fwiw wrote: ↑
Wed Oct 30, 2019 3:14 pm
lyndon taylor wrote: ↑
Wed Oct 30, 2019 11:34 am
climate activism is not left wing, its just plain common sense, only idiots would be against it
The problem is some people in a given Buddhist community may disagree, and that should not be a reason to break up the community.
Also, if Buddhist communities start taking official positions on matters not absolutely fundamental to Buddhism, they run a risk of turning off right-wingers who may have otherwise been integrated. It may foster a church-ization of the Buddhist community, which I don't think would be a good thing.
I think it's fine for engaged Buddhists to engage in climate action, but maybe not officially in a church-like manner?
Here is an article I've read some time ago, which I think is relevant:
Engaged Buddhists, Not Engaged Buddhism
In any case, the inevitable happened in our little sangha. After a fiery dhamma talk decrying social injustice and opining for Engaged Buddhism: someone from the political right spoke up. She spoke in favor of policing and against the protesters. Most of my family are from the right, so I’m used to hearing these opinions voiced openly by people that I love and admire. But most of the sangha was left a little thunderstruck. There was an almost audible thought, “Who let her in here?” This is the drawback, the danger of engaged Buddhism. Saying that Buddhism should be engaged is very close, perhaps inevitably the same as saying, Buddhism should be political.
It was very dispiriting, and it was a prime example of what I’ve believed for a long time: we need engaged Buddhists, not engaged Buddhism.
Buddhism is about caring for the person in front of you. But Buddhism should not be political. This is not to say that Buddhists shouldn’t be political. For the most part it is impossible to actually entirely avoid politics. Getting up in the morning, going to work, and paying taxes are all political acts. Going to the forest and living as a hermit would be a political act, too. But taking a strong stand on political controversies will inevitable, inevitably, divide the sangha. This is why the Buddha said that talk of kings and generals and wars was not the task of the renunciate.
- and I do agree with the title of the blog post you quoted: we need engaged Buddhists, not (or at least more than) engaged Buddhism.
On the other hand, there's the ever-present problem of inaction in the face of untruth, injustice or outright evil: at what point does a religious organisation have a moral obligation to step up and say, "This is wrong and we must oppose it"?
At that point, the organisation's leaders are leading, which is surely a good thing, and they will encourage their flock to do the right thing - but may lose whatever members of the flock who are not ready to accept that it is in fact the right thing.
If we look around our communities, this process is playing out, very publicly, right now in many Christian churches as they debate gay marriage and ordination. We also see fundamentalist US churches openly supporting one party or another.
Going back a bit further, the complicity of the Catholic church with the Nazi regime reflects very poorly on its (then) leadership, and the blindness of all the Christian churches to the evils of slavery (yes, particularly in the Home of the Free) is ...
The only way I can make sense of these apparent aberrations is by remembering that "silence implies consent" and that failure to engage is also a kind of engagement - the kind that supports the status quo regardless of ethics or morality.
When we look as religious institutions primarily as institutions or organisations and remember that all organisations have their own internal dynamic, seeing them act in such a way as to preserve their own power (regardless of morality) is understandable but profoundly disappointing: they are putting the institution ahead of its primary (and nominal) purpose.
I have used Christianity for my examples above but as far as I can see the arguments apply equally to Buddhism. What do we want prioritise - the dharma or the organisation?