The Question of Politics

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The Buddha

Still nags.

Granting the observation that involvement in politics creates a substantial temptation to cling to one’s sense of self, which Buddhists have no desire to encourage, there remains the problem that, for Buddhists to refuse to engage in politics looks like a major failure of compassion.

We know how to encourage peace and calm, which the world needs more of. It seems indisputable that, the more regular meditators we have in the world, the less violence and oppression we will see.

And anyone who has fully realized not self will not much likely succumb to the temptation to identify so strongly with any political position or person as to cause a recrudescence of their own sense of self.

It is worth noting that the Buddha, after his awakening, did not become an activist, he became a teacher. But learning is part of politics. People learn their politics usually from their parents, although specific events can bring about significant changes. And Buddhists can reasonably have opinions on specific issues that people may want to learn about.

Political involvement by Buddhists would make them and Buddhism more prominent in the public mind. This would seem to be all to the good.

Perhaps the best approach is to form a Buddhist PAC, or political action committee, which would articulate a program and goals of endorsing candidates who seem the most likely to promote Buddhist ideals, such as compassion, lovingkindness, and generosity. It could avoid any explicit alliance with any political party and focus on individual candidates and issues. It would not be a vehicle for any individual’s self aggrandizement or promotion.

Worth considering. In the meantime, keep meditating.

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