Bhikkhu Analayo (via James Baraz) on Climate Change

Applying the Dharma for the preservation of planet Earth and its inhabitants
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mikenz66
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Bhikkhu Analayo (via James Baraz) on Climate Change

Post by mikenz66 » Wed May 15, 2019 10:21 am

James Baraz: 2019-05-02 Internally & Externally - Holding It All 61:49
https://dharmaseed.org/teacher/86/talk/56273/
On the recent retreat James sat with Ven. Analayo, the monastic started out the last day's teaching saying: “This morning I want to talk about climate change. Though some say this is not an appropriate topic for the Dharma Hall, in my view and in light of the crisis we are facing, there is no more appropriate or necessary topic.” We explore how Dharma principles can help each of us individually hold this unsettling situation as well as why they are the key to us waking up as a species.
James quotes Bhikkhu Analayo's analysis of different reactions to the climate issue in terms of the three defilements: greed, hatred, and delusion, and shows how these attitudes can be transformed to a more positive approach.

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Re: Bhikkhu Analayo (via James Baraz) on Climate Change

Post by Leeuwenhoek » Fri Jun 28, 2019 5:35 am

Elsewhere on this forum I've laid out concrete steps to a more positive approach.
One step would be the mindful recognition of the difference between advocacy for a position (on 'the science' or on solutions) and being an honest broker of information and analysis. The worst option is stealth advocacy -- advocates who pose as something else but effectively speak as advocates for a particular position.

The Crisis of Crisis
Take for instance the casual use of phrases like "climate crisis" without further explication. Let me give an example. There is a climate crisis in Buddhism and this talk helps drive that crisis. Now why do I say that? What, isn't it obvious?
Well maybe it's not obvious to you. If my use of the 'crisis' descriptor is in anyway objectionable or unclear to you then you now understand the problem with the casual use of the term.

The more you know about climate change the more vague, abstract descriptions like "crisis" cause you to question in what way and how the speaker sees a crisis.
I see it mostly as the possibility of a forecasted future. Forecasts are not present reality. When Buddhist fail to notice distinctions so central to the dharma we know that something is off. It's as foolish to ignore or dismiss forecasts. But it's also foolish and illusion to treat forecasts as "reality".

Words like crisis, catastrophe are words used by demagogues and others because they are so elastic and appeal to the listeners worst imagination, fears, greed, clinging and illusion. They are, in short, examples of climate pornography. Pornographic in the sense of enticing and stimulating the senses
They are also difficult to define in a way consistent with the 8 Noble Truths or with western concepts of reason and productive dialog. That is why they rarely if ever appear in serious scientific or policy literature.

Falling into the Trap and Pouring Fuel on the Fire
Yet it seems that no-one in this monastic's sangha can speak to this taint in the teaching.
Or observe that concern about greed and illusion in this talk is mostly directly outward with little mind to creating a practice to uncover our own illusions. That is where honest brokers or a practice that valorizes "institutionalized dis-confirmation" (basically the ideals of scholarship and the science.)

Next, it's evident from the sources cited in this talk that honest brokers of climate change knowledge are in short supply or remain in the closet in this teacher's circles. For example citing Bill McKibben or "The Uninhabitable Earth" (a piece that has been the subject of much critical commentary from all sides) is evidence of paying attention to a narrow range of views. This is opposite of creating a environment that encourages mindfulness that leads us away from illusion, clinging and lead to suffering.

I see evidence of narrow thinking, clinging and ignorance in Buddhist communities when I point out conclusions from the IPCC AR 5 report or national climate assessments about extreme weather and find myself essentially denounced as a "denier" or such like.

To conclude: There is a way to speak of climate change in way consistent with the dharma. It's a serious topic that deserves less than sober and vigorous thinking and care for right view and right speach. This talk is an example of how not to do it. Serious practitioners would do well to listen to this talk as an example of how even good practitioners can fall into ignorance and clinging.

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Re: Bhikkhu Analayo (via James Baraz) on Climate Change

Post by mikenz66 » Sat Jun 29, 2019 6:09 am

Leeuwenhoek wrote:
Fri Jun 28, 2019 5:35 am
... Or observe that concern about greed and illusion in this talk is mostly directly outward with little mind to creating a practice to uncover our own illusions.
Actually as I understand it, Bhikkhu Analayo's take is very much centred around internal practice. Examination of one's own greed, hatred, and delusion.

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Re: Bhikkhu Analayo (via James Baraz) on Climate Change

Post by Leeuwenhoek » Sun Jun 30, 2019 2:31 am

mikenz66 wrote:
Sat Jun 29, 2019 6:09 am
Leeuwenhoek wrote:
Fri Jun 28, 2019 5:35 am
... Or observe that concern about greed and illusion in this talk is mostly directly outward with little mind to creating a practice to uncover our own illusions.
Actually as I understand it, Bhikkhu Analayo's take is very much centred around internal practice. Examination of one's own greed, hatred, and delusion.
Our various responses to the talk seems a reflection on the gap between what one person says and and what other persons "hear" as salient (points of interest or importance) and therefor what they remember. Also of the valuable role and practice of open inquiry, viewpoint diversity and constructive disagreement.

The talk is entitled "Internally and EXTERNALLY, holding it all".
That title seems an accurate characterization of what was said in the talk. The title suggests that the talk was centred about internal and external things. Not one but both. Also I have some personal experience with climate change science, scientific integrity, and environmental policy making. So my listening might be different from yours.

My description seems correct: The talk paid little to no mind to creating a practice to uncover our own illusions regarding our beliefs and characterizations of the external, physical world. (see more below)

It's possible that anything said about external conditions, accusations about others, etc might be said to be somehow "centred around internal practice". But that path seems like spreading a net of slippery eels.

So technically, you could argue, that for some meaning of "centred" and "internal practice" you description is somewhat reasonable. Somewhat reasonable as a partial description but incomplete. Incomplete -- that works as a summary of the talk. The talk assumes the rightness of the speakers views and preferences and assumes that differing views are the result of greed, clinging or illusion.

Where in the talk does the speaker do as you claim and have an " Examination of one's own greed, hatred, and delusion" regarding his advocacy and position on climate or environmental issues?

I say the talk privileges the speakers views and only selectively speaks of a practice that valorizes a critical examination of right views on the environment. I say I could put that case to a neutral panel of arbitrators and prevail.

Question for you: What point in the talk address a practice that critically examines one's own understanding and spin on the climate or other environmental issues? I don't know of one.

From comments early on that is this speakers usual "take" is centered around internal practiced. But I did not write about his usual take or other talks. I write about this talk. I enjoyed the moments when the talk focused on "internal dimensions" (min 43) -- but notice that that segment quickly move on to external dimensions and other persons.

The talk makes numerous references to
  • other persons beliefs, teachings, and activities
    measurable events (that is, external events
    Other persons greed and delusion
How does one find a talk "centred around internal practice" alone in that?

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Re: Bhikkhu Analayo (via James Baraz) on Climate Change

Post by Leeuwenhoek » Sun Jun 30, 2019 3:15 am

mikenz66 wrote:
Wed May 15, 2019 10:21 am
James quotes Bhikkhu Analayo's analysis of different reactions to the climate issue in terms of the three defilements: greed, hatred, and delusion, and shows how these attitudes can be transformed to a more positive approach.
My thinking begins here. A conveniently selective application of the three defilements which privileges a particular secular viewpoint rightly deserves critique. A respect for right views seems to demand it.

More important. The dharma and the best of western "enlightenment" practical wisdom offer us a path out the trap. I really care far more that the process and practice that leads away from illusion and brokenness (dukkha) is alive in the sangha. Individual wrongs and mistakes occur, but they are far more bearable when a practice towards right understanding and right action is in place and strong.

The talk assumes that the speakers understanding of the "climate issue" is a right view. If you disagree then point out the time in the talk that speaks of a critical practice in terms of the three defilements to the speakers own understanding and characterizations of the climate issue.

As a person with science and policy advising experience I disagree with the speakers understanding. The speaker valorizes a narrow range of commentary from activists which does not reflect our best understanding of these issues. I have to remind myself to say that I am concerned about climate change with a balanced recognition that exaggeration and false claims are also a form of science denial. I'm also concerned about the various causes and conditions that are created by exaggeration, non-sober and/or sloppy talk about these issues. It's bad for Buddhism and it's bad for responsible public policy.

But worse in terms of Buddhism, the talk does not turn the lens of the three defilements to the speakers own views. Nor does it suggest that those beliefs might be in some way defiled. Nor suggest that, given the societal controversy, defilement of ones views is quite likely, even predictable. On the contrary, the pattern tends to be: my view is right and views that differ from mine can be explained away as caused by the defilements.

If you disagree then point out the time in the talk that speaks of a critical practice in terms of the three defilements to the speakers own understanding and characterizations of the climate issue.

Fortunately, both the dharma and the best of western wisdom (https://heterodoxacademy.org/) offers a path and practice out of the trap. But the listener wouldn't know it from this talk.

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Re: Bhikkhu Analayo (via James Baraz) on Climate Change

Post by mikenz66 » Sun Jun 30, 2019 5:16 am

Leeuwenhoek wrote:
Sun Jun 30, 2019 3:15 am
If you disagree then point out the time in the talk that speaks of a critical practice in terms of the three defilements to the speakers own understanding and characterizations of the climate issue.
Well, I was talking about Ven Analayo's thoughts, some of which James quoted, not the whole of James' talk. There is a forthcoming paper from Analayo which would be a more useful basis of discussion when it is freely available.

However, I have zero interest in debating the technicalities of climate change. I am interested in how Dhamma might inform how we might respond to complex issues, and, as you (and Analyao) say, it is important to examine our own motivations and actions.

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Re: Bhikkhu Analayo (via James Baraz) on Climate Change

Post by Leeuwenhoek » Mon Jul 01, 2019 6:15 pm

mikenz66 wrote:
Sun Jun 30, 2019 5:16 am
Well, I was talking about Ven Analayo's thoughts, some of which James quoted, not the whole of James' talk. There is a forthcoming paper from Analayo which would be a more useful basis of discussion when it is freely available.
So are you suggesting that it was a tactical mistake to have posted the OP referencing James talk in the first place?
Because it seems like you want to disavow or avoid any connection with James talk.

Also, please note that some of my comments related to a long quote in the middle of James talk. Who was James quoting from?

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Re: Bhikkhu Analayo (via James Baraz) on Climate Change

Post by Leeuwenhoek » Mon Jul 01, 2019 7:24 pm

mikenz66 wrote:
Sun Jun 30, 2019 5:16 am
However, I have zero interest in debating the technicalities of climate change.
Please help me calibrate my understanding. Was there anything in Jame's talk or my messages in this thread that you regard as getting into 'the technicalities of climate change'?

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Re: Bhikkhu Analayo (via James Baraz) on Climate Change

Post by mikenz66 » Mon Jul 01, 2019 8:26 pm

Leeuwenhoek wrote:
Mon Jul 01, 2019 7:24 pm
mikenz66 wrote:
Sun Jun 30, 2019 5:16 am
However, I have zero interest in debating the technicalities of climate change.
...
Please help me calibrate my understanding. Was there anything in Jame's talk or my messages in this thread that you regard as getting into 'the technicalities of climate change'?
I'm sorry, but I'm not sure I completely understand your responses in this thread, and it would take a lot of effort and re-listening to the talk to make out what exactly your points are.

I explained what I saw was important in the internal and external (which are a dichotomy that the Dhamma aims to remove) consideration of the role of greed, aversion, and delusion. I think some of your criticisms are probably valid, but It's not my intention to adjudicate point-by-point a one-hour talk.

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Re: Bhikkhu Analayo (via James Baraz) on Climate Change

Post by Leeuwenhoek » Tue Jul 02, 2019 8:01 am

mikenz66 wrote:
Mon Jul 01, 2019 8:26 pm
Leeuwenhoek wrote:
Mon Jul 01, 2019 7:24 pm
mikenz66 wrote:
Sun Jun 30, 2019 5:16 am
However, I have zero interest in debating the technicalities of climate change.
...
Please help me calibrate my understanding. Was there anything in Jame's talk or my messages in this thread that you regard as getting into 'the technicalities of climate change'?
I'm sorry, but I'm not sure I completely understand your responses in this thread, and it would take a lot of effort and re-listening to the talk to make out what exactly your points are.
You shouldn't need to completely understand my responses in this thread in order to clarify your own statement.

Maybe my question will make more sense if I explain why I asked the question. Your statement: "I have zero interest in debating the technicalities of climate change" seems like the most emphatic thing you have written in this thread. Its as if you are more committed to what you have "zero interest in" than anything else you have written. Maybe that is just me but it certainly got my attention.

I don't recall anything in this thread or in James talk that I would think of as a "technicality". I'm just trying to figure out what you mean by "technicalities of climate change".
So let me revise the inquiry. Don't re-listen to the talk. Don't even re-read my responses in this thread. Just go on what you recall. Do you recall anything in my "responses in this thread" you regard as getting into "the technicalities of climate change." ?

Just to be clear. You shouldn't need to completely understand my responses in this thread in order to clarify your own statement.

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Re: Bhikkhu Analayo (via James Baraz) on Climate Change

Post by mikenz66 » Tue Jul 02, 2019 10:51 am

Leeuwenhoek wrote:
Tue Jul 02, 2019 8:01 am
Do you recall anything in my "responses in this thread" you regard as getting into "the technicalities of climate change." ?
Of course.
Leeuwenhoek wrote:
Fri Jun 28, 2019 5:35 am
I see evidence of narrow thinking, clinging and ignorance in Buddhist communities when I point out conclusions from the IPCC AR 5 report or national climate assessments about extreme weather and find myself essentially denounced as a "denier" or such like.
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Mike

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