Thursday, October 6, 2022

Truthfulness 101 For Trumpers and the GOP......

 


What It Means to Be Truthful

In Buddhism, being truthful goes beyond simply not telling lies. It means speaking truthfully and honestly, yes. But it also means using speech to benefit others, and not to use it to benefit only ourselves. 

Speech rooted in the Three Poisons -- hate, greed, and ignorance -- is false speech. If your speech is designed to get something you want, or to hurt someone you don't like, or to make you seem more important to others, it is false speech even if what you say is factual. For example, repeating ugly gossip about someone you don't like is false speech, even if the gossip is true. 

SKIP

Truth and Intention

Untruthful speech includes "half-truths" or "partial truths." A half or partial truth is a statement that is factually true but which leaves out information in a way that conveys a lie. If you ever read the political "fact check" columns in many major newspapers, you find a lot of statements called out as "half-truths."

For example, if a politician says "My opponent's policies will raise taxes," but he leaves out the part about "on capital gains over a million dollars," that's a half-truth. In this case, what the politician said is intended to make his audience think they if they vote for the opponent, their taxes will go up. 

Telling the truth requires mindfulness of what is true. It also requires that we examine our motivations when we speak, to be sure there isn't some trace of self-clinging behind our words. For example, people active in social or political causes sometimes become addicted to self-righteousness. Their speech in favor of their cause becomes tainted by their need to feel morally superior to others.

In Theravada Buddhism, there are four elements to a violation of the Fourth Precept:

  1. A situation or state of affairs that is untrue; something to lie about
  2. An intention to deceive
  3. The expression of falsehood, either with words, gestures, or "body language."
  4. Conveying a false impression

If one says an untrue thing while sincerely believing it is true, that would not necessarily be a violation of the Precept. However, take care of what libel lawyers call "reckless disregard for the truth." Recklessly spreading false information without making at least some effort to "check it out" first is not practicing the Fourth Precept, even if you believe the information is true.

It's good to develop a habit of mind to be skeptical of the information you want to believe. When we hear something that confirms our biases, there's a human tendency to accept it blindly, even eagerly, without checking to be sure it's true. Be careful. 

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A Meditation Teaching on Emptiness...

 


Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Selected Teachings and Pointers for Meditation - Bhakti...

 

American Politics and Evil...

 


117. Should a person commit evil, let him not do it again and again. Let him not find pleasure therein, for painful is the accumulation of evil.

121. Think not lightly of evil, saying, "It will not come to me." Drop by drop is the water pot filled. Likewise, the fool, gathering it little by little, fills himself with evil.

125. Like fine dust thrown against the wind, evil falls back upon that fool who offends an inoffensive, pure and guiltless man.

127 .Neither in the sky nor in mid-ocean, nor by entering into mountain clefts, nowhere in the world is there a place where one may escape from the results of evil deeds

Dhammapada

Evil can manifest itself in many ways. Also through many channels. And, it can and does sometime mix with good. We have recently seen the later manifest in American politics and government. The channel is Donald J. Trump and those in government and the general population who supported him and continue to support the divisiveness and misinformation he actively encourages during his political rallies. As well as the propaganda he daily bombs the internet with.

During DJT's misbegotten presidential term of four years everything he did was not bad nor was it evil. There were policies and initiatives that were arguably good for the country. We may have disagreed with them but that's politics and sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. It simply is what it is.

But here's the thing, Trump's propaganda war against our democratic principles and our democratic republic, the rule of law, our civil rights, his othering of people who do not share his views, and his almost total lack of values (ie: no compassion, love, understanding, sympathy, or in other words what it means to be human) far outweighs any good he might have accomplised. while in office. And his big lie about the election being stolen from him and his attempt at insurrection against his own government.

America is today as fractured and divided as at any time since the mid 19th century. Trump's big lie about a stolen election and Trump's continued political propaganda efforts are aimed at solidify otherism and the division it creates. He does this not because it is good for the nation and the American people. He continues his ego driven activity out of his desire for total power and control.  His self centered deluded belief that he alone can fix it  is, I'm pretty certain, just how Hitler, Mussolini, Pol Pot, Stalin, Mao, Putin, and any number of authoritarian despots felt and believed. 

Trump nor the party he leads have offered any cohesive or rational policy positions since he lost the election of 2020 in a landslide loss. The GOP has absolutely no platform as near as anyone can tell other than to defeat liberalism, democrats, and socialists. After that... silence. The GOP has succumbed to being little more than a cult of personality. In this case the personality of Donald J. Trump. For those of us who have a knowledge and understanding of Italy and Germany pre WW II understand that America post November 3, 2020 is flirting with the very same dynamics that were in play in post WW 1 and pre WW II in Europe.

For those who believe living a life under the thumb of an authoritarian is most desirable so be it. Go for it. Just know that the vast majority of Americans do not share that misguided belief and they sure as hell do not want to live  by the whims of an autocratic ruler.

If you happen to one with limited knowledge or understanding of that time period do yourself a favor and do some study. It could very well man the difference between future happiness and grim and terrible regret. History has a lesson for you. But only if your wise enogh to listen to it. History will not be kind to Donald J. Trump or the republican party post 2008.