Bhikkhu Bodhi speaks out

Kudos to Bhante Bodhi for writing about this truly insane conflict!

This sentiment reminds me of something anthropologist David Graeber said in The Utopia of Rules :

The ultimate, hidden truth of the world is that it is something that we make, and could just as easily make differently.

He gives an example in a different writing

The classic example is the well. There’s a town where water is monopolised and the mayor is in bed with the company that monopolises the water. If you were to protest in front of the mayor’s house, that’s protest, and if you were to blockade the mayor’s house, it’s civil disobedience, but it’s still not direct action. Direct action is when you just go and dig your own well, because that’s what people would normally do if they didn’t have water.

The very notion of direct action, with its rejection of a politics which appeals to governments to modify their behaviour, in favour of physical intervention against state power in a form that itself prefigures an alternative—all of this emerges directly from the libertarian tradition.

and the gains that creative forms of activism have made guided by this type of thinking here in recent decades.

When I think about Buddhists who sincerely do activism, some social or political action that does not contradict the eightfold path, some form of direct action should certainly be part of the conversation for them, which is why I mention it here. After all, what authority or good reason can the elements of the State or those state officials, who brutalise peaceful protesters using police violence at home and give precedence to carpet bombing civilians before allowing the military-industrial complex to take a backseat in govt. policy for once, have in the eyes of Buddhists who idolise principles of non-harming and the like?

Of course as you say, not all Buddhists need to have this type of socio-political consciousness. Since the context is here of the US, the fact that Buddhists in the US don’t get involved in the large domestic military industry, which by now has completely permeated american society with even “socially conscious” investors investing in military weaponry in a complete inversion of common sense notions of what it means to be socially conscious, following right livelihood is already a form of resistance against the different forms of violence and imperialism that Western nations like the US regularly conduct abroad.

Protest is good but I think the conversation has to become truly radical eventually. For example, I remember reading in an introduction to Gandhi’s writings on satyāgraha in english by the writer Bharatan Kumarappa on what a radical path to anti-war resistance entails :

In this respect Satyagraha or non-violent resistance, as conceived by Gandhiji, has an important lesson for pacifists and war-resisters of the West. Western pacifists have so far proved ineffective because they have thought that war can be resisted by mere propaganda, conscientious objection, and organization for settling disputes. Gandhiji showed that non-violence to be effective requires constructive effort in every sphere of life, individual, social, economic and political. These spheres have to be organized and refashioned in such a way that the people will have learnt to be non-violent in their daily lives, manage their affairs on a cooperative and non-violent basis, and thus have acquired sufficient strength and resourcefulness to be able to offer non-violent resistance against organized violence. The practice of non-violence in the political sphere is not, therefore, a mere matter of preaching or even of establishing arbitration courts or Leagues of Nations, but involves building up brick by brick with patience and industry a new non-violent social and economic order. It depends ultimately on banishing violence from the heart of the individual, and making of him a transformed disciplined person.

I’m not sure to what extent calling the USSR Marxist is correct. The point that you were making is of course different, but this stops people from engaging seriously and objectively with Marxist ideas, which also predate the USSR. I come across the “communism = bad” opinion so often in the US from people who have never read Marx. Usually, they want us to imagine a future which cannot be anything but the neoliberalism of today, one of the chief characteristics of which is conducting war for profit.

For states like the USSR, communism as prescribed by Marx which involved a “withering away of the state” was just some utopian notion that a vanguard party will eventually evolve their nation towards. They called their nation “socialist” and Lenin in fact disagreed with Marxists on how they should progress to that goal. From the wiki page for Marxism-Leninism

Importantly, Lenin declared that the development of socialism would not be able to be pursued in the manner originally thought by Marxists.

I quite like the idea of communism as laid out by Marx in the maxim

from each according to his abilities, to each according to their needs

Then there are no communist forms of rule currently or historically except perhaps some indigenous communities which predate Marx and European colonialism. In fact from the little I know of Marx, he was inspired by such accounts of “primitive communism” as he called them. Based on this maxim, I would say that we are all “communists” at heart (atleast when we are with friends) :-D.

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Thanks for letting me know how your conversations with other people have gone. I have no idea what it has to do with me. FYI, I spent twenty years as a machine operator for various companies that did everything in their power to pay me just enough to survive while maximizing the gains of their investors. I don’t need to read Marx to understand the problems of capitalism. I’m happy to have escaped to a life that’s a little more natural and meaningful. The trouble, of course, is everyone else. The city, the world, trolls on internet forums. There is no escape from the endless assault of people on each other. So, I spend less time with people and more with birds and squirrels. (But, then, they fight too. It’s samsara.)

Havel’s book was written while he was a dissident in Czechoslavakia during the Warsaw Pact era. The only reason I mentioned Marxism was because that was the specific ideology he addresses. The general principles of social control are used with other ideologies as well. It’s just a change the content. This is precisely what the Fascists did. Mussolini was originally a Marxist. He took their tactics and created new content for them. Hitler and his gang did similar things. Stalin could probably be grouped along with them - he just didn’t need to make up new content.

My only point is that today we are watching liberal democracies fall to ideological movements using these same tactics. Many are already reduced to one party states. The US is a special case all by itself, being a country that’s now really two countries trying to share a single national government. There are very few competitive elections anymore aside from presidential elections, they are literally coin flips. “Eenie, meenie, minee, moe …”


Then you have people who have read Marx in depth, who were Marxists and then saw the massive flaw and danger in it, like me. Marxism is also incompatible with Buddhism, since it’s a strictly materialist ideology. You don’t have to be a neo-liberal to be anti-Marxism, anti-communism.

Not that I’m American of course.

Hi Ceisiwr, I already struck through the text (after the post by charles) that you are replying to. Mainly because I realized later that it was pretty off-topic. So I won’t add more to it but thanks for replying with your position.

It is best care be taken to avoid complicity in the plausible genocide. For the last week, the Palestine issue was discussed at the ICJ (which was planned prior to Oct 7). As was repeated often by representatives of many nations:

  1. Under international law, Israel is an Occupying Power.

  2. Under international law, the duration of an Occupying Power must only be temporary, otherwise it becomes an illegal “Annexation”.

  3. Since Gaza, The West Bank & East Jerusalem have been occupied, controlled and even settled for the past 56 years, it appears to be an Annexation. Annexation is illegal; regardless of what Biden, Sunak, Starmer or we may emotionally believe. Under law, it is illegal.

Therefore, regardless of the contextually unskillful & Gaza-devastating nature of their Oct 7 actions (obviously Hamas knew how Israel would respond; which brings to mind the shady origins of Hamas), to label Hamas as “terrorists” sounds like labelling those Jews who engaged in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising against the Nazis as “terrorists”. A United Nations spokesperson in the video below. Keep in mind Gaza is defenseless & blockaded for the last 16 years.

A terrorist is someone who targets civilians, using violence and intimidation to achieve their goals. That is Hamas. In calling Hamas a terrorist group I’m in no way being complicit in genocide. Your comparison with the Warsaw Ghetto uprising is flawed.

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Again, it is important to understand international law. In 2004, the ICJ ruled in the Wall Case that Israel has no explicit right to self-defense. That is the core issue. There is an Occupying Power and an Occupied Terrority.

So are you suggesting the Israel military are terrorists? Are you aware of the history before Oct 7? Simply in 2023 the United Nations reported hundreds of Palestinian deaths.

I’ve not given an opinion either way. Regardless of if Israel has a right to self defence or not, Hamas are still a terrorist group since they specifically target civilians. It was the same with the IRA.

Yes, I’m aware of the history. Long and bloody as it is.

Again, Hamas explicitly said they were targeting military personal. This appears why the hostages they released were at the time non-military and the hostages they kept were at the time military. Regardless of this, it becomes more complex when a society like Israel has compulsory military service and the settlements near Gaza exist to maintain the military imprisonment of Gaza. Therefore, to reiterate, the common narratives of “terrorists” and “civilians” are difficult to directly & easily apply to an Occupying Power. This is why I keep referring make to International Law rather than to personal emotional ideas.

The Irish Republican Army (IRA ) is a name used by various resistance organisations in Ireland throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. Organisations by this name have been dedicated to anti-imperialism through Irish republicanism, the belief that all of Ireland should be an independent republic free from British rule. Wikipedia

A concert is a military target? Who is being emotional here? I’m stating facts.

You don’t need to quote Wikipedia (of all things) to me. I do know who the various IRA groups were/are. I am British after all.

It is unlikely “facts” are being stated here because you were not there. It was reported in the Israel media concert goers reported they were attacked by an Israeli helicopter gunship. The videos released show a gun battle at the concert between Hamas & the concert security plus concert goers gave statements the Israeli military started shooting randomly indiscriminately towards them. Have you not seen the images of the incinerated cars at the rock concert carpark? Hamas could not have done this. Have you not seen the video of the Israeli tank commander admitting they had to destroy Kibbutz houses to subdue Hamas; supported by Israeli witness statements? Did you not listen to the admission by Mark Regev that 200 Hamas were mistakenly included in the original 1400 death count because they were burned beyond recognition. Obviously, Hamas did not incinerate themselves. They were obviously incinerated by indiscriminate Israeli firepower; just as Israeli hostages in Gaza were killed by the IDF. Regardless, all of the above appears irrelevant under International Law. Israel is an Occupying Power.

Gaza cars

“Were you there” isn’t a great argument. It’s so easily turned around, although I suppose it’s possible you were there. Were you? If Israel is an occupying power or not has no bearing on if Hamas is a terrorist group or not. This is a red herring. I’ve seen the videos of what Hamas did on that day. They targeted and killed civilians, just like they have done before. They are, by definition, a terrorist group. If you want to be an apologist for them, that’s up to you.

Looks like you don’t know much about Buddhism either :man_shrugging:t2:

Ah, wait. Nick? Hmmmm. It’s quite transparent now.

In Buddhism, being British does not mean one must necessarily oppose the IRA. I learned Buddhism teaches to be free from prejudice. The Israel-Gaza matter is a matter of International Law. If the international fails, the world becomes lawless.


I cited the evidence known to those who examine evidence.

Which videos?

I already pointed out compulsory military service in Israel. It is a militarized country and those settlements near Gaza often exist to maintain the occupation, blockage & terror upon Gaza. I saw no videos of Hamas deliberately killing concert goers. I saw videos of concert goers with arms raised up walking across a field. I saw video of Hamas in military bases and the women taken as hostages were in military uniform. I saw a video of what looked like outside a military base and two adult passengers killed driving a car but the children in the back of the car left unharmed. It is a militarized zone. The demarcation of “terrorist” vs “civilian” appears tenuous in this context.

It’s quite obvious who you are, and quite tedious too.

To end, the case was made a “terrorist” targets civilians. Hamas primarily appeared to have the intention to attack a militarized zone related to the imprisonment of Gaza (that happened to include civilians disproportionally defended by the world’s most advanced military; which seemed to fail or delay its response to the Hamas attack). The video from within an Israeli military base at the link below does not look like Hamas having a primary objective to kill civilians.

To the contrary, Israel is laying to waste a defenseless non-militarized open air prison; destroying nearly or every major hospital, UN facilities, schools, churches, etc . That is the context. As a result, a case was presented to the International Court of Justice that Israel is performing a genocide. :slightly_frowning_face: The way the mind defines things is important. The Dhammapada says the way the mind defines things is the forerunner of skillful & unskillful actions. Who is really the “civilian” or who really is the “terrorist” is important.

Anything short of True Love falls short of the pure goodness of that which can truly be called Buddhist.

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