Category Archives: Anarchism

From the List: Protests or sharing? Servants or owners? By Danilo D’Antonio

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This came in through the mailing list. If you would like Comrade D’Antonio to see your comments please sign up for the mailinglist at https://lists.riseup.net/www/info/anarcho-buddhistcollective and reply.

—– QUOTED TEXT BELOW ——

Please, would you be
so kind to consider:

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Protests or sharing? Servants or owners?
——————————————

Everywhere in the world, PROTESTS against something (absence of work/income, for rights, caused by control and surveillance) continue to be done by unsatisfied people who do not succeed to find, anyway, a good progress. Demonstrations after all are expressions of past epochs, when we were living in Countries that were self-declared tyrannical (empires, monarchies) and we were then all subjected to despots. In those times, protests could help, because the subdued servant people had this only chance. In addition to bloody revolutions, naturally.

Demonstrations were SERVILE PETITIONS presented to the bosses, to kings, to emperors.
The bosses gave us ALMS and the Story could continue with UNCHANGED SOCIAL STRUCTURE.

But long time ago our situation indeed changed. We begun living in Countries that self-declared democratic and we become FREE MEN, citizens, PEER to PEER with the STATE, people who do not need demostrations nor revolutions.

… Or at least it should be in this way

In fact our “democratic” societies inherited the traditional organization of the tyrannical State. Public jobs, incomes and powers continued to be assigned life long to a minority which aim was to divide, exclude, separate people from the State. This archaic State setting, instead to disappear when SOVEREIGNTY passed to PEOPLES, was mantained by public careerists. So State men for life, by acting a long ABUSE of POWER, still remain above us.

The democratic fundament (without which democracy does NOT exist!) of the periodical restitution of public powers to people still works only inside our government’s ambits. On the contrary, the largest part of our States (public jobs) is still in the hands of a tyrannical minority that, making peoples powerless, can make its worst.

Let us look it better.

In true democratic Countries citizens do NOT need to demostrate. They participate to all the State concrete activities, to public jobs. By staying inside the State, BY BEING THE STATE, citizens give their genuine imprinting to politics. The same rulers, by having around citizens (careful for common good, not for their career), follow fair policies, commit themselves to do their best. They know otherwise would be put to shame.

Now, after known this UNDUE LINK TO THE PAST, this GLOBAL POLITICAL TRAP, we can choose.

We can:

– continue to protest: in this way we contribute to make live
mankind eternally in a fake, minim, partial, democracy;

– help people to EMANCIPATE: to become aware of what happened,
about things work, how we can build a complete democracy.

We can choose to:

– continue to servilely protest for the problems
inevitably generated by tyrannical States,

– inform world’s peoples (Internet greatly help us)
about the above and all together build NEW STATES.

Indeed the most powerful people of the world are no longer Bilderberg’s, Davos or Wall Street’s tycoons.

The most influent people able to change our world now are us. The world, now, is literally in our hands.

Let us everywhere claim for PUBLIC DEMOCRATIC EMPLOYMENTS, for shared public jobs: assigned tempouraneously among citizens who have the requirements necessary for the role and wish to serve their people. It will become impossible for every clique, elite and mafia even attempt to maneuver our States. THE STATE ARE US! Only servants demonstrate. Legitimate owners, people sovereign on their respective RES PUBLICAs, do not protest.

They, we, pacifically, legally, civilly, go to OCCUPY our LEGITIMATE PLACE in the STATE.

Danilo D’Antonio

PUBLIC EMPLOYMENT AT FIXED TIME
http://www.hyperlinker.com/ars/

everyone’s empowerment

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More ramblings on Buddhist Anarcho-Socialism by Joe Ferris

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So…I’ve decided that in addition to my blog about music and gigs on my website (www.joeferris.co.uk) I’m also going to use this blog from blogger.com to share my thoughts and things I find online relating to the topics of Anarchism, Socialism & Buddhism. These three schools of thought may seem contradictory to you, but I aim to use this blog to show you that they do in fact walk hand in hand. I think if I share with you what I learn about these topics, the relations between them will become fairly self-evident.

It might be handy to start by defining what I mean by some key terms, as well as what I do not mean:

By Anarchy I do not mean to refer to a state of chaos or violence. “Anarchism as a political philosophy has nothing to do with violence” but the belief that a society can have community cohesion without state coercion. To imagine that chaos would result from Anarchism is to assume that the anarchist is opposed to order and organisation, when in fact he only opposes hierarchy and dominance. Organisation and hierarchy are not the same thing. I don’t like taking orders, but that doesn’t mean that my life is without order.
The sentiment of the social anarchist is that people are not the emotionally childish, naturally competitive, violent barbarians that the media conditions us to fear but are in fact naturally co-operative and inclined toward mutuality and reciprocity. The media message becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy when we buy into it and allow them to pit us against each other. Inequality and the enforcement of redundant laws are a way to make criminals of us all.
Philosophies like Anarchism are scorned as dangerous, violent and radical ideologies when in fact it is the adherents to the Capitalist economic system that wage wars and make massive profits from their industries of instruments of death. Anarchism is against such violence, promoting pacifism until physical resistance is your only defence left against oppression. It’s not about reverting back to a stone age system by throwing all human advancement onto the scrapheap, but about using that advancement for the benefit of humanity. And recognising that our technological advancement is not a product of Capitalism but of human endeavour. In the same way, the moral advancements we’ve made are not the product of instruction from God/s or law makers but of our own hearts & minds.
We can behave in a manner conducive to common goals without seeking external justification for our feelings towards what is wrong and what is right. Why do you suppose you’ve never murdered your neighbours and stolen their possessions? Because you fear going to hell or prison, or because you recognise that you yourself would not like to be a victim of such immoral behaviour and that it’s more beneficial for you as a social creature to conduct yourself in a way that is sensitive to other people’s needs? We should be able to take pride in our own good conduct but instead we are taught that the credit for our behaving well belongs to the super egoic deities and law enforcers while the responsibility for us behaving badly is solely ours to bear.
I’m almost half-way through a book I’d like to share with you called Reinventing Anarchy: What Are Anarchists Thinking These Days? I think it was published in the ’70s but the ideas all seem to still be relevent. If you’re struggling to reconcile Anarchism and Socialism then this is definitely the book for you. I got my copy in Oxfam but you can read a preview online before deciding whether you’d like to buy it or not http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=5809AAAAIAAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false
By Buddha I’m not necessarily referring to an historical character, but to the optimum state of consciousness for a human being, the seed of which lives within us all. I have no idea whether the historical Buddha ever existed and I don’t think it’s particularly important. When you receive your mail you tear the envelope open and throw it away don’t you? The existence of the envelope ceases to be of any relevence when you have the message in your hand. Bodhi mind is a potential that we can all reach rather than being the reserve of one super human of the past who may or may not have existed at all.
At the temple I bow before the statue of the Buddha, prostrating and thinking to myself “Buddham saranam gachami, Dhammam saranam gachami, Sanghang saranam gachami”. (I go to the Buddha/Dharma/Sangha for my refuge”. My homage to the Buddha is about a respect for that state of mind. By Dhamma I mean truth and the ability to see things for what they are in that state of mind, the perfect vision. By Sangha I refer to a perfect sense of community that comes from equalising oneself with others through loving kindness meditation as well as an understanding of the interconnectedness of existence.
Here’s a documentary about the story of the life of the Buddha that I enjoyed. I think you’ll agree that it’s a more powerful narrative when you’re open to metaphor and symbolism that we can all relate to rather than taking it literally. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=zFbjDcz_CbU

If You Want Peace, Stop Paying For War

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Last week, I became a war tax resister. I’ve been thinking about this for a long time, and finally this spring my actions aligned with my intentions and I sent the following letter to the Internal Revenue Service:

April 17, 2012

Dear friends at the IRS,

For the past 20 years, I have been a Buddhist. This year I was ordained as a Buddhist chaplain. My religious beliefs include a commitment to follow the precepts as originally taught by Shakyamuni Buddha, the first of which is to not kill and not take life.

I have faithfully paid my federal income taxes for all of my working life.  But this year my conscience will no longer allow me to continue to fund a war machine that is, to my mind, unethical in almost every way.

While I do understand the need for some kind of defense system, what I have seen, particularly over the last decade, is that the use of our military forces and budget goes far beyond any sane definition of “defense.” The money that I have paid in taxes has been used to invade countries that posed no imminent threat to us (case in point: Iraq), to build predatory drones and other weapons that have resulted in the deaths of hundreds of innocent civilians, to support soldiers who impose illegal torture tactics on those in their custody; I can no longer condone these nor other deadly and aggressive military activities through my tax money.

If there were an option to designate that these funds could go toward other much areas of the U.S. budget that invest in the health and wellbeing of our citizens, such as health care or infrastructure development, I would gladly choose that option (which is why I support HR 1191, the Religious Freedom Peace Tax Fund Bill). Given that is not the case, I am withholding $108 from the money that is due for my 2011 tax and am diverting that money to an organization that helps to cultivate peace rather than war.

My sincere wish is that one day we can all work together to lessen the suffering impacted on both our own citizens and soldiers as well as the people of other countries who have been targets of our military actions.

In kindness,

Maia Duerr

cc: President Barack Obama
Senator Jeff Bingaman
Senator Tom Udall
Representative Ben Lujan
National War Tax Resistance Committee

The amount that I withheld does not come close to the amount allocated toward defense spending (take a look at this calculator to see how your taxes get divvied up to the military), but I wanted to start somewhere and $108 felt like an auspicious number.

I don’t know where this path will lead, but I am hoping that my meditation practice will help with readiness for whatever arises.

I have been inspired by a number of people who have gone down this road before me, and in the past week found this article from Jesse Jiryu Davis, member of the Village Zendo in New York City and  a war tax resister since 2006, particularly helpful. These words from Jesse especially moved me:

I think the greatest danger to me is not that I’ll be punished by the government, but that I’ll forget my intention… I have to keep in mind that the reason I decided not to pay my federal taxes in the first place was because I refuse, as a Buddhist, to use violence to achieve my goals. As soon as I make enemies of those with whom I disagree, as soon as I take pleasure in winning a conflict, I’ve already lost. As Zen Master Seng T’san said, “A hair’s breadth difference, and heaven and earth are set apart.”

original post: http://zenpeacemakers.org/2012/05/if-you-want-peace-stop-paying-for-war/

Kropotkin and Buddha: Mutual Aid and Loving-Kindness

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I couldn’t help but notice the similarities between the life of the world’s foremost anarcho-communist, Peter Kropotkin, with the life of the world’s foremost teacher, Buddha. Both were born as princes, but they both voluntarily gave up their princely titles. The Buddha came from a warrior caste (Kshatriya), and Kropotkin was born to the descendants of both nobility and Russian generals. In fact, Kropotkin entered into a military school at a young age, and his memoirs detailed the hazing and other abuses which lead to the school’s notoriety. They were both also considered to live meritorious, if not near perfect, lives. In his work De Profundis, Oscar Wilde described Peter Kropotkin as “a man with a soul of that beautiful white Christ which seems coming out of Russia” and living one of the “most perfect lives”.

Peter Kropotkin also recognized, in his work Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution, that early Buddhist communities embodied the principle of mutual aid. In this context, mutual aid means voluntary reciprocal exchange of resources and services for mutual benefit. The work itself was to demonstrate that, despite the claims of social Darwinists, “it was an evolutionary emphasis on cooperation instead of competition in the Darwinian sense that made for the success of species, including the human.”

In his work Ethics: Origin and Development, Kropotkin often praised both Christianity and Buddhism for they “gave man a lofty moral lesson.” He also noted that, “The principal point wherein Christianity and Buddhism differed from all preceding religions was in the fact that instead of the cruel, revengeful gods to whose will men had to submit, these two religions brought forward — as an example for men and not to intimidate them — an ideal man-god.” He also further contrasted them from earlier religions, noting that “the point where Christianity and Buddhism did introduce a new principle into the life of humanity was in demanding of man complete forgiveness for the harm inflicted upon him. Up to that time the tribal morality of all peoples demanded revenge, personal or even tribal, for every injury: for murder, for wound, for insult.” Later on, he also noted that “The life of these two teachers was passed, not in temples, not in academies, but among the poor, and from among these poor and not from among the temple-priests came Christ’s apostles. And if at a later date Christianity as well as Buddhism evolved into the ‘Church,’ i.e., the government of the ‘chosen,’ with the inevitable vices of all governments — such development constituted a flagrant deviation from the will of the two founders of religion, notwithstanding all the attempts that were later made to justify this deviation by citing the books written many years after the death of the teachers themselves.”

I have to say that many of my own ideas have been influenced, either directly or indirectly, by both Kropotkin and Buddha. I also cannot help but see a lot of similarities between the two, which is only accentuated by Kropotkin’s own appraisal of Buddha. I just thought I would share this, and ask if anyone else had any thoughts?

Original Post: http://bodhipunx.wordpress.com/2012/01/16/306/

Are You An Anarchist? by JacobSloan

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Regardless of what your answer is, David Graeber’s classic essay “Are You An Anarchist? The Answer May Surprise You” is food for thought regarding what is possible. Via the Anarchist Library:

Many people seem to think that anarchists are proponents of violence, chaos, and destruction, that they are against all forms of order and organization, or that they are crazed nihilists who just want to blow everything up. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. Anarchists are simply people who believe human beings are capable of behaving in a reasonable fashion without having to be forced to. It is really a very simple notion. But it’s one that the rich and powerful have always found extremely dangerous.

At their very simplest, anarchist beliefs turn on to two elementary assumptions. The first is that human beings are, under ordinary circumstances, about as reasonable and decent as they are allowed to be, and can organize themselves and their communities without needing to be told how. The second is that power corrupts. Most of all, anarchism is just a matter of having the courage to take the simple principles of common decency that we all live by, and to follow them through to their logical conclusions. Odd though this may seem, in most important ways you are probably already an anarchist — you just don’t realize it.

Let’s start by taking a few examples from everyday life:

If there’s a line to get on a crowded bus, do you wait your turn and refrain from elbowing your way past others even in the absence of police?

If you answered “yes”, then you are used to acting like an anarchist! The most basic anarchist principle is self-organization: the assumption that human beings do not need to be threatened with prosecution in order to be able to come to reasonable understandings with each other, or to treat each other with dignity and respect.

Everyone believes they are capable of behaving reasonably themselves. If they think laws and police are necessary, it is only because they don’t believe that other people are. But if you think about it, don’t those people all feel exactly the same way about you? Anarchists argue that almost all the anti-social behavior which makes us think it’s necessary to have armies, police, prisons, and governments to control our lives, is actually caused by the systematic inequalities and injustice those armies, police, prisons and governments make possible. It’s all a vicious circle. If people are used to being treated like their opinions do not matter, they are likely to become angry and cynical, even violent – which of course makes it easy for those in power to say that their opinions do not matter. Once they understand that their opinions really do matter just as much as anyone else’s, they tend to become remarkably understanding. To cut a long story short: anarchists believe that for the most part it is power itself, and the effects of power, that make people stupid and irresponsible.

Are you a member of a club or sports team or any other voluntary organization where decisions are not imposed by one leader but made on the basis of general consent?

If you answered “yes”, then you belong to an organization which works on anarchist principles! Another basic anarchist principle is voluntary association. This is simply a matter of applying democratic principles to ordinary life. The only difference is that anarchists believe it should be possible to have a society in which everything could be organized along these lines, all groups based on the free consent of their members, and therefore, that all top-down, military styles of organization like armies or bureaucracies or large corporations, based on chains of command, would no longer be necessary. Perhaps you don’t believe that would be possible. Perhaps you do. But every time you reach an agreement by consensus, rather than threats, every time you make a voluntary arrangement with another person, come to an understanding, or reach a compromise by taking due consideration of the other person’s particular situation or needs, you are being an anarchist — even if you don’t realize it.

Anarchism is just the way people act when they are free to do as they choose, and when they deal with others who are equally free — and therefore aware of the responsibility to others that entails. This leads to another crucial point: that while people can be reasonable and considerate when they are dealing with equals, human nature is such that they cannot be trusted to do so when given power over others. Give someone such power, they will almost invariably abuse it in some way or another.

Do you believe that most politicians are selfish, egotistical swine who don’t really care about the public interest? Do you think we live in an economic system which is stupid and unfair?

If you answered “yes”, then you subscribe to the anarchist critique of today’s society – at least, in its broadest outlines. Anarchists believe that power corrupts and those who spend their entire lives seeking power are the very last people who should have it. Anarchists believe that our present economic system is more likely to reward people for selfish and unscrupulous behavior than for being decent, caring human beings. Most people feel that way. The only difference is that most people don’t think there’s anything that can be done about it, or anyway — and this is what the faithful servants of the powerful are always most likely to insist — anything that won’t end up making things even worse.

But what if that weren’t true?

And is there really any reason to believe this? When you can actually test them, most of the usual predictions about what would happen without states or capitalism turn out to be entirely untrue. For thousands of years people lived without governments. In many parts of the world people live outside of the control of governments today. They do not all kill each other. Mostly they just get on about their lives the same as anyone else would. Of course, in a complex, urban, technological society all this would be more complicated: but technology can also make all these problems a lot easier to solve. In fact, we have not even begun to think about what our lives could be like if technology were really marshaled to fit human needs. How many hours would we really need to work in order to maintain a functional society — that is, if we got rid of all the useless or destructive occupations like telemarketers, lawyers, prison guards, financial analysts, public relations experts, bureaucrats and politicians, and turn our best scientific minds away from working on space weaponry or stock market systems to mechanizing away dangerous or annoying tasks like coal mining or cleaning the bathroom, and distribute the remaining work among everyone equally? Five hours a day? Four? Three? Two? Nobody knows because no one is even asking this kind of question. Anarchists think these are the very questions we should be asking.

Do you really believe those things you tell your children (or that your parents told you)?

It doesn’t matter who started it.” “Two wrongs don’t make a right.” “Clean up your own mess.” “Do unto others …” “Don’t be mean to people just because they’re different.” Perhaps we should decide whether we’re lying to our children when we tell them about right and wrong, or whether we’re willing to take our own injunctions seriously. Because if you take these moral principles to their logical conclusions, you arrive at anarchism.

Take the principle that two wrongs don’t make a right. If you really took it seriously, that alone would knock away almost the entire basis for war and the criminal justice system. The same goes for sharing: we’re always telling children that they have to learn to share, to be considerate of each other’s needs, to help each other; then we go off into the real world where we assume that everyone is naturally selfish and competitive. But an anarchist would point out: in fact, what we say to our children is right. Pretty much every great worthwhile achievement in human history, every discovery or accomplishment that’s improved our lives, has been based on cooperation and mutual aid; even now, most of us spend more of our money on our friends and families than on ourselves; while likely as not there will always be competitive people in the world, there’s no reason why society has to be based on encouraging such behavior, let alone making people compete over the basic necessities of life. That only serves the interests of people in power, who want us to live in fear of one another. That’s why anarchists call for a society based not only on free association but mutual aid. The fact is that most children grow up believing in anarchist morality, and then gradually have to realize that the adult world doesn’t really work that way. That’s why so many become rebellious, or alienated, even suicidal as adolescents, and finally, resigned and bitter as adults; their only solace, often, being the ability to raise children of their own and pretend to them that the world is fair. But what if we really could start to build a world which really was at least founded on principles of justice? Wouldn’t that be the greatest gift to one’s children one could possibly give?

Do you believe that human beings are fundamentally corrupt and evil, or that certain sorts of people (women, people of color, ordinary folk who are not rich or highly educated) are inferior specimens, destined to be ruled by their betters?

If you answered “yes”, then, well, it looks like you aren’t an anarchist after all. But if you answered “no’, then chances are you already subscribe to 90% of anarchist principles, and, likely as not, are living your life largely in accord with them. Every time you treat another human with consideration and respect, you are being an anarchist. Every time you work out your differences with others by coming to reasonable compromise, listening to what everyone has to say rather than letting one person decide for everyone else, you are being an anarchist. Every time you have the opportunity to force someone to do something, but decide to appeal to their sense of reason or justice instead, you are being an anarchist. The same goes for every time you share something with a friend, or decide who is going to do the dishes, or do anything at all with an eye to fairness.

Now, you might object that all this is well and good as a way for small groups of people to get on with each other, but managing a city, or a country, is an entirely different matter. And of course there is something to this. Even if you decentralize society and puts as much power as possible in the hands of small communities, there will still be plenty of things that need to be coordinated, from running railroads to deciding on directions for medical research. But just because something is complicated does not mean there is no way to do it democratically. It would just be complicated. In fact, anarchists have all sorts of different ideas and visions about how a complex society might manage itself. To explain them though would go far beyond the scope of a little introductory text like this. Suffice it to say, first of all, that a lot of people have spent a lot of time coming up with models for how a really democratic, healthy society might work; but second, and just as importantly, no anarchist claims to have a perfect blueprint. The last thing we want is to impose prefab models on society anyway. The truth is we probably can’t even imagine half the problems that will come up when we try to create a democratic society; still, we’re confident that, human ingenuity being what it is, such problems can always be solved, so long as it is in the spirit of our basic principles-which are, in the final analysis, simply the principles of fundamental human decency.

Original Post – http://www.disinfo.com/2011/11/are-you-an-anarchist/

Envisioning a Buddhist Anarchism by Ian Mayes

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I see Buddhist anarchism as being important for two reasons. I see Buddhism as essentially being about the individual’s liberation from unnecessary suffering. And anarchism I see as essentially being about freeing the world from unnecessary pain. We create all of this unnecessary pain and suffering ourselves.

Suffering is created by our own habits of mind, where we choose to put our attention and what we choose to hold onto. Pain on the other hand is inevitable in life, however the social systems and institutions that humanity has chosen to organize the world with creates more pain for people than is necessary. A Buddhist anarchism would simultaneously be eliminating unnecessary suffering in the psyche and unnecessary pain in the world, and towards more joy and appreciation of life.

The other reason why I see a Buddhist anarchism as being important is that I see the two philosophies as complimenting and completing each-other. It is a union of the personal and the political, the psychological and the social, so to speak. This is ultimately about liberation in its fullest sense – both on the individual personal level and within the larger social body.

The philosophy of anarchism implies that a fundamental shift in the consciousness of people is necessary. In order to have a new world without domination, property or authority, people would need to be accustomed towards living with more benevolence, attentiveness, caring and flexibility with each-other. However, this shift in consciousness is rarely explicitly stated or elaborated upon in anarchist discourse, and the skills necessary for how people can achieve this shift in consciousness are almost never taught within anarchist circles.

The other angle to this is related to the arguments for what is called “Engaged Buddhism”, and that is that far too often Buddhism in practice becomes a means for people to escape from the world, to ignore the sufferings of others, and to blindly contribute to the injustices of the world. If one really does wish for the liberation of all beings, then one would inevitably be drawn to more thorough social engagement for working towards this.

Time has passed

A number of months have elapsed since I wrote my previous essay about this subject. I’ve received a number of different responses to it, all across the board. I’ve had some time to reflect further on the matter. One thing that has struck me is that there really is no pre-existing philosophy that is formulated which goes into depth about “Buddhist anarchism”. Various people have used this label to describe themselves, different articles, blog posts, audio or video recordings have been made, yet there has been no real lineage or tradition established for “Buddhist anarchism” as such.

This term was first publicly noted as being used 50 years ago, in 1961, by Gary Snyder with his essay entitled “Buddhist anarchism”. Given that Snyder is still alive, that means that we are still in the period of the first generation of living “Buddhist anarchists”. The whole thing is still very much in its initial formative stage, which means that we all can still define and lay out what we would like for a Buddhist anarchist philosophy to be. I would like to contribute a few more pieces here about what I would like for such a philosophy to include, this time drawing more from the core tenets of Buddhist philosophy than my previous essay did.

Disclaimers for potential subtlety

One thing that I would like to say right away is that I do not see Buddhist anarchism as being in any way connected with the various tyrannical governments, religious superstition and patriarchal traditions around the world that are associated with Buddhism. The “Buddhism” that a “Buddhist anarchism” is connected to would be the core philosophical tenets of Buddhism. The various outgrowths of Buddhism which are fundamentally at odds with the philosophy of anarchism are not a part of Buddhist anarchism as I see it.

I do admit that there are many different kinds of Buddhist philosophies out there. There are many different kinds of anarchist philosophies out there as well. Put together, this means that there exist innumerable different ways in which “Buddhist anarchism” can take form and be expressed by different people. My own background that is influencing my perspective on Buddhist anarchism is coming from my experience with Vipassana Meditation, which derives from a Theravada Buddhist tradition, and anarcho-communism which is associated with the writings of the Russian anarchist philosopher Peter Kropotkin.

Core Components

Despite all of the diversity within Buddhism, there do exist some things that are core to Buddhism and that all of the different traditions have in common. Looking at these core elements, I see a number of parallels and cross-overs with the philosophy of anarchism. Let’s start with the Four Noble Truths.

The First Noble Truth of Buddhism is that suffering exists everywhere. Wherever you look you will see people miserable or in some way experiencing some degree of suffering in their lives. This would then correlate with anarchist philosophy which says that the world that we live in is organized in a way that is fundamentally corrupt and harmful to life. Anarchists everywhere share the commonality of looking around at the world and seeing a society that is deeply and pervasively against life. The world as we know it is really messed up.

The Second Noble Truth of Buddhism says that suffering has a cause, and that is craving, aversion and ignorance. In other words, “having to have” something, having to avoid something, or simply refusing to look at life as it is are the causes of suffering. These three causes of suffering correlate with the anarchist philosophy’s pointing to the institutions of capitalism and the state, and underlying that domination per se, as being the cause for all of the corruption and oppression of the world. Domination at its root is based on craving and aversion for it comes about when those at the top of the hierarchy “have to” have things their way, even at the expense of others, and no other possibilities are tolerated or permitted.

Anarchists frequently decry the ignorance that is prevalent in society as well, seeing that as being a fundamental part of the problem. Anarchists see the social tendency for people in our society to ignore or disregard the various injustices and horrors that exist in our world and instead focus attention on trivialities, superficialities and entertainment. This social dynamic of continuing distractions ensures that all of the injustices and horrors will continue.

The Third Noble Truth of Buddhism is that it is possible to overcome suffering. There exists a psycho-spiritual condition called “nirvana” or “enlightenment” and individuals through their own effort can attain it. The correlation of this with anarchism is that of the vision of a new utopian society which exists without the state or capitalism, without domination or hierarchy, and that instead is based on free people organizing together directly as equals and sharing all of the world’s resources in common. Similar to the Buddhist assertion that it is possible for people to reach this radically different condition through their own efforts, anarchists assert that societies of people can create this radically different world through their own efforts as well.

The Fourth Noble Truth of Buddhism is that there is an explicitly delineated path for people to follow to reach nirvana. This is called the Noble Eightfold Path. I won’t go into each of the points for the Noble Eightfold Path here, perhaps that can be a topic for another article. Instead I will look at the three categories that the Noble Eightfold Path is broken down into: morality (sila), mastery over one’s mind (Samadhi) and experiential wisdom (panna). For the philosophy of anarchism there is also an explicitly stated means for achieving a social revolution that has three different components. This involves practices that are characterized by the principles of prefigurative politics, self-organization and direct action.

The Buddhist concept of morality (sila) is basically that one should not do or say things that will harm others, and that one should work towards doing and saying things that helps others instead. The idea is that if one does or says things that hurt others, one is also at the same time hurting one’s own self psychologically and spiritually as well. I see Buddhist morality (sila) as corresponding with the anarchist notion of “prefigurative politics”, which is the principle that one’s actions and the projects that one engages in now should reflect the kind of world that one wants to see in the future within it. “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” At the heart of an anarchist morality, expressed through a prefigurative practice, would be relationships where the autonomy of each individual is respected, without coercion, and where everyone’s needs are valued equally. Altogether this would mean that one’s actions and projects would be done for the benefit of others as well as for one’s self, and that they are done for the sake of a better future as well as for the present.

Mastering one’s own mind (Samadhi) is about developing the ability to control what thoughts one has on one’s mind at any given time, being able to choose where one places one’s attention, and being able to clearly make decisions and follow through with them. Meditation is a kind of practice that is used to develop mastery over one’s own mind. The anarchist correlation that I see with this is the principle of self-organization, which is where a group of people organize their own affairs together directly and democratically without utilizing social hierarchies or groups outside of them to make decisions for them. I see this as relating in that in order for a group to survive and thrive in a self-organized way, they need to develop means to facilitate what is being talked about, where the group’s attention is placed in a given situation, and to make collective decisions and carry them out effectively. In a way Samadhi and self-organization are both forms of “self-organization”, just one is on the individual level and the other is on a larger social level. Self-organization within a group would require the same kind of cohesion, clarity and self-discipline that are characteristics of Samadhi.

Experiential wisdom (panna) is about experiencing a deeper understanding of the nature of existence personally and directly. This kind of understanding goes beyond what can be read about in books or writings. In fact it goes beyond what can adequately be expressed in words at all. It has to be lived to be understood. I see this as correlating with the anarchist principle of direct action, which is that of meeting needs and making necessary changes without being told to or asking for permission from some form of authority. I see these as relating in that what is learned in the process of carrying out direct action and the kinds of changes that this brings about within people by going through this process is beyond anything that can be learned or gained by writing or talking alone. Direct action brings about a deep fundamental shift in people, very similar to the kinds of shifts that come from panna. These are both shifts on the direct experiential level. Direct action dispels the illusions of authority, panna shatters illusions altogether. When you are able to see first-hand things getting done without authority, you get a sense of what a straw-man authority is. When you experience the truth that is beyond all words, you can see how paltry words are.

Marking a new existence

Buddhism also has a particular understanding of the nature of our world. This is summarized by what are called the “three marks of existence”. Looking at each of these I realized that each can form the basis for an argument for an anarchist world. The three marks of existence are impermanence (anicca), suffering (dukkha) and no-self (anatta).

The idea behind impermanence (anicca) is that everything is always changing, everything comes and goes, and that nothing stays the same forever. “This too shall pass.” I see this as being an argument for anarchism in that I see the complexities and constantly changing nature of things and situations as being beyond the scope of authority figures or institutional bureaucracies to be able to understand or handle. Things just change too much and too often to keep up. In my view the people who are living and experiencing the changes themselves are those who are in the best position to understand the situation that is going on, and hence are in the best position to be able to deal with it appropriately. For those who are cut off from the situation itself or detached from others who are also experiencing it, the understanding can only be partial.

Suffering (dukkha) was already discussed above as the First Noble Truth of Buddhism. It is that suffering exists and is a fundamental part of the human experience. This in turn relates to an argument for anarchism in that the world that we live in now is filled with immense pain and injustice, and subsequently that this is unnecessary and that we can do something about it.

The third mark of existence is no-self (anatta), which is that there is no essential permanent “self” for an individual. In other words, everything that comprises “you” is so contingent on innumerable different factors and variables, be they biological, social, cultural, material, etc. that there is no basic core “self” which exists independent of all of that. That is, if all of the different contributing influences and components from different sources are taken away, nothing is left.

I see the anarchist correlation to no-self (anatta) as being that all of the notions of property, social status and political power exist as mere social constructs that are comprised by innumerable different factors all coinciding together. The efforts of countless people combined to make a material object that someone considers to be “theirs”. Generations of acquiescence, obedience and the social construction of meaning combined to create what is called a “king” or a “politician”. All kinds of factors reinforced by scores of people created what we have now. No Divine Intervention came and created relationships of domination, nor did capitalism and the state naturally exist since the beginning of time – we created it all ourselves together and it would not exist without us.

Eight Streams Leading to One

It has been said that the entirety of Buddhism can be summarized with this phrase: “Abandon unwholesome qualities, cultivate wholesome qualities, and purify your mind.” Similarly, a take on anarchism can be: “Abandon capitalist and state-based ways of doing things, create and participate in free and cooperative-based ways of doing things, and clean your mind of the mainstream domination-based programming that fills it.” But what does all of this look like in practice? And what would a specifically Buddhist anarchist approach look like?

Towards this end I have identified eight different pre-existing independent practices, projects or sub-cultures which I believe that woven together could form the fabric for what a specifically Buddhist anarchist practice can be. None of these are explicitly “Buddhist anarchist” per se, but they form the beginning foundations for the practical expression of it.

1) Engaged Buddhism: This is where Buddhism and activism formally meet – where Buddhists do activism (or activists practice Buddhism). Under this name, various groups like the Buddhist Peace Fellowship, the Zen Peacemakers and Thich Naht Hanh’s people do the political and social activist work that they do. It could be said that a Buddhist anarchism by definition is a kind of “engaged Buddhism.” The only difference is that the political orientation here is a radical anarchist one.

2) Vegetarianism, veganism, animal liberation: There are some folks, and anarchists and Buddhists are often among them, who say that animals have rights, that animals should be free, and that they should be treated with care and respect. In practice this view-point can be expressed by refusing to eat animal flesh, by abstaining from animal products altogether, or by engaging in more militant actions to free animals from captivity. From an anarchist stand-point this can be justified by the desire to do away with all forms of domination and oppression, and the captivity and killing of animals can be seen as one form of that. From a Buddhist stand-point this can be justified by a desire for compassion for all living beings, by the wish of “may all beings be liberated”.

3) The Public Meditation Project and meditation flash mobs: Anarchists often have the desire to reclaim public space, to open up space for everyone outside of the control of the state or private property. Buddhists often want more people to know about and to practice meditation. Put these two together, and you have the Public Meditation Project. This is an endeavor to have people practice meditation out in the open in public spaces. This can also be done as “meditation flash mobs”, where people semi-spontaneously arrange to all meet up together at the same time and place to meditate in public. Reclaiming public space does not have to be aggressive, in fact no talking even needs to happen at all. It can be done sitting down in complete silence and stillness.

4) Dharma Punx: Since the late 1970’s and early 1980’s the philosophy of anarchism and punk rock music have been strongly associated with each other. The anarchist sub-culture often blends into the punk rock sub-culture, and vice versa. Because of the efforts of authors such as Noah Levine and Brad Warner, and others, a new sub-culture has come about of Buddhist punks, or “Dharma Punx”. While not explicitly “anarchist”, Noah Levine’s writings at least often make casual reference to how what he is advocating is “revolutionary” and “radical”. Often-times the Buddha himself within this sub-culture is referred to as being “the rebel saint. This particular sub-culture has probably done the most to help develop a Buddhist anarchist culture.

5) Nonviolent Communication and the Consciousness Transformation Community: Coming from the self-help scene is a practice called “Nonviolent Communication”, or “NVC” for short. This is a series of conceptual and interpersonal tools that can be applied to help with resolving conflicts between people, developing personal clarity or sensitively listening to others. From a Buddhist perspective I see this as in many ways being a kind of “applied Right Speech”. From an anarchist perspective the principles and theory underlying NVC explicitly rejects relationships of domination, and NVC is viewed as being a way to help overcome it. Most recently something has emerged from NVC that is called the “Consciousness Transformation Community”. The CTC is based around a set of 17 “core commitments” which basically summarize the kind of consciousness that NVC aims for. In the realm of interpersonal relationships, NVC and the CTC can be viewed as tools and a framework for practicing Buddhist anarchism.

6) Radical political straightedge: In the hard-core punk sub-culture there exists a tendency called “radical political straightedge”. This is a kind of social intersection where people are into punk rock music, hold radical political views, and abstain from all forms of alcohol consumption, recreational drug use and intoxication in general. Within the Buddhist morality (sila), there is a precept where one who wishes to develop along the Buddhist path vows to abstain from all forms of intoxication. Radical political straightedge can be seen as one step on the Buddhist anarchist path within a (sub-)cultural context.

7) Buddhist atheism and Critical Buddhism: There is an author named Stephen Batchelor who is a former Buddhist monk in both the Tibetan and the Zen traditions who has renounced his monk-hood. He has recently been writing about what he calls “Buddhist atheism”. This approach is basically where all of the metaphysical ideas within Buddhism such as the notions of rebirth and reincarnation, as well as beliefs in deities and “higher” and “lower” cosmologies, are stripped away from Buddhism.

Similar work has been taking place in Japan with something that is called “Critical Buddhism”. This has been the work of some Japanese Buddhist scholars to modernize Buddhist beliefs to make it all more relevant and applicable to a contemporary audience. Given that most anarchists are atheists (ie, “no gods, no masters”), or at least come from a Western secular outlook on life, such forms of Buddhism would be the most appropriate for a Buddhist anarchism.

8) The Gift Economy: This is a way of arranging economics where all goods and services are offered freely as a gift. With this nothing is offered with a price-tag or as a part of a trade or exchange. Everything is given without any strings attached. People may give things to the original giver, but that is done so as a gift in itself, not as “payment” or “reimbursement”. A number of different anarchist events and projects operate as a gift economy, as do a number of Buddhist events and projects as well. Within the Buddhist context the practice of operating with a gift economy is connected with the virtue (Pāramitā) of “Dāna”, or “generosity”. Within the anarchist context, the gift economy would form the basis for an anarchist-communist society. There is much potential within the gift economy to be explored.

Letting Go For Freedom

Perhaps the most succinct to-the-point summary of Buddhism is this one quote that has been attributed to Gotama the Buddha: “Nothing whatsoever should be clung to.” Clinging to ideas of the way things should be, what should be happening, what people should be doing, etc. is one of the sure ways to ensure that one will experience suffering. Likewise, for anarchists, clinging to ideas of how the world should look, how projects should be carried out, ideas of identity or ideological purity have also caused a lot of suffering. I believe that one of the biggest contributions that Buddhism can make for anarchism is precisely this peace of mind which comes from not clinging. Without clinging, desperation, anxiety and putting demands on one’s friends and comrades goes away. Instead, projects can be carried out with calm, clarity and a sense of inner spaciousness. This in turn can set the tone for the kind of world that we would like to live in.

Taking Up Responsibility

Having said all of this, I want to emphasize – anarchism and Buddhism are not the same thing. They are two separate traditions. They are two traditions that complement each-other like two sides of the same coin of true and total liberation. Buddhist anarchism is something new, even though it has very long and ancient roots. My hope with writing all of this is to help to make space for this something new to emerge further. Both traditions emphasize responsibility, individuals taking responsibility for themselves in the fullest way possible. The same goes with the future of the philosophy and practice of Buddhist anarchism. If we want for it to grow, develop or evolve, the responsibility is up to us. As with everything, when it comes down to it, it is always up to us.

Original Post – http://parenthesiseye.blogspot.com/2011/11/envisioning-buddhist-anarchism.html

EcoChaplaincy and the Occupy Movement by Sarah Vekasi

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I know that there is a great amount of anger out there, and for good reason. Despair, apathy, fear and cynicism too. Some say that captivating and cultivating “righteous anger” is the moving force for change, but I disagree. I know that it is a spark, a symbol of our need for justice, but not a spark that can sustain itself. Anger has an opposite, an enemy, and for many real and justified reasons. However, in order to truly sustain oneself, it is vital to find your vision and place your intention in something far greater than yourself and the specific injustices of the moment. In Buddhism, this often comes down to a great vow – for all beings to be free of suffering and the causes of suffering; in Christianity we hear about the greatest commandment of all –to love thy neighbor as oneself.

This is the key work of the Eco-Chaplaincy Initiative: to help activists, organizers and people in all forms of environmental and social justice work synchronize our intentions with our actions.

There is a lot of writing about it online at www.ecochaplaincy.net. Eco-Chaplaincy comes out of the professionalism of chaplaincy, and offers support within movements, organizations, affinity groups, for individuals, etc. There is an art to chaplaincy, like the specific training for psychologists or the medical professions, and that training can be applied in the streets, hollows and meeting halls, as well as in a hospital, prison, hospice, the military or anywhere else there are chaplains.

Last night at the general assembly in Asheville, a man spoke from the “Spirituality and Support Group,” and then another man voiced his discontent with that group saying that, “this is political, not spiritual, there is no room for religion here.”

My heart opened to him in my guess that the words ‘spiritual’ and ‘religious’ probably carry all sorts of negativity for him with people not accepting him for who he is, or loving him as who he is. I am an eco-chaplain and not a minister or a dharma teacher for a reason – so that I can offer support for groups and individuals in the religious or secular language that makes them tic, not me. But I still have my own opinions about religion and work as a “religious leader,” so let me ask yall: “What is real religion honestly if not the practice of trying to work for our collective liberation, trying to love our neighbors as ourselves, forgive the best we can, keep trying, and working for the liberation of all beings?”

Tell me truly. I know that I write these letters to people on all sides of every political spectrum, so tell me – what could be more political than loving our neighbors as ourselves and working towards our collective liberation?

Here is what I know for sure. A movement based on anger cannot sustain itself. A movement based on fear cannot mobilize itself. A movement void of spirituality, or intention, is not a movement, just a cause or campaign. Only when there is a vision and an intention large enough to sustain many victories and many losses will it surpass the passion of the moment and carry forward lasting change.

This is the goal of eco-chaplaincy. To help activists, organizers, friends, neighbors, all of us to connect with a vision large enough it can sustain us through the ups and downs of our times so we can stay engaged in the world and not drown in anger, despair, fear, apathy, numbness, etc.

How? Eco-Chaplaincy is just like all chaplaincy: being present as best one can, offering active listening, mediation, conflict transformation, and spiritual and religious support. I love working as an eco-chaplain and love creating the Eco-Chaplaincy Initiative, and what I love even more is the thought that there are many thousands of people tonight who will sleep outside in cities throughout this country after participating in an ongoing dialogue about what needs are not being met in our country and the world at the moment, before jumping into “demands” with specific strategies of how to “fix”it.

Let’s all make ourselves more open to seeing one another and truly hearing one another. I am not so interested in hearing all the divergent and often polarizing strategies for how to fix things until there is a real conversation about what needs are not being met first. To do this, we have to listen, and we have to connect, and that is why I love that the Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Your Street mobilizations are not based on a demand or demands, do not have a specific agenda or leaders – because it is a time for people to begin to connect, to listen, and see what needs we all share and what needs are not being met. From there, we can co-create solutions that will satisfy a real majority through consensus.

Maybe the process of connecting is itself the solution. The process is the product. Imagine!

Here are some more ways that I know how to participate in a Great Turning:

• Begin by exploring ourselves. Our anger. Our fear. Our apathy. Our grief. Normalize it, express it, release it, be in it, don’t just deny it. Ask, what is my story? What is your story? Go through it. We don’t have to stay there, and we won’t, we just cycle through. The way through is exactly that – through. Be willing to make mistakes, to forgive others for mistakes, and hold tight to integrity, honesty, traditional values like not killing or lying or stealing, etc. Let the personal be political, our unique spiritual practices reveal themself through our actions of body, speech and mind, our unique religious practices show through our love and care for one another.

• If you feel up to it, try this exercise out. Next time you find that you have the time, ask someone you don’t know, or maybe even someone you do know questions like:

• “What do you think about the condition of our world?”
• “How has the recession and financial meltdown affected you or your family?”
• “What concerns do you have about the world these days?”
• And then don’t let the conversation just dwell in what is wrong, ask also:
• “What is your favorite part about being alive during these uncertain times?
• “Tell me about a place you love.”

There is a power in making yourself available for listening. There is so much need to be heard out there. I know because I listen for a living!

• If you really feel up for it, check out whatever general assembly is happening near you, or start one, or watch a live stream online.

As you all know, the Eco-Chaplaincy Initiative runs through your donations. Thank you to those of you who have donated recently. If you are willing to chip in, please sign up to be a monthly donor or for a one time donation online at www.ecochaplaincy.net/html or through the mail at PO Box 890, Swannanoa, NC 28778.

I would love to listen more to you too. Truly. Call me for a listening session if you want, or call anyways because it is always great to connect.

Love and Solidarity,

Sarah

Occupy Yourself! by Sarah Vekasi

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More than just the leaves are changing these days, and our leaves have gone from green to bright oranges and red. Young people, older folks, and all of us in between are beginning to speak up in all sorts of ways.

Do you know also about the Occupations of Wall Street in New York City and now all across America? I have been participating in the Occupy Asheville general assemblies throughout this past week, so I decided I wanted to write a letter to all of you about how eco-chaplaincy can and does work in these moments of mobilizing and change.

Groups of people are mobilizing in cities and towns throughout America and holding general assemblies to discuss their relationship to living in these times of global crisis under the banner that “we are the 99%.” Why? One reason I understand is a deep and vast need to connect, to be heard, to hear and break through the alienation and pervasive suffering permeating the times.

The slogan “I am the 99%” follows up with “and so are you.” There are people all over America are posting photos on blogs, through news channels and Facebook with a short hand-written story of their situation followed by “I am the 99%.” For example,

I began working when I was 13 years old and made $6.50/hour plus tips in 1992. Now, after four years of college, two years in a monastery, and three years in grad school I am under-employed through a non-profit I run, was paid $8.00/hour as a barista last year, and struggle to make ends meet. I am not sure I can ever have children since I don’t know how I would support them. I am the 99%.

How are you a part of the 99%?

I am not sure there is actually anyone out of that “99%.” Wealthy, poor, middle class, the radiation from Fukushima is everywhere, the water from Appalachia feeds half of the population of the US, and the decisions that have created the system now collapsing throughout the globe don’t seem to be exactly in anyone’s control. I know there are many conditions that have created the present situation, the student debt and unemployment, the massive deployments and lack of affordable health care, and still I am not in the business of pinpointing any exact cause because it seems a lot more like themes brought about by systemic greed, hatred and delusion to me.

I love that these protests did not begin with “demands” or a list of objectives, something the mainstream media is deriding and dismissing it for. There is brilliance to opening up a space which says, things aren’t right in my life, how about yours? What needs are not being met? What are the themes? What are the causes?

There is a reason the occupations began on Wall Street in New York City, and a reason why rather than all flock there, we are standing up in our towns across the country to say the same thing – let’s have a conversation, what is it like for you being alive in this time of global crisis? These conversations, general assemblies, open forums seem to me to be an expression of active hope – a thread slowing sewing itself throughout the frayed seems of our society which says:

“…wait a minute – I am not alone – you are suffering too – whoa – your story has similar roots as mine with a different storyline – hmmm…..we are tired of being controlled by forces beyond our control, which seem to make choices based off greed, not our best interests, profits for the very few with the illusion that finite natural resources are somehow infinite. We are no longer willing to trade our creativity, intelligence, bodies, minds and hearts for a daily grind that is still not going anywhere. We are in debt, bankrupt, lost our homes, have been deployed too many times, need a job, sunk in student debt, and more. Mountaintops are being blown up in Appalachia and the valleys filled in so that coal can be sold in China and India while the water supply for half of the United States is irrevocably polluted. The political forces out there seem interested in maintaining some sort of status quo that has forgotten us – all of us, left wing, right wing, whatever…. It feels overwhelming. It makes me angry. I feel despair. Before I saw this mobilization I was overcome with cynicism, depression, anxiety….etc.”

So these general assemblies are somewhat long and rambling meetings which use a lot of consensus jargon we often use in organizing here, a sort of sub-cultural lingo, with the intention of creating space for everyone to be heard. I don’t know how long the openness will continue, it is hard to sustain and I personally have plenty of doses of my own skepticism, yet I believe in it too because I believe in the power of listening and the power of trusting solutions to arise from a collective, and I deeply believe in the intelligence in open systems which knows that there is room for everybody.

At the same time, this is a fragile and important moment to pay attention to because it could go oh so many ways, and seems to be going every which way at once. What is needed more than ever is open-mindedness, open-heartedness, and expansiveness. We have a choice when conditions get tough to get smaller and tighter or more open and flexible. One leads to a great unraveling into even more scarcity, alienation, isolation and tightness, and the other a great turning toward a more life affirming society. Which do you want?

Before answering, think about this: which you are willing to help create?

Original Post http://jizochronicles.com/2011/10/19/occupy-yourself-guest-post/

An Open Letter From Buddhist And Yoga Teachers In Support Of The Occupy Movement by Ethan Nichtern and Michael Stone

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As teachers and leaders of communities that promote the development of compassion and mindfulness, we are writing to express our solidarity with the Occupy movement now active in more than 1,900 cities worldwide.

We are particularly inspired by the nonviolent tactics of this movement, its methods of self-governance and its emergent communities founded in open communication (general assemblies, the human microphone, the inclusion of diverse voices, etc). These encampments are fertile ground for seeing our inherent wisdom and our capacity for awakening. We encourage all teachers, leaders, sanghas and communities that pursue awakening to join with these inspiring activists, if they have not already done so, in working to end the extreme inequalities of wealth and power that cause so much suffering and devastation for human society and for the ecosystems of Earth.

This movement has given voice to a near-universal frustration with the economic and political disenfranchisement of so many. It offers a needed counterbalance to a system that saps the life energy of the overwhelming majority — the so-called 99 percent — generating vast profits for a tiny handful, without maximizing the true potential for widespread wealth creation in our society. While our practice challenges us to cultivate compassion for 100 percent of human beings without villifying an “enemy,” our practice also calls on us to confront a system that causes such clear harm and imbalance.

We share in the thoughtful calls to address massive unemployment, climate change, the erosion of social safety nets, decaying infrastructures, social and education programs, and workers’ wages, rights and benefits.

Moreover, the current legal structure of large corporations compels individuals to act with shortsighted greed, acts for which they are not held personally accountable. If we aren’t encouraged to act with awareness of our connection to the 7 billion humans who share our global community, the social fabric of our society is torn apart by legalized acts of selfishness and fear. These acts are performed in human society, by nonhuman entities, oddly granted the legal and political status of people, which have no ability to adequately perceive or react to the negative repercussions of their choices. The whole planet pays the price.

Most importantly, we believe that individual awakening and collective transformation are inseparable. For members of spiritual communities, mindfulness of the situation before us demands that we engage fully in the culture and society we inhabit. We do not view our own path as merely an individualistic pursuit of sanity and health, and we believe it would be irresponsible of us to teach students of mind/body disciplines that they can develop their practice in isolation from the society in which they live. We are inspired by the creative and intellectual work of the Occupy movement as an essential voice in facilitating a more compassionate and ecologically grounded basis for practice.

The Occupy movement has re-ignited our belief that it’s truly possible to build a culture of non-harm, honesty and respect for all creatures. We recognize our human failings and know that we’ll fail 10,000 times in our efforts to awaken. We now vow to bring our practices and methods of teaching more into alignment with our deepest values.

The structural greed, anger and delusion that characterize our current system are incompatible with our obligations to future generations and our most cherished values of interdependence, creativity and compassion. We call on teachers and practitioners from all traditions of mind/body awakening to join in actively transforming these structures.

Signed,

Ethan Nichtern, Shastri, New York
Shôken Michael Stone, Toronto

Original Post