Monday, February 15, 2016

Buddhism and Social Justice (MLK video)

Ken Jones (text); Prof. Michelle Alexander (; Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (music by Nina Simone); Seth Auberon, Crystal Quintero, Ashley Wells (eds.), Wisdom Quarterly
Every morning we are "born" again. What we do today is what matters most.

Part I: The Fundamentals
1.1 Buddhism and the new Global Society
 Ken Jones ( edited by Wisdom Quarterly
How shall we have justice and equality?
It is the manifest suffering and folly in the world that invokes humane and compassionate social action in its many different forms.

For Buddhists this situation raises fundamental and controversial questions. Here, also, Buddhism has implications of some significance for Christians, humanists, and other non-Buddhists.
By "social action" is meant the many different kinds of action intended to benefit humankind. These range from simple individual acts of charity, teaching, and training, organized kinds of service, "Right Livelihood" in and out of the helping professions, and through various kinds of community development as well as to political activity in working for a better, fairer society.
It's a little planet with lots of populations.
Buddhism is a pragmatic teaching that starts from fundamental propositions about how we experience the world and how we act in it. The Buddha teaches that it is possible to transcend this sorrow-laden world of our experience and is -- in an ultimate sense - concerned first and last with ways of achieving that transcendence (by meditative absorptions, enlightenment, and nirvana).

What finally leads to such transcendence is called "wisdom." The enormous body of literature in Buddhism is not of revelation and authority. Instead, it is about ethics and meditation, philosophy and science, history and poetry that points to the Way of Wisdom.

(OHC) Dr. M. Alexander: "The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness"
KKK racists befriend Southern blacks (KKK)
Similarly, Buddhist writing on social action, unlike secular writings, makes finite proposals that must ultimately refer to this wisdom, but which also are arguable in terms of our common experience.
In the East, Buddhism developed different schools of "traditions," serving the experiences of different cultures -- ranging from Sri Lanka and Indonesia to Tibet and Mongolia to Korea and Japan. So Buddhism may appear variously as "sublime humanism," magical mysticism, poetic paradox, and much else. These modes of expression, however, all converge upon the fundamental teaching, the "perennial Buddhism."

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Coretta King during Freedom March, SF (
Granny, are you trying to be black?
This post is based on the latter, drawing on different Asian traditions to present the teachings in an attempt to relate them to our modern industrial society.
From the evidence of the Buddha's discourses, or sutras in the Longer Discourses (Digha Nikaya), it is clear that early Buddhists were very much concerned with the creation of social conditions favorable to the individual cultivation of Buddhist values.
An outstanding example of this, in later times, is the remarkable "welfare state" created by the Buddhist emperor Asoka (B.C. 274-236). Ven. Walpola Rahula stated the situation -- perhaps at its strongest -- when he wrote:

"Buddhism arose in [northwest frontier of] India as a spiritual force against social injustices [like the Brahmin priests' Vedic caste system], against degrading superstitious rites, ceremonies, and [animal] sacrifices; it denounced the tyranny of the caste system and advocated the equality of all [humans]; it emancipated woman and gave her complete spiritual freedom" (Rahula, 1978).

(Ancestral Prods.) Prof. Michelle Alexander on Why Hillary Clinton Does NOT Deserve Black Vote

The New Jim Crow (Michelle Alexander)
Buddhist scriptures indicate the general direction of Buddhist social thinking, and to that extent they suggest something for our own times. Nevertheless it would be pedantic, and in some cases absurd, to apply directly to modern industrial society social prescriptions detailed to meet the needs of social order which flourished [26] centuries ago.

The Buddhist householder of the Sigalovada Sutra experienced a different way of life from that of a computer consultant in Tokyo or a black youth in Liverpool, England. And the conditions that might favor their cultivation of the Middle Way must be secured by correspondingly different and more complex social, economic, and political strategies.
So it is essential to attempt to distinguish between "perennial Buddhism" on the one hand and, on the other, the specific social prescriptions attributed to the historical Buddha which related the basic, perennial teaching to the specific conditions of the day.

Do whites enjoy killing blacks? (
It is unscholarly to transfer the scriptural social teaching uncritically and with careful qualification to modern societies, or to proclaim that the Buddha was a Democrat and an internationalist [or an isolationist Republican].

The modern terms "democracy" and "internationalism" did not exist in the sense in which we understand them [although the Buddha was the first to articulate "democratic" principles, long before the ancient Greeks, in the rules of order and maintenance of the monastic sangha] in the emergent feudal society in which the Buddha lived.
Buddhism is ill-served in the long run by such special pleading. On the other hand, it is arguable that there are democratic and internationalist implications in the basic Buddhist teachings.

We're not racists! These [n-words] are felons. We set up, take down, and hate felons (AP).
In the past 200 years society in the West has undergone a more fundamental transformation than at any period since Neolithic times, in terms of technology and the world of ideas. And now in the East, while this complex revolution is undercutting traditional Buddhism, it is also stimulating Asian Buddhism. And in the West it is creating problems and perceptions to which Buddhism seems particularly relevant.

Throughout its history Buddhism has been successfully reinterpreted in accordance with different cultures, while at the same time preserving its inner truths. More

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