Here is a response I received to my previous blog post, I Wish I Could Agree, from my friend Taigen Leighton.
As one of the people holding the banner you object to, I want to respond, and clarify some of the misapprehensions in your article. You missed the point. First, 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. Second, and most important to your article, the banner does Not say “The U.S. Military breeds violence…” It refers to U.S. Militarism, admittedly a loaded term. But I for one, like you, am not an unconditional pacifist. I am glad we have a sturdy U.S. Military, and I very much respect and support the professional soldiers who serve on our behalf. Of course in this world for the foreseeable future we need some kind of military. However, by “Militarism” here I understand this to refer to the tendency of our political, corporate, and occasionally military leaders, supported by weapons manufacturers, to shoot first and “impose” diplomacy later. The unnecessary 2003 invasion of Iraq is just one prime example of excessive use of military, which has destabilized the whole Mideast region and probably led to decades more of American Warfare. President Eisenhower presciently warned against the military-industrial-congressional complex. And this week a young college student (I understand she is from a conservative Republican family) chided Jeb Bush because his brother created ISIS.
But this was not central to the conference as a whole, which focused on response to the Climate Damage crisis, and Racial Justice. The two other BPF banners displayed outside after the conference read “The Whole Earth is My True Body: I Vow to Work for Climate Justice” and “The Karma of Slavery is Heavy: I Vow to Work for Racial Justice.” Inside the White House we were able to comment on Climate and Racial Justice, and many attendees signed the documents we presented to the administration: “A Buddhist Declaration on Climate Change” and the “Buddhist Statement on Racial Justice”. Most impressive and useful are the comprehensive presentations by the Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi, “A Buddhist Diagnosis of the Climate Crisis” based on the Four Noble Truths and his briefer version “Keeping it Simple and Practical”. I would encourage you and your readers to study Bhikkhu Bodhi’s articles.
As to the context of those assembled at this conference, I had no part in selecting the supposed “leaders,” and have long been watching the parking meters myself. But the majority of attendees were from a wide range of Asian-American communities, allowing we “converts” to connect more deeply. There was a fairly sparse Zen representation. But key organizer Bill Aiken and the others on the planning committee did an excellent job of bringing together an unusually diverse group, and arranging a good program at the White House. A couple of the Administration spokespersons were extremely impressive, sincere and receptive. If nothing else, this indicates that some government policy makers are open to including, alongside other influential religious groups, consideration of Buddhist values of compassion, inner transformation, and longer temporal perspectives. While I do no imagine that there will be any immediate noticeable effects of our visit, I am glad for this beginning of a process, and hope we all as Buddhists might engage and respond more fully in many ways with the urgent societal issues we face.
Just took me 10+ minutes to click on the blog, then the comments, then sign in, just to leave this message. Any plans to fix this?
It is a mistake to assume that all Buddhists necessarily share a viewpoint heavy on opinions generally favored by many on the political left. Or that as Buddhists, people should espouse any particular political views at all. This seems awfully close to requiring that one accept a doctrine of some sort to be considered “true” Buddhists.
In any case, politics is relative, not absolute. It is certainly fine for anyone, including Buddhists, to express their individual political opinions, but to advance those opinions as if they have some sort of imprimatur of “Buddhist officialdom,” leadership, or even as an assumed group majority makes me feel a little uneasy.
Political activism is not what Buddhism in general or Zen in particular, as I understand it anyway, is all about. It’s fine as far as it goes, but it is not at the root of things, and to emphasize it seems more than a little delusive. This is, of course, merely my own opinion.
Dog Star, I agree with you completely. I’ve been a BUddhist for damn near 50 years, and was once interviewed by the McClatchy papers are the only Caucasian Buddhist “conservative” they could find.
Unfortunately, there’s a lot of hipster Buddhism that assumes Buddhism just means being the usual upper West Side liberal with cool Asian art. And now Shambhala is requiring student to pledge to certain political positions for higher initiation.
“And now Shambhala is requiring student to pledge to certain political positions for higher initiation.”
” I would encourage you and your readers to study Bhikkhu Bodhi’s articles.”
“It is a mistake to assume that all Buddhists necessarily share a viewpoint heavy on opinions generally favored by many on the political left. Or that as Buddhists, people should espouse any particular political views at all. This seems awfully close to requiring that one accept a doctrine of some sort to be considered “true” Buddhists.”
Yes, attachment to a doctrine or a viewpoint isn’t dropping the body-mind is it.
“I have to admit that my own meditation practice has fallen far short of my ideal, but I ascribe this largely to a chronic health condition (a personal karmic obstacle with which I must deal) rather than to a dedication to scholarship and a concern to translate the Buddhist scriptures.”
I read the larger linked article, which was actually more of an outline with pretty graphics.
Basically, he states his opinions about the causes and effects of climate change as if they are facts, grafts on the eight-fold path (cutely renamed “the ecological noble eight-fold path”), and states that if his prescriptions are followed, “Universal Happiness on Earth,” will be the result.
Again, it’s fine for this guy to express his political opinions (and that’s exactly what they are–no more, no less), but to refer to them as “A Buddhist Diagnosis of the Climate Crisis” takes inappropriate liberties with Buddhism, in my opinion.
Your one word question, “Why?” makes infinitely more sense than this guy’s idealistic vision of utopia. I’m sure he has the best of intentions, and I applaud his concern for the world. I’m certainly not trying to slam him or belittle his opinions, but it’s simply hubristic of him to claim he speaks for Buddhism.
But you do agree the scientific consensus is very clear yes…?
That is, that the Earth is heating up and that it is human-caused?
Very little of this guy’s outline has anything to do with the science part. The consensus is that human activity is causing global warming. that’s the science part. that’s it. everything beyond that is speculation.
the varied proposed solutions, from pumping chemicals into the atomosphere that will cause temps to cool to severely reducing CO2 through a drastic change in society to accepting the change and learning to live with it are all equally valid responses, in that they are all equally speculative and non-science based. that is the rub. we will soon get past the denial phase. then the hard part starts where we have to make hard choices about what to do about it.
remember all gore’s movie, where it’s like OMG WE’RE GONNA DIE and then at the end all these lame things you can do pop up like turning off the lights and carpool? same thing here. no one wants to admit that we have to curtail personal freedoms in real ways to effect serious change.
I agree that there is a scientific consensus, as you say, but I don’t think it is at all clear that this consensus is driven primarily by objective data analysis rather than a political agenda. There is a great deal of pressure for conformity involved, and many other motivations are in play besides a straightforward quest for the truth. The way that the debate is routinely cast in terms of “believers” vs. “deniers,” almost as if it is a religious question, illustrates how muddy the waters are.
To answer your question more directly, I think the data is inconclusive at this point, and there is as yet no valid predictive model to confidently support a hypothesis that AGW, or “climate change,” as it has conveniently been renamed by proponents, exists. (Incidentally, this shift in focus is an ingenious moving of the goal posts–of course “climate change” exists, but this does not necessarily equate to AGW.)
I am old enough to remember the ominous warnings of the 70’s about the “Coming Ice Age.” This came from largely the same bunch of folks pushing the current “climate crisis.” In my opinion, this whole issue has more to do with justifying further centralization of political and economic power than anything else. Whether this is good or bad depends on your political point of view, but science it is not.
Ironically enough, Shodo, I think that a hypothesis that AGW exists may have merit. But the earth is a highly complex system, and until we have a handle on more of the other variables involved, I am not in favor of ceding yet more control of the economy to central political authorities based on such a hypothesis.
As I said earlier, I believe that everyone, Buddhists included, is entitled to their own political opinion. And at this point, I think this is definitely more of a political question than scientific. And as any scientist worth his salt will tell you, scientific consensus does not equal scientific fact.
But all this is really beside the point. What does this debate have to do with Buddhism? In my opinion, not much.
I am sorry Dog Star, but I think you are wrong. The scientific data and consensus is very clear, and it does not support your position. Human-Caused Global warming has the same level of consensus in climate science as Evolution has in biology.
As a non scientist, I find this compelling evidence.
Every consensus study that has been done shows an overwhelming level of scientific consensus, this is across disciplines.
As a non scientist, I find this compelling evidence.
Between 1991 and 2012, there has been 14,000 peer-reviewed scientific studies. 24 of those studies rejected anthropogenic climate change.
Between 2012 and 2013, there was 2258 peer-reviewed studies by 9136 authors. Only 1 rejected man-made global warming.
As a non scientist, I find this compelling evidence.
There is no, none, zero, zilch scientific bodies of national or international standing that deny AGW… here is a list of over 200 of them:
Only 4 hold non-committal positions, and even they admit that the Earth is warming.
As a non-scientist, I find this compelling evidence.
There is very, very, very little evidence for your position.
In fact, I believe that the only reason you deny the above, is because you have libertarian beliefs that are short-circuiting your reason…
“I am sorry Dog Star, but I think you are wrong.”
No sweat, Shodo–it wouldn’t be the first time. I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree on this, as they say.
“In fact, I believe that the only reason you deny the above, is because you have libertarian beliefs that are short-circuiting your reason…”
Possibly, but I don’t think so.
In any case, debates of this nature should have no bearing on whether someone is a Buddhist or not. On that, I truly hope that we do agree.
Bodhi is a really good translator, and the Sutras are instructive.
But you do agree the scientific consensus is very clear yes…?
That is, that the Earth is heating up and that it is human-caused?
Shodo, I’ve been reporting on this for 8 or 9 years now; the “consensus” argument is overstated, and the thing about “you do believe”, which I see regularly, is more a catechism than a scientific statement. I don’t mean to hijack Brad’s blog, though, so have a look at this and then you can dig me up on Facebook.
Shucks, the quoted part didn’t get italics after all. Sorry, the first two grafs are quoted from Shodo.
Great article, Charlie. You conveyed what I attempted to say in my reply to Shodo with much greater depth, clarity, and precision.
chasrmartin, My response to you is the same response I gave Dog Star.
Really. Part of the whole Enlightened Society thing.
I like how Brad posted this reply without adding any comments of his own. Well done, Brad.
Why didn’t someone invite Brad?
Did you listen to the last lecture that Brad posted?
Hmm, let me respond to your question by posting instructions for a painting that when finished will express my answer.
I just did. I thought it was pretty thought-provoking and effective.
What Dog Star said, for me.
I did try to listen to the last lecture that Brad posted. Maybe because I’m a barnacle on this blog, it all seemed familiar to me.
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.
Boy, Leah gave you both barrels on the last comment thread, didn’t she Brad- hey Leah, don’t get discouraged, he’s a sensitive guy and I’m sure he will straighten up and fly right in the next episode.
Or maybe not, but it’s that cliff-hanger quality to Brad’s take on Zen versus his punk roots (and his irascible refusal to teach much of anything) that make us all so fond of him!
The more I think about Leah’s response the more it brings up interesting stuff– not the ‘making fun of people is anger and causes all the evil in the world” angle, but the other part, basically, the “you don’t fit my idea of a Buddhist teacher, You don’t say what a teacher should say, or behave like a teacher should behave, and even though you don’t like the whole concept of being a teacher, that still annoys me, and I feel compelled to tell you that.” part.
this is kind of addressed to Leah, although I’ll do it in the third person.
I just replied to her on that thread something that translates to “if you don’t like it, you can leave.” which I think is true. there are craploads of teachers. Many would fit Leah’s criteria, and are loathe to do or say anything that could give offense. She could go there. But she’s not there, is she? She’s here. There must be a reason.
I think about how Brad talked about Nishijima annoying the fuck out of Brad when he started studying with him. Maybe Brad had limited options. But if Brad was starting today, maybe he would have found someone via the internet who he liked more. Maybe he wouldn’t have been stuck with some annoying know-it-all. Maybe he would have ended up poorer for it, cuz he wouldn’t have been challenged.
I am pretty sure that I would not be practicing at all if i had stuck someone else in this teacher position in my head. Leah’s kind of teacher annoys me too much. But what if sticking with an annoying teacher would have taught me more in the end? What if working with an annoying teacher would have shown me more about myself? In much of life today we self-segregate into these groups on the web and in real life that reflect our preexisting shit back to us. Catholics learn to work with being miserable in some ways cuz they don’t pick their leaders. the priest is their priest and he’s gonna be the priest till he’s assigned someplace else. But everyone else picks and chooses. that’s why we have five billion kinds of protestantism. and Buddhism, i guess.
So there’s perhaps value in finding a teacher you really don’t like? Is that what Leah is doing? Should I go find a teacher that really makes me pissed off that I don’t feel any commonality with?
“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.”
You’ve got a cool perspective, Mark (“because I’m a barnacle on this blog”). It’s an honor to hang out with you down here on the keel of Brad’s boat. Plus, we get to say, “aaahhr, matey,” whenever we want.
I got a laugh out of that, thanks, DS.
Leah (ie; everybody) is just projecting her idea of what and who a “teacher” should be like and talk like in her opinion. Brad is self-consciously outspoken on many many issues here often only to spark discussion, IMO. He uses this “think tank” as a way to explore different perspectives that he can develop in his writing on whatever topic he may be working on. Or possibly he’s just curious to see how a particular opinion of his own plays to an audience before he uses it in a lecture, book or (life elsewhere) whatever.
What drives this blog (and others) is something I have been consciously been observing closely in myself over the past few months, the need to be “right,” to have your opinions validated somehow, -not only projecting but observing how the outcome is often quite different from the intention. Peace.
(Now to wait 5 minutes while this is posted)
…the need to be “right”…
Oh no, that’s not it at all.
Ok, that’s cool. Except that it’s 11pm and I have to do dishes and zazen and then sleep. and you’ve sucked me into listening to Baby’s On Fire and Driving Mr Backwards (any pretext will do), which is going to make zazen even jumper than it was going to be. Bastard!
I originally didn’t listen to the Nashville talk because there was no video! Just a slideshow of Nashville postcards – I guess I like to see the person who’s doing the talking, body language, hand gestures etc.
But…due to extended reference to it, I just sat down and listened and watched the postcards fly by. And didn’t really find it to be much different from the written posts. Except for a few tidbits, such as relating that Nishijima thought the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were OK because he thought the Japanese government’s policies during WW2 were just plain wrong. OK, that’s pretty controversial, but interesting to hear about at the same time.
But I didn’t really find much to object to in the way of Brad “making fun of people in a hurtful fashion”. He did say he thought the lady representing the Buddhist Peace Fellowship (who reposted her reply here) was being kind of aggressive (but deviously complex and reasoned at the same time) in promoting her view of what the Buddhist perspective on militarism ought to be – as if there’s a unified view. There is some crazy Buddhist monk/nutcase in Myanmar who is actively promoting hatred of the tiny Muslism ethnic minority there (and driving many of them out of country into leaky boats). Bad apple?
As to those of with slow connections to this blog since the server move, all I can say is that clicking on Youtube links is a hazardous move – you can get to the Youtube site quickly enough, but coming back to HCZ page you just clicked away from takes another few minutes. The other day, while visiting my sister, I tried going the HCZ site on her computer and it was instantaneous, just the way it used to be. Wish somebody knew what the deal is – my original thinking was that the problem resided with they way certain ISPs connect with the new godaddy server site, but the problem seems to go across that boundary. Stonemirror to needs to sit front of one of these slow-connection computers and hack out a solution, methinks.
There are more problems than just fucking global warming. Here are them:
1. Peak oil
2. Peak phosphorus
3. Peak water
4. Climate change making us use even more water
5. Climate change creating positive feedback loops and releasing even more methane
6. Ocean acidification
7. Overfishing helping climate change and ocean acidification with extinction of marine species
8. plant and animal die-offs (i.e., 75 to 90 percent drops in fish harvests, up to 90 percent of deep sea fishing areas now dead zones, deforestation and damage to coral reefs, amphibian biodiversity die-off which formed massive part of ecosystem, etc)
9. conflict (“the twentieth century being one of the bloodiest in human history, twentyfold increase in small arms production worldwide, militarization in China, Russia, and other countries, invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, etc., future resource wars”). Sources: I provided them here (http://www.reddit.com/r/misanthropy/comments/36lbjd/why_i_am_a_misanthrope/)
The solution is to just eradicate mankind through antinatalism and follow Ulrich Horstmann’s advice.
Just don’t have kids, it’s that simple…
Having kids in this day and age = EVIL
Just read the reddit link I gave. I provide sources.
The solution is, and has always been, happening.
You left out nicotinamides killing off all the bees before the industrial-regulator complex gets busted.
If you’re a Buddhist and you’re not an antinatalist, then you’re not a real Buddhist, it’s that simple.
Read the argument with evidence here:
There is something fundamentally flawed with mankind’s self-consciousness. Human beings, historically, have been best at coming up with creative torture methods. The Nordic people came up with “blood eagle”, Persians with “scaphism”, East Asians with “lingchi”, and so forth. There is no end to torture methods and even Americans continue to do it. In the recent declassified CIA document, a mentally handicapped man was tortured for potential information from his family. Turns out, he was innocent.
I want to come back as a demon after I die and watch mankind go extinct in its hellfire.
I hope you’re compiling all the things you wish you were and want to be reborn as. It’s becoming quite nifty as you continue the thought.
“If you’re a Buddhist and you’re not an antinatalist, then you’re not a real Buddhist, it’s that simple.”
Not just wrong… REALLY wrong.
The 4 Defeats (Parajika) are rules entailing expulsion from the sangha for life. If a monk breaks any one of the rules he is automatically ‘defeated’ in the holy life and falls from monkhood immediately. He is not allowed to become a monk again in his lifetime. Intention is necessary in all these four cases to constitute an offense.
Antinatalism falls under the 3rd defeat.
“Intentionally bringing about the death of a human being, even if it is still an embryo – whether by killing the person, arranging for an assassin to kill the person, inciting the person to die, or describing the advantages of death.”
So now that you’ve been expelled from Buddhism FOR LIFE, get the hell off Brad’s page. 😉
School Of Thought (2010)
The US is a warmongering, murderous state responsible for the killing and maiming of hundreds of thousands of defenceless citizens. If Brad, Steven Bachelor or any other “Buddhist” finds this defensible simply because it allows them to practice their religion, then their religion ain’t worth shit.
It’s a morally heinous position, no matter how much Brad sighs about it.
Happy Memorial Day. Enjoy your freedom of speech.
Woken, that may be true. But it’s not all the US is. Come to Little Saigon sometime here in So Cal and talk to people about what the US is to them.
Without the military, we would be killed, not them. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahmudiyah_killings
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