Thursday, December 29, 2022

How to Make Every Day a Celebration in 2023...


If You'll Be Partying and Drinking New Year's Eve Consider This...


Buddhism doesn’t have just one thing to say about consuming alcohol and other intoxicants. In time for party season, we look at the surprising diversity of Buddhist views.

Just a Little

A little beer or wine is okay, says Sozan Miglioli, as long as you remain mindful of yourself and others.

In Zen, we try to understand the spirit of the five precepts rather than just the words. The precepts are guides toward the cessation of suffering, not strict or prescriptive admonitions. They are there to open our eyes, to help us see clearly what creates unwholesome karma.

A definition of enlightenment is “to see reality as it is.” For this reason, the precept “I vow not to intoxicate the mind or body of self or others” is very important. It asks us to keep our eyes open, our awareness alive, to what creates suffering in this world. It directly addresses the issue of not seeing things clearly and can guide us on our path of awakening in many different ways.

Being mindful of the effect of our actions is key.

Certain traditions also add a positive side, so the precept can be followed from a perspective of abundance, such as “I vow not to intoxicate the mind or body of self or others, but to promote clarity and awareness.” When approaching the precept this way, we include both what fosters difficulty as well as a clear path to taking positive action.

The fifth precept tells us that we shouldn’t compromise our clearmindedness to the point where our moral judgments are hampered. And it doesn’t stop there, because it also asks us not to become a vehicle for others to do so. This is important because while people might remain aware of the ways in which they get intoxicated, they often pay little attention to how they can intoxicate other people’s minds and bodies. Whether its a substance or a word, we should be aware of what we take in and what we offer others.

So as long as a person is not entering a space of clouding body or mind, social drinking or having a glass of wine or a beer can be okay. Of course, if you are in recovery or underage, this is definitely not the case. This is why most traditions who believe in the middle way of using intoxicants don’t just say that it is alright to drink moderately, because that means a different thing to different people. We must also be very aware of the ways in which circumstances change. Maybe you are more tired today, or maybe you have an empty stomach. The meaning of “drinking moderately” changes from one moment to another.

One of the ways to understand one’s relationship to this precept has to do with the intention. Asking yourself why you want to have a glass of wine, or binge-watch a TV show, opens up the possibility of understanding of how you could actually be misusing the substance or the show. Bringing awareness to the “why” is a way to engage with the precept in a healthy way, because there is no good excuse to cloud your judgment, not even a celebration.

Being mindful of the effect of our actions is key. We should stay in touch with our mindfulness every time we drink, watch TV, or engage in social media, because sometimes we can get distracted or distanced from ourselves and before we know it we have had that extra beer or seen that extra episode that tips the balance. Mindfulness ensures that we connect with the fifth precept in a way that is not strict, and at the same time, not naive.

Drink in Wisdom

It’s challenging to relax our fixed views, says Judy Lief. Drinking within a sacred context can help.

From ancient times alcohol has been used as a component of religious rituals. In some Hindu and Buddhist traditions alcohol is called amrita, “no-death,” the elixir of immortality. In the West, alcohol is sometimes called “the water of life.” Sacred rituals such as the Jewish seder and the Christian communion service include wine in the liturgy.

Yet many other spiritual traditions and religious communities teach abstinence from alcohol. We humans are clearly conflicted about how to deal with this powerful substance. Is it a blessing or a curse?

Mental and emotional rigidity are hard to change.

The practice of Vajrayana or tantric Buddhism is about transmutation. It is about changing poison into medicine, finding the sacred within the profane, the sanity within neurosis, the blessing within the curse. It is a form of alchemy. But instead of transforming lead into gold, you are transforming confusion into wisdom, and you can use substances like meat and alcohol as a means of doing so.

Continue reading BELOW the FOLD

Mahayana Buddhist New Year 2023...


Mahayana New Year is celebrated this year on January 7 by Buddhists around the world. The term Mahayana encompasses Buddhist ideologies and philosophies. Mahayana is one of the two main branches of Buddhism and is mostly practiced in Northeast Asia — China, Japan, Tibet, Taiwan, Mongolia, and Korea. Each region has its own customs and traditions for practicing Mahayana Buddhism. 


In English, Mahayana means ‘Great Vehicle.’ This can be interpreted in different ways by devout followers of Buddhism. The Mahayana branch of the religion is practiced around the world.

The belief of Mahayana Buddhists is that enlightenment or eternal Nirvana can be achieved during the course of an individual’s life. This state of enlightenment is not only attainable by monks, but by regular Buddhist practitioners too. The ultimate goal is for everyone to make use of the opportunity of enlightenment.

The Mahayana New Year dates differ for each country based on their customs and traditions. While some Mahayana Buddhists observe the celebration on January 1 alongside the Gregorian New Year, others wait for the full moon of January. The celebration is marked with extensive prayer and honoring the Buddhism gods. Statues of the gods are also shown respect by bathing them. Temples are visited on the Buddhist New Year, and songs of spirituality are sung to the deities. Candles are also lit as a symbol of happiness and luck for the new year. 

The Buddhist New Year is also a time for internalizing and self-reflection. Lessons from past mistakes are learned, and the goal is to become a better version of yourself. Good luck is also enhanced by cleaning and decorating homes and by buying gifts for others. The celebration is not a dull one, with grand feasts hosted and fireworks at midnight. 


Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Tibetan Evening Chant...


Another Republican Fraud...


"I am not a criminal," he said in the interview. "This [controversy] will not deter me from having good legislative success. I will be effective," he told The New York Post on Monday. "I will be good."

Of course we can believe Santos. Just like we could believe another lying republican that attempted to overthrow the government of the USA. 

To be safe, when in doubt, don't believe a republican. He/she is most likely lying.

Full article BELOW the FOLD

Exactly As It Is...


What It Doesn't Mean If You Don't Understand...


Timeless Freedom - Part 2...


Tuesday, December 27, 2022



God, a convenient concept that allows humankind to make mistakes (sin), ask for forgiveness, and viola, the slate is wiped until the next sin. Of course another round of asking for forgiveness results in wiping the slate clean again, and viola, you're off and running. Again. And on, and on, and on... 

Overcoming the Fear of Death...


Timeless Freedom ~ Part 1...

A Meditation on Impermanence...


A Meditation on Space...


Thursday, December 22, 2022

Meditation for the Holidays...


Happy Holidays!!!


May peace and joy be with you this holiday season and throughout the coming year!

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Awaken Your Inner Buddha...


Anxiety and Its Cure...


What To Say When Wishing Folks a Festive Atmosphere During the Holidays...


Given the various spiritual paths folks travel on the question, what is an appropriate greeting comes to mind. As a convert to Buddhism a year and a half ago this question has crossed my mind on multiple occasions. So i went to surfing the net and came across the following article. It makes lots of sense so i lifted it to post here. It was written in 2014.

How Should a Buddhist Respond to “Merry Christmas”?

For those of us who have formally taken refuge and changed our religious affiliation to Buddhism, the end of the year holiday season can pose some interesting challenges—one of which being, what to say in response to the myriad wishes of “Merry Christmas” that are bestowed upon us during the season. Naturally, each individual takes his or her own journey as they wrestle with this one. I thought I’d briefly share mine.

Initially, I recall, it became very clear to me the first Christmas season after I took refuge that people who were wishing me a Merry Christmas had no clue that I was now a Buddhist. How could they know? I didn’t look any different! Stranger still, even those who DID know (like my family) still wished me a Merry Christmas. This made me wonder how often in the past I had done the same thing—wishing people a “Merry Christmas” when they may have been Jewish, or atheist, or an adherent of another religion. Nevertheless, I still felt I needed to come up with a response that I felt comfortable with.

My first reaction was to raise their awareness, and hopefully their sensitivity, that not EVERYONE celebrates Christmas. So I would tend to smile and say something cute like, “Thanks, but I’m a Buddhist” and then watch their reaction. As time went on, however, that began to feel anywhere from manipulative to aggressive.

Next, I tried neutrality. “Happy Holidays” I would cheerily offer and respond whenever the occasion arose to say something festive. This felt like a more inclusive response as Hanukkah often occurs near Christmas as well, not to mention Kwanzaa! Now, there’s nothing wrong with saying “Happy Holidays”, in fact, it’s quite “politically correct” to do so when initiating a greeting. However, when someone specifically says “Merry Christmas” to you first, it’s most often because that’s the holiday they celebrate at this time of the year. So saying “Happy Holidays” in response can still come off as a little, oh, shall we say, preachy?

Today, the evolution of my response has settled rather comfortably into wishing people “Happy Holidays” when I’m the first to speak and if they wish me a “Merry Christmas” first, I respond in kind. “Merry Christmas” because I truly wish that they enjoy Christmas if that’s the holiday they celebrate. I no longer feel the need as acutely as before to educate, sensitize, raise awareness, etc. through my response. It feels kinder to simply say “Merry Christmas”, “Happy Hanukkah”, or “Happy Kwanzaa” Rather than making anyone feel awkward by pointing out how we’re different, we can express the common joy that we feel by sharing the wish that everyone celebrate the holiday season in whatever ever way they choose.

Happy Holidays!

Chris Montone is a former Catholic and now Buddhist who enjoys celebrating the Christmas holiday with his family and friends.

Be Mindful of Your Health This Holiday Season...


Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Meditation Is As Effective As Medication For Addressing Anxiety and It Is A Lot Safer ...


NBC NewsThe first study ever to directly compare medication to meditation for anxiety finds the two methods work equally well at reducing symptoms.

The finding, published Wednesday in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, suggests that people struggling with anxiety could be helped either by a daily pill (which could come with side effects) or a daily practice of mindfulness (which requires a substantial time commitment).

“For both treatments, we had people who said, ‘This really worked,’” said study author Dr. Elizabeth Hoge, director of the Anxiety Disorders Research Program and associate professor of psychiatry at Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

About 6.8 million adults in the U.S. have generalized anxiety disorder, but less than half receive treatment, according to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America.

The two-month study included 276 patients diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder. Half were given a common antidepressant — escitalopram (brand name: Lexapro) — and the other half participated in a mindfulness-based stress reduction program.

Both groups reported moderate improvements: a 20% reduction in symptoms at the end of the study, regardless of their treatment.

That kind of benefit is consistent with other studies of medications to treat anxiety, said Craig Sawchuk, a psychologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, who was not involved with the new research.

The study “shows there are alternative options that don’t involve medicine to help treat anxiety, that are just as effective,” said Lindsey McKernan, an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, who was also not involved with the study.

In the era of Trump and a rogue republican party, mindfulness meditation to improve awareness is just what the doctor ordered. It is as effective as medicating and is a hell of a lot safer. Meditating with the guidance of an accomplised qualified meditation teacher can produce big benefits. I know from personal experience.

Meditate more and medicate much less!

More of the featured article can be found BELOW the FOLD.

Statement From the Lincoln Project On the Congressional Referral of Ex president Donald J. Trump to the DOJ for Criminal Prosecution...



December 19, 2022 — The Lincoln Project released the following takeaways from the final January 6th Committee Hearing taking place December 19th

  • Donald Trump deserves to be referred to the Department of Justice for criminal prosecution. The January 6th Committee clearly showed he directed a conspiracy to violently overthrow the results of a valid election and install himself as the illegitimate ruler of the United States of America. 
  • The nation must be assured that January 6th cannot be repeated. No one should be under any illusions that Trump and the MAGA movement are finished. January 6th put into motion an insidious effort to impose an authoritarian government. MAGA followers are working to stifle dissent, strangle their opposition, and consolidate power in the hands of their chosen few. They’re promising to purge the government of anyone who won’t bow to their MAGA ideology. 
  • Trump fully controls the GOP because cowards like Kevin McCarthy and Mitch McConnell are more concerned with their own status and headlines, rather than doing the right thing for the nation and democracy. These enablers gloss over and downplay Trump’s damage to the nation because it’s to their benefit. They continually put their own self-interest ahead of the good of the nation. 
  • The media must hold GOP leadership and Presidential candidates accountable by asking each of them if they agree with the Committee’s referrals. It is time for them to tell the American people exactly where they stand. 
  • The media must stop assuming there is a “normal GOP” if only Trump would go away. Trump has completely shifted the overton window. The “normal GOP” wants to install a legal framework to roll back the clock to a time where interracial marriage was forbidden, segregation was left to the states, gays were in the closet, men controlled their home, and women had no agency over their own bodies.
  • Prosecuting Trump and his accomplices is the only way to install confidence in the system and show that no one is above the law. If not, they will only be emboldened to continue their anti-democratic scheming.
  • The members of Congress who refused to testify are preventing the American people from knowing the truth about their involvement in a plot to stop the peaceful transfer of power. 

  • They violated their oaths and have shown they do not belong in public office. Trump created the worst moment in American history since the Civil War; He divided the nation in his quest for power and to enrich himself. Trump now wants to return to office to finish what he started. 

  • Every American must again choose their side: will they stand with seditionists who tried to tear down a free and fair election or support democratic principles?
  • The Lincoln Project is a leading pro-democracy organization in the United States — dedicated to the preservation, protection, and defense of democracy.

    To learn more about The Lincoln Project, go to

    December 19, 2022 was another good day in the USA. Spotlight is on the most egregiously corrupt politician/president in American history. It is now up to the DOJ to do the right thing and use the evidence the congressional committee provides them, along with the department's own investigative evidence, to prosecute the man who wanted to be King and fomented an insurrection in his attempt to overthrow our democracy and retain power illegally.

    Justice must be served. America deserves and demands it.

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Sadhguru Debates America's Most Influential Rabbi...


America's Waning Influence and Dominance...


Following is an excerpt from an excellent article put out by Canadian Dimension on declining US power and influence. Put aside past American conditioning and biases and read the full article with a fresh and inquisitive mind. America's heyday of geopolitical super power dominance is coming to an end. It is best if we understand how and why this is happening and make intelligent thoughtful decision in response. Nothing is permanent and unchanging. Never has been and never will be. We simply need to accept reality and adjust appropriately.

An extraordinary new Pentagon study has concluded that the US-backed framework of international order established after World War II is “fraying” and may even be “collapsing,” leading the United States to lose its position of “primacy” in world affairs.

The solution proposed to protect US power in this new “post-primacy” environment is, however, more of the same: more surveillance, more propaganda (“strategic manipulation of perceptions”) and more military expansionism.

The document concludes that the world has entered a fundamentally new phase of transformation in which US power is in decline, international order is unravelling, and the authority of governments everywhere is crumbling.

Having lost its past status of “pre-eminence,” the US now inhabits a dangerous, unpredictable “post-primacy” world, whose defining feature is “resistance to authority.”

Danger comes not just from great power rivals like Russia and China, both portrayed as rapidly growing threats to American interests, but also from the increasing risk of “Arab Spring”-style events. These will erupt not just in the Middle East, but all over the world, potentially undermining trust in incumbent governments for the foreseeable future.

The report, based on a year-long intensive research process involving consultation with key agencies across the Department of Defense and US Army, calls for the US government to invest in more surveillance, better propaganda through “strategic manipulation” of public opinion, and a “wider and more flexible” US military.

The report was published in June by the US Army War College’s Strategic Studies Institute to evaluate the DoD’s approach to risk assessment at all levels of Pentagon policy planning. The study was supported and sponsored by the US Army’s Strategic Plans and Policy Directorate; the Joint Staff, J5 (Strategy and Policy Branch); the Office of the Deputy Secretary of Defense for Strategy and Force Develop­ment; and the Army Study Program Management Office.


“While the United States remains a global political, economic, and military giant, it no longer enjoys an unassailable position versus state competitors,” the report laments.

“In brief, the sta­tus quo that was hatched and nurtured by U.S. strategists after World War II and has for decades been the principal ‘beat’ for DoD is not merely fraying but may, in fact, be collapsing.”

The study’s description of this order subtly recognizes its imperial nature as one underpinned by American dominance, in which the US and its allies literally “dictate” the terms of how the system operates, to further their own interests:

The order and its constituent parts, first emerged from World War II, were transformed to a unipolar sys­tem with the collapse of the Soviet Union, and have by-and-large been dominated by the United States and its major Western and Asian allies since. Status quo forces collectively are comfortable with their dominant role in dictating the terms of international security outcomes and resist the emergence of rival centers of power and authority.

But this era when the US and its allies could simply get their way is over. Observing that US officials “naturally feel an obligation to preserve the U.S. global position within a favorable international order,” the report concludes that this “rules-based global order that the United States built and sustained for 7 decades is under enormous stress.”

The report provides a detailed breakdown of how the DoD perceives this order to be rapidly unravelling, with the Pentagon being increasingly outpaced by world events. Warning that “global events will happen faster than DoD is currently equipped to handle,” the study concludes that the US “can no longer count on the unassailable position of dominance, supremacy, or pre-eminence it enjoyed for the 20-plus years after the fall of the Soviet Union.”

So weakened is US power, that it can no longer even “automatically generate consistent and sustained local military superiority at range.”

It’s not just US power that is in decline. The US Army War College study concludes that:

[A]ll states and traditional political authority structures are under increasing pressure from endogenous and exogenous forces… The fracturing of the post-Cold War global system is accompanied by the in­ternal fraying in the political, social, and economic fabric of practically all states.

 Article continue BELOW the FOLD

All Power Wanes... Including America's...


“As long as the language of national superiority is the common language of politicians and public figures, there is a hidden payload in that language, and that payload is white supremacy. Learning to talk about America as a good society, as a society with a shared purpose, outside of raw global supremacy, is a really important symbolic first step.”

“This moment, our becoming a number-two economic power in the 2020s, brings American students into the conversation about American history in a more global frame: We’re no longer looking through American eyes at the rest of the world but at America through the eyes of the rest of the world.

Following is a brief excerpt from an article entitled The Future of Decline in Americawritten by Jed Esty. An informative article well worth the read

America, after being the world's most influential and powerful force in the world for the past 100 years, is entering its period of decline. I personally believe its been in decline since 1970 and the Richard Nixon years. As has been the case with every great power throughout history the decline will continue, and, sooner rather than later we will lose our super power nameplate. Something we should actually be more than happy to shed. For this will give us a chance to reorder our priorities. If we're smart we'll work to become a better, more compassionate, more inclusive, more equitable, fairer, freer,  and spiritually a more honest nation. Or at least we can and should work to realize those ends.

“Simply put, from 1820 to 1920 Britain was the dominant power in the world. From 1920 to 2020 America was the dominant power in the world. Now we have to look from 2020 to the next 100 years, and it is going to be a different story,” he says. “How did Britain handle its phase of contraction on the world stage, and what are the lessons for America from that?”

Discourse about the decline of the United States, he says, is contradictory, pronouncing either “‘We’re always going to be at the top,’ or We’ve fallen from our pedestal.’ Neither is true.”

It is inevitable that the U.S. economy will be eclipsed by China and other nations, he says. “But, most importantly, it’s not a cliff dive for American security, American prosperity, American life, if we become the number-two or number-three-sized economy in the world. The process will continue to be slow, and, in fact, it might be very good,” he says. “The U.S. can move forward while its power wanes.”

American identity as based on pure power—the greatness, the biggest, and the best forever—needs to be phased out, he says.

“We should try to move past superpower nostalgia as quickly as we can, and instead think of American identity in terms of older and more powerful stories – the ideal of creating a more equal, more just, more inclusive, and more sustainable society,” says Esty. “I think the number one new story is emphasizing the need for American goodness rather than American greatness.” (emphasis mine)

Complete article BELOW the FOLD

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

A Very Good Reason To Be Very Concerned...


All it takes for racist and authoritarian ideology to succeed is for good decent people to do nothing in response.

This is a threat to everything our constitution and the rule of law stands for.

The USA is not a "Christian" Nation. Never has  been and never should be.

Unless of course we want to be just like the Middle Eastern theocracies. With their extremism and lack of civil liberties in toe.

Beware of what you wish for "Christian" Nationalists.

There is nothing Christian about "Christian" Nationalism.

As a researcher, I’ve tracked the ascendance of White Christian nationalism in the United States for years by following preachers, rallies, politicians, militias, and, sadly, insurrections. As a former evangelical minister, it’s a world that shaped my youth and young adulthood. However, even after years of researching some of the ugliest corners of the Internet and living through some of the most sensational religious-political spectacles around the country, there are times you can’t believe what you’re reading—and what others are too.  

Stephen Wolfe’s The Case for Christian Nationalism is already a bestseller; it’s been in the top 2000 books on Amazon for weeks, and, since its November 1 release, it’s been charting in the top 500. This isn’t another fringe text touting an obscure ideology; the National Conservatism website has it at the top of their Books section, and it appears at a time when American Christians have begun to gladly accept the Christian nationalist label. 

In June, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene said, “I’m a Christian, and I say it proudly, we should be Christian nationalists.” In September, a University of Maryland Critical Issues Poll found that Christian nationalism is becoming a bigger factor among Republican voters, with 61% of Republican respondents saying they supported declaring the United States a Christian nation. 

Christian nationalism is having a moment. Scholars and journalists are signaling its dangers in articles, op-eds, and books. Preachers and politicians are encouraging their flocks to take on the identity proudly as a way to blend their faith and politics. Yet, even if Christian nationalism has become part of common parlance over the last half year, Wolfe’s book signals the dangerous escalation of a movement. It goes well beyond the rhetoric of benign Christian patriotism to a theological justification for White ethnonationalism. 


Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Guided Vipassana Meditation...


The Political View of the Historical Buddha...

The following excerpt is taken from Springer Link . It provides a brief description of the Buddha's, and by extension Buddhism's, view on politics. The historical Buddha's view on social, political, and economic philosophy was quite liberal, rational, and humanistic, as well as democratic. It would be a very effective model on which to build international harmony and peace.

Hope springs eternal.

Buddha on Politics1

Early Buddhist literature2 addresses several political, economic, and international issues. While the primary purpose of Buddha’s teachings is the liberation of individuals from pervasive suffering, his teachings also acknowledge the interdependence of the individual with society, polity, and economy. Buddha’s teachings sought to mediate these relationships constructively. Although largely unknown in the West, Buddha was an original and important social, political, and economic philosopher, and a rationalistic, humanistic, and democratic one at that (Ling 1981).

What are the essential elements of Buddha’s normative vision for politics? Buddha saw politics not as an end in itself but as an instrument that could either provide favorable conditions or create harmful obstructions for individuals’ personal advancement. Buddha recognized that government is necessary to provide social order and welfare and that its values, content, and processes should be consistent with the “dharma.” “Dharma” (dhamma in Pāli) has many meanings but here refers to the teachings of Buddha and their realization, which are offered as universal or natural laws—such as the law of dependent arising and the suffering that results from ignorance of this basic truth. These laws are not created by Buddha, they operate with or without him, but Buddha revealed these laws and recommended that we examine them and act accordingly; not through blind faith, but through a process of rational human assessment.3 A political system organized consistent with these basic truths could minimize the manifest forms of suffering for all members of society—especially for the least fortunate whose visible suffering is greatest—and play a positive role in an individual’s attainment of higher forms of well-being.

What does it mean to say that political practices must be consistent with the dharma for their legitimacy? A fundamental principle of the dharma relevant to politics is the equality and dignity of all individuals. Buddha stressed that all human beings have an inherent worth and capacity for enlightenment, so-called, “Buddha nature.”4 In contrast to the prevailing Brahmin teachings, Buddha rejected the caste system and argued that virtues were distributed equally, not hierarchically, across society. Buddha states: “Now since both dark and bright qualities, which are blamed and praised by the wise, are scattered indiscriminately among the four castes, the wise do not recognize the claim about the Brahmin caste being the highest … [anyone can] become emancipated … by virtue of dharma” (DN, 27, 2012 at p. 408). The dharma applies equally to everyone regardless of class, social status, or economic circumstance. Because citizen and ruler alike are equal under the law of dharma, political institutions should reflect this basic truth. For it’s time these were truly groundbreaking social insights.

Buddha’s teachings also reflect the principle of equality when he prescribes that monarchy, the dominant form of government during his lifetime, should be based on popular consent (not divine right), conducted in consultation with the governed, even-handed in the application of justice, and conform to the dharma. Democracy, however, is the form of government where equality is paramount, and Buddha’s own political creation, the sangha (the order of monks and nuns in Pāli and Sanskrit), is governed by strict equality in its rules for admission, participation, administration, and dispute resolution.

Because of the equality and ultimate goodness of every individual (and because they all suffer), Buddha taught that they are each worthy of our compassion and, at a minimum, should not be harmed by the state. Nonviolence or non-harm (ahimsa in Sanskrit and Pāli) is a natural corollary to Buddha’s teachings on the equality of human potential and the basis of the protection of individual rights.5 Perhaps the most direct example of this principle to politics is Buddha’s repeated admonition that a righteous ruler must follow the ethical precepts of no killing, no stealing, no lying, etc. More affirmatively, the successful leader must demonstrate compassion and care through the practices of kindness, equanimity, patience, and generosity. Nonviolence and equality are the bedrocks of Buddhist social justice, and good government requires moral and legal protection against the arbitrary use of power. Buddha, like America’s founding fathers, was concerned about the danger of tyranny.

The third feature of Buddha’s political teachings is a tolerance for different political configurations and a pragmatic and non-doctrinaire (“liberal” or “pluralistic” in this sense) approach to political questions. Rather than overtly endorsing a particular form of government, Buddha, in befriending and advising republics and monarchs alike, implies that good governance can take more than one form but must allow for the maximization of individual happiness of its citizens (defined in a way that goes beyond mere sensual enjoyment to include self-realization) and that minimizes their suffering, allowing them to cultivate compassion, patience, generosity, meditative concentration, and wisdom while discouraging greed, hatred, and ignorance. Buddha did not explicitly advocate for a single form of government, and, at one level, recognized that different types of regimes could be considered legitimate if the spirit of the ruler and the ruled was in accordance with the dharma.

Nonetheless, Buddha indicated a preference for democratic and representative forms of government. In his teachings and prescriptions, Buddha endorsed democratic principles such as citizen participation and free expression of opinion; deliberation, consultation, and consensus-building; voting and respect for popular consent; transparency via face-to-face meetings and public debate; primacy of the rule of law and limited government. We see these predilections in Buddha’s endorsement of republican principles in the sūtras and the incorporation of democratic principles into the rules governing Buddha’s own society of monks and nuns in the vinaya. Buddha’s teachings are directly relevant to contemporary politics and are compatible with the governance of a modern democratic state. Buddha’s political thinking parallels Western liberal-democratic thought with its emphasis on equal rights, protection against tyranny via equality before the law, and participatory and deliberative governance.

The most important distinction between “dharmic” democracy and Western liberal democracy is Buddhism’s emphasis on one’s individual duties to others as much as one’s individual rights, duties that exceed compliance with the law. Where liberal democracy has little to say about the moral qualities of what constitutes good governance beyond the values of equality of opportunity and protection of individual choice and instead focuses on the process of good governance not the substance (Garfield 2001), “dharmic democracy” delineates a clear duty of care owed to others and to the natural world as well. Fundamentally, in dharmic democracy individuals have a duty not only to avoid abridging other’s freedoms, but to strive to develop a sense of universal responsibility and concern for all human beings and the natural world. Although this duty is everyone’s responsibility, political institutions and their leaders should reflect these principles, and policy should encourage their inculcation and practice. The emphasis on responsibilities as well as rights follows directly from Buddhism’s underlying ontology of dependent origination and a theory of causation that maintains our lives are not separate but deeply interdependent. Contemporary Buddhist writer and monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, captured this difference in the context of the United States when he remarked: “We have the Statute of Liberty on the East Coast. I think we have to make a Statute of Responsibility on the West Coast to counterbalance Liberty. Liberty without responsibility is not real liberty” (Hanh 2006 at p. 137). “Freedom” in Buddhist thought means freedom from the chains of self-grasping ignorance, not the unbridled pursuit of “self” interest.

Full article BELOW the FOLD