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Does Buddhism Require You To Be a Liberal?

Does handing out Obama phones reduce suffering?

by
Charlie Martin

Bio

September 8, 2013 - 3:00 pm

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The Eightfold Path is broken down into three categories:

Prajña, wisdom, which I’ll talk about more another time. For now, I just want to say that Sanskrit, like English, makes a distinction between “wisdom” and knowledge (jñana). Knowing how to shoot a gun is “knowledge.” Knowing when to shoot a gun is “wisdom.” This has two parts which I’m not going to go into.

Samadhi is basically meditation. I wrote about meditation and salad a few weeks ago. This has three parts, and I’m also not going to go into those right now.

Sila, or ethical conduct. This also has three parts (see, 2+3+3=8, it all adds up) which are correct speech, correct action and correct livelihood.

Correct speech means abstaining from lying, from malicious gossip, and from saying things meant to hurt someone else. Correct action means not killing without necessity, not stealing from someone else, and not having illicit, harmful sex.

Finally, there’s correct livelihood, which means directing your work and livelihood to things which reduce suffering for yourself and others.

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Top Rated Comments   
I'm pretty certain that I don't write these columns to trash Buddhists.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
Two basic points about Buddhism that prove you don't have to be a liberal/progressive to be a Buddhist. In fact, I think these two points alone reveal that a true progressive, if he were consistent in his logic, couldn't be a Buddhist as I understand the teachings.

Point one. Buddhism is all about personal responsibility. No matter what happens to you, no matter who does what to you, you are responsible for your own thoughts, actions, choices and ultimately for your own enlightenment or failure to gain enlightenment.

Point two. There is no room within Buddhism for coercion no matter how "noble" some cause might be. None.

Does anyone know a progressive that thinks like that?
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
Whenever hipsters say "But you're a Buddhist!" when I make a statement that violates their "idiot compassion", my answer is always the same "So were the Samurai. What's your point?"
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (87)
All Comments   (87)
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Thank you so much for writing on this topic. I've always called the "idiot compassion" of the left 'copious caring'. It's a disease that liberals cannot even see that they have. Caring is there calling ca
rd! And if you don't care like them then you just don't get it. It blinds them to any kind of meaningful discussion. Teaching yoga and being a conservative is very hard for my students to understand - especially the ones who love my classes. But they love my classes because of who I am and how I teach - which is from my base of conservatism. Please keep writing on these topics!!!
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
Thanks Charlie. I agree with you wholeheartedly. I have long felt that modern 'liberalism', which looks to the government for solutions to social problems, is totally incompatible with Buddhist teachings, which is all about PERSONAL responsibilities. I am appalled to see so many self-identified 'Buddhist' are so deluded. I consider them to be more of a cult, in which a pernicious political philosophy is 'bolted onto' a superficial understanding of Buddhism, using it as a cover to promote, using your term 'idiot compassion'. Anyway, great theme, keep writing on this idea!
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
Good discussion of what you call "idiot compassion" and I call leftist compassion, vs real compassion. I have discussed the same. The key differences are:
1. Real compassion is vuluntary, with your own money/time, leftist compassion is cooerced, with other peoples money.
2. Real compassion is supposed to help the target, preferable in a manner that will allow them to permently end their problems by voluntarily changing themselves. Leftist compassion is solely to make the leftist feel good, and asuage their guilt, and generally still leaves the target dependent, rarely permanently fixing their problems.
3. In real compassion, the giver decides where the money goes, with leftist compassion, a politician or burocrat decides where the money goes.
4. Real compassion expects nothing in return, but is glad to receive thanks. Leftist compassion trades handouts for votes and power.
5. With real compassion, the receiver knows they are getting charity, are thankful for it, and desire to change their lives to no longer need it. With leftist comapssion, the target beleives they are permanently entitled to it by right.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
I think compassion is about what YOU do to relieve the world's suffering. I'm not sure it's about what you do to compel other people to relieve the world's suffering.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
1) Would someone please inform an ignorant European about the "Obama phone"? I am sure he never developed or produced this product. Does he give phones away for free? Mystery to me!
2) The word Nirvana or Nibbana is related to pali: "nibbuto", meaning "cooling" of a sick person's fewer. I assume its meaning is "cured" or "healthy".
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
You're right. The "Obama phone" thing derives from a government program that gives free cell phones to poor people, funded by a tax on cell phones that people pay for. The video I talked about is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tpAOwJvTOio and a story showing that the program is being abused is hee: http://dailycaller.com/2013/06/18/obama-phones-given-to-people-promising-to-sell-them-for-drugs-money-video/

You're right. The PIE root here is nibh- which means to extinguish or snuff out. "Nirvana" is the snuffing out of the clinging that leads to duhkha, and thus it's the cure for duhkha.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
Charlie,

I assume, just to be fair, that you are going to examine whether Buddhist can be conservative or not.....

And there seems to be misunderstandings of what Nirvana and Samsara are, maybe you can clarify those.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
The first one is easy, as I exhibit an example. Ecce homo.

On the second, that'd be a couple of good columns. I might take on nirvana next time; in the mean time, see my answer to Torben.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
The goal of Buddhism is nirvana which is oblivion. Every liberal seeks oblivion for America so wouldn't they all be liberals?
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
I believe you've created a semantical game here Relayer. Oblivion, as Buddhists descrbe it, is different from the meaning you are implying. For leftists, oblivion is the same as suffering, whereas in the Buddhist context it means non-existence which is the ultimate condition of non-suffering.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
I *think* that was a joke. But see my explanation of Nirvana.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
One might have some justice in asserting that "'you should abstain from doing this bad thing.'" is directed. in the U. S. Constitution, toward the Federal government.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
I like the term "Idiot Compassion".

It's difficult to see how liberals could really be Buddhists considering that they are so good at making themselves feel good about themselves while trying to make those who aren't in total agreement with them feel bad about themselves.

In the liberals world of the zero sum game there must always be a villain whose suffering they want to increase in order to relieve THEIR suffering at the thought someone else is disagreeing with them and getting away with it.

I couldn't help but think of Hank Hill's difficulty understanding Buddhism: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=37qFlPc6i80
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
Dialectic Materialsim Buddhism? LOL!
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
I enjoyed this article; I hope I am not attached excessively to its good thoughts.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
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