            Look up the Powell study done in 2013 at the bottom of the page, that shows only 25 studies rejected AGW since 1991. 25 out of 16,208 peer-reviewed papers!
            I’m sorry, but you don’t have a shred of evidence for your statement that the consensus is collapsing, not a shred.
            Even the Medieval Warming period is understood to be only a *regional* event, not a global event. To claim otherwise speaks volumes to YOUR bad sources…

            … I bet you love places like “Watts Up With That” and the crank charlatan “Lord” Monckton, or maybe Willie Soon? 😉

          13. Shodo
            Shodo May 30, 2015 at 5:51 pm |

            But here’s the real rub Conrad.

            Even in the face of robust, interdisciplinary, over-fucking-whelming consensus… you are still going to deny it. You just can’t face the fact that you’ve been fooled. It’s just too difficult to admit to yourself that you and your beliefs are wrong.

            Creationists can *NEVER* accept evolution. To do so means that they would need to revise core beliefs about their faith. If Genesis didn’t *literally* happen, then Original Sin was never real. If Original Sin was never real, Christ’s sacrifice on the cross was meaningless.
            They can never accept it, no matter how much evidence you throw at them.

            Libertarians and other “Free-Market” laissez faire types can *NEVER* accept climate change, to do so is tantamount to accepting that their political ideology has serious fundamental flaws at it’s core, and their ideology is an expression of their values. It does so much more than just show that they are wrong, it scraps their world-view, and denies the possibility of their “libertopia” from ever coming into being.

            http://mattbruenig.com/2011/12/21/environmentalism-poses-a-problem-for-libertarian-ideology/

          14. Shodo
            Shodo May 30, 2015 at 7:11 pm |

            Case in point Conrad. 😉

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qLF6S7vlZDA

          15. Conrad
            Conrad May 30, 2015 at 8:35 pm |

            Shodo, if you’re not aware of the sheer fraudulence of that “97%” claim, there’s just no much point in arguing here. If you cite those “studies” by Lewdonsky, Cook, or others, you’re far worse off than Monckton or WUWT in playing with your own feces. Just don’t expect me not to notice the smell.

            The actual science community has very much mixed opinions about the whole range of climate claims. You can’t find that out by somehow trying to discern the views of scientists from abstracts of specific papers, most of which have little or nothing to do with climate science. If you do, you’re simply not even operating in the domain of science. There’s certainly a majority who support the basics of the climate consensus, but quite a lot who dissent. It’s nothing like the general scientific opinion on something like evolution. Even those who worked on the IPCC reports disagree with many aspects of it, but their objections get ignored. That’s one of the problems with “consensus”. It’s a political approach, not a scientific one. But that’s what you are, after all – a political player, who doesn’t really care about getting the science right. So what would be the point in discussing such matters? Chasrmartin had you dead to rights on that front.

          16. Shodo
            Shodo May 30, 2015 at 8:57 pm |

            “Shodo, if you’re not aware of the sheer fraudulence of that “97%” claim, there’s just no much point in arguing here.”

            Oh, I am aware of the many ways deniers try to attack Cook’s study. Funny how they attack a study via think-tank funded denier groups and individuals, as opposed to conducting their own study among actual scientists… but this was never really about science, was it?

            You haven’t even TRIED to provide a single source for your claims.

            But what the denier crowd doesn’t seem to realize (or tries to ignore) is that Cook’s study is 3 replicated studies combined.

            1st – A University of Illinois study asked scientists whether humans were significantly changing global temperature. Among actively publishing climate scientists, 97 per cent agreed with the consensus.

            2nd – A Princeton University study analyzed public statements about climate change. Among scientists publishing peer-reviewed climate papers, 97 per cent affirmed the consensus.

            And now the 3rd.
            “We identified climate papers stating a position on human-caused global warming, and found that 97.1 per cent of them endorsed the consensus. WE REPLICATED OUR RESULT BY ASKING THE SCIENTISTS WHO AUTHORED THE CLIMATE PAPERS TO RATE THEIR OWN RESEARCH. That independent approach found 97.2 per cent consensus.”

            Where is that “crumbling consensus” again? 😉

            NASA as well as ALL the other scientific bodies the world over have gotten behind Cook’s study. If you are going to ask me to consider who I trust more, I am going with the scientists and the scientific bodies the world over.

            Do you have sources of expertise that rate higher than what I have provided?

            I didn’t think so.

            http://business.financialpost.com/fp-comment/manufacturing-climate-consensus-doubts

          17. Conrad
            Conrad May 31, 2015 at 2:18 am |

            Jeez, Shodo, it’s almost as if you want to omit the fact that their study had to be retracted because of ethical problems. Or more importantly than Cook’s trash, that you would have a very hard time finding any “deniers” who would contradict the statement that human-induced climate change is significant. I don’t know any prominent “deniers” who say otherwise. So it’s a straw man they are pointing to, if they are referring the to the general consensus that human beings have an effect on the climate. But that’s not what the debate is about. Even the IPCC report, in a section written by Michael Mann of all people, spells out the basic radiative science which in a few simple equations shows that a doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere will increase worldwide temperatures about 1.1C. That’s not something any prominent deniers will actually deny. The arguments are all about the feedbacks, that either reduce or increase that number. The claim is that large positive feedbacks, primarily from water vapor, will multiply that warming several fold, and that’s where the danger comes from. And yet, we don’t see evidence of those feedbacks in nature. The basic skeptic position is that the net feedbacks are either close to zero, or even negative, reducing net warming to pretty minor values, certainly not environmentally threatening. While, at the same time, producing positive effects both in the environment and for human beings. Even the IPCC admitted as much in their own report which states that the first 2C of warming is actually a net positive, and won’t go negative until after that. Hence the claim that we have to keep the net warming below 2C.

            So the basic position of “deniers” is that AGW is constrained by feedbacks within the natural system, and is unlikely to go past any levels where there’s a net negative effect. The current “hiatus” in warming is further evidence of this, and places the rapid warming of the 1980s and 90s within a larger context of natural variation that gave the misleading impression that we were on the road to runaway warming, which it turns out was false.

            Getting back to Cook, they really could have done an actual study of scientific opinion on the matter, but didn’t because that’s not what they wanted. How? They could have actually asked scientists a series of detailed questions about climate science, rather than the mealy-mouthed question, “have human produced significant warming?” They could have asked for significant numbers on that warming, the percentage of it that’s human-induced, their estimate of ECS and so on. Because, you know, in the details, there isn’t much in the way of consensus. Even the IPCC report says that the ECS is likely to be somewhere between 1.5 and 4.5, which is just a huge range. And that in itself is an admission in the failure of the science itself to make any progress on the question, since that’s the same range they gave when the IPCC first began. You would think that thirty years of intense scientific research and over a hundred billion dollars spent would show some results, but it hasn’t. Why? Well, I think the simplest and most likely explanation is that they aren’t trying to make progress, they are trying to make a case for demonizing CO2, and that case just isn’t coming together. If it were, we’d have real numbers that were being matched and real models that could predict the actual climate. But we don’t. We have the opposite. We have models that fail miserably in virtually every basic measure. But somehow, that’s okay, it only makes the case more certain in some kind of twisted logic. The reasoning behind that logic escapes me. It escapes Freeman Dyson too. And a whole lot of scientists who don’t want to be publicly quoted on the topic because it’s bad for their careers. Thanks to people like you and Cook and Lew. Pretty sad, I think.

          18. Shodo
            Shodo May 31, 2015 at 6:06 am |

            Once again, you say a lot of crap and don’t back up a single thing…

            But this, this you are going to have to substantiate:

            Conrad said:
            “Jeez, Shodo, it’s almost as if you want to omit the fact that their study had to be retracted because of ethical problems.”

            Proof.
            You are going to need to prove this statement… If you can’t, then I am going to assume that it’s safe to say that you and your sourceless claims are nonsense.

            http://www.realsceptic.com/2013/08/29/cooks-97-climate-consensus-paper-doesnt-crumble-upon-examination/

          19. Dog Star
            Dog Star May 31, 2015 at 10:12 am |
          20. Shodo
            Shodo May 31, 2015 at 5:08 pm |

            I love this stuff Dog Star… 😉

            Notice, that how now that Conrad has been asked to back up his statement that the Cook consensus study, (the study that is cited by the President, NASA, scientists and scientific bodies the world over,) was retracted due to ethics violations, he’s gone silent?

            He was pulling things out of his butt and exposed his ignorance – Cook’s study was not retracted, he just believed something someone said on the internet.
            … And so it goes, when one’s primary sources are ideologues and non-scientists.

          21. Dog Star
            Dog Star May 31, 2015 at 5:51 pm |

            Let it go, Shodo.

            It’ll be okay. 🙂

          22. Shodo
            Shodo May 31, 2015 at 6:18 pm |

            Oh, it’s fine.

            And no, I find it highly worthwhile engaging in these debates. I would want someone to try to convince me, if I was in the same position… and, being reasonable, can therefore be convinced by good evidence.

            I did it when people were trying to jam Intelligent Design into our public schools, and I’m going to do it when political ideologues and moneyed interests try to maximize their profits at the expense of the only home we have.

            Does the dialogue bother you?
            You don’t have to read it. 😉

          23. Dog Star
            Dog Star May 31, 2015 at 6:53 pm |

            No. It doesn’t bother me. 🙂

          24. Conrad
            Conrad June 1, 2015 at 4:21 pm |

            Re science orgs, the American Physical Society recently changed their statement on Climate Change, removing the phrase “incontravertable evidence”. Which means that there is no such thing as “climate denialism” by their standards.

            http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/physicists-battle-over-the-meaning-of-incontrovertible-in-global-warming-fight/

            Also, there’s a great inquiry and discussion they held, with three members of the “scientific consensus”, and three “scientific skeptics”, who as I recall were Curry, Lindzen, and Christy. A great and honest and respectful discussion followed. The transcript of it is right here. No claims of “97%” are made.

            http://www.aps.org/policy/statements/upload/climate-seminar-transcript.pdf

          25. Conrad
            Conrad June 1, 2015 at 4:26 pm |

            As for Cook and Lewdonsky, here’s a story on the paper that was retracted. It may not be the same one that you refer to, I don’t know since you didn’t cite it, but it’s in the same line of their work. It’s certainly indicative of the shoddiness and lack of integrity in their overall work, and one of many reasons not to take them seriously.

            http://retractionwatch.com/2014/03/21/controversial-paper-linking-conspiracy-ideation-to-climate-change-skepticism-formally-retracted/

          26. Conrad
            Conrad June 1, 2015 at 4:32 pm |

            Also, just to note, some of my comments are being held for moderation, probably because I include links, and the software here doesn’t seem to like that. Your conclusion that I’m running away from the discussion because I can’t back up anything I say is part and parcel with the rest of your commentary. You’re simply not capable of arguing in good faith.

            At the risk of not getting this comment through, I’ll simply re-link to a discussion held by the American Physical Society when they were reviewing their statement on Climate Change:

            http://www.aps.org/policy/statements/upload/climate-seminar-transcript.pdf

            If you bother to read it, you’ll see that it’s a very respectful, lengthy, and detailed discussion of the science on climate change between three “consensus” scientists, and three “skeptic” scientists. No arguments from authority or claims of 97%. Just science. So refreshing.

            Afterwards, the APS amended their previous statement on climate change, and deleted the phrase “incontrovertible evidence”. That pretty much destroys any usage of the term “denier”, and is a good start towards reasoned debate on the subject, rather than attempts like yours to merely smear those who disagree with you.

          27. Conrad
            Conrad June 1, 2015 at 4:34 pm |

            Well, I don’t seem to get any comments through that have links in them. So here’s the most recent, with the link removed. You can go to the APS website yourself and look for the transcript I’m referring to:

            Also, just to note, some of my comments are being held for moderation, probably because I include links, and the software here doesn’t seem to like that. Your conclusion that I’m running away from the discussion because I can’t back up anything I say is part and parcel with the rest of your commentary. You’re simply not capable of arguing in good faith.

            At the risk of not getting this comment through, I’ll simply re-link to a discussion held by the American Physical Society when they were reviewing their statement on Climate Change:

            If you bother to read it, you’ll see that it’s a very respectful, lengthy, and detailed discussion of the science on climate change between three “consensus” scientists, and three “skeptic” scientists. No arguments from authority or claims of 97%. Just science. So refreshing.

            Afterwards, the APS amended their previous statement on climate change, and deleted the phrase “incontrovertible evidence”. That pretty much destroys any usage of the term “denier”, and is a good start towards reasoned debate on the subject, rather than attempts like yours to merely smear those who disagree with you.

          28. Shodo
            Shodo June 1, 2015 at 8:07 pm |

            Conrad!
            You’re back! 🙂

            There’s that thing again – you’re getting bad information.
            You haven’t actually read what the American Physical Society has to say about *why* they removed the word “incontrovertible”…? You just ran with the explanation of a biased second-hand source.

            I suggest you read this:

            http://www.aps.org/policy/statements/07_1.cfm

            Before they get to the line “incontrovertible”, they explain each line of their statement…and the first line is:

            “There is a substantial body of peer reviewed scientific research to support the technical aspects of the 2007 APS statement. The first sentence of the APS statement is broadly supported by observational data, physical principles, and global climate models. Greenhouse gas emissions are changing the Earth’s energy balance on a planetary scale in ways that affect the climate over long periods of time”

            Does that sound like there’s doubt with AGW…?
            Not to me.

            Here’s the explanation Conrad.

            “The evidence for global temperature rise over the last century is compelling. However, the word “incontrovertible” in the first sentence of the second paragraph of the 2007 APS statement is rarely used in science because by its very nature science questions prevailing ideas. The observational data indicate a global surface warming of 0.74 °C (+/- 0.18 °C) since the late 19th century.”

            You think that because the APS removed the word “incontrovertible”, that they were expressing doubts with Climate Change.

            They weren’t! 😀

            In reality, they removed the word because the nature of science is that you *never* reach pure objective truth, and that you always question everything, while the very meaning of “incontrovertible” is unquestionable!!
            It’s not that theirs doubt in the level of certainty we have about AGW, it’s that it’s not the right word to use when speaking about science… ANY science.

            You are all turned around because that’s the kind of thing that happens when all your information comes from bad sources.

          29. Shodo
            Shodo June 1, 2015 at 8:11 pm |

            Conrad says:
            “As for Cook and Lewdonsky, here’s a story on the paper that was retracted. It may not be the same one that you refer to, I don’t know since you didn’t cite it, but it’s in the same line of their work. It’s certainly indicative of the shoddiness and lack of integrity in their overall work, and one of many reasons not to take them seriously.”

            Don’t play this game – you can’t edit now what you said in your previous posts. You were *CLEARLY* talking about the Cook 97% consensus paper.
            That’s the reason you’ve been quiet. You’ve been trying to figure out a way to save face after making such an error.
            At least we can now agree, that the 97% consensus study is robust and an accurate reflection of the consensus. 😉

            But as far as the *actual* retracted study (of who Cook was just one of 4 authors): “Recursive fury: Conspiracist ideation in the blogosphere in response to research on conspiracist ideation”- it is now obvious, you didn’t even read your own link.
            You said that the study is “shoddy” and that their work “lacks integrity”?
            This quote is why it was retracted, from YOUR link.

            “This investigation did not identify any issues with the academic and ethical aspects of the study. It did, however, determine that the legal context is insufficiently clear and therefore Frontiers wishes to retract the published article.”

            In short, it was a good study… academically AND ethically. But was pulled because “…climate skeptics complained that the work was defamatory.”

            So if you had read your own link, you would have seen that the ACTUAL reason was because so-called “climate skeptics” were threatening to sue. 😀

          30. Conrad
            Conrad June 2, 2015 at 1:45 pm |

            Well, if you had read the article, you’d know that the head of the APS group reviewing the statement on climate was preparing a much different report with much more skeptical responses to the science, but the activists in the group got tremendously, well, activated, and mounted a huge fight and battle and forced him to resign in protest. All fun and games, I’m sure. Anyway, my point is that there’s a real scientific controversy here that actual scientists disagree about. And it’s not just some crazy 3%, it’s quite a few mainstream, highly respectable scientists.

            As for Cook and Lew, no, it wasn’t retracted because of any threats from skeptics. The publication itself made that quite clear. It was the methods employed in the study which were unethical.

            Now you’re right, I did confuse that controversy with the 97% study, but that study is also BS on a scale only fools would fail to follow. Or partisans who just don’t care. If NASA approves of it, it only goes to show how low they have gone under Hansen and Schmidt. As I pointed out earlier, it’s only true in the sense that probably 97% of skeptics believe that humans have had a significant effect on the climate. In which case, it fails entirely to say anything meaningful about the views of skeptics, but it gets trotted out as if to say, “see, what skeptics are saying is rejected by 97% of scientists”. Which isn’t true at all. The studies I’ve seen, such as a survey of meterologists, finds that a bit over half of them believe that most of the warming of the second half of the 20th century is caused by human-produced greenhouse gases. In other words, a very significant minority doesn’t accept the so-called “consensus” to varying degrees.

            And that’s reflected fairly well in both popular opinion and actual political progress in the field. As I said before, most countries just aren’t going along with the program, and it’s not just because of self-interest. Many consider the “crisis” to be a self-perpetuating agenda for show, rather than a genuine emergency. And even some countries which once tried to lead the way are scaling back their own programs. So it’s pretty much a done deal at this point that not much is going to happen.

          31. Shodo
            Shodo June 2, 2015 at 8:50 pm |

            Conrad said:
            “Well, if you had read the article, you’d know that the head of the APS group reviewing the statement on climate was preparing a much different report with much more skeptical responses to the science, but the activists in the group got tremendously, well, activated, and mounted a huge fight and battle and forced him to resign in protest.”

            I am not going to read your 573 page long document you posted.

            You tell me what pages to read of that 573 page long document you posted that shows me what you are saying is true. 😉

  6. chasrmartin
    chasrmartin May 25, 2015 at 10:17 am |

    Yes! Yes yes yes! (Insert dancing about waving hands and say “yes” here.) I wrote about this a couple of years ago (see http://pjmedia.com/lifestyle/2013/09/08/does-buddhism-require-you-to-be-a-liberal/?singlepage=true)

    Too often, like when insisting on pacifism in the face of ISIS, I think we’re seeing not real compassion for all, meant to reduce suffering for all, but what Trungpa Rinpoche called “idiot compassion” — compassion meant to make you feel better about yourself.

    Which, of course, is kamatrishna, thirst for things that make us feel good, and increases suffering.

  7. The Grand Canyon
    The Grand Canyon May 25, 2015 at 10:19 am |

    The Three Pillars of Buddhist Politics:
    1) Act mindfully.
    2) Act morally.
    3) Act compassionately.

    Everything else is just footnotes.
    Footnote #1) Meditate daily to increase mindfulness, morality, compassion, insight, and wisdom.

    1. Shodo
      Shodo May 27, 2015 at 7:02 am |
  8. Mumbles
    Mumbles May 25, 2015 at 10:26 am |

    If you’re gonna be on a team (Team Buddhist, Team U.S.A. etc.) you will immediately become identified with aspects of the team (the Dalai Lama is head coach, right? Obama is president..). You yourself identify with it otherwise you would not label yourself “this or that.”

    To disappear completely into the mystery, to see what is outside as what is inside, to understand that we come from the earth and return to it just like everything we understand, we are not a “part” of nature, we ARE nature …there is nothing we can eat, breathe, see, smell, hear, touch, or think, imagine, or intuit that does not find its place within us one way or the other… Buddha holding up the flower, Buddha touching the earth as witness…

    We see it, grasp it outside/in: this consciousness without words, without ego-politics… pure perception, the open hand of no-opinion.

    When contemplating nature
    Always attend to the one and to the all:
    Nothing is within and nothing is without,
    What is inside is outside.
    Grasp then without delay
    The holy, open secret.
    -Goethe

    1. Dog Star
      Dog Star May 25, 2015 at 10:37 am |

      BAM! I dig your chili, man!

  9. Fred Jr.
    Fred Jr. May 25, 2015 at 10:46 am |

    How’d this place get so sensible. My work here is done, snif 🙁

    1. Dog Star
      Dog Star May 25, 2015 at 11:03 am |

      No, don’t go! I promise I’ll be more unreasonable! Just ask Shodo–he’ll vouch for me! 🙂

      1. Fred
        Fred May 25, 2015 at 1:08 pm |

        “clear that our political mindset is at least partly something we are born with”

        Nope, I was born with a load of shit in my diapers, but not my brain.

    2. The Grand Canyon
      The Grand Canyon May 25, 2015 at 1:01 pm |

      A gadfly’s work is never finished.

  10. senorchupacabra
    senorchupacabra May 25, 2015 at 12:13 pm |

    Really good post. And my–admittedly ignorant–feelings is that this gets a bit closer to your real issue with the libby-Buddho-peaceniks that had been the focus of your past couple of posts.

    Regardless of the accuracy (or lack thereof) of that assumption, I do get the impression that you’re a “conservative” Buddhist. Only, I don’t mean this is a political manner, but in how you practice. When one gets past all your “hardcore” veneer and the other things that make people think you’re a middle-aged man arrested in his adolescence, you’re not actually preaching (sorry, but couldn’t think of a better term) any kind of radical Dharma. Your Dharma is quite in line with accepted and expected practices, and if something comes along claiming to be Buddhism that doesn’t quite adhere to those expectations, you have a very difficult time validating it as “Buddhist.”

    I hope that that doesn’t come across as insulting, or anything like it. It isn’t mean to be anything more than an observation. And for those reasons, I do consider you “Conservative” in that sense.

    1. Fred
      Fred May 25, 2015 at 3:07 pm |

      “The Great Way is not difficult for those who have no preferences.
      When love and hate are both absent, everything becomes clear and undisguised.
      Make the smallest distinction, however, and heaven and earth are set infinitely apart.
      If you wish to see the truth, then hold no opinion for or against anything.
      To set up what you like against what you dislike is the disease of the mind.”

  11. Wedged
    Wedged May 25, 2015 at 5:19 pm |

    First official member of The Church of Brad? …because, clearly i’m special. I wish i could get all charged up and argue. I never see it…after years of being on here i always seem to know where he’s going with his posts. And i’ll try to see other angles but when i read the anger in the comments section, it still surprises and confuses me. All for show? easily offended opinionated readers? Or, am i just really special?

    Or i guess the comments section is a good place for Brad to use them as a mirror reflecting our state of mind. Anger is anger. So maybe if this blog really pisses you off, you’re just a pissed off person. And maybe when you think you’re special, like i do, cause you always agree with Brad; your delusional.

    1. Dog Star
      Dog Star May 25, 2015 at 8:31 pm |

      Hi Wedged,
      I guess it’s axiomatic that we’re all delusional in one way or another. I agree with Brad quite a bit, too, and although I wouldn’t say I’m special (well, maybe in the “I ride the short bus” way), it is what it is. Brad’s first book made me realize, to my great surprise, that I’ve been a Buddhist for most of my life and just didn’t know it (and I’m sure he’d be mortified at the thought. Oh, well).

      I like Mark Foote’s take on it:

      “I’m grateful to Brad for bringing Zen so thoroughly into the everyday arena that it hurts, and wonder at the motley crew that he has attracted to his comment thread, who keep me engaged.”

      As for me, I find this blog useful in many ways from the trivial to the profound. I’m grateful to Brad and to everyone who posts here for that, even (maybe even especially) the angry people, the crazy people, and the trolls.

  12. Laodah
    Laodah May 25, 2015 at 6:22 pm |

    “I found that in Japan – where they should know better…”

    With respect, brother, the Japanese are far less equipped to know better than those who come from nations where Buddhism hasn’t been wangled for millennia. Compare Christianity in the States; how many Americans are going to assume right off the bat that someone who introduces himself as “Christian” equates church membership with Christian practice? Should residents of a Christian-majority nation “know better” than to ascribe this dogma to followers of a guy who said no such thing? I think not; they’ve been assured as much all their lives; how are they to know they’ve been had?

    Same with Asians. They “know” lots of crap about Buddhism. This is why Western Buddhists must be extremely careful about the dogma we import from overseas. Much of it is extremely dubious, and in spite of what we’re often assured, the ancestor worship defence will not cover the cheque.

    Terrific post, as ever!

    Robin
    Rusty Ring: Reflections of an Old-Timey Hermit

  13. dwsmithjr
    dwsmithjr May 26, 2015 at 5:30 am |

    Most religions, even Buddhism, tend to consider themselves to be the keepers of morality and the conscience for society as a whole. They seem to think one cannot be moral without some religious perspective and that morality is the virtually exclusive province of religion.

    As a result they think they have a special calling to speak out on moral issues. It’s like it’s their job and one of the aspects of what they do that legitimizes them. It makes them relevant and engaged in an increasingly secular world. Christians of all strips certainly have that view. It seems many Buddhists do to.

    One social, cultural realm in which they consider speaking out on morality critical is in politics where “policy” is made, policies that affect many, many people. Even if it doesn’t affect many, many people, if there is some sense of right for the sake of right, they feel they just must speak out as religious experts and therefore experts on morality and what is “right”.

  14. Justlikethis
    Justlikethis May 26, 2015 at 5:32 am |

    Words, DO ya all believe them!

  15. dwsmithjr
    dwsmithjr May 26, 2015 at 5:44 am |

    ” I suppose you could argue that it’s more “morally responsible” to kill your own food than just buy it at the supermarket without knowing where it came from, but at least within the context of Buddhist monasticism, receiving meat is not a violation of the precepts. But killing a live animal definitely is.”

    “But I do know that I won’t be killing any fish. It’s a wonderful practice to accept what’s being offered, but what I do with my own money and my own hands is my own choice and my own karma.”

    This is interesting. Is this similar to decrying US militarism and violence enjoying the benefits of that protection. It seems to be parallel to this.

    “We Buddhists only get to be nice, soft, peace-loving wimps (let’s please be honest about that) because other people are willing to put themselves in harm’s way to protect us. We are unable, and frankly mostly unwilling, to do that for ourselves. I have great respect for the brave women and men who protect my ability to be a peace-loving wuss.”

    ?

    1. dwsmithjr
      dwsmithjr May 26, 2015 at 5:45 am |

      This is from the article Brad mentions regarding Buddhism and vegetarianism.

      http://thatssozen.blogspot.com/2015/05/beggars-cant-be-choosers.html

  16. lukeman
    lukeman May 26, 2015 at 5:52 am |

    Hey everyone,

    I’ve been following this blog for a while but never contributed. But I just couldn’t stay out of this one!

    From my perspective, I see some problems with whole separation of religion/personal philosophy (Brad doesn’t always seem fond of the “r” word) and politics thing being proposed here.

    First, nothing can be separated from politics. We can try to put up a wall between the two. But this doesn’t really work. Why? Because everything is political. When Brad or others say they are apolitical, I find myself just shaking my head. Of course, we all make our choices about “how” or in what way we are political, but we cannot choose whether or not we “are” political. This is because we have an effect on society. For example, people who choose not to vote, of course, have an effect on politics. In a sense, they help the victorious person/party to win. The same goes for other kinds of political actions/non-actions. So in a very real sense, everyone is part of the “circus” that Brad refers to. Some are in the audience, some are performers, some are the lions and monkeys (throwing poo) in the circus, some are part of the grounds crew, some are critics of the circus (i.e. carrying signs on the sidewalk protesting animal cruelty), etc. Maybe we can see the similarity between the extended circus metaphor and the Buddhist ideas of interconnectedness and non-self. Maybe not. But however much we like to segregate the different parts of our lives into separate little compartments, but that’s not reality.

    The second problem I see is we cannot really separate our religion/philosophy from anything in our lives. Think about it for a moment. A person’s religion/personal philosophy/worldview is a mental construction used for interpreting, understanding and interacting with the world. Separating our worldview from our other actions (i.e. political) puts us in very real danger of living inconsistent and, most likely, hypocritical lives. I think that is the real problem with people like Pat Robertson is not that they mix religion and politics, but how they do it.

    Just a few thoughts on the topic. Thanks for to everyone for contributing such an important conversation!

    Luke

    1. Dog Star
      Dog Star May 26, 2015 at 7:16 am |

      Hi Luke,
      I enjoyed the way you further developed the circus metaphor for politics, especially the “monkeys flinging poo” part (they must be professional political consultants :-)). We are indeed interconnected.

      I think the issue isn’t that everyone has a political position that they exercise either by being actively involved in the process to varying extents or by opting out altogether. I would say that most people fit somewhere within that set of circumstances.

      The deeper question is, does one have to be politically active, or taken further, does one have to hold the “correct” set of political opinions in order to be considered a Buddhist? In my opinion, the answer is unambiguously, “no.”

      Buddhism does not require one to accept ANY kind of doctrine, including any political doctrine deemed true and correct by… WHO, exactly? The Buddha said, “Be a lamp unto yourselves.” I think I’ll go with that.

      I think that most people are quite capable of holding their political opinions and practicing Buddhism–although claiming to speak for other Buddhists when you, in fact, do not, is a mistake–without creating any kind of dangerous internal schism in their lives.

      Does that make most people inconsistent or hypocritical? Maybe. But who can say?

      1. Dog Star
        Dog Star May 26, 2015 at 7:35 am |

        Sorry. The first sentence of the last paragraph should have said:

        “Does that make people who choose not to use Buddhism as a platform for their political beliefs inconsistent or hypocritical?”

        An edit function for this blog would be useful. 🙂

        1. lukeman
          lukeman May 27, 2015 at 8:29 pm |

          Thanks for giving more to think about. Regarding inconsistencies, I don’t actually think small inconsistency is a problem. It reminds me of those lines from Walt Whitman:

          Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.

          I don’t know if these words are very Buddhist, but I like them anyways:)

          I would agree with you about Buddhism not requiring full acceptance of any doctrine. But it does seem to have a set of core ideas as a foundation: mindfulness/meditation, interdependent causation/emptiness, and the eight-fold path. The Buddha was very pragmatic! And I think the Zen tradition tends to also be pragmatic, too. So when I hear “Be a lamp unto yourself,” I think try out these principles and “see” for yourself (the light metaphor makes me think of “seeing”). But it seems there needs to be some kind of foundation on which to place your “lamp”. Now don’t go quoting the Platform Sutra on me! 🙂

          No, there is no political checklist for being a Buddhist. And I will admit that it is annoying when other people make assumptions about your politics or beliefs.

          In regards to internal inconsistencies, though, some inconsistencies can cause problems. It can cause problems for others if the inconsistency includes cruel and destructive behavior under the guise of religion or the greater good. And some inconsistencies can cause great suffering to the inconsistent person. It is like they are waging a war inside themselves.

          I could be wrong about all of this, but it is how it seems to me today.

          Take care!

          1. Dog Star
            Dog Star May 30, 2015 at 6:35 am |

            Hi Luke.
            “But it seems there needs to be some kind of foundation on which to place your ‘lamp’.”

            I like the way you put this. To me it suggests placing my lamp on the ground, being careful not to kick it over in my confusion and milling about.

            The rest of what you say seems to make pretty good sense, too. At least to me. 🙂

    2. Yoshiyahu
      Yoshiyahu May 26, 2015 at 10:12 am |

      Luke — we have adverbs for a reason. Brad didn’t say he was apolitical, so you can stop shaking about like a bobblehead.

      1. lukeman
        lukeman May 27, 2015 at 7:49 pm |

        Oh, “fairly apolitical”! What a fine distinction:)

  17. leslieb
    leslieb May 26, 2015 at 5:56 am |

    Buddhism that’s cool with killing people for political gain. That really is “hardcore.”

    1. chasrmartin
      chasrmartin May 26, 2015 at 6:13 am |

      Oh, now, go read what Brad said again. Seriously.

      1. leslieb
        leslieb May 26, 2015 at 2:25 pm |

        Instead I read the letter that Steven Green wrote after murdering four Iraqi civilians: “I see now that war is intrinsically evil, because killing is intrinsically evil. And, I am sorry I ever had anything to do with either.”

        1. Yoshiyahu
          Yoshiyahu May 26, 2015 at 4:28 pm |

          Screw you, leslieb. You’re trafficking in evil here.

          The atrocities committed by Green and his unit make “Murdering four Iraqi civilians” a disgusting euphemism. They harrassed the girl and her family, making the mom fear fot the child’s safety. They planned the assault in advance, went to the familys’ house, gang-raped the girl and murdered everyone, set the bodies on fire, then tried to pin everything on Sunnis.

          Steven Green isn’t telling us anything about the intrinsic evil of killing. They are telling us about something much more obscene and depraved and evil.

          Again, leslieb, screw you.

          Actually, fuck you.

          1. Yoshiyahu
            Yoshiyahu May 27, 2015 at 2:04 am |

            leslie, i’m sorry that you don’t know the difference between a screw and a fuck. I pray you get lucky soon.

        2. chasrmartin
          chasrmartin May 26, 2015 at 5:20 pm |

          Then you didn’t read what Brad said, and intend to continue in ignorance. Anupaya.

          1. leslieb
            leslieb May 27, 2015 at 12:21 am |

            Yoshiyahu, I’m new to Buddhist blog post commenting and its associated insults. What’s the difference between “screw you” and “fuck you.”

            Thanks for your patience.

          2. Dog Star
            Dog Star May 29, 2015 at 8:17 pm |

            Hi leslieb,
            I see that you have not yet received a substantive reply addressing your actual question, namely, the technical differences between “screw you” and “fuck you.” It is a good question, and it took some courage for you to ask it. If you will permit me, I will in my own simple way try to explain.

            Basically, assuming you are female, both statements invoke essentially the same physical act, but they refer to different orifices where the male member–a.k.a. “penis,” “dick,” “johnson,” “meat-stick,” “purple helmeted Spartan of love,” etc.–would actually be received. In this case, “screw you” would correlate with the posterior, while “fuck you” would correlate with the anterior.

            The implication here is that Yoshiyahu found his initial statement , “Screw you,” upon further reflection, to be ill considered, as it appeared to him that another part of your body, possibly your head, was wedged firmly in that particular orifice, thus rendering the physical manifestation of the suggested act problematic at best. Hence, his revised statement, “Fuck you.”

            I hope my humble explanation has been of some use in clearing up any misunderstandings you may have had about this somewhat delicate and esoteric subject. The more subtle points of Zen can indeed seem quite confusing, even to those who have practiced a long time. Of course, as always, my interpretation may not be correct, so I recommend you keep an open mind and consult a qualified teacher.

  18. chasrmartin
    chasrmartin May 26, 2015 at 6:12 am |

    The First Noble Truth: “It’s never as easy as you would like.”

    1. Fred
      Fred May 26, 2015 at 6:58 am |

      Politics is a sewage lagoon. Have a nice swim

      1. Fred
        Fred May 26, 2015 at 7:03 am |

        “Buddhism that’s cool with killing people for political gain. That really is “hardcore.”

        The only reason you and I are here, is because our relatives were better at killing others. When you really look at the history of humans, the blood was always flowing down the cobblestones.

        1. Fred
          Fred May 26, 2015 at 7:04 am |

          Put that in your zazen and smoke it.

    2. Shinchan Ohara
      Shinchan Ohara May 26, 2015 at 7:11 am |

      chasr: ‘The First Noble Truth: “It’s never as easy as you would like.”’ … haha, I like that.

      fred: “The only reason you and I are here, is because our relatives were better at killing others.” … some traditions are worth breaking. Plus, I’m here because my ancestors were good at fighting, you’re here because yours were good at running away, Fred! ;P

        1. Fred
          Fred May 26, 2015 at 7:19 am |

          “Plus, I’m here because my ancestors were good at fighting, you’re here because yours were good at running away, Fred!”

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tudor_conquest_of_Ireland

          1. Shinchan Ohara
            Shinchan Ohara May 26, 2015 at 8:04 am |

            Huh? Ohara is a Japanese name. Get your facts straight, ya wussie canuck 🙂

          2. Shinchan Ohara
            Shinchan Ohara May 26, 2015 at 8:32 am |

            … saying that. I see your Tudor conquest, and raise you this…

            http://irishamerica.com/2012/03/the-day-the-irish-invaded-canada/

  19. Shinchan Ohara
    Shinchan Ohara May 26, 2015 at 7:58 am |

    Interesting comments so far.

    Re: religions and morality. What I like about the Buddhist/Zen take on morals is exactly that it’s not the kind of laws-based, absolutist ethical code that prevails in other cultures and traditions: that the precepts are rough guidelines for conduct, but they don’t rule out any appropriate response to a given situation in advance.

    I think Brad’s right that our species needs a big change in perspective – individuals seeing themselves more as part of the whole and less as self-sufficient atoms of moral agency – so we can stand a chance of NOT wrecking the planet and going extinct. Rigid moralities are a bad paradigm for making the world a better place imho.

    But I haven’t come up with a detailed alternative plan for creating Tushita heaven on earth, just yet.

  20. blake
    blake May 26, 2015 at 8:14 am |

    We tend to find ourselves in very similar circumstances, Brad.

  21. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote May 26, 2015 at 10:25 am |

    “Most religions, even Buddhism, tend to consider themselves to be the keepers of morality and the conscience for society as a whole. They seem to think one cannot be moral without some religious perspective and that morality is the virtually exclusive province of religion.”- dwsmithjr

    With regard to Buddhism, that would likely be because Gautama the Shakyan regarded his own meditative attainment as vindication of the veracity of his insight in every aspect of social life.

    Sort of like the Pope declaring that the sun revolves around the earth, and since it conformed with what everyone believed anyway, it became another sign of the divine authority of the pope.

    That’s why I’m not an “…ist”.

    1. Dog Star
      Dog Star May 26, 2015 at 12:59 pm |

      “That’s why I’m not an “…ist”.

      But if you don’t let people put you into some kind of box, you’ll make them uncomfortable. You don’t want to make people uncomfortable, do you? There’s a good lad…

      JUST KIDDING 🙂

      To continue our nautical metaphor, Mark, I like the cut of your jib!

    2. Shinchan Ohara
      Shinchan Ohara May 26, 2015 at 1:50 pm |

      “Sort of like the Pope declaring that the sun revolves around the earth, and since it conformed with what everyone believed anyway, it became another sign of the divine authority of the pope.”

      Kind of like how Brad’s only infallible when he speaks ex cathedra on matters of punk…

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g7adqag1gMk

  22. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote May 26, 2015 at 10:34 am |

    I mixed things up a bit there.

    A better analogy might be to William Shockley, who seemed to feel that having the brains to do the research that resulted in his sharing the nobel prize in physics meant that his conclusions about race must also be correct.

    1. Mark Foote
      Mark Foote May 26, 2015 at 10:39 am |

      Shockley, the father of Silicon Valley.

      1. Harlan
        Harlan May 26, 2015 at 11:25 am |

        “I had one experience which gave me some slant on the way large organizations run. I was not allowed to take spherical trigonometry because I’d sprained my ankle. Because I’d sprained my ankle I had an incomplete in gym, phys ed. And the rule was that if you had an incomplete in anything, you were not allowed to take an overload. I argued with some clerical person in the administration office and was stopped there.” – William Shockley

        “A sub-clerk in the post-office is the equal of a conqueror if consciousness is common to them.” – Albert Camus

        1. Dog Star
          Dog Star May 26, 2015 at 12:38 pm |

          While I am loath to start political arguments, I can’t resist replying, and I want to reiterate at the outset that one’s political views should never be a litmus test of whether one is a “true” Buddhist. As I’ve said earlier, this is only my opinion, and I might be mistaken.

          Having said that, for me this anecdote illustrates one of the foremost reasons why I am opposed to ceding further power to any central political authority such as the federal government. Such power always winds up in the hands of unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats.

          Regardless of the motivations of those holding power, as more power is concentrated upward, a commensurate amount of freedom and responsibility is removed from the individual. In principle, I cannot see how this, as a general trend, is anything other than corrosive to the character of the people.

          Okay, I’m off my soapbox now. My apologies :-).

  23. dwsmithjr
    dwsmithjr May 26, 2015 at 10:37 am |

    “With regard to Buddhism, that would likely be because Gautama the Shakyan regarded his own meditative attainment as vindication of the veracity of his insight in every aspect of social life.”

    It’s not just Buddhism.

    Many people appeal to their “religious experience” as vindication of the veracity of their holy book, or their tradition or their other insights. Religious experience is often treated as “revelation” essentially, not subject to any other need for validation. Just because a host of other humans have drawn the same conclusion from similar subjective experience doesn’t validate the conclusion. It only makes it relatively common and an understandable conclusion even if it’s mistaken.

  24. SamsaricHelicoid
    SamsaricHelicoid May 26, 2015 at 10:49 am |

    What’s your favorite David Lynch film?

    1. Dog Star
      Dog Star May 26, 2015 at 11:57 am |

      Hi SH,
      I am far from a bona fide film buff, so my opinion is probably pretty pedestrian, but I’ve always liked “Dune.”

    2. mb
      mb May 26, 2015 at 1:23 pm |

      Inland Empire – that’s the one that has a scene with people sitting inside a suburban livingroom wearing rabbit heads (and carrying on as if they weren’t).
      Brad ought to appreciate that one.

      Also “The Grandmother” – an early short film.

    3. Yoshiyahu
      Yoshiyahu May 26, 2015 at 4:10 pm |

      Mulholland Drive and the Straight Story!

  25. sfigato
    sfigato May 26, 2015 at 1:22 pm |

    I think in general it is more useful (and honest) to align oneself with policies vs. political parties. Political parties are corporations that exist to consolidate power and make money. They’ll use whoever they can if it will help them do so, but for the most part neither the democratic or republican parties really give a shit about anything except ensure that their donations keep pouring in, they keep winning seats, and their brand remains strong and differentiated from their rival. I think the Christian right getting into bed with the republican party has been damaging to both groups. It has certainly been bad for Christians, as many republican policies would not be considered christian had the Republicans not been branded as Christian. Jesus preached compassion, caring for the poor, and not being attached to money and material objects, which is very far from much of what the Republican party has chosen to stand for. If anything, most religious folk should lean left, given that its the left that tend to be less anti-poor, less latently racist and xenophobic, and more interested in the common good vs. personal gain.

  26. woken
    woken May 26, 2015 at 2:24 pm |

    This post,and the previous couple, have reminded that most 1st world Buddhists are smug, utterly selfish people who don’t give a whit about anything apart from their own personal freedom to do whatever they want: perpetual children. That’s what they see Buddhism as being and why they sneer at getting involved in any sort of meaningful community activity.

    1. Dog Star
      Dog Star May 26, 2015 at 2:31 pm |

      Unlike you, of course.

    2. Fred
      Fred May 26, 2015 at 3:07 pm |

      十方同聚會 The ten directions converging,

      個個學無爲 Each learning to do nothing,

      此是選佛場 This is the hall of Buddha’s training;

      心空及第歸 Mind’s empty, all’s finished.

      1. Fred
        Fred May 26, 2015 at 3:17 pm |

        Not woken
        Looked in the mirror
        And thought
        I have not learnt
        To do nothing
        My mind is full
        Of altering form.

        1. Fred
          Fred May 26, 2015 at 3:27 pm |

          the molecules danced
          in endless variation
          we must do something
          anyone can see
          it isn’t right he said

          1. Fred Jr.
            Fred Jr. May 26, 2015 at 3:34 pm |

            He said “right!

          2. Dog Star
            Dog Star May 26, 2015 at 4:44 pm |
          3. Fred Jr.
            Fred Jr. May 26, 2015 at 4:53 pm |

            o…. m…. g….

            your anti-trolling skills are remarkable

          4. Dog Star
            Dog Star May 26, 2015 at 4:55 pm |

            Damn! You feller’s is too quick fer me! I shoulda know’d you’d already have the link! 😉

          5. Fred Jr.
            Fred Jr. May 26, 2015 at 5:27 pm |

            The idea is not to be too obvious, especially when using a hyperlink. The comment sets it up, but then it’s following the link that reveals the goods. You’ve got to think of the user experience. You’ll get there Mr. Sirius. You’re earnest and that will work for you in the long run.

          6. Dog Star
            Dog Star May 26, 2015 at 7:36 pm |

            I’m a bull in a china shop! 🙁

            I shall never attain your level of skill, Sensei! 🙁

  27. Fred
    Fred May 26, 2015 at 5:39 pm |

    I’m too sexy guitar riff from

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M8t1RWKCvqQ

  28. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote May 26, 2015 at 5:43 pm |

    Not woken
    Looked in the mirror
    And thought
    I have not learnt
    To do nothing
    My mind is full
    Of altering form.

    up from the bed,
    breathless
    can’t stay, can’t move
    mercy, mercy

  29. Fred
    Fred May 26, 2015 at 5:54 pm |

    up from the bed,
    up from the skies,
    mercy, mercy

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bDmg8asAWuo

  30. Shinchan Ohara
    Shinchan Ohara May 26, 2015 at 6:26 pm |

    up from the bed,
    to the bed.
    blasted thermodynamics.
    tea, sisyphus?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r5XX9LX2es4

  31. Shinchan Ohara
    Shinchan Ohara May 26, 2015 at 6:38 pm |

    turning and turning in the galaxy’s cup
    mercy mercy
    up from the skies
    tea vortex leaves unstrained

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQw4w9WgXcQ

  32. anon 108
    anon 108 May 26, 2015 at 6:54 pm |
    1. anon 108
      anon 108 May 26, 2015 at 7:00 pm |

      Dammit Ohara. Made me look a proper Charlie.

      1. chasrmartin
        chasrmartin May 27, 2015 at 6:24 am |

        Here now!

  33. Mumon
    Mumon May 26, 2015 at 11:23 pm |

    Appropos of this topic, on-line at least, it’s somewhat tiring when fans of the Dalai Lama take severe umbrage at the fact that his political stances – and his historical behavior – haven’t actually been what might be considered “Buddhist.”

    When such ideas are raised, I’m usually accused of all kinds of things, not the least of which is the conclusion that therefore I must be an apologist for the Chinese Communist government or worse. Which I’m not. But there ARE Buddhist clergy who DO support the Chinese Communist government (in China of course). And there are those such as Hsu Yun who worked with the Communist (and was somewhat homophobic, if I recall correctly), and whose successors did not fare well in the Cultural Revolution.

    Which is all to say you’re absolutely right, and especially in terms of ethnic Chinese Buddhists there are multiple fault lines here, even in the US.

  34. Fred
    Fred May 27, 2015 at 4:53 am |

    “And there are those such as Hsu Yun who worked with the Communist (and was somewhat homophobic, if I recall correctly), and whose successors did not fare well in the Cultural Revolution.”

    Wikipedia;

    “By the early 1960s, many of the Great Leap’s economic policies were reversed by initiatives spearheaded by Liu, Deng, and Zhou Enlai. This moderate group of pragmatists were unenthusiastic about Mao’s utopian visions. Owing to his loss of esteem within the party, Mao developed a decadent and eccentric lifestyle.[citation needed][7] By 1962, while Zhou, Liu and Deng managed affairs of state and the economy, Mao had effectively withdrawn from economic decision-making, and focused much of his time on further contemplating his contributions to Marxist—Leninist social theory, including the idea of “continuous revolution”.[8] This theory’s ultimate aim was to set the stage for Mao to restore his brand of Communism and his personal prestige within the Party.”

  35. painedumonde
    painedumonde May 27, 2015 at 8:24 am |

    New member here. They reason I left Christianity and eventually Buddhism, is the mentality I see on the message boards and in the articles. I understood your nuanced position Warner, I tend to agree with you. Keep up the good fight, don’t let those “conservative liberals” get ya down! Bonne chance !

    1. mtto
      mtto May 27, 2015 at 10:03 am |

      Most of the commenters here are not Buddhists. Many of them are proud they aren’t Buddhists. If you’ve left Buddhism, then you’ve left what Brad is doing, and joined what the commenters are doing.

      1. Zafu
        Zafu June 2, 2015 at 2:53 pm |

        Most of the commenters here are not Buddhists. Many of them are proud they aren’t Buddhists. If you’ve left Buddhism, then you’ve left what Brad is doing, and joined what the commenters are doing.
        ~mtto

        Let me get this straight, when someone leaves Buddhism they start commenting on Brads blog?

  36. SamsaricHelicoid
    SamsaricHelicoid May 27, 2015 at 10:46 am |

    I think older, more historical Buddhism was definitely antinatalist though.

    “The moon peers down on a diseased world. There is no cure for the disease; an entire race vaults mindlessly into destruction, not even a man of colossal power would be able to prevent the inevitable. Death no longer terrifies man, the smell of blood is as common as the smell of white plums. So, he creates slavery and savagery, which surpass the horror of dying. These can only be fought with more bloodshed, and the cycle never ends. Futile are the ways of men.”
    – Hiko Siejuro
    from Samurai X Trust and Betrayal OVA

    Here’s the clip of the OVA:
    youtu.be/p3sYbHGjhEg

    Here’s a recent defense I gave for antinatalism:
    http://www.forumbiodiversity.com/showthread.php/44237-In-Defense-of-Antinatalism-not-having-kids

    1. SamsaricHelicoid
      SamsaricHelicoid May 27, 2015 at 2:17 pm |

      I think one thing to consider is how the phenomenal property of mineness generates illusions for conventional purposes. To quote Thomas Metzinger, “All representational states which are embedded into the currently active self-model gain the additional property of phenomenal mineness (i.e., nonconceptual sense of ownership).” This nonconceptual sense of ownership is extended to the family unit and even tool we use. For example, hold a stick for a long time and eventually you’ll feel as if its tip is a part of “yourself”. That’s an illusion perpetuated by the brain.

      Do we share a “link”, besides some genetic material, with those we call our children? It’s a serious metaphysical question, but modern empirical science generally points to “no”.

    2. Fred
      Fred May 27, 2015 at 2:21 pm |

      Antinatalism is a position. Buddhism is neither natalist nor antinatilist.

      A sage observes the flow of life around him; what direction it moves is irrelevant.

      1. SamsaricHelicoid
        SamsaricHelicoid May 27, 2015 at 2:31 pm |

        Antinatalism is not necessarily a position.

        It is the denial of the biological impulse to have kids. Having kids always originates in selfish interests, but early Buddhists encouraged to let go of those selfish interests and not procreate.

        In Chinese Buddhism, they encouraged procreation because it means more reborn people and potential for awakening and breaking Samsaric cycle. However, older Buddhism did not adopt such a view, I believe.

    3. Yoshiyahu
      Yoshiyahu May 27, 2015 at 2:51 pm |

      I go back and forth, but today after seeing the video this story refers to, I’m definitely on the misanthrope, people-are-just-awful side.

      This also gives us an example of the sort of thing that inevitably will occur in the absence of a strong police force.

      http://www.cnn.com/2015/05/27/americas/guatemala-girl-burned-mob/index.html

      1. SamsaricHelicoid
        SamsaricHelicoid May 27, 2015 at 3:01 pm |

        Yeah, Buddhist ethics are squarely “negative consequentialist”.

        “Negative Consequentialism, which focuses on minimizing bad consequences rather than promoting good consequences. This may actually require active intervention (to prevent harm from being done), or may only require passive avoidance of bad outcomes.”

        Given mankind’s proclivity to violence and delusion, I believe the best response is not having kids (i.e., antinatalism). Stephen Pinker’s stats arguing we’re living in “more peaceful times” were all wrong:

        “…the numbers do not add up. Pinker’s method for assessing the relative ferocity of different centuries is to calculate the total of violent deaths not as an absolute quantity, but as a percentage of global population. But statistical comparisons like that are notoriously vacuous. Population sample sizes can vary by billions, but a single life remains a static sum, so the smaller the sample the larger the percentage each life represents. Obviously, though, a remote Inuit village of one hundred souls where someone gets killed in a fistfight is not twice as violent as a nation of 200 million that exterminates one million of its citizens. And even where the orders of magnitude are not quite so divergent, comparison on a global scale is useless, especially since over the past century modern medicine has reduced infant mortality and radically extended life spans nearly everywhere (meaning, for one thing, there are now far more persons too young or too old to fight). So Pinker’s assertion that a person would be thirty-five times more likely to be murdered in the Middle Ages than now is empirically meaningless.

        In the end, what Pinker calls a “decline of violence” in modernity actually has been, in real body counts, a continual and extravagant increase in violence that has been outstripped by an even more exorbitant demographic explosion. Well, not to put too fine a point on it: So what? What on earth can he truly imagine that tells us about “progress” or “Enlightenment”–or about the past, the present, or the future? By all means, praise the modern world for what is good about it, but spare us the mythology.” – John Gray

  37. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote May 27, 2015 at 2:22 pm |

    mtto, speaking for myself, when I say that I’m not an “…ist” (in this case, not a Buddhist), it’s because I am indebted for the science, not the faith.

    I think most of us on the comment thread have this in common with Brad, that we have trouble distinguishing the difference, and at the same time we have a sense that it’s vitally important.

    1. painedumonde
      painedumonde May 27, 2015 at 2:57 pm |

      The nail on the head has been hit!, said the short green alien. That is exactly what I meant when I posted that I left the “ists” and “isms”and I think that is what Warner emphasizes in his posts and what his main thrust was when he sped off into zen. I read the books man, quite the journey. (I call him Warner because I’m don’t know the man personally, but I do identify with some of his thoughts for sure)

  38. wiggle87
    wiggle87 May 27, 2015 at 2:54 pm |

    This debate reminds of Prince Charles and his forays into politics. Unlike Queen Elizabeth, some of Charles’s political views are public knowledge and he has been criticised for writing to government ministers about various things where he should remain totally ‘apolitical’. He seems to get away with it because the topics are a bit ‘special interest’ (GM foods and architecture are examples). I sometimes wonder what the reaction would be if Charles was pronouncing on immigration or foreign policy.

    I feel that following Buddhism has shaped my political feelings and actions, if not my views. I think Brad rightly states that not everyone is going to end up in the same place. The Vatican’s response to the Irish referendum this week is a timely reminder of that.

  39. Conrad
    Conrad May 30, 2015 at 2:20 am |

    I read the “I wish I could agree” post first, and posted this response, not realizing conversation on that thread was long since dead. It applies here as well, so I’ll repost it:

    The problem I have with this kind of statement from Buddhist leaders is the singling out of the United States for criticism, rather than all the other countries who use violence at the drop of a hat to try to advance their interests. It makes Buddhism look like a partisan, anti-American movement, rather than a genuinely independent perspective that stands above all the fighting going on in the world, and opposing all of it equally.

    I suppose it’s true enough that US militarism breeds violence, but it’s hardly the source of violence in the world. In fact, it’s fair enough to suggest that as pig-headed and stupid as the American neocons are, in the absence of a worldwide American military presence, things would probably be a lot worse. They could certainly be a lot better if the US weren’t so aggressive, but without their Empire, there’s plenty of other players out there who would be even worse. So this sort of thinking isn’t just partisan, it’s short-sighted.

    Of course, one of the things I find most annoying about the worldwide left is its lack of historical perspective and worldliness when dealing with the real world. The problem here comes in Buddhism taking on leftist politics as if they are natural to it, which they are not. And I say that as someone whose politics are pretty left-liberal.

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