Leaving ideology and views aside for one moment, much of what has been written on this thread in the last 20-30 posts contravenes Forum Guidelines in one of two ways:
a) It is too personal
b) It is off-topic.
Stand-up debates between two people are seldom edifying to observe, yet they can be of crucial importance to those involved. So – whilst trying to keep this thread coherent – I have deflected some of this interaction to a PM where the discussion can continue in private. @Erik_ODonnell and @Bundokji please report back here if you are able to clarify your differences, and you are, of course, welcome to continue interacting with folks in general on this thread.
Thanks SDC, this is a really valuable comment, and your analysis is spot on.
I think it’s important to have some awareness of these issues, because one is likely to encounter them in the wild, and it’s easy to get caught up in it if you don’t know the background. At the same time, there’s no there there, there’s nothing that’s actually wise or compassionate or worthwhile. So it’s not something that’s worth spending time over, unless you’re doing a thesis or something.
As Akaliko said:
I agree, and the book that they happened to encounter as young men in wartime is really just a random happenstance. We all come across lots of odd things in our journey, and they don’t define us unless we let them.
I think, in understanding people who twist the dhamma to support bad ideologies of today, it’s important to consider how the dhamma was twisted to support bad ideologies of the past, going all the way back to Devadatta and Ajasattu.
It is very clear that Buddhism does not support killing your father. It does not support killing at all, or asking others to kill. It does not support seeking to destroy people groups, making people slaves, or selling those slaves. Etc. etc.
But people have done that since the start. Ajasattu completely misunderstood his last dialog with the buddha, and took it for military advice, fomenting discord in his “enemies” and commanding more slaughter, likely lengthening his stay in hell.
Since then, all the way to today, Buddhism and Theravada have survived only by the truly wise skillfully interacting with those who misunderstand and twist the religion, with the most common bad ideology having been that of militaristic and authoritarian kingship.
Now, if you take every legend literally and as if it were an anime, you may wonder, “why didn’t the Buddha breathe fire and subdue the armies of the world, like he subdued the naga in the caves? Or why didn’t Mahamoggalana make the palaces of the mighty kings shake, like he did to the palaces of the gods? Why didn’t all of the Arhants of the past use iddhi to subdue evil and enforce virtue” And while it’s a silly thought, I think it dramatizes an important point - that those outwardly aggressive approaches are unskillful. Na hi verena verani. The buddha, having the choice of many different approaches, and being the supreme teacher, chose a specific path.
What the Buddha did was go up to a man he knew was a parricide and warmonger condemned to hell, and just teach straight dhamma like DN2.
Extreme right-wing movements (using the historical lens where we can use early parliaments to place monarchism as right-wing) have taken the natural human reaction of amygdala hijack, us-vs-them thinking, and ad hominem to the extreme. For anyone on any issue, “debunking” is a dangerous game (imagine if someone came up to you and said, “your favorite cookbook is trash, let me tell you how it’s making your muffins bad”) but this is doubly true for the extreme right-wing, who are every moment just waiting to place more people in the “them” category to dismiss, destroy, and exploit.
But it’s hard to get angry at someone who isn’t placing themselves in the context of your prejudice, and simply says the straight truth. For millennia, Buddhist monks have been standing next to monarchists, saying, “killing is bad, etc.” A radical message that undermines everything evil in that ideology. And they get invited to do so, and receive gifts afterwards, because they do not present themselves as anti-monarchists opposed to the monarchists, but rather as good Buddhists encouraging other Buddhists to be better.
I don’t know Julius’s specific points, I can only guess from context, but I think again that DN2 is likely a great example of a good teaching to espouse rightly.
If a fascist hears, “your race-based hierarchy is wrong because…” they have the perception, “what I’m about to hear are the twisted lies of the under-people trying to poison the superior race and forestall the destruction of their own inferior kind. What they say is just another punch in the exchange of blows between groups. If they tried to shoot me with a gun, I would respond by shooting back - just so, I will answer their rhetoric with rhetoric, seeking victory not understanding.”
What a Buddhist fascist hears depends on the approach of the person speaking to them.
Now that doesn’t mean that the second approach always works. There’s two and a half millennia of atrocities committed by Buddhists to demonstrate that. If someone is determined to be bad, they can continue to be bad even when exposed to good. But the “debunking” approach also fails against those people.
I think we have that guy - his name is Ajahn Brahm, and he releases an hour long video ~ every week which is great for the current algorithm. I’m not particularly up-to-date on YouTube nazi buddhists, but I think that at 169K subs he’s probably larger than all of them already.
N = 1 here, but the BSWA Youtube channel is probably the single largest influence on “radicalizing” me in the direction of Yoniso-Manisankara. Even though the team isn’t the smoothest on YouTube (technical difficulties abound) I think they deserve credit for being quite effective.
Of course I don’t mean this to discourage your suggestion. The more people speak good dhamma, the better imo.
@SDC Wow what a wisdom sir! Hats off to your understanding Julius evola and then explaining ways to destroy such thinking! You are absolutely right, he seems to value expanding ‘worldliness’ instead of the goal which is liberation. I understood him the moment I read first 2 chapters and immediately agreed to him because it emphasized expanding worldliness which is very alluring to any newcomer to dhamma(specially many westerners who find it very hard to think beyond materialism) because in 99 percent of cases noone wishes or aims for liberation until and unless they experience truth of suffering which moves their very core. But then I asked for explanation here and changed/corrected my wrong understanding.
Yes Julius evola is person who understood the possibilities which dhamma offers, we can use it to become whatever we wish, can experience every kind of bliss, or something like that, but in the process felt in love with the process and forgot the goal which is liberation from all of this. He couldn’t understand simple thing that, having all the marks of great being and having achieved perfection, lord buddha taught the liberation! Even though he could be ruler of great Empire, universal monarch, he valued liberation over all the other(worldly) things! We can only understand the true value of liberation when we taste it for ourselves till then we will naturally value worldly pleasures. It seems to me the case of clinging to the beauty and possibilities of finger which is actually pointing to the moon(true happiness of liberation)…or something like that.
To refute that thinking, yes we can point out that, understanding like this destroys/ignores the very goal of all this teachings. As however great/expanded worldliness might be, it will end one day, impermanence is the ultimate truth of all of it. Forgetting impermanence is forgetting the goal of liberation. But I think it requires the wisdom from (meditative)experience and just intellectual understanding won’t be enough, it will result in refined arguments only(I have a good experience of this).
For me atleast I think most people of our time, unlike from Lord Buddha’s time, do not value the meditation but value intellectual understanding only. Maybe that’s why its hard to come up with perfect counters against such thinking, which will not only defeat it but change it to the correct thinking. Hence even though being able to understand for ourselves, not all of us can perfectly destroy and change such wrong views of others.
Marvellous sir you pointed it out very well, superbly explained!
There is a strain of Puritism in fascist thought which concieves the “absolute self control” aspect of Buddhism together with the notion of the Buddhist as an antiestablishment Aryan foreshadowing the Übermench.
Decades ago in a bookstore on Melrose in Hollywood I came across some wilde eyed notice of this. I think it was rather shallow. “The Buddhists reversed the swaztica” and ego as existential monad ideas.
As a bit of background, I came across this excellent essay by historian Ruth Ben-Ghiat about the rise of Fascism in Italy and how it connects to our current situation.
She quotes a definition of fascism by Robert Paxton from his 2004 The Anatomy of Fascism.
Fascism may be defined as a form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation, or victim-hood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy, and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion.