I appreciate all the feedback I received on my previous piece for this blog, I Wish I Could Agree. By now I assume many of you have seen the rebuttal to it from the Buddhist Peace Fellowship. If you haven’t, click on the words “Buddhist Peace Fellowship” and you can read it.
Here is a talk I gave at Against The Stream Nashville on the subject of non-violence. I hope that perhaps this clarifies some of the misunderstandings I stirred up with my previous blog post.
July 8-12, 2015 Vancouver, BC Canada 5-DAY RETREAT at HOLLYHOCK RETREAT CENTER
August 14-16, 2015 Munich, Germany 3 DAY ZEN RETREAT
August 19, 2015 Munich, Germany LECTURE
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
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I’ve been following (and contributing to) the big splash in the bloggic ocean made by your last post, and I just listened to your talk from Nashville. The talk has left me none the wiser, sorry to say, and you’re still overloading my WTF?-ometer.
So it turns out your criticism of the Buddhist peace people is just that their banner implies a divisive ‘them’ and ‘us’ perspective, when really the world needs to move to a global consciousness. No?
But I don’t read the banner’s slogan that way at all, and I bet very few people would. I read it as “US Militarism breeds violence, not safety [overall, on balance, around the world]. I vow to work for peace and freedom [in my own limited, imperfect way]”. You seem to read it as “US Militarism breeds violence, not safety [meaning: not any safety AT ALL for US citizens living at home], I vow to work for peace and freedom [and waving this silly banner is all the work I have to do]”.
Don’t you imagine you could be being unfair to the banner people, by assuming that they don’t know that all life is interconnected, and that being ‘holier-than-thou’ doesn’t help, and that working for peace and freedom means more than waving placards? Your talk assumes a kind of US patriotism/nationalism that the people with the banner might already have gone beyond. They might be saying, “as a US citizen, I’m peacefully criticizing my government’s policy, not because it makes me unsafe, but because it makes the human race less safe”.
You should perhaps also do some research before using examples from history: “nothing much happened in Manchuria during the War” (WTF? try googling ‘manchuria japanese war crimes’… it makes Nazism look civilised).
And perhaps you should think about what the real effects of cultural imperialism are, and whether the merging of humanity into one ethnicity, with one language, and one worldview – like you’re promoting – will really help anybody. In the sagacious words of U2, “we’re one, but we’re not the same”. … Turning the human ecosystem into a midwestern monoculture is a bad idea. Diversity is a strength.
Anyhow, thanks for making waves: it’s been a stimulating discussion.
The U.S. eliminated the Iraqi butcher, and created a vacuum which was filled by similar people. So now millions will be spent killing them as well. That’s the history of humanity.
Can we just blame Gertrude Bell for that whole region and give up?
To me the BPF doesn’t really have anything Buddhist at its core. It has standard majority-culture-intelligencia-leftwing-activism at its core, and they’ve tacked on sitting zazen and some Buddhist buzzword lingo onto the usual leftwing activist stuff. The way they deal with a police weapons expo is to block traffic, and hold signs saying “Make Peace, Disarm Police” and the usual sorts of Us Vs Them stuff. Go through their website and see if you can find anything different. I can’t.
Let’s do a compare-and-contrast with Bernie Glassman and his Zen Peacemakers. To me, the stuff that Bernie does feels more authentically Buddhist. Here is Bernie from something he wrote back in 1996, a few years into his Witnessing at Auschwitz retreat things:
To me, that moving beyond the us-and-them thing is crucial. During the Occupy protests, someone with Thich Nhat Hanh’s Order of Interbeing made a point of talking about being the 100 percent. They made a point of bringing the people in the officebuildings being picketed and protested against into their meditation.
I think that’s something that I’m not seeing from the BPF.
Interesting about Manchuria. I was mostly talking about Nishijima’s experience, which he said consisted of mainly maintaining a post out there at which nothing much happened.
But about fifteen years ago, I was researching Japan’s presence in Manchuria for a novel I was attempting to write and after a rather extensive search through the Internet and some books on Asia during the war, I couldn’t uncover much of anything. Certainly nothing like what’s on Wikipedia now. I had not looked into it since then.
So perhaps my research was flawed or maybe this stuff is only now starting to come out (I noticed most of Wikipedia’s references were from books published since 2001). Or maybe both. But, in any case, I apologize.
Also about, “And perhaps you should think about what the real effects of cultural imperialism are, and whether the merging of humanity into one ethnicity, with one language, and one worldview — like you’re promoting — will really help anybody. In the sagacious words of U2, ‘we’re one, but we’re not the same’. … Turning the human ecosystem into a midwestern monoculture is a bad idea. Diversity is a strength.”
I guess I wasn’t real clear there either. Heavy sigh. Because turning the human ecosystem into a midwestern monoculture is not what I want to see. The human ecosystem is evolving into what will eventually look very much like a single ethnicity with one language and one worldview. It’s unavoidable. But it won’t look like an Ohio suburb, I hope. This is the very beginning of a long, long process. Lots will change before it’s done. America dominates now. It won’t always be that way.
Diversity will always be part of what we are. But it will be a different sort of diversity.
Thanks for those replies. I feel much less indignant now. Peace (and freedom). â˜º
Actually it could become far more diverse in the not too distant future, with genetic engineering, synthetic enhancements, virtual reality, and who knows what else.
Biodiversity is in rapid decline worldwide, due to us homos. It seems unlikely that that will lead to a good place.
Don’t forget the whales. Even though there isn’t as much research on whales, given certain limitations, we can still deduce they have high metacognition; their brain anatomy seems just as complex as bottlenose dolphins.
Yeah, stop mocking me.
Granted, if we acknowledge cetaceans’ high encephalization quotient, high degrees of brain folding, complexity of their neocortexes, psychological experiments validating strong self-awareness, and the established “theory of mind” (i.e., apable of modeling the thinking of others and attribute mental beliefs, desires, and intentions to both oneself and others), then there is strong reason to believe their brains have a high capacity for integration and complexity, meaning they deserve to be called “non-human persons”.
Marine chemical pollution, such as PCBs (PolyChlorinated Biphenyls), are known to harm these cetaceans, and whaling still occurs in large numbers in areas such as Japan, Intuits, Farose Islands, and so forth.
This is a problem, and you’re a piece of shit if you disagree.
DAMN IT, I mispelled a word AND learned that markdown doesn’t work in comments, or maybe I did wrong… was trying to offset the bernie quote
“What do we do when the best short-term choice involves harming others to protect ourselves, even if we know it will have long-term consequences? Is it different if we’re talking about individuals, oppressed groups, or countries with enough power to start pre-emptive wars to ensure “safety”?
These would be good questions not just for you Brad, for all us of peace-loving, compassionately-confronting, justice-demanding folks to explore together.
From a fellow dharma traveller,
Buddhist Peace Fellowship”
Well Dawn, you can call yourself whatever you want, but no-self-upon-the-absolute isn’t a justice demanding folk.
Um, sure it is, Dad. (Don’t) think about it!
Hands across the water.
Hands across the sky.
I watched some of the PBS Frontline report on the Senate’s report on the CIA. I watched as much as I could stand.
Here’s a link to an interesting article about what’s up with that, if anybody needs it (minus the “h” in http- looking at GC’s comment, which I could only see after logging in, I believe Brad’s comment thread is now set to hold even one link for moderation- am I right about that, mtto?)
Funny thing, the author of the article picked up on the exact moment when I started talking to the T.V. screen and turned the T.V. off:
“But if Rizzo comes off as at least somewhat ambiguous about the whole thing, John McLaughlin reveals himself as one of the most chilling characters in recent American history. You wouldn’t assume that this rather bland looking fellow would look menacingly into the camera and hiss, “We were at war. Bad things happen in war,” as if he were in a Clint Eastwood movie. But he does just that.”
Sorry for the funky English. Here’s a link to the show itself.
ok, that link went into comments fine: I withdraw the question, mtto.
I’m not having my best day, I guess: frontline show, take two.
And here’s a link to the article I referred to, somehow the full link got truncated when I removed the http “h”.
I listened to part of the video. I got to almost 10 minutes and didn’t get anything related to the discussion so I quit.
What I don’t like (and what I don’t understand) is how and why you make fun of people (in the previous post and others). That’s violence. The very low-grade start of it. It hurts people. It upsets them. It makes them angry. It starts wars. What’s the point?
And when we make fun of people, it says nothing about them. It only speaks of what’s going on in ourselves.
So the way I’m seeing you now is someone with a lot of anger who lashes out on others. That big ocean you mentioned on Facebook. We all have one of those–absolutely. I do, for sure. But what I’m grappling with is that I sure can’t see you as any sort of “leader” I’d want to follow (which I know you don’t want, but I mean in the sense of a teacher or at least someone who is more well-read in Buddhist thought and more practiced with Buddhist stuff than I am–whatever the f*%#–) when you seem to think it’s just fine to lash out with your anger. It’s not fine. It’s not OK. It’s mean and nasty.
And I don’t hang out with mean people. How we treat others is a choice. End of story. It’s really not that complicated. And that’s the problem I had with the previous post which this video doesn’t–in the first 10 minutes–address.
Leah, you are so far off here that’s it’s funny. The danger is NOT from the people poking fun at others. The actual anger is the earnest self-appointed righteous types who start wagging their fingers at the people poking fun and lecture them about behaving inappropriately. And then come laws, and enforcement of laws, and beatings, and prison, and murders, and wars.
Also isn’t it great that there are tons of teachers out there? No reason to waste your time with one that doesn’t fit your model of appropriate teacher when you can find dozens that fit your mold.
I’m glad you got your jollies off, Yoshiyahu.
Seems you’re pretty far off, too. I don’t figure how people poking fun at others can be anything good. How do you figure? Do you poke fun at others? How do they like it? Me, personally–I don’t care for it. It sucks. No reason for it.
As for “earnest self-appointed righteous types who start wagging their fingers at the people poking fun and lecture them about behaving”…
Annoying, at best. If you’re referring to me: My point is that there is no reason that I can think of for mature, educated people to ridicule others. Buddhist or not. And that’s the problem I had with the post I referred to.
And that’s quite a slippery slope you’re slipping down.
“what I’m grappling with is that I sure can’t see you as any sort of “leader” I’d want to follow (which I know you don’t want, but I mean in the sense of a teacher or at least someone who is more well-read in Buddhist thought and more practiced with Buddhist stuff than I am”
Leah, among all the things I would look for in a teacher, having the teacher only say things I already know and agree with seems to be the least of them.
“among all the things I would look for in a teacher, having the teacher only say things I already know and agree with seems to be the least of them.”
Definitely agree. My point was in the delivery. I like most of what Brad has to say overall (though I frequently disagree with him). And I like his style and so on and whatever. But the ridiculing of other makes me feel sad and disappointed. The post I referred to isn’t the first time.
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